SOME PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Campsite "La Motte" is found centrally in the Drôme department, close to the village of Saillans, on the D 156. It is a peaceful and spacious campsite (4ha), set amid mountains and hills, with a limited number of pitches (25). Your tent is pitched among splendid scenery with a wide variety in animal- and plantlife. The soil of the site and its direct surroundings, rich in lime, sees scores of species of wild orchids flower in spring. The pitches are spacious, offer lots of privacy and fine views. The campsite is kept simple with a purpose: here people can do without the fuss of modern-day commercial mass-campsites.
A preference for nature and being actively occupied in roughish surroundings characterizes the enthusiastic "La Motte" campers. They like to exchange new discoveries and experiences, among them organise hikes and afterwards sit and talk things over with a refreshing drink or a bite to eat under the shade of the trees. They appreciate the camp-owner's personal approach, until a few years back Louis Schaepman, at present his son Marcel.
The latter installs every camper and his luggage at the site because no cars are allowed on the site. Respect for the site's facilities, grounds, natural beauty and fellow-campers are a prerequisite for a successful stay. For children the site is ideal, too: there will be many contemporaries, water to play in, ice-creams to enjoy and playing-fields. There is also a pool for young and old with fresh springwater.
The region lends itself splendidly for healthy and jolly exercise: climbing and hiking by means of ordnance survey maps and canoeing and swimming in the river Drôme. Cyclists may want to attempt nearby mountain-passes (1,000 m) or negotiate 'medium' to 'heavy-going' ATB-tracks laid out for the interested.
Of course, one may like to go wine-tasting at one of the many winegrowers in the area (Côtes du Rhône and the local speciality Clairette de Die).
All this takes place in a region with many picturesque medieval villages where, at the outdoor tables of cafés, one may enjoy authentic French life. In the village of Saillans, not far from the campsite, there is a well-known crèperie where tables can be booked through the campsite and one can be certain always of a warm welcome. General practitioners, chemists, real bakeries, grocers, a postoffice, a butcher, garages, a tourist information office, cafés and restaurants can be found at the village as well. Of course, there is also a campsite for those who rather like to be surrounded with a bit more hustle.
Bread, milk, butter, etc. can be ordered at the site's office up to 7 p.m., and collected the next morning between 8.30 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. when there is the opportunity, too, to have a cup of coffee.
Each day from 5:30 p.m. at the tables at the site-entrance there is an "apéritif", the perfect chance to enjoy a delicious drink in a convivial atmosphere (and perhaps make acquaintances). There have been times when camp musicians have made this into a very special night. Other talents, too, and I'm not especially referring to drinking, can be shown to advantage.
During the high season, about once a week, often on Fridays, a communal campfire is organized. On sale there: the familiar "La Motte" drinks and meat for barbecueing. The rest of the things needed for a successful barbecue must be brought by the campers themselves, possibly even as a joint effort.
Camping fees for 2017 are as follows:
for each extra person: 4 Euro a night.
Advance booking is advised.
The campsite is open from June 15 up to and including August 31.
- Tel: 00 33 475 21 52 40 (in France: 04 75 etc.)
- E-mail: camping.la.motte at gmail.com
- postal address: La Motte F-26340 Saillans
WHAT'S FOR SALE AT THE CAMPSITE
The campsite office offers on sale: icecream (Motta): Magnums and Cornettos at 2.40 Euro a piece and Max's and Frizzes at 1.20 Euro.
"La Motte" also sells beer, apple-juice by the glass, red wine (Côtes du Rhône A.O.C.), white and rosé wine. In the morning there is also coffee. All drinks, everywhere at the site (office, bar, campfire), are 1.20 Euro. To make things easy 1.20 Euro vouchers are available. (Who never dreamt of printing his own money!) Parents, too, may find this an easy commodity.
For taking away, prices are as follows: apple-juice (1 ltr.) 4 Euro, wine (1 ltr.) 6 Euro (red, rosé and white).
Please, return empty bottles for re-use.
