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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there.

Thought I'd put a post on here to see if anyone can offer any advice...

We've booked on the Portsmouth - Bilbao ferry for July this year (arrive there on 10th July). :D
Last time we took the campervan abroad, we went to the Italian Lakes (Como, Maggiore, Orta) via Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. We never booked a single campsite and had a great time. But that was in April 2014. And basically was thinking about how much busier July is likely to be than April, which was pretty quiet. So, really think that we should most likely book campsites before we go this time - July is probably too much a risk to assume we'd get campsites where we'd like.

It's also my daughter's birthday the day after we arrive and although she'd initially requested a theme park, I think I've managed to persuade her that as it's likely to be quite hot that maybe a water park would be a good idea. Plus it would mean less travelling. The only really decent theme park I could see was at PortaVentura and not sure I fancied driving to there the day we got off the ferry. So, for present thinking of perhaps the water park at Seignosse: http://atlantic-park.com/en/
Has anyone been there?

Plan after that is to follow the Pyrenees for a bit to close to Lourdes before crossing back into Spain. Quite fancied going to see Bardenas Reales Nature Reserve in Navarre ( http://www.spain.info/en/top-10/bardenas-reales.html ) before heading over to Picos de Europa area.

For now, the campsites I've been thinking of are...
Domaine d’Esperbasque (close to Salies de Béarn): https://esperbasque.co.uk/
Camping du Valentin (Laruns): http://www.ossau-camping-valentin.com/eng/page/index
Eco Camping Borja (Zaragoza): http://www.borja.es/principal/ecocamping.html
Camping San Pelayo (Carretera Potes Fuente): http://www.campingsanpelayo.com/
Camping Playa de la Franca (Ribadedeva): https://playadelafranca.com/index.php?lang=en

Has anyone stayed at any of these campsites, or can anyone recommend any?
Of course, I may well contact them and find them already booked and then be back to the drawing board anyway.

Other places we're thinking of going along the route....
Bilbao Transporter Bridge: http://puente-colgante.com/en/
Has anyone visited and if so, are they able to recommend somewhere good to park our campervan preferably within about a 20 - 30 mins walk. We're thinking of heading there in the morning we get off the ferry.
Gaztelugatxe: http://www.top-places-in-spain.com/gaztelugatxe/
Monte Igueldo (San Sebastian): http://www.monteigueldo.es/home
Bétharram Caves (near Lourdes): http://www.betharram.com/
Canoeing in Sella River (Arriondas): http://www.paddleinspain.com/whole-day-canoe-experience-in-sella-river-act-46.php

Anyone been to any of these, or anywhere else worth visiting?

Thanks for any advice/information anyone can offer. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks; Beaches do look amazing (from any photos I've seen) - our first trip that direction, hence why I posted. :)
 

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Stayed at Camping Esperbasque last Summer. Run by a really friendly Dutch family. The site is great and facilities clean and reasonably modern. Lots of Dutch families - most of whom were keen on horse riding as the stables are the central attraction. The swimming pool was basic but I was told they would be improving it for this summer. The vineyard next door provides the wine in the bar. Good location to explore the area- not far from the majestic Pyranees. Great family site.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for that.
Have booked in with them for a couple of days. :) Will be our first stop when we get off the ferry at Bilbao and then we'll head into the Pyrenees, before back into Spain and over to Picos de Europa.
And of course, guess we'll need to have some of the wine from the bar if it comes from the vineyard next door. :D
 

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We were in Biscarrosse last year. That was really nice with the lakes near by. There’s plenty to do round there with cycling and water sports. But that might be a bit far into France for you.

We stayed a few nights in a lovely campsite a couple miles south of Potes (Camping La Viorna) in the Picos two years ago. It’s close enough to walk or cycle into town. Has a decent pool, bar & cafe and isn’t a big campsite. The weather might have helped but it really was nice.

Just remembered two years ago, same time we went to Potes we did a similar thing to what you’re planning. We ended up near Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains. Just north of Seignosse. That was really good too with plenty of cycling and water sports. We stayed at Camping De La Cote near Messange. And it was a pretty nice cycle along good cycle paths to Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains. There was also a Aire de Campjng in Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains itself. On the Southern side of the Lake.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all that info. Will certainly look at places you suggested.

Yes, Biscarrosse is possibly a bit further into France than we were intending, but will bear it in mind for future trips. :)
 

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Hi I'm also travelling to Spain in July well starting off in France at Le Mans for super vw fest. The on to Spain stopping of along the way and staying in Barcelona for about a week. Before heading towards Santander to travel home.
We are traveling with a group so haven't had much to do with organising anything just paid as needed.
There have been quite a few sites saying that they don't take bookings. It's been quite annoying they seem to work differently to the uk.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sounds like you've got a longer trip than us planned. Would love to have longer, but only really got 2 weeks from when we leave home, so not long enough, especially when you factor in we'll be over a day to get to the south of England.

