On The Road – Touring Adventures with SunHatFrance

Photo of the Gorges du Verdon, France
Words and photography by Liz of SunHatFrance

Sunhatfrance recently launched their Classic VW Camper van hire in the stunning location of Provence/Cote d’Azur in the South of France.

Now that Spring has arrived, sunny days and lighter evenings we thought it would be the ideal moment to experience a few days touring our favourite places locally in our newly refurbished VW camper van ‘Cassie’.  She is a beautifully restored 1978 Westfalia, T2 Bay Window.

This last year has been an eventful one for her, she was shipped over from Oregon, USA to the UK where she then underwent a total revamp before taking up her new residence with us here in the heart of Provence in France.

Photo of the Gorges du Verdon, France

Beautiful Gorges du Verdon in France

From our base in Cabasse we decided our first stop just had to be the absolutely breathtaking Gorges du Verdon, aptly known as the Grand Canyon of France.

When we originally had the idea of offering this style of holiday it was the image of Cassie or Joe camped under the stars alongside the lake at Ste Croix du Verdon that fired our imagination that this could create a very special travel experience and hold memories that would stay with you for a lifetime.

Preparations underway we began loading her up with all we’d need for a few days luxury camping, we’ve carefully planned to include everything a self-drive adventurer will need when they choose to rent a Retro VW Campervan from http://www.sunhatfrance.com/

Next morning we wake to an azure blue sky and brilliant sunshine, everything on board, oil level checked (a little ritual you must perform regularly when driving a Classic VW like Cassie) and we’re off!

We know the route will take us through some of the most picturesque villages in the South of France and plan to take our time and visit one of our favourite vineyards en route http://www.chateaucarpediem.com/  we are after all in the famous wine producing region of the Var.

Cassie at Cotignac Market in the South of France

Cassie at Cotignac Market in the South of France

So, the wine chilling in the fridge, next stop the picturesque village of Cotignac http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/var/cotignac/cotignac.htm  to get our provisions for the next couple of days from the colourful  market, a selection of wonderful fresh French produce, perfect.

The quiet meandering country roads seem to be designed in perfect harmony for one of these vintage VW Campers, that refuse to be rushed along, the slower pace being beneficial for the camper van and better for us too!!!

An hour or so later we find ourselves looking down on the sparkling blue/green waters of the Lac Ste. Croix and the spectacular entrance to the Gorges du Verdon, this view never fails to make you gasp with the sheer beauty of it.

We decide to pull up and picnic making the most of the fantastic views that surround us, so roof up, picnic table and chairs out and relax….

We can’t resist taking a few photos of our Classic VW Camper in this setting, she just looks so amazing, her pastel green and white paintwork is absolutely gleaming in the Provencal sunshine, and with her brand new bespoke interior  featuring Ivory upholstery and Walnut cabinets she is the perfect blend of classic design and contemporary styling and it’s no wonder that so many people notice her as we pass by, we get many smiles and friendly waves as we tootle along, everyone seems to have a soft spot for these Iconic Camper vans.

SunHatFrance having a picnic by their VW Campervan

Time for a relax and a spot of food!

We could quite easily stay here all day long just absorbing the breathtaking scenery and atmosphere of this very special place, however we are excited to arrive at our destination and set up camp so we pack everything back in the van and head for the camping http://lesrochesverdon.com/  this is a tranquil little spot close to the village and right on the lakeside.

This is the bit we’ve really been looking forward to, setting up home and actually living in our VW Kombi for a couple of days, we want to try everything out so we can ensure all goes to plan when we offer her for campervan rental.

We put the awning together without any hitches, it’s amazing how much extra living space this creates, we can now store the picnic table and chairs in here leaving the campervan  clear, there is even a zip up bedroom compartment in the awning which can sleep 2 people if required.

It hasn’t taken us long to ‘make a home’ and before we know it we’ve got the kettle on.

We could have then gone off touring further afield, leaving the drive away awning to mark our camping plot, but we are so pleased to be here that we

Lake at Gorges du Verdon

Stunning scenery

have decided to spend the next couple of days around the van, walking alongside the lake, dipping in for a swim and a laze on the beach.  When evening time comes around it’s the moment to open a bottle of wine, cook a meal chez Cassie and sit chatting under the stars before turning in for a good nights’ sleep in our lovely classic VW camper.

We’ve had a great weekend and enjoyed every part of being ‘on the road’ in Cassie, having experienced this road trip first hand we are now confident that anyone choosing to book a holiday with Sunhatfrance   http://www.sunhatfrance.com/camper-vans/campervan-cassie/ are going to have as great a time as we have had, we can’t wait to do it again and have already planned our next trip to the beach near St. Tropez!  

If you would like to book with SunhatFrance you can either go to the Classic Volks Hire Page for France or direct to their website

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for the next instalment.

Volkswagen T2. A lot of rust. Four crazy thrill-seekers. Big adventure!

Happy Samoje!

Happy with the camper?