In the deep-freezer there is also a small stock of meats for barbecueing. Prices are posted at the office.
The so-called 'bread-book', (for jotting down one's order for the day) is on the counter inside the office or outside on a table if the door is closed. Please, make sure your order is placed before 7 p.m.
There is also a telephone which may be used to make calls from the site.
"RULES AND REGULATIONS"
Actually a drawing up of some kind of "rules and regulations" ought to be superfluous at "La Motte". Most of the campers never have had the need of "rules" to behave spontaneously as could be expected of them. But, since in the modern world people sometimes go by the argumentation that " that which is not forbidden, is allowed", some rules and regulations have been drawn up. Should anyone disagree with them, he might feel the need to start a discussion, but by far the simplest solution would be to find another campsite at once.
As a stay at "La Motte" at the end of the summer should be as pleasant as at the beginning, no-one leaves behind litter at the site or at the (toilet-) facilities, no-one picks flowers and no-one damages in any way trees and shrubs. Sinks and basins are to be cleaned after use. In short, everything must be left as one would like to find it. Rubbish is separated as much as possible (into glass, plastic bottles, metal, cardboard and the rest) and put away behind the wire-door opposite the site office. Of course, the door is kept closed at all times.
Everyone appreciates the spacious pitches at the site, however, as a result campers may find themselves 'far' removed from the (toilet-)facilities. Obviously, this constitutes no reason to depose behind the tents 'things' you would not want to find on arrival.
Everyone, too, appreciates the peace and quiet at "La Motte", so, obviously, campers do their utmost not to disturb the other campers' peace. Radios especially are to be used with extreme care. On the other hand,
"La Motte" is no churchyard; noises and sounds to go with (youthful) spirits will not be interpreted as disturbing. After 10 p.m., however, no camper is to be heard anymore, then the natural nightly sounds get their turn. As a matter of fact, that which is called silence as a rule, in the end is the absence of noise, and without noise there is an awful lot to hear!
As is the case all through the region vipers might occur. One more reason to walk the mowed passages only as has been good practise for a long time at "La Motte". So, no paths will be made through the terraces to save a couple of meters' walk.
As it is not always easy to lock up a tent, everybody, camper or visitor, reports to the site office on arrival. If closed one may ring.
The sun heats the showers for everyone. So, please, do not let the water run for nothing, and save some for fellow-campers.
Open fires are strictly prohibited by the (local and departmental) authorities. One cigarette-end may cause the most terrible of forest-fires. It goes without saying, therefore, that fires will be lit with extreme caution.
For reasons of rest and hygiene pets are only allowed in exceptional cases. The rule is: do not bring pets.
For exceptions people need to bring very convincing arguments, indeed.
This list may be added to rather easily with any 'little' additions that may make a stay at "La Motte" even more pleasant. The fundamental code of behaviour has been for years: "Never be a nuisance to anybody else!"
THE SITE ITSELF
Not only "de Waard" tents are put up at "La Motte". It is not the kind of tents that matter, but the people who bring them. Good people are preferred. It is a fine sight, though, all these pyramids, but good caravanners come too. Some even pull their extension cords through to the toilet facilities, of course, only after permission has been asked. As it is not a thing that is encouraged as a matter of course.
As a matter fact the well near the (toilet-)facilities may well serve as a 'refrigerator'. It may be found useful to fasten the cooling units (box or bag) to a tree. It has happened that beer bottles have been found downstream after a shower. By whom? At "La Motte" it is in everyone's interest to stay honest, but funny things do happen!
Most of the pitches are spacious, but some of them are a bit more "intimate". It is the exception rather than the rule that somebody needs to cross the front of one's tent, everyone has one's own frontyard. Some of the pitches are really away from it all, which involves further walks and some lugging; the site is to be kept spotlessly clean at all times!
The car park is not too big, so that parking cars needs to be done with some discipline but with a bit of effort all cars will find a place.
