The beauty that is France is magnifying and captivating. I am currently planning a trip to Europe and whilst I am dying to explore the untouched waters of my European experience, France keeps tugging at my heart strings. As amazing as France was, there was one thing that, although it provided great memories, there is one thing that I won’t be doing next time I return.
After one week indulging in Montpellier, I travelled to Marseille with my family where we hired a motor home. What better way to see and explore France than driving on the open road and forging our own path. What we neglected to realise until too late was that the average motor home is about 2.3 metres wide, and the average road in France is 5 metres wide, it didn’t leave much room for mistake. We drove up through the Alps, our aim: Cinque Terra Italy. We opted for the scenic route and it doesn’t get much more scenic than starring straight down a 300 metre cliff face as we curl our way through the mountains. The beauty of this was by far the scenery. We spotted cathedrals laden on cliff tops and indulged in the finest pastries that France had to offer, whilst over looking rocky canals, bustling streams and waterfalls that host epic white water rafting. My biggest regret is not writing down the names of these beautiful towns but I hope one day I will find them again.
Aside from the large motor home and the tiny road widths, still driving through the Alps, we didn’t count on Semi trailers who were also trying to by pass the toll route. We held our breathes as we rounded a bend and saw an enormous vehicle plowing towards us. Our van slowed to a crawl and stuck close to the side as my mum screams as she stares down the cliff face. The truck slammed into the side of the cliff, skidded slightly onto our side of the road and in a few terrifying minutes, managed to bring the truck to a halt. It was at that point that my father finally admitted defeat and, at the next town we began a different path down to Cannes where the roads seemed to be even smaller, add in a flurry of traffic and confusing one way streets, our side mirror smashed into a light pole. We spent three hours driving through Cannes, trying to find a suitable spot to stay for the night before returning the motor home back to Marseille. That two hours included my mum hanging out the window holding the remaining pieces of the side mirror whilst yelling directions as we somehow found our way to the beach and made an illegal U-turn at a bus park with angry locals and tourists spitting abuse and swearing. I must admit, even when angry, French is a beautiful language. Where was I in all of this? Sitting at the back searching through books to find caravan parks while stealing glances at the gorgeous scenery. That hectic two hours in Cannes, whilst slightly terrifying, was certainly breathtaking, its steep bustling streets, houses painted in vibrant colours and its glistening beach was truly spectacular, I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer in Cannes.
You will be pleased to know that we made our way back to Marseille in one piece- van included. Even the lady who rented the motor home to us was shocked that it was in such good condition- we accidentally forgot to tell her about the side mirror… whoops! Whilst the motor home was not the best idea, hiring a normal sized vehicle to branch out from the mainstream tourist attractions is definitely something that I would recommend. The accommodation options that we came across were affordable and beautiful, granted we travelled there in the off season, but the ease of driving around without the stress of a 2.3 metre wide van would definately be a terrific experience.
Have you tried camper vanning in Europe, were you successful, unlike us? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing fellow travellers stories! If you would like to hear more of my travelling stories and experiences please like, and if you would like to read some more of my work please subscribe!