The thing I love most about travelling Europe in a campervan as a family is the random encounters with magical people.
We never have a plan. We wait and see what each day offers.
On New Year’s Eve we were driving around Normandy pondering how we wanted to celebrate the turning of the year.
We spent the day visiting the beautiful village of Beuvron-en-Auge and decided to treat ourselves last minute to a stay in a nearby Air BnB.
Within the hour we had arrived at the lovely home of Frank and Aleth. A stunning two bedroom apartment, with a great quality music dock, cosy furnishings and laundry facilities all hand built by the super talented artist Frank.
The spotless apartment is nestled away on an equestrian centre and they offered us the chance for the children to have an experience brushing and riding ponies the following day before we departed even though it would be new years day.
There is even a balcony overlooking the riding arena, so you can sit and sip your morning coffee whilst watching the pony antics.
We were invited for drinks at midnight, which turned into an invite for a beautiful homemade French dinner with their friends, who also had young children.
Aleth is a gifted musician, she played irish folk songs on her fiddle as we danced with the children, clapping and cheering, trying out drums and the piano, as we counted down to midnight.
She has inspired us to learn the accordian whilst on our travels, by kindly gifting us one for our van!
We stayed up all night sampling the local wine and cheese exchanging ideas about life, a bit of casual anarchy, music, art and adventure.
Frank told us about the cleansing water and earth ritual that is a tradition in his family on New Year’s Day. We were excited to get an invite!
Arriving the next day at black cow cliffs, Viller Sur Mer we were met by a biting January wind and a temperature of around 5°C.
That didn’t stop the men folk from jumping in the pits of soft clay and covering themselves head to toe, before jumping in the icy English channel.
Warming up with moules cooked on the fire, crusty bread, wine and hot roisbos tea definitely helped to balance out body temperatures after, plus heaps of warm blankets!
On our return home there was even some time for the children to make friends with some of the beautiful and friendly ponies, they were given lots of love and grooming before playing gymkhana games in the riding school arena.
If you are a considering a stop in the North of France and have any pony mad children, Frank and Aleth’s place is a place you must go. They are friendly, caring hosts who have a zest for life and all things beautiful.
This place definitely has an atmosphere of magic for children and adults alike, a place to experience zen and a chance to connect with the fun side of life.
Perhaps even awaken that inner child a little, mud slide experience completely optional!