The pool is ideal for a cool and refreshing dip. It is a natural spring, with reed mace, waterlilies, giant horsetail, some marsh orchids, little fish and a bit of mud on the bottom from which sometimes a plastic sandal emerges. There are many dragonflies, too. The springwater is running continuously, which keeps the water fresh and clean. In fact this pool is a bit of a nature reserve in itself. Next to it is the playing field, sloping somewhat, and at the other end, among the shade of the trees, a quiet spot where it is so easy to hang one's hammock. Both this shady spot and the fresh pool ensure coolness when the weather is hot.
Of late there is also a jeu de boules course, laid out by the "La Motte" club. Close to it sometimes a pastis bottle has been spotted; but of that no proof exists any longer.
After 10 p.m. no camper may be heard. Then is the time to listen to the nightly silence, often under a splendid starry sky.
In a corner of the playing field there is the fireplace. That is the place where, depending on the circumstances, about once a week and mostly on Fridays, a campfire is stoked up. Meat for barbecueing may be ordered at the site office. The usual drinks are on sale at the barbecue. Often these barbecues are really fine occasions.
HIKING, WALKING, CLIMBING
The Laveuse (or washerwoman) is a landmark in the landscape of fairly wild rockformations above the site. A sort of wall looking down at a precipice, a hole to look through, a little cave behind it to cool down and fill the waterbottle. Viewed from Saillans in the valley these rockformations look a bit like a washerwoman (the old-fashioned and rare type these days, without a washingmachine). From the site it is about a 6-hrs-hike there and back. Another campers' traditional, organised a couple of times per season, is the following: in groups hikers are driven to the mountain pass col de la Chaudière. The hike follows a route across the Trois Becs, each some 1,500 mtrs high, and back via the Laveuse. If lucky one may encounter chamois and marmots. In clear weather the views are spectacular. After a 6-hrs-walk the hikers return at the site entrance: tired, thirsty but well-satisfied, and often singing.
The 'bathtubs' hike is another classic expedition. Here the hikers follow a mountain stream for some kilometers, through a rather inaccesible valley, whereby alternatively hikers walk, fall or swim in the stream. This hike will take a day. But there is also a minor 'bathtubs hike, a little less adventurous but still very beautiful.
Then there is St Médard. From the campsite one follows a forestpath up for some 45 mins and arrives at a plain with the ruins of a medieval abbey. A surprising and special place. Just above the place, on the ridge of the mountain there stands a little chapel with again a wonderful view, albeit considerably less high than the Laveuse.
In the immediate vicinity there are nature walks enough, just for an hour or so, or for the day.
Another possibility is to go on a hike armed with an ordnance survey map (for sale in Saillans). There used to be tracks everywhere, parts of them are overgrown by now, but many can be recovered in a true explorer's spirit. In France (if one behaves in a decent manner, after all one is a guest here) one has the right of way almost everywhere, on private property, too. It is forbidden, however, to pass fenced in properties, vegetable gardens and agricultural fields if damage to crops is liable to occur. Still, a lot remains!
The Tourist Information (Office du Tourisme) in Saillans (tel. +33(0)4 75 21 50 05) will be pleased to inform the hiker about the opportunities in the region. They have laid out hikes themselves, and also sell the Randoguide (a hiker's guide to the region), a guide with maps and itineraries for a great number of routes in the region, too many to mention here.
At the campsite itself much information can be heard at the tables at the site entrance at the end of the afternoon. Then is the time for a beer, an applejuice, an icecream, a glass of wine, sharing experiences and making plans for the next day.
Without exaggeration it may be said that opportunities for the walker and hiker are as good as infinite. (I myself have not seen all in the 46 years I have been here.)
To my father they were his friends (or girlfriends?). He had appointments with them that only were not always kept on their part. The plants once in a while skipped a year flowering. Or sometimes disappeared for good, he did not like that one bit. He always knew when and where one would flower. He would keep close track to the rarest and most beautiful in particular. And took photos of them. Time and again he would succeed in sparing them during mowing. He got to know more and more about the plants, also with the help of expert campers. And he discovered more and more. The discovery of the last, the 33th of the site and his collection, was celebrated in a dignified style.
