Road trip with dog through France and Italy

Holidays with a mobile home are not really my thing. I am therefore happy to be able to publish a guest article by Sabine today, who went on a road trip with a dog to France and Italy in a campervan.

Preparation for the road trip with the dogWe – this is Corinna (42) and Sabine (19) and our “little, one-year-old dog” Sara (Greek Alopekis-Kokoni mixed breed bitch from an animal sanctuary in Hungary, who we took in with us in November 1064) – dared the adventure in May of this year, on a To go on a road trip with a dog through France and Italy – and all that in a very small space in a campervan.

Road trip with a dog through France and Italy – the complete pack

A 6,19 meter long camp Ervan Van 620 was quickly hired at Ahorn Camp in Dietzenbach. Since we still had plenty of crockery, cutlery and cooking pots from previous camping holidays, we decided not to rent the equipment, because that is of course also possible for an extra charge. Dogs are allowed. At the end of the tour, the van only has to be handed over free of dog hair.

Sara’s place was found quickly… 😎 …even if there wasn’t that much choice due to the limited space, she naturally got the “best” place – on the folded table and the bench in the dining area. We put a blanket on the insulating mat for car windscreens and then put Sara’s dog basket on top of it. That was her throne during our trip.

The rough route planning for our road trip with dog with start and end point in Rodgau looked like this:

Kirchheimbolanden (Germany)Nancy (France)Chaource near Troyes (France)Orléans (France)Bourges (France)Montpellier (France)Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer (France)St. Tropez (France)Menton (France)Asti (Italy)Gardasee (Italy)South Tyrol (Italy)Farchant (Germany)Da so that we don’t forget anything, we made packing lists in advance – well. It’s amazing what’s on it and what we took with us. We brought about two thirds of that back home unused… 😉 …

Starting the holiday with a few teething problemsOn . th 1305 it finally started. Our first overnight destination should be Kirchheimbolanden in Rhineland-Palatinate, because on the one hand we found the vineyards very beautiful and wanted to go to the Greek restaurant there for dinner.

We made our road trip with a dog with a campervan from Ahorn Camp in Dietzenbach

Our plan was to spend the first night in German on the ground so that we can comfortably “groove in” with the campervan for our road trip with the dog. However, that didn’t really work. Unfortunately, the parking space we chose using the Park4Night app turned out to be a flop, because we didn’t feel comfortable there at all.

We then drove on to France and stood directly behind the border on a concrete parking lot “free=free” in front of a school and a church. Great, because the French also have it 18. May 1305 a public holiday – and that meant: no children knocking on the van in the morning! However, we hadn’t considered that the church bell rings every half hour… 🙈… The first night was therefore restless, uncomfortable, cold and completely unfamiliar.

From Nancy via Troyes to OrléansIt doesn’t matter – after the first coffee, brewed on the gas stove in the van, and the first walk with Sara across the school car park the city of Nancy will be the destination of the day. The Lorraine city is considered the capital of French Art Nouveau and surprised us with its beautiful city center, the impressive Place Stanislas and a good and, above all, affordable parking lot.

On top of that, there was warm weather! T shirt weather! But we didn’t want to spend the night in a big city parking lot on a holiday in a big city, even though the parking lot would have given it. We were also still too prejudiced – because of theft, burglary, vandalism, etc.

Since I am 19. It was May’s birthday and we always wanted to keep an eye on the weather, so we decided not to drive south just yet, but rather to aim for Brittany with Mont St. Michel (where we ultimately never landed). So we drove on to the village of Chaource, which is known for its soft cheese made from slightly salted cow’s milk and is close to Troyes.

While the two mistresses are driving through France, Sara just sleeps for a while

What can I say? The landscape there reminded me very much of Mississippi or Tennessee in the USA. A dream for me. But why did we actually end up in this tiny place where there is only the famous cheese? Because at the same time my girlfriend’s boss was visiting Eppertshausen’s sister city. And who then knocked on our van door early in the morning? The boss with two croissants and a pack of Mon Chérie.

After our morning routine – feeding the dog, walking the dog and a coffee for us – we headed towards Orléans. Because, as a fan of the Southern States, I’ve already been to New Orleans and thought it might work. And how fitting! We had a free parking space behind a gym and playground which was central to downtown, safe and nice and quiet.

