Miss Sixty has written a good review of this campsite as well. My perspective is from working there whereas she was there as a customer.
To get there you can either flydrive, or take the ferry and drive from there. I got the ferry as a foot passenger and got several trains to Quimper where I was picked up by my area manager. It was about a half hour drive to the site from there.
It is is South Brittany near Quimper. Its literally in the middle of nowhere and you definately need a car, as I only had a bike that was broken provided curtesy of Eurocamp, I had strong legs at the end of my season.
It is surrounded on one side by countryside, remote large manor houses and a few other campsites. On the other is the fantastic beach, you can walk all the way to BegMeil which is a pretty French small village, where you can get a ferry to Concarneu.
The facilities on site are quite good, theres a large pool with shallow parts for kids, loads of slides and things to climb on as well.
Theres a kids park with a huge ship that the can climb on. The ship is very high up as it used to be a real working ship! As a childrens courier I wasnt keen with the way that the kids can hang off the bits that used to have the sails, but some parents were happy to let their kids do this, despite it being pure concrete underneath the sand. This is a feature of french childrens parks, lets put concrete under a small layer of sand. I have seen some horrible things so just make sure you are aware of this when your kids play here.
Theres a tennis court which can be rented by the hour for a small fee.
Theres a good basketball court which is used a lot by the childrens clubs.
Theres a huge field where the kids club tents are situated. Eurocamp and Keycamp have funstation tents here from July onwards. Its a great club if you want some peace and quiet for a few hours. This is where I was working and if you come in peak season its one of the best facilities I think. We mostly do sports and arts and crafts in 7+ and the little ones do things like nature walks and small games. 7+ are noisy and like to do loads of things, so theres a lot of marching around the campsite doing hunts. We generally visit a lot of the parents caravans which sometimes annoys them but then we get sweets from them to go away! I love working for funstation as its the best job on the campsite and the kids all seem to love it as they make friends and learn loads of cool songs (which I taught them). If you can find a site with seperate age groups of fun station its well worth it. Make sure your child is the right age, because its very annoying for the kids couriers when parents say their child is 7, then later on the child admits they actually are 6 and you can see they arent really coping with the level of the activity.
Theres also a small holding here, with a pony (who desperately wants to escape and is very good at doing so. A few goats live there and they also escape on a daily basis. The best is the rabbits but they dont generally get cleaned out apart from when one of my colleagues did it as the kids were coming back smelling once they had visited the rabbits.
The bar is most widely used by the workers and the customers, its got a lot of cheap alcohol and they have theme nights which are fun, especially the disco on monday.
They have a large entertainment shed thing where you can play Bingo, see a magician, french meeting parties.
There are a lot of companies on site including Eurocamp, Keycamp, Venue, Matthews, Vacansolei.
Its quite a noisy campsite despite there being 'no tolerance of noise'. Its quite often the French making it as the owners dont want to upset their customers but they arent really bothered about the English companies customers.
The couriers for Eurocamp and Keycamp live behind the crazy golf and so if you are around this area it can be quite noisy as everyone likes to drink!
I enjoyed working on this campsite but it is too isolated if you dont have a car, and if you travel before July most of the local amenities are closed. This is because the majority of the campsite doesnt fill up until the summer holidays, around the 20th July.
Just over 2 years ago when we moved to Spain, we sold up in the UK, bought a large campervan and set off for our new life. Thankfully we bought a very large camper because there was a lot of our lives came with us. We were a party of two adults and two children (10 and 14, both boys). We took 12 weeks to make the journey, taking our time and having a ball. It was the best family time we could ever have had and something we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
We had never actually lived in a campervan or a caravan before, let alone travel in one, so it took a little bit of adjusting and organising before we got it right. I wont pretend it was all plain sailing but we had loads of fun and laughed so much along the way.
Another thing that was new to us was campsites. I remember my own childhood holidays in caravans in campsites and was very excited about the whole prospect. One thing I was not prepared for was the vast changes that have taken place since my last visit to a campsite, they have improved so much, they are almost unrecognisable. We did a fair bit of on the road research, buying books on campsites and planning our journey around the ones that had the facilities that we required to make our holiday perfect. We must have stayed in around 40 sites on the way down to Spain, some for only one night and some for a few days. We only had one bad campsite experience on the whole journey, all the others were fantastic. However, there was one site which stood way above al the others and that was Chateau de Grange Fort.