I've been finding the same in some sites not taking bookings.
tbh I normally don't mind too much if places don't take bookings as it leaves things more flexible.
That's the one thing I don't like about going to England with the campervan - normally need to make sure we've got somewhere booked. In Scotland, we don't really worry about it as if we can't get into a site we just find somewhere to wild camp. Have though heard that wild camping in Spain is a definite no, which is one of the reasons I did try to book sites.

When we went to the Italian Lakes via Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland in 2014, the only site we booked before leaving home was a site in England the night before we got the ferry. It was actually nice and relaxing not having to have to push for a certain campsite and then only site we found closed when we got there was one in Switzerland, which meant we'd to drive on for about another 40 mins that night before we got a campsite.

That said, it was in April and so I was obviously concerned that as this year it will be July the south west of France and North of Spain could potentially be quite busy then and so have tried to book some sites. Think though I've only managed to get a definte booking in our first site. Another couple have said that they don't take bookings for a night or two; one of those sites noted our request though and the other said they didn't expect to be full, but for us to phone nearer the time to check. And then there's a couple of sites that I've emailed, but haven't had a response from, so who knows...

Hopefully it will all work out fine...
 

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Hi,
We went on the Portsmouth -Bilbao ferry a couple of years ago. Great trip!

Guggenheim in Bilbao is great if you're into modern art.

Re: parking places/campsites - do you have the 'Parkings' App? Great for both. We mostly use 'aires' with the occasional campsite stop. As soon as you are away from the coast just parking up seems easier.

San Sebastian is stunning. We parked up for free/cheap near the university in town. There were loads of vans doing the same.


We also went to the French Pyrenees. The Cauteret area is a great base for walking. Gavarnie is a world heritage site.

Enjoy your trip!
 

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Just returned from a 10 day trip to the area around Santander over Easter. We stayed at the following sites:
CampingLa Paz @ Vidiago near Llanes. Friendly staff. Beautiful campsite overlooking coast and beach. Many pitches only suitable for tents so you get a good mix of people. Good wash-blocks. Good bar / restaurant with wifi and shop. Wake up (and go to sleep) to the sound of waves. Great for coastal walks and the local beaches.
Camping La Viorna @ Potes on the edge of the Picos. Lovely site just outside a great little town, especially in the evenings. Friendly staff. Good wash-blocks. Good bar / restaurant and shop with wifi. Pool. Ideal site for walking / cycling and to visit Fuente De (cable car).
Camping Ribadesella @ Ribadesella. Just outside a busy coastal town. Lovely prom to walk along and an interesting town. Site was busy but had wifi throughout. Good bar / restaurant and shop. Good shower-blocks and an indoor pool. Close to mountains and rivers for kayaking at Cangas de Onis and Arriondas.
Camping Playa del Regaton @ Laredo. Lovely campsite in a nature reserve alongside the beached estuary. Brand new heated toilet blocks. Bar / cafe and shop. Laredo has a beautiful sweeping beach. Old town busy but behind beach and dunes is just rows of apartment blocks. Lots of horse riding in the reserve / on beach.
Camping Playa Arenillas @ Islares. Ok for stopover. Bar / restaurant. Good toilet blocks. Lovely area and an interesting town in Castro Urdiales.
Hope this helps anyone looking for some stops. Beautiful area - we will be going back.

This interactive map is useful too -

https://www.furgovw.org/mapa_furgoperfecto/
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replies. Hadn't noticed the replies from sokrates and qprjohn until Azteccamper posted today.

sokrates - didn't realise that campervans and caravans could stop overnight at "Área de Reposos" and likewise didn't know about the campervan stopovers. Will look at both the links you posted - Thanks. :D

qprjohn - Had heard of Guggenheim from friends that were at Bilbao and San Sebastian earlier this year (though not in a campervan). Didn't know about the parkings app, so will have a look for that - Sounds very useful. And will look up the Cauteret area and also Gavarnie. Thanks for all the info. :D

Azteccamper - Will have a nosy at those campsites and see which are close to where we intend and take details of them with us as they do sound good. I do recognise quite a few of the town/village names from looking, so at least I know before even looking that most of them are in an area we're looking at visiting. Also didn't know about that interactive map - Looks great; can see me spending a good few hours looking at that to see if I can spot somewhere interesting we never knew about to visit. :D

Can't believe that 4 weeks today we'll be starting our drive to Portsmouth - get the ferry 4 weeks tomorrow. Can't Wait. :D:D:D
 

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Hi just wondering how your trip went ? We are heading the same way this year but for around 3/4 weeks. Starting in Bilbao but no real plans for where we head after that. The rough plan is to spend some time in that area then make our way accross to the south of France and then back to Newcastle via either hull ferry or North Shields.
 