Orléans impressed us with the beautiful cathedral, great shops and cleanliness throughout the city. A reason to come back. For breakfast (at o’clock … ,-) …) we had delicious paella and fresh fallen apples from the market stall below the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc equestrian statue. Our Sara had to be satisfied with a chewing stick. We loved the city that Joan of Arc liberated from the English. It is a young and very lively university town where life is certainly good.

From Bourges via Montpellier to the Côte d’AzurThe weather app forecast a low coming from Great Britain with rain over Brittany for the next few days. Without further ado, we decided to turn the rudder to the south. Instead of driving to Mont St. Michel, we continued our road trip with the dog in the direction of the Côte d’Azur and headed for Bourges first.

And so we suddenly found ourselves geographically right in the center of France. Bourges has a magnificent cathedral, which for me was one of the most amazing I have seen so far. It was somewhat reminiscent of a “Lord of the Rings” scene from the dwarf town of Khazad Dum – with mighty high columns and a choir singing at times – the sound was bombastic.

On our road trip with dog we passed through the magical little town of Souvigny-en-Sologne, which we liked very much

Shortly before Bourges we discovered the sleepy little town Souvigny-en-Sologne with an incredibly beautiful antique shop, in which we spent 42 euros. Sara wasn’t particularly interested in our purchases. She found the backyard of the shop much better with free-roaming geese and cat food laid out.

Unfortunately we missed a super free parking space there, which was a little outside of this town at a pond on the edge of the forest. I’m still annoyed that we didn’t spend the night there and instead found a solo pitch behind Bourges near Faverdines on Lake La Chaillance, far away from civilization.

A pitch all to ourselves – but it was a bit scary

So The evening view of the lonely lake in a pink sun mood was also nice there – there was even a free toilet and running water for washing dishes and filling up our fresh water tank – I was a bit scared at night. You can’t rely on Sara in this respect – she is a bad watchdog and endowed with a soulful sleep that I could only “dream” if I could have dreamed…

In terms of language, by the way, we had almost no problems. We had prepared a few French phrases that we got along with very well. Unfortunately, I lost my knowledge from four years of French lessons at school for some inexplicable reason … but contrary to all my fears: the French obviously saw our efforts and did not let us starve linguistically.

In the morning after our overnight stay at the lake, we decided to head for our road trip with our dog Montpellier as the destination for the day – more precisely the district of Palavas-les- Flots. A long stage on federal roads tormented us because we wanted to save on tolls and had enough time – after all, still almost 1.5 weeks.

We reached this coastal town, which was not so beautiful for us, only in the evening shortly before the Area Sosta Palavas Les Flots campsite closed and were given a parking space on a busy road. The parking space was paved, which with a dog and “dirt” is always a mini bonus point compared to a sand parking lot. The site was secured at night by security guards and had a sufficiently high fence around the small marina.

In Montpellier stan We parked on a busy street

On the beach, Sara was allowed to feel the sea on her paws for the second time in her life (the first time it was the North Sea in Brunsbüttel). But she didn’t understand why the water first moved towards her and then retreated again – and again and again. That was still very scary for her – besides, it was already getting dark.

Everything about this French seaside town was very exciting for her – the thousand smells, the salt water, the whiff of fish in the air, the sunscreen on the floor, ice spills on the roadside, seaweed mixed with flotsam on the beach, stray cats and thousands of squawking white seagulls. And that when she was only used to pigeons, crows, blackbirds and wild geese from our fields.

She couldn’t have guessed that Montpellier would be the “very lowest category” of luxury bays that we were yet to reach. Unlike Sara, we found Montpellier just awful. That’s why we got up early to sunbathe a little further east on the Plage du Grand Travers with our dog on the beach.

Due to the miserable ratings in the Park4night app (with burglaries in mobile homes even in broad daylight) we couldn’t really relax there and didn’t stay long because our campervan was behind the dunes and therefore out of sight.

On the onward journey the drama started for us – streets so narrow that you were condemned to sneaking with a normal vehicle. High curbs. Speed ​​bumps and partly double-lane roundabouts. That demanded quite a bit of driving ability from us. Last but not least, there were also many bridges and underpasses – also tunnels – with height restrictions, which would have turned our van into a convertible in no time at all if we hadn’t driven according to the 4-eyes principle.