So, it has been a matter of decency and good manners to leave all flowers and plants alone, for a good 46 years by now.
For the connoisseur, here is a list of wild orchids growing on the site:
aceras anthropophorum ........man orchid
anacamptis pyramidalis ......pyramidal orchid
cephalanikera damasosium .........white helleborine
cephalanthera rubra ...........red helleborine
cephalanthera longifolia .......narrow-leaved helleborine
dactyloshira maculata (s, sp fuchsii) .......common spotted orchid
epipactis atrosufens .......dark red helleborine
epipactis helleborine .........broad-leaved helleborine
epipactis palustris .........marsh helleborine
gymnadenia conopsea ..........fragrant orchid
himantoglossum hircinum ........lizard orchid
limodorum abortivum ..........violet birdsnest orchid
listera ovata .............common twayblade
neottia nidus avis .........birdsnest orchid
ophrys apifera............ bee orchid
ophrys bertolinii .........bertolini orchid
ophrys fuciflora .............late spider orchid
ophrys insectifera ...........fly orchid
orchis mascula ........early purple orchid
orchis militaris ............military orchid
orchis morio............. green-winged orchid
orchis pallens .............pale-flowered orchid
orchis purpurea............. lady orchid
orchis tridentata .........toothed orchid
platanthera bifolia ............lesser butterfly orchid
platanthera chloranta .............greater butterfly orchid
spiranthes spiralis ...........autumn lady's tresses
THE SITE MAP OF THE CAMPSITE
In order to make known one's possible preference for a particular pitch when booking, a site map may come in handy. It is true that the present map may be in need of some improvement. The new lettering system will be used along with the old numeral system for the time being.
At or around the site many animals can be encountered or spotted. I am not much of an expert in this respect and so can only pass on information about the bigger animals that are found in the area. With some luck genuine experts may be met at the site.
In May and June roe-deer can be seen jogging along quietly all over the site. Some time later, when it gets busier, they are a little less conspicuous. In the high season they retreat to the bottom of the valley, only visible to campers from the three lower-end pitches. In 1998 a little fawn was born, really cute.
The mountain goat or chamois is more timid. It never visits the camp site, but is often fairly easily observed on the rocks at the split down at the valley or in the meadows to the left of it. They are best seen in the evening, from the pitches at the top-end. However, it may be more adventurous to try and find them up in the mountains, at the Laveuse and the Trois Becs. Their total number is estimated at 120, but the moutain-range is extensive. With a bit of feeling they wil not be difficult to discover. If only distance is kept and quiet is observed they are not shy and easily observed through binoculars. With a bit of luck marmots and even the golden eagle may be spotted.
The presence of the badger is mainly detected by its traces. It does not cause any nuisance by noise, but lives here the year round.
The squirrel, may be nothing very special, very funny though, and occurring in red and grey.
The genet occurs here too, though not easily spotted. Sometimes in the evening in the headlights of the car after an evening out in Saillans, one may surprise this feline.
Of the lynx too, traces have been discovered.
The tawny owl, not especially rare, really belongs to the nights at "La Motte".
And foxes: not seen often, but absolutely present. They may be heard to scrounge around the tents at night. (though they may be hedgehogs or dormice just as well). The little cubs are a lot less shy and may be even seen in broad daylight.
And then there are the dormice. Funny little creatures that may be responsible for some nightly disturbances. They mainly live in trees or in houses and may be fairly easily seen in the evening at litterbags hanging down from branches.
The golden eagle can be seen sometimes at the rocks above the site, the short-toed (or snake) eagle is seen more commonly and buzzards can be seen daily.
Small lizards are common, the emerald lizard is a bit more difficult to spot but still rather abundant. Some grass (or ringed) snakes and the odd viper, too, belong to the animal life in the area.
