Switzerland & Dolomites

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The end of the school summer holidays and time for us to get on the road again. We crossed through France and into Switzerland for the first part of our journey. Since our last outing we had fitted air suspension to Priscilla and this was the first occasion we had to try it out. The results were very pleasing. We have improved stability and a much cushioned suspension system.

We took our usual route across the Channel, from Dover to Calais on the ferry. This is the lowest cost option, the same price as a car, and gets us into France in time to put a few kilometres behind us before we stop overnight.



Next day we headed on south east on the N roads, rather than using the autoroutes. We stopped overnight at Pont à Mousson, near Nancy. We had a few anxious moments with 3.5 tonne limits!

This was a wonderful aire right alongside the Moselle river with beautiful views across the river, swans on the grass and just a few hundred metres to walk into town across the bridge.

This was a popular aire and pretty crowded but it was managed by a friendly Frenchman who found space for us and arranged for electric hook up. Loos and showers were also included. The charge €6.  

The weather was really hot and we sat outside to eat our evening meal and only retired inside as it got dark.

Next day, on the N roads again and stopped just short of the Swiss border at Thann in the Vosges mountains. We arrived about midday to find the aire was already full and that motorhomes were parked in the adjacent car park. The local policeman suggested that we parked up in the space reserved for HGVs, which we did. Loos, fresh water and dump points were available in the car park as well as in the allotted motorhome aire. There was no charge.

We watched the car park gradually fill up with up to 20 more motorhomes. The local police seemed quite happy about it despite the fact that each motorhome took up 2 car spaces.  In the morning we all drifted away again.

Thann was a pretty little town which was quite busy during the day and very quiet at night.

Day 4 and we crossed into Switzerland at Basle.  As we are over 3.5 tonnes we had to purchase a vignette at the frontier which cost 3.25 Swiss Francs per day (just under £2.00 per day). You have to have this or face a heavy fine. The minimum charge is 8 days which would cover us during our visit.

We arrived In Grindelwald around midday to a very crowded campsite. The reception office was closed until 17:30 so we found ourselves a pitch and settled in. There are very few aires in Switzerland and we chose to use a campsite for the showers, laundry facilities and security of the vehicle when you go off for the day.

Grindelwald is absolutely lovely. Picture post card Switzerland at its best. The mountains immediately south are the Eiger and the Jungfrau and they tower above you and are truly magnificent.  There are many, many walks that you can take and plenty of cable cars, frequent bus and train services to everywhere you could wish to visit.

We left Grindelwald and followed the south side of Lake Bregenz and then north around the top of Lake Luzern and followed the motorways to Austria. We have never travelled through so many tunnels in one day! We must have gone at least 50 km under ground!

We crossed into Austria from Litchenstein and had to stop at the first OMV garage to purchase a ‘GO Box’. This is a device which you stick to your windscreen and it gets automatically charged from overhead gantries as you use the motorways in Austria. It only applies to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and only to toll routes. The device was €5 to buy and the minimum pre-payment was €75—ouch!  This was very expensive as the €75 only just lasted from the Litchenstein border to the Italian border on the Brenner Pass. We decided not to use toll routes on our return journey and probably, never again in Austria!

Our intended stop for the night in Austria was a campsite in Schruns, selected from the Caravan Club book. But it was awful, full of scruffy statics and we were relieved when the unfriendly site manager told us that he had no room. We went to look at the other site in Schruns but this too was scruffy and they would only take a reservation for 3 nights. We declined and after looking at the Caravan Club site book again, we decided to head for Imst.

Imst West was a brilliant site, small and friendly and right in town with a supermarket just 1 min away.  We thoroughly recommend this site!  We stayed over for 2 nights to allow us to explore.

From Imst we headed over the Brenner Pass into Italy and then east to Sexten/Sesto which is just inside the Italian border.  Everywhere here has a German and an Italian name and the locals speak both languages; often intermixed which can be confusing if you only speak a little of each!  

Caravan Park Sexten is a luxury campsite with fitness facilities and a magnificent, indoor swimming pool. We were there for 7 days  We were the only Brits on the site for a while and the others were almost all German.  The showers and toilets had to be seen to be believed and Desnée took some shots without being arrested!

Just outside the site is an hourly bus service into Moos and Sexten, however, it is an easy walk to both of the villages.  The scenery is just spectacular as only the Dolomites can do!  Plenty of easy walking routes, wayside cafés and mountain restaurants.

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Our first stop was at an aire in Catillon-sur-Sambre.  These Aires are provided by the local town to encourage motorhomes to visit and spend money in the shops, bars and restaurants. The overnight charges vary from nothing to a few Euros. When there is a charge then there are some sort of facilities provided, usually fresh water, waste water and toilet cassette dump points and often electric hook up as well. There are similar facilities provided in Germany where they are known as Stellplatz.             


The aire at Catillon-sur-Sambre is beside a canal quay but is only for small motorhomes. Priscilla is a big girl and could not fit in but across the road was another parking area designated as overflow parking. We stopped in there and were accompanied for the night by eight or so other motorhomes, many French but some Brits. There were no facilities provided but also no charge.

View from our door at Pont á Mousson

Looking down on Grindelwald campsite

Lake Thun en route to Interlaken

Grindelwald village

Lauterbrunnen valley from the train window—that is snow in the distance!

On site at Imst—Austrian Tyrol

Made pigs of ourselves at an alpine restaurant!

The management was not too keen to walk this path to view glaciers in the rain!

Imst—Rosengartenschlucht. The canyon path note hiker lower left.

One of the many bridges over the waterfalls

The Alpine Coaster at Imst. This is just a small section of zig-zags. The chair lift takes about 15 mins to go up and the run down is approx 3.5 kms in much less time!

Desnée takes the final curves

Restaurant building at the campsite

Lovely views everywhere of the magnificent Dolomites

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Mountain swimming pool—too cold today!