We all have dreams we wish one day would come true. Just like these four guys from Poland – but they took a step further and decided to make it happen. They gave up all the things that they ‘had to do’ in their lives and focused on what they actually ‘want to do’ instead. Let’s hear their story… It all started one year ago with just a simple plan to do a Eurotrip in a modern camper van, nice and comfy. However, they felt it could be a bit boring since they don’t see themselves as the kind of people who like doing ordinary things. The ‘ordinary’ plan had to be changed into a bit more of an extreme one. What did they come up with? They have always been in love with a T2 bus, probably since they were kids, so it naturally led to a decision – to buy a classic VW T2 of their childhood dreams and travel around Europe in that iconic hippie bus. There was just one problem – they had never restored or even repaired a car on their own before…

Picture of VW splitscreen at the VW Museum

VW museum

The research started, first on the list was a visit to the Volkswagen Museum in Pepowo near Sopot, Poland to find out everything about their beloved T2 bus. A bit more interesting than a regular day out in the museum!     The main goal of their mission was to find out if such a car can go more than 10,000 km without causing any technical issues. The owner of the museum was incredibly helpful and the guys managed to get to know a huge amount of details about the T2 hippie bus.  Mission complete! However, one pretty massive obstacle appeared on the horizon – the cost of bringing such an old car (of almost 40 years!) back to life. It turned out the price of restoration was comparable to renting a good condition camper van for the whole trip! A lot of thinking had to be done and the decision was not easy… but their love of trying new and extraordinary things took over the reasonable thinking and the decision was made. The search for an old T2 hippie bus began. Eurotrip plans started taking shape – they came up with a marketing strategy and started looking for sponsors. The details of their not-just-ordinary Eurotrip will follow, let’s go back to the restoration adventures now.

Rusty VW camper

This needs a lot of work!

After their visit to the VW Museum they stared looking for a car that would be in as good condition as possible. With constant searching, it took three months to find the right one! It looked perfect on the photo, the excitement was growing… Turned out it was not so perfect in reality, in fact there was nothing to buy apart from a pile of rust. What a massive waste of time and excitement!

Back to searching, luckily it was not long till one of them found another perfect bus! And that turned out to be the real perfect one. They bought it and the restoration process

VW Type 2 camper

This was worse than they’d expected

began. There was a lot of rust at the front part of the bus so the first step was to replace it. This part was quick and easy – all done by a professional panel beater. Not easy for much longer though as they noticed that there was much more rust under every seal… The budget was limited so the guys were forced to do it on their own and secretly hoped for some

Very rusty window area on the VWbus

Surely it’ll buff out?

help from friends and family who knew how to fix the metal issues.

Welding being done on a VW campervan

Time for a spot of welding?

It was time of learning a lot about cars. Their lack of experience did not help – but their massive passion for bringing this old rusty car back to life helped them go through every step of the restoration process. It was a really long process as they ended up having to replace over 50 parts on their own! And that was just the first stage, next to get done was the filling. So much they were in love with this car that they were ready to do it on their own too!

VW Bus with filler

This bus needed some filler!

Okay, car body issues sorted out but to travel more than 10,000 km around Europe they would need an engine that works properly. The car had a 1.6 litre boxer engine that could be started but it was very weak so it was a definite next one on the to do list. The guys would have had no idea how to tackle this problem but luckily one of them was finishing his mechanical engineering studies and with his eye for detail there was no way anything could be missed or done wrong!   6  The entire restoration process started back in March and the body and filling works took more than five months. It was time of hard work, sometimes even seven days a week. After that tough and long process there was time for a more exciting part – the colour! The plan was to go from the old green & gold to a classic blue & white. Sounded easy but even finding a perfect combination of the colour tones took a few trials. Finally, the best blue was chosen.

VW camper ready to be painted

Ready for painting!

Although the car was painted by a professional, guys did not have time off while waiting for it to be done. They split into two teams: engine repairing crew and upholstery team. It worked out very well and by time the car came back with a beautiful new colour both teams completed their jobs. Very efficient!

VW engine being rebuilt

The engine needed sorting

 

 

Finally the car came back with its beautiful new shiny colour. That moment compensated for all the hard moments they had since the start of the restoration works! Massive smiles on their faces – the colour turned out to be even better than what they dreamt of!

Volkswagen campervan painted blue and white

All painted and ready to rebuild.

The guys are a bit secretive when showing photos of their restored T2 bus but since it is a part of their marketing strategy we have to wait till they reveal more. There are more details, photos and videos on their Facebook page so make sure you check this out! They said everything was recorded and their next step would be to get the editing done and put some more videos on their fanpage.   They talk about the whole project as ‘not just an ordinary trip’. The plan is to make it an extreme Eurotrip with all sorts of risky and adrenaline pumping activities happening on the way. Some of that could be surfing (photo below) like this one on the Portuguese coast. As I mentioned they’re looking for sponsor, who could allow them to fulfill their crazy plan and hit the trip! In return they will call whole excursion with the name of sponsor, and furthermore during the entire trip their car can be used for sponsor brand stickers: “We have so much advertising space on our car, so we can give it to our sponsor which will be huge benefit for him or her”  There is a lot to follow so make sure you check out their Facebook page!

Surfing in Portugal

Catching some waves!