A small group of faithful campers/nature experts were to compile an inventory of the various species of animal and plantlife, observed at "La Motte". Obviously, all expert help is welcome.
THE SURROUNDING AREA
(and activities outside the campsite)
Walking and Hiking
Here one is referred to Walking, Hiking, Climbing.
Apart from the pool at the campsite there are the rivers in the area, the Drôme and the Roanne. The latter is a mountainstream much frequented by swimmers, at a 15-to 30- mins-drive from the campsite. The river runs through a splendidly rugged valley, the best spots for bathing are to be discovered by oneself or be heard about from people at "La Motte". Then there is the Gervanne, the upper reaches of which offer some fine spots as well (with a fall of more than 50 meters!). In the area there other streams, with the odd little basin to swim in, but those may involve an hours' walk or climb. By and by, it is getting rather difficult to find a bathing spot which has not been 'discovered' by others. But one's own personal explorations certainly may have its advantages as well.
The genuine cyclist really should bring his own bike. But with a bit of effort one may be able to find a place where bikes may be rented. For the 'velo-fanatic' an abundance of opportunities exist in mountain passes, for All Terrain bikers tracks have been laid out. Information at the Office du Tourisme. Also there are a few possibilities for a leisurely ride, but not in the direct vicinity of the site. Half an hours' drive by car will be necessary, and a bike with gears is a condition.
In Saillans there are two restaurants, a (recommended) Crèperie and a Pizzeria. In La Chaudière there is a country inn with splendid views and, allegedly, pleasant service. In Aouste Hôtel de la Gare is recommended, in Crest Kleber, La Porte Montségur and the Grand Hôtel are well spoken of, but of course there are many more good and pleasant eating-places. But in fact no village is without some (small) restaurant. Find out for yourselves!
That is what this is called around here. The canoe may look a bit like a Canadian canoe, the kayak may have some resemblance to the Eskimo boat. It really is a wonderful experience to paddle downstream in this manner, it belongs to the 'fixed' outings of many campers. In Saillans there are two companies that have boats on hire, but more will be found along the river Drôme.
"La Motte" is a special campsite, but there are more common type campsites for those who like a bit more bustle. These may be found in between road and river (excluding the council campsite at Aurel), there really is a good choice. In the high season these sites can be really crowded. A number of things that will not happen at "La Motte", will at these sites. There is something there to everyone's fancy!
Several opportunities exist in the area to go riding, from an hours' ride to a couple of weeks'. Mostly supervised. It is a very appropriate way to discover the Drôme scenery without being disturbed by asphalt.
A visit to a market has belonged to the "La Motte" fun for a long time. Well-appreciated trips include: Die (Saturday), Crest (Saturday and Tuesday), Saillans (Sunday) and Nyons and Bourdeaux (Thursday). Then there are the 'special' markets too, like the Picodon-fair (local goat's cheese) in Saou, somewhere in July, the garlic-fair in Crest, end of June, and an antiques and junk fair in Saillans, early August. More in fact, then can be mentioned here.
In spite of the fact that tourism has had its influences in this respect these old customs are still observed. Every weekend some village in the area will have its fête. Typical ingredients: jeu de boules, a dance with buvettes where one can have a good binge. And occasionaly a procession with Chinese lanterns, fireworks and a big communal meal. The dance involves a dais with an orchestra, which plays all kinds of music so that everyone may hear something to his taste. On occasion too, there may be a funfair with the appropriate attractions. These days other attractions may be thought up as well.
This area of the Drôme lies about central in the region of the Côtes du Rhône. Many very good wines among them, some well-known and therefore expensive (in my opinion), others just as good but not so well-known. For the winetaster the opportunities are almost limitless.
"La Motte" lies in the region of the Clairette de Die, a vin mousseux (a sparkling wine). The best among them may match a champagne. Prices may range between 5 and 8 Euros. The big Cave Cooperative is in Die but a lot of winegrowers make their own. Most of the producers will be happy to offer visitors the chance to taste their products in the hope of selling a few bottles. Just to come and have a drink, obviously may harm the (still) good name of the Dutch.