This site is situated about 600kilometres from Dieppe (where we landed) and takes around 8 hours to reach with a camper or pulling a caravan. (full travel details via link at end of review). Just south of Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne region. Coming off the motorway onto the local roads is a bit of a shock and negotiating a large campervan is never easy on small roads. Probably my only complaint about the campsite was the access road. It was at the top of a very steep hill and the road was a little treacherous but then that is the price you pay for the amazing views once you get there.
Your breath is taken away when you reach the castle, it is reminiscent of an English Norman castle and is quite stunning. It is set in beautiful gardens with incredible walks through the countryside and along the river where you can fish, canoe and dive.. This campsite has every possible facility and the setting is second to none.
The castle is fully utilised as the family who own the site live in a part of it. The reception area is inside the castle as is the shop, bar and restaurant. There are outbuildings across the forecourt and these are all beautifully and characteristically upgraded with all modern plumbing and electrics but retaining their original layout and stonework. Even the floors are original.
The toilets and shower facilities are contained within the outbuildings but there are additional toilet blocks around the site. There is a laundry room, gym, sauna and washing up area, again other washing up areas are placed around the site. The feeling of living in the past is quite phenominal, you are really steeped in history, however you do have every modern convenience that you could ever require.
Pitches are more than adequate in size and are well separated with hedges so that privacy is guaranteed. There is a separate area for tents, larger pitches for cars and caravans and the overall feeling is of a community. The castle in the centre of it all encourages people to eat in the restaurant, drink in th bar and generally mix very well with other visitors.
This is a year-round campsite and during the summer months there are additional facilites such as take away service, games room and outdoor pool as well as entertainment and local transport to the town of Issoire. In the winter months there is still plenty to do and they have an indoor pool and jacuzzi, which is actually quite rare in campsites. The indoor pool is beautifully designed and is housed in one of the original outbuildings. On top of that there is an internet facility, bike hire, horse-riding, canoeing, childrens play area and a host of other activities on offer.
The site is family owned with three generations living in the castle. The owners son who is lives there with his family bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Grant so that was a nice bonus there is something about fit, semi-naked men cutting down trees ..hmmm,
Security is excellent with a guard, patrolling the site all through the day and night, in addition, one of the family can usually be found running around on a bike both by day and through the night. The owners have to be about the friendliest campsite owners we met and the site is therefore very popular, booking is highly advised. They will go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible and will help you set up your pitch, connect your electricity and water and give you a tour of the premises when you book in. There is something here for everyone of all ages, kids would certainly never be bored. The site is large but not overly so and you are certainly never far from the castle, no matter where your camper/caravan or tent are placed.
The campsite shop stocks basic requirements so I would advise that if you are intending to stay more than a couple of days, I would stock up at a supermarket before making your way to the site .the nearest one is quite a drive
away remember, you are quite deep in the countryside. However, fresh baguettes, rolls and cakes are delivered each morning and you place your order at reception the night before then pick up your warm bread in the morning.
The local town of Issoire is stunning and well worth a visit. It dates back to the 5th Century with many of the original buildings still standing. Clermont-Ferrand is another beautiful town and the whole surrrounding area has so many castles and historic buildings.
The site owners will organise transport for any trip that you wish to make because of course if you are in a campervan and want to go anywhere, you need to pack everything up and take it all with you and then unpack it all when you get back.
If you wish to experience the feeling of living in castle surroundings with amazing views, have children who like to be occupied at all times, want peace and quite. Love walking along rivers, need excellent facilities and really care about where you stay on a long camping/caravanning expedition, then this is certainly the place for you. It takes a bit of finding but is well worth the trip.
Prices per night are as follows:
Pitch tent or caravan, including 2 adults £14.69
Additional person (over 10years) £4.19
Additiona person (under 10years) £2.51
Camper, additional £1.07
Facilities such as swimming, play area etc are all included in the price but extras such as the sauna, horse-riding canoeing etc care all paid separately at the site. However, you could actually stay there using the facilities and not need to pay any extra, those included in the price are certainly more than adequate for most families.
I hope that anyone trying this site will have such a wonderful time as we had and I hope that Hugh Grant lookalike is still around because it is almost worth making the trip for that aloneJ
Further details can be found at
La Carabasse is a Haven owned holiday park in the south of France. We went there for a week because a friend of the family owns a mobile home on the site and kindly lets people use it when shes not there. It had been years since my last foray into the world of camping, but I wasnt expecting much thanks to memories of a misspent childhood in flimsy tents in Brittany. I was pleasantly surprised with the site, with the home, with the resort. In fact it was only the weather 4 cloudy days out of a possible 7 that put a dampener, so to speak, on the trip. (Not that I minded too much since Im a fortnight off leaving for a 4 month secondment to Oz which will, Im sure, make up for the lack of sun in la belle France, but this was my mothers only sun holiday of the year, poor dear).
