Going abroad and taking my dog Poppy, a fluffy white Coton de Tulear has to be the best type of holiday. No worries about whom to leave her with or if she is okay. Eurocamp, the mobile holiday home specialist, have places all over Europe, which are dog-friendly. I have always wanted to visit the Loire, and as they had a site at Chambord, Le Château des Marais I chose to go there.
The introduction of a Pet Passport allows owners to take their pets abroad. However, the requirements are constantly changing. Dogs and cats have to be micro-chipped. Poppy was scanned both leaving and coming back into the UK. A rabies inoculation is also required and has to be done 21 days before travelling. Although Poppy already had hers, she needed a booster before travelling. She also needed to be wormed at least 24 hours, and up to five days before returning to the UK. This was done by a vet local to where we were staying, and documented in her Pet Passport.
Not being confident of my aged car making such a long journey, I was able to hire a car from Avis, as long as I took out Continental Cover, which included a ‘get you home’ package. However, taking a car abroad does require extra items including such things as an iridescent triangle if the car breaks down, and covers for the headlights to change the direction of the beam.
Having had little experience of mobile home holidays, I had no idea what to expect other than what I had read on-line on the Eurocamp website. I was delighted to find that Brittany Ferries have dog-friendly cabins on their Portsmouth to Le Havre crossing, so I didn’t have to worry about leaving Poppy in the car. This was particularly fortunate as the weather was lovely, and might have been too hot even with the windows open. For Poppy, the only disadvantage was that she had to wear a muzzle when boarding and leaving the ship.
Eurocamp staff are British or speak excellent English, and I had the impression that the majority were working there in their Summer holidays from University or gaining work experience. Our Esprit chalet was compact and basic, but had everything we needed. Knowing what to bring meant thinking what I used every day in the kitchen. Fortunately the site has a mini supermarket for the basics, and we were able to do a major shop at a bigger supermarket. One of the nice things about France is that freshly prepared food is available almost everywhere.
The focal point of Le Château des Marais is a beautiful villa that appears not to be used but is obviously from where the place takes its name. The camp is geared to families with children and has a swimming pool incorporating a wiggly waterslide. Ideally situated as a stop over for visiting numerous chateaux in the area, it is on the outskirts of the grounds of Château Chambord, a Renaissance villa built for François 1, with lots of turrets, landscaped gardens, and acres of land, equal to the size of Paris. Poppy was allowed everywhere, but not inside the chateau, which was surprising as the interior has no furniture, only paintings, tapestries on its walls, and enormous chandeliers. Leonardo de Vinci who spent his last years nearby at the Château du Clos Luce is said to have influenced many of its architectural features. Discover Chambord
Within walking distance of our Eurocamp site Poppy and I indulged in some wine tasting at Croc du Merle, a dairy farm and winery where they produce the local Cheverny wine and have 100 dairy cows. We were able to watch while a couple of cows were robotically milked. The owners also make their own cheese and have a little shop on site.
The area is ideal for cycling, and virtually everywhere, including at Eurocamp bikes are available to hire. Boat rides on the Loire are another popular pastime, and in the nearby medieval town of Blois, Poppy was allowed to join us on the water.
I couldn’t leave the area without a visit to the dog-friendly Château de Chenonceau. Poppy was allowed, even though it was furnished, although I was obliged to carry her.
The great thing about Eurocamp is being able to stay at different sites, and split the journey. Having found the distance longer than I expected, I was able to break my journey on the way home, stopping at La Vallée at Houlgate. While Le Château des Marais is surrounded by farmland, the Loire River, and sleepy villages La Vallée in contrast is in a residential area, within walking distance of cafes and shops, and minutes from miles of sandy beaches. Something for everyone.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Eurocamp