The peoples of Europe

But who are the clients here at Camping Les Sables.

All the different countries have their own stereotypical character traits and is certainly no sign that we are all losing our individual personalities in Europe (except if you read the English Daily Mail newspaper of course). The Dutch arrive, breeze into the campsite, never look at the signs or prices, will talk any language you want and get themselves sorted with the minimum of fuss and have a table and chairs out and are drinking wine within five minutes of arriving.  The Germans are very efficient and again arrive but usually look at the signs and can be drinking wine within ten minutes (it takes them a little longer to have everything perfect). The Brits are not as efficient as either of these two and will not have the wine out until fifteen minutes as they are much fussier about everything.

Then there are the French. They arrive, slowly drive up to the gate, stop, get out, read the sign, the prices, the noticeboard, peer through the fence, hum, hah, discussion, mumble and nine times out of ten, get back into their car and back out (sometimes hitting my sign with their car on the way out). If they do make it through the gate, they will get out, wander around looking and reading the sign again (there’s only one) or hitting the gate on the way in. The gate’s been hit eleven times in the last nine years and of that it has been hit ten times by a French camper (not the same one, obviously). The postman has crashed into the sign twice and various other French people have hit various static items around the gate and on the site at various times.

When they get to the reception and want to pay, they insist on paying with a cheque  or Carte Bleu (credit/debit card, we don’t do credit/debit cards) never with cash. It’s only ten quid for goodness sake. They don’t understand a word of what I’m saying even though I’m talking French (at least I’m told it’s a form of French). They don’t drink any wine until they are having their meal which won’t be for ages as it takes them hours to put their tent up, caravan parked, or whatever and their meal times are enshrined in law.

The Belgians are a cross between the Dutch, the French and the Germans in that they are efficient, they understand my French and they probably speak another language. The melting pot that is Europe. We wouldn’t be without it for the world.

You’d think from my description that the French are all bad. They most certainly are not. It’s just that they are so different from everyone else in Europe that they take a little getting used to. They also think that the rest of Europe are strange and that the French are the only ones who are normal. We have many French friends and their hospitality is legendary. Once they got to know we were quite ‘normal’, they’re very generous with both their time, work, food and drink. The down side is that once they get to know you, they have a tendency to arrive en masse, unannounced for aperitif and you are expected to have a full stock of nibbles, food and drinks. After a while of knowing us, they give up on this last one and bring their own.

But they still can’t drive.


The first couple of weeks

Since I have now been here for nearly four weeks, I think it’s about time I told you about it.

The site has spaces for 25 caravans/tents, electricity points, water, showers (usually hot but sometimes not) and toilets in four small blocks. It is basic and simple camping and you either love it or hate it. Most people hate the thought of it and never come anyway. Of those who do arrive, many seem to like it but they may be being nice. We do however, have a hardcore who come every year for one night before continuing their journey their holiday destination. There is another, even harder core who come for weeks at a time every summer.

This is what greets us when we arrive but it doesn’t take long to get it sorted out. You can see why I was so pleased to get the new steed. I really don’t know what to do with the old one. Suggestions  please.

The local village has nothing of interest but the local sizable town has all the usual rural French facilities. We are on the edge of the Cote D’ore (Gold Coast) but I can find no coast nor anything gold around here. I think they may be talking about the wine.

As I have already said, this is rural France has all of the quirks and idiosyncrasies of that part of the world. Everything shuts at twelve o’clock until two o’clock. I say everything but this is not now the case. When we first bought the place, absolutely everything shut including the garage/filling station, supermarkets, banks, post office and all places of work. This is unheard of in the UK and takes a lot of getting used to. Everything also shuts on a Monday for some strange unknown reason so every weekend is a long weekend.

Grass cutting takes a huge amount of my time in June as the weather is still wet and the sun is shining meaning that the grass grows at a phenomenal rate. But this year I have a new weapon in the grass cutting armoury. This, I am proud to announce, is my new sit on lawnmower. It really is a revelation in grass cutting terms. It now takes three hours to cut the whole of the campsite including the play ground and volleyball court.

With the old machines this was about six hours if the old sit on was working or nearer to nine if not.

Grass cutting is forbidden at all times except between 0800 to 1200 and 1400 to 1800 Monday to Friday, Saturday 0800 to 1200 and 1500 to 1800 and Sunday 1000 to 1200 only. I don’t like cutting the grass before ten o’clock as people are having their breakfast further contracting the hours available.

More soon if I don’t have any further technical problems.

Welcome to Camping Les Sables

This is the new blog for Camping Les Sables, a small friendly and campsite in the depths of rural France. The blog is aimed at anyone interested in small campsites, living in France, clients and anyone who follows my narrowboat blog in the UK and enjoys my ramblings. For that latter group, there will be very few mentions of narrowboats here although I will mention them as I see them. By the way the narrowboat blog address is: just in case you’re interested.

The campsite is located in the small village of Pouilly sur Saone, near to the town of Seurre, fifty kilometers south of Dijon and twenty five kilometers east of Beaune. It is owned and run for three months every year by us, Pete and Lisa, well mostly by Pete, helped and hindered by a bizarre mixture of other characters  of various nationalities and dispositions.

The campsites clientèle is mostly Dutch (we like the Dutch) helped along by the Belgians. Germans and  English (heaven forbid). Occasionally the odd Italian, Spaniard and Dane make an appearance but most surprisingly of all, the French rarely make it to staying the night although quite a few approach and peer through the gate before withdrawing to more salubrious surroundings.

There are exceptions to all of this as our greatest asset are the friends we have made in the French community and it is unlikely that we would still be in business without their help and support. How we even communicate amazes me. You’ll meet them all in the next three months.

Welcome aboard. It’ll be a breeze.