So, La Carabasse. Haven sell it as a ferry/drive, Chunnel/drive or fly/drive holiday, but we did none of those things, choosing instead to fly into Nimes and publically transport ourselves to the site which is situated about 7 miles from Agde in a town which may, or may not, be called Vias Plage (see previous op). The site has a huge sweeping entrance which boasts not one but two receptions, one for guests and one for owners. In fact the whole park operated on a big them and us, guest and owner divide, though the extent of this did not immediately become clear. We were guests of an owner which meant, in their terms, an owner, so we checked in at the correct office and made our way to the pitch.
The home itself was larger than I had anticipated, and beautifully maintained. Outside there was a decking clad terrace, a few tufts of grass, a shed and a parking bay for a car. Inside there were two bedrooms and a large living room cum dining room cum kitchen set up, with a shower room on one side and a toilet on the other. The kitchen was fully equipped with a hob and oven which we didnt use (it was the middle of summer in France for heavens sake - my diet that week ceased to reach beyond bread and cheese). There was also ample storage space in all the rooms, a huge advantage over apartments which are usually sparse in this area.
We soon settled into our new home for the week, noting the little nuances that made it such a quirky place to stay .like the fact the whole place shook whenever someone walked around, most noticeable if you were on the loo when it felt like a tornado had hit. And the fact that the place got hot quickly but took forever to cool with any combination of fans on / windows open. But weve lived through worse (like summer in Vienna in an un-air conditioned top floor flat) and it all added to the experience. The site was exclusively mobile homes in most areas, with just one small section reserved for tents. However there were a range of homes on offer, in different shapes, sizes and configurations. Ours was in one of two owners areas which paled in comparison to the dozen or so guest ones. The site was well signposted with vous êtes ici stickered boards at every turn, and easy to navigate as all pavements (and most roads) led to the pool.
At the entrance to the site, along with the two receptions, there were two shops one for clothing / gift / beach goodies and one for groceries complete with bakery section, patisserie section and fresh butchers. The shops open longer in high season, but even then its only 8am until 8pm with a short afternoon siesta. Were get up and go people so were usually waiting when it opened at 8 to get our breakfast goodies, and we were not alone in this. This shop also had an excellent selection of reading materials, including that days British press (tabloid and broadsheet) and English, American, German and Dutch magazines as well as French ones.
If you werent up for cooking you could eat on site there was a snack bar (chips and pizza) and a restaurant (chips, pizza and pasta), plus a couple of drinks bars. Nothing too inspiring though, so we mainly ate bread and salad, and had just a couple of nights eating out, off the site.
The main centre of the site was the pools complex, with a large main pool, a childrens splash pool and 4 water chutes and slides. The pool was the main place the tier system was noticeable as it opened at 9.30am but only to owners. For the lower classed guests it was a no go until 10.30am Being neither guests nor owners we werent sure which time to go, so we checked with the guy at the owners office when buying our passes if you holiday there properly, pool use is included. If youre an owner you get an annual pass with a photo. If youre an owners guest you have to pay for the pool. On checking we were told that we could go in early with our bought passes, so we did this on our 4 chosen pool days. However we were stopped on 3 of these days as we tried to enter and told to come back later. Never being ones to let a foreign language get in the way of an argument we protested en Francais and got in each day, but it took a fight. The life guards on duty never seemed to know what was going on we got in trouble for having unsigned cards one day, though they had the stamp from the relevant office instead, and there was no line for signatures. The British staff were also not particularly customer focused, and considering they were working in a very mixed camp, spoke pretty awful French.
But, the pool was nice when we eventually got in, and being there first meant we got sunbeds there werent enough to go around so guests began queuing at 10am in order to get one when they were let in. Additional sunbeds were available for a fee of a few uros, but even these ran out pretty quickly. The pool area had no greenery to it, so without a bed you were forced onto the stone slab floor which was best suited to the young or firm (if thats the opposite of infirm?). The pool was well watched by life guards and they had all sorts of interesting rules like no shoes inside, and showers for all on the way in which is especially fun when youre dressed in clothes as apposed to swim wear.
Beyond the pool the site