Even the normal supermarkets had restricted parking spaces! It slowly dawned on us that the idea of ​​also heading to the Côte d’Azur as part of our road trip with a dog might not be the best idea. That’s why we left Marseille behind after struggling through Montpellier and other places.

Sara always slept very well on our trip …

Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, Saint Tropez and Menton At the end of the day we reached Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer without any damage. In the Allée des Pins we found a shady, spacious spot to park and spend the night. However, the pure parking cost us 30 euros. For the second row of the beach and the proximity to the center in a well-kept, safe environment, this was justifiable for us.

But then came a shock – all the beaches were closed to dogs. And unfortunately these beaches were only too dreamlike! We chatted with a waiter in the restaurant and asked about a “dog beach”. He said that the beaches here can still be used now that we are still in the low season. We did that the next day! And were promptly sent off by a local beach patrol.

The waiter’s information turned out to be false information. The lady from the regulatory office was by bike and spoke very good English. I sensed my chance, politely asked for understanding and that we only wanted to teach our baby to swim. In addition, it was our first time here and the city was so great … especially Sara’s sweet look made sure that she gave us a great insider tip where we could go into the water with Sara.

We only had to walk down a narrow staircase and reached a pebbly beach with shallow, non-sharp-edged cliffs that rise like stairs in s sea – a place where the water was only up to my navel. A small rock further in the water was our saving island. We were able to let Sara do her first swimming attempts here without hesitation. With success, if not yet with much enthusiasm (on the part of Sara).

However, this “island stone” was also the home of an octopus, which was the size of a medium pizza and was well camouflaged. We had the deal with him “you don’t hurt us, we don’t hurt you”. Tired from this great experience in the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, we walked back to the car to get ready for the night. On the way there we met Mr. Lizard, who was enjoying the last rays of sunshine quite tamely on his ledge – and my stroking over his head. Sara didn’t want to get any closer to him. He also looked dangerous with the spikes!

In the evening we ate the world’s best pizza at the Place Portales and unexpectedly came across the Statue de la Liberté as it is enthroned in the harbor of New York. I felt more and more comfortable in France, despite the impossible traffic management and the little dog-friendly “official” beaches.

Our road trip with dogs now went towards St. Tropez because we had unfortunately driven it to the scrap heap on one of the many high speed bumps at walking speed. After two unsuccessful attempts to park (there was a height restriction in each case, which is not communicated in the app), we were rewarded with a great parking space at the Plage de Pampelonne, which stretches along the Mediterranean Sea south of St. Tropez with fine sand and is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Côte d’Azur. Magnificent view of St. Tropez

And how! 18° C degrees, a still quite fresh Mediterranean Sea and – hard to believe – dogs are allowed on the beach (even if they are on a leash 😉). We had found our dream bay. The line was quickly removed, the stick in the water and after half an hour Sara was swimming with joy and fun. I also got my first sunburn here – on my back – pick up the stick and play with the dog!

In St. Tropez we found a small dream bay on the Plage de la Pampelonne

Since I Having already bought a snorkel and diving goggles in Saint Cyr, I also used them there in the clean and crystal-clear sea water. We absolutely loved it. By the way, there was another camper with a Hanau license plate right next to our camper. The world seems to be really too small… 😉 …

We stood here for two nights and paid a total of 19 euros – drinking water supply, gray water (rinse and toothbrush water from the sink) and black water (on-board toilet contents) disposal included. There were showers, but they weren’t clean. So we continued to use the outdoor shower, because we were already used to cold water.

On our road trip with our dog in France, we particularly liked the Plage de la Pampelonne

Of course we were also in St .Tropez and got free roadside parking so we could walk into town and check out the outrageously expensive yachts. Luxury, the jet set, seeing and being seen are the order of the day here. Wonderful!

When it was supposed to be raining and cloudy overnight and also the next day, we decided to drive to Menton – we deliberately left out Cannes and Nice, because it is almost impossible to get to these lively and popular cities with a 6,20 meter long Driving a “bus”, let alone parking there – at least for us. Those who want to see these cities are best served with a city trip by plane and public transport. Optionally with a rental car. But not with a van and certainly not with even longer vehicles.

The marina of Menton – beautiful, right?

In Menton we found a public parking lot at the marina very close to the beach and the promenade (Promenade de la Mer) at a roundabout with a park in the middle. We stayed there overnight but were woken up the next morning by the local cleaning service. They loudly cleaned around us with the sweeper. Menton itself is a really beautiful place. Nice shops, great bars, a colorful city facade lined with palm trees. The weather rewarded us there with constant summer temperatures. It was almost too hot for Sara.

Back home via Lake Garda and South TyrolMenton is close to the border, so we were quickly in Italy. We had chosen an agriturismo parking lot near the town of Asti via park4night. The owner of the wine and grappa estate Rovero spoke perfect English and we didn’t have any language problems.

The estate was like winning the lottery for us. The Rovero family has been growing wine there for generations and sells their products internationally – a real family business under the Italian sun in Tuscany. Although the owner takes a maximum of three campers, we were in the fortunate position of being able to use the area alone, as the family was busy preparing a party themselves.

On the great pitch on the Rovero family estate in As we would have liked to have stayed longer

For 07 euros we were able to enjoy a pool, a park, hot showers, a renovated toilet, the tasting cabinets for wine and grappa and the wonderful summer sun all to ourselves. And Sara was allowed to run free without a leash. We would have liked to have stayed longer here, but due to a wedding the next day, the estate was unfortunately fully booked.

One of the most beautiful pitches that we had during our road trip with dog was definitely the Rovero estate in Asti

So we continued the next day to the southern part of Lake Garda, which we didn’t like after a short “transit wow” because of the population density. We continued to Nordgar where Arco surprised us with a great ice cream shop and the beautiful viewpoint of Castello di Arco.

There we stayed again on the very well-kept agriturismo pitch Agricampeggio Le Corniole in Sottomoscal, which seemed very expensive to us at 18. But the owners were very friendly and all the facilities were newly built – including the pool and wine tasting option.

We also had a beautiful and very well-kept pitch with a swimming pool and all the trimmings on Lake Garda

However, we liked the Agri parking space in Asti a lot better. But it doesn’t matter – the last part of our journey had now begun for us, and we drove via Caldaro (one night) straight on to Alpe di Siusi . In “Seis/Siusi” we stood with our van directly under the “Seiser Alm-Bahn” and were able to enjoy a wonderful sunset atmosphere.

Our plan to spend the night on the Alm unfortunately did not work due to heavy thunderstorms combined with hail, as we had summer tires. But we had a nice parking space where we stayed for two days, where we went on wonderful hikes.

Famous photo hotspot on the Alpe di Siusi

If you like the Alps and hiking, you will get your money’s worth here. Sara has grown into a zip line pro in a short amount of time and is now able to get in and out on her own even though the thing is moving. And wearing a muzzle (mandatory in gondolas) is no problem for them.

Fantastic view over the Alpe di Siusi in South Tyrol

And then we were already back in Germany, where we made the last stop on our road trip with a dog in our favorite place Farchant near Garmisch Partenkirchen. First of all, we enjoyed the pork knuckle in the Hofbräuhaus. Then we found a wonderful parking space on the sports field with the ringing of cowbells.

In the morning we were woken up by cows that were herded past our vehicle onto a new pasture. Farchant is a village that has it all. Also a warm water swimming pool which gives campers a hot shower for an entrance fee. We would love to live here. The Zugspitze always in view.

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22812On our road trip with our dog through France and Italy, Farching near Garmisch-Partenkirchen was our last stop before we went home

After a hike to the Sankt Martin mountain restaurant, where we stopped after a failed ascent to the Kramerspitz, the last evening of our vacation began. And we spent that at our favorite Italian restaurant in Farchant, the Ristorante “Da Giovanni”. The next morning we headed home.

Road trip with a dog to France and Italy – conclusionWe had a great holiday – despite many challenges. It was fun traveling around France and Italy (although it was quite exhausting at times).

Next time we would definitely choose a shorter and maybe even lower vehicle. Or perhaps you’d rather rent a holiday home if you want to go to the south of France and/or Italy.

In the north of France, a larger campervan is no problem at all, as there are no parking problems anywhere. The dog didn’t bother us at all, and Sara didn’t mind being driven around and always being able to sniff out new places. And we were also able to remove all the dog hair …

Text + photos: Sabine Voltz

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