Just a glimpse of what is organised in summer: a fairly well-known Bach-festival in St Donat (just north of Romans), a vocal jazz festival in Crest (early August) and a Mozart festival in Saou.
"Huilerie Richard" , in Montoison, makes an exellent olive oil and also other oils. They sell other stuff related to oil, their shop is worth a visit! www.huilerie-richard.com/
Jean-Claude Rasdpail, in Saillans, makes one of the best "Clairette" wines, and BIO (as we say here) www.raspail.com/
Daytrips by car
(in the vicinity)
The castle tower (donjon) of Crest is well worth the effort. The building still stands without significant changes from the Middle Ages. The Vercors is a truly spectacular plateau with highland plains, caves, precipices, rifts, forests and so on and so forth. Many villages or cities in the area are worth a trip too, because of particular buildings or ruins, atmosphere, setting and/or restaurants. For the interested there are also quite a number of Roman churches and chapels, these stone buildings keep standing upright for quite some time after all.
(and farther away)
Although crowded in summer Avignon may be worth a visit (it is really crowded during the theatre festival!). The Camargue with Arles and Les Baux de Provence are, though further away, worth a trip as well. This may be nicer in spring though.
The castle of Suze de la Rousse accomodates the Université du Vin. At the castle of Grignan (madame de Sévigné) actors re-enact 18th century castlelife on certain summer evenings.
And then of course there are the really high mountains, the Alps, at some 2 hours' drive. A bit too high to my liking (I prefer the Drôme), but great walking country.
Tourist Information Offices at:
Office du Tourisme, Place Soubeyranne 26340 SAILLANS. Tel: (0)4 75 21 51 05 and (0)4 75 21 58 83
Office du Tourisme, Place Maurice Rozier 26400 CREST. Tel: (0)4 75 25 11 38; Fax: (0)4 75 76 79 65
Office du Tourisme, Place St Pierre 26150 DIE. Tel: (0)4 75 22 03 03; Fax: (0)4 75 22 40 46
Office du Tourisme, le Village 26400 SAOU. Tel: (0)4 75 76 01 72; Fax: (0)4 75 76 05 50
Comité Départmental du Tourisme de la Drôme, 31 Av Président Herriot 26000 VALENCE. Tel: (0)4 75 82 19 26; Fax: (0)4 75 56 01 65, www.drometourisme.com ; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comité Régional du Tourisme Rhône-Alpes www.crt-rhonealpes.fr
HOW TO FIND THE CAMPSITE
From Valence to Saillans follow the (green) destination-boards GAP; Valence-Crest is about 28 km, Crest-Saillans about 15 km, Saillans-La Motte about 5 km.
- Leave autoroute at exit VALENCE-SUD, after péage pass traffic lights, cross bridge and immediately turn right (direction CREST and GAP), straight on at next traffic lights (1 km).
- Follow D 111 along Beauvallon, Etoile and through Montoison. About 4 km before CREST you will find yourself without really noticing it at the D 93. At the first roundabout just before CREST turn right, cross the Drôme-bridge, turn left at second roundabout, and straight on at traffic lights.
- After CREST you will pass Aouste and Blacons. About 15 km after CREST the first junction to SAILLANS is at another rounabout. DO NOT take this one but drive on via the bridge across the Drôme, after about 2 km you will observe the second junction towards SAILLANS. DO NOT take this one either, but drive on for some 100 m and turn sharp left just after you have driven under a fly-over, drive across the same fly-over and you are on the D 156.
- 150 m after fly-over turn right, direction LA CHAUDIERE and BOURDEAUX, and then follow the road for about 4 km up to the first mountain pass. There is a parking place, turn right here and follow the road (1 km) to the campsite which is signposted.
Welcome at "La Motte".
At 05°10'52" east and 44°40'18" North you will find the entrance of the campsite. (or 5°1812 east and 44°6718 north)