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Cider & Dragon Festival
“As we walked around the Cider & Dragon Festival we were transported back into another world of heroic fantasy and history.”
After a 3 ½ hour drive from Calais, we arrived at our first campsite in Normandy. Now normally at this time of year (middle of September) the campsites are quiet and we don’t normally need to book. How wrong we were this time! The town of Merville-Franceville-Plage had its annual Cider and Dragon Festival and was absolutely crowded.
We were disappointed to be told that the site was full and that probably the other sites (there are 3 others along the road into town) would probably be full too. By this time it was 6.30pm, we were feeling tired and just wanted to get set up for the night. Luckily the receptionist took pity on us and came running out as we were turning the motorhome round (in a very cramped space) and said that she would try to find us a pitch. What a result. This meant that we could find out what this festival was all about as it looked fun.
Our pitch was great considering they were full so I don’t know where they pulled this one from as we were in a premium pitch facing the beach.
Strolling around the campsite and the town were people dressed in various costumes from Harry Potter, medieval costumes, barons, knights, fair maidens and magical creatures. Even the children were dressed up. It was great to see.
The following morning we walked along the beach 400m into Merville-Francevile-Plage.
As we walked into town we were transported back into another world of heroic fantasy and history. The medieval market lining the streets seemed to go on for miles all around the town. I’ve never seen anything as big. The stalls were selling handmade jewellery, ceramics, art, fantasy themed and medieval costumes, swords, knives and so much more. In amongst the stalls were tents where the enthusiasts could play fantasy themed board games against each other, or take part in workshops and watch various entertainment. Minstrels, stilt walkers, unicorns, dragons and many magical beasts and ghoulish creatures were wandering around the stalls. The enthusiasts also had the opportunity to meet with fantasy authors and illustrators.
There were lots of food stalls where meat was being cooked the medieval way over open fires. We stopped for lunch before making our way down to the seafront where we heard the clash of steel on steel as the JuggerKnights were sparring in a ring.
The only thing that brought us back to reality was seeing the French army patrolling the streets.
It was certainly fun to watch the festival and it was a great atmosphere all weekend.
If any of my readers are heroic fantasy fans then this is one for the diary next year. The festival is run each year around the 15th or 20th September. We took the ferry to Calais for £66 with the motorhome (one way) and then drove 3 1/2 hours to the campsite. The cost of the campsite was 19 euros a night. All in it it would be quite a cheap weekend.
Click through for more photos in the gallery below.
Batterie De Merville – Historic WW2 Site
Cycling out of town for about 9 minutes we came to the Batterie De Merville which is a historic WW2 site. This is an outdoor exhibit that utilizes the original bunkers. Each bunker has been turned into a mini-museum covering each aspect of the war. There were some interesting films running in a few of the bunkers. The site is a monument to the 9th parachute regiment
We found it particularly moving reading some of the letters the soldiers wrote home. They were such young men, telling their families not to worry and that they would see them again after the war. Unfortunately, in this particular battle to regain the Batterie de Merville, 700 soldiers took part but only 150 survived.
In the last bunker, a siren sounds every 20 minutes signalling the start of the sound and light show which recreates what happened here on the night of the 5th 6th June 1944.
There’s a well-preserved Dakota C47 plane with an interesting story. We were disappointed though as we had read you could go inside, however, on the day we visited we could only look around it from the outside.
We cycled through the town on the Monday morning as they were clearing away all the stalls, props, tents and straw from the streets. It was nice then to see what a lovely town Franceville is. We were interested to look at some of the beautiful buildings.
We cycled to Face Baie Yacht club for coffee and it was hard tearing ourselves away from the relaxing view.
Camping Le Point du Jour
Located right by the sea with an indoor swimming pool. Close to Caen and Cabourg.
GPS: N49°17’0″ W0°11’29”
This campsite is listed in the ACSI Discount Camping Book available here.
This campsite is ideally situated for the town. There are lovely cycle routes to the Marina in one direction and to the town of Cabourg in the other. One disadvantage is that they only have one toilet/shower block which is in the middle of the campsite so if you are pitched near the beach it is a bit of a walk.
Car Hire: Zest Car Rental