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Hi just wondering how your trip went ? We are heading the same way this year but for around 3/4 weeks. Starting in Bilbao but no real plans for where we head after that. The rough plan is to spend some time in that area then make our way accross to the south of France and then back to Newcastle via either hull ferry or North Shields.
Hi there.

Trip was great, but a distant memory now. Popped onto the forum as thinking about where we can go this year, though thinking of October for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, last year's trip - Our ferry got into Bilbao quite early in the morning, so we just drove along to close to the transporter bridge as we'd quite fancied seeing that. There is a tour you can go on, but our daughter really didn't fancy the glass lift at the start of the trip, so we opted just to do a return crossing on the transporter bridge since we were there.
Had thought of visiting Gaztelugatxe, but decided against as we knew we were aiming to travel quite a bit that day.

Spent two nights at this site in France: https://esperbasque.co.uk/stay/campsite
The owner was nice and friendly and the site had a relaxed atmosphere. Quite rustic. Pitches were quite spacious; we were given a choice to select from and opted for one of the spots in Field D - lovely, open views. Site had a good swimming pool, which appeared to be quite new; still some work going on close to there. Had intended on visiting the bar at the site to sample the wine from the next door vineyard, but was very busy on both evenings we were there because of the football world cup. Did though enjoy some pizzas from a pizza van that came to the site; I believe they have different food vans visit on different nights of the week.
It was our daughter's birthday the following day and had the intention of visiting a waterpark, so drove out to the coast with the intention of visiting http://atlantic-park.com/
However, our daughter decided it looked too busy and instead opted to spend time at the beach and had loads of fun with the big waves which I presume is pretty normal for that area of the French Coast.

The next day we moved on, though not terribly far. Visited Grottes de Bétharram ( http://www.betharram.com/ ) which we all really enjoyed. Campsite that evening was at Laruns - http://www.ossau-camping-valentin.com/
Lovely site, all seemed very neat, almost Swiss-like - lots of hedges between pitches, etc. Daughter enjoyed the swimming pool there before we took a walk down into the village; Seemed to be some sort of street festival thing going on whilst we were there.

Next day we drove over the Pyrennees via Col du Pourtalet - Spectacular views.
Drove to Bardenas Reales Nature Reserve. Think despite being mid-July that was the only day of the holiday when we all felt far too hot. Hardly surprising though considering the landscape - it was almost like a desert. I'd read it was like a lunar landscape. Was definitley worth seeing - so different from the other scenery.
Had originally intended getting a campsite within an hour or so of there, but decided against that idea as it was so hot, so drove on until we reached Burgos and found this campsite: http://www.campingburgos.com/01_principal.php?lang=EN
Quite a large site, which was fine, especially considering that we came across it around 8:30pm, though apparently their reception was open and you could check in until midnight! Would never find that in the UK.

Having travelled further on meant that we'd much less to drive to reach the Picos de Europa. Opted for this campsite for a couple of nights: http://www.campingsanpelayo.com/
Had previously saw a photo of the swimming pool with mountains around. Scenery certainly did not disappoint. The lady who checked us in also gave us a map of the local area and told us of lots of walks, one of which we did the following day. Was quite glad that my daughter had decided on the shorter route as when we were about half way round there was a thunder and lightning storm and the heavens opened, so we got totally drenched.

The day we left there we visited El Soplao Cave ( https://www.elsoplao.es/en ) Whilst we did enjoy visiting there, we didn't feel it was as worth visiting as Grottes de Bétharram. Also, weren't allowed to take photos in that El Soplao Cave; reckon it was perhaps a ploy to encourage people to buy their postcard collections.

Our next campsite was https://playadelafranca.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=200&lang=en
Opted for that site because of the large beach beside it which was lovely.

The following day I'd booked my daughter and myself on a canoe trip of Sella River - http://jairecanoas.com/ which was really good.
Afterwards we visited Ribadesella which seemed really nice.

And then sadly the following day was time for us to return to Bilbao for the ferry back.

Think though if we were to get the ferry back to Bilbao or Santander, then we'd probably just head for Picos de Europa area as it was close and would love to have spent more time in that area.
The campsites there though were much more cramped than those we visited in France, but the area more than made up for it.

Not sure where you were planning when you get off the ferry at Bilbao, but would definitely recommend visitng Picos de Europa area - around 2 hour drive West, so obviously not on the way to France, but also not terribly far.

Thing I really like about travelling in Europe is that unlike the UK you rarely have to book sites and so can leave plans open.

When is it that you head? Hope you have a great time; I'm sure you will.
 

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Eco Camping Borja (Zaragoza) - 1/10
We arrived to find a closed door and no one to advice us. We had to find another solution for the night, we were very disappointed. I also seem to remember a website article on a clampdown on campervans that weren't on an official campsite happening in the last couple of years. Anyone else got any info on the subject? Also want to add my two cents Book Airport Transfers in Advance at Affordable Prices | Aktis Taxi
 
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