Cole d' Azur for three weeks

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56

A solution to the “£25 problem”

All you need are three reliable friends and one reliable car. We have had two such holidays. In 1949 four of us packed into a Standard Vanguard van with tents, mackintoshes, jumpers, cooking utensils, etc., bid fond farewells, and drove apprehensively to Dunkirk with only £25 each in our pockets. We had ambitions of seeing Italy, France and Switzerland, but expected to last out only a week. We were whisked with lightning speed through the English and French Customs, and endured many grins on account of our mountains of luggage,—half of which we never used and were sorely tempted to empty into the blue Mediterranean.

Much to our surprise we found that the whole of France is seething with camping sites, but note, these are off the main road. On the Mediterranean, between St. Raphael and Menton, there are about a dozen excellent camps with showers, small shops, and private access to the beach, where cars and tents can park for only about 2s per day. We used to leave the tents unattended in perfect safety whilst we went sightseeing.

The English are easy to find in these camps by their sloppy tents. The French are organised to the nth degree—it is quite usual to see four people, one dog, a wireless, tables, chairs, and tents come out of one small Renault.

The sun rose regularly at 6 am, and set at 8 pm–no idea what they do for water, as we never saw so much as a rain cloud. No wonder wine is cheap–it has to be !

Swimming, sunbathing and bikinis walking by for the boys, and magnificent shops for the girls, what more could anyone want ! We bought ourselves some underwater glasses and a spear, intending to supplement our diet with fresh fish. The beauty of the sea bed along this coast has to be seen to be believed.

We stayed about 10 days on the French Riviera and, having acquired a super tan, we drove along the Italian coast as far as Rapallo. Camping in Italy can be a little trying, as the Italians don’t seem to have seen anything like it before, and are inclined to gather round and stare as you are frying eggs.

After about three more days, loafing by the sea, it was time to tackle the mountains. Camping sites in Switzerland are plentiful, but don’t be tempted to pitch a tent at 7,000 feet, as we did one night. The temperature drops very rapidly once the sun has set, and all our blankets, jumpers and socks were of no avail. Here it is essential to shop only in the villages or you’ll go broke in no time.

We went over most of the main passes and reached Montreux just as the sun was setting over Lake Geneva, a most unforgettable sight.

Then on to Paris where we managed to fit in cafe au lait on the Champs Elysee, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and spent half the night on Montmartre watching the world and someone else’s wife wander by.

We made a further stop at Le Touquet for a last swim in the icy Channel. We bought ourselves and friends a few presents and arrived safe and sound at Dover with £25 uncashed cheques between us. Including shipping and RAC charges we had spent £25 each for 23 days,

We did a similar tour last summer in a Riley, but that time we only packed shorts, anti-midge cream, swimming and camping gear (including rubber dinghy), and one-respectable outfit, for swank. The main thing is to cultivate a taste for cheese, fruit and wine, and to look at hotel menus if you must, but don’t go in !

We are off to see a bull fight this year. Bonne voyage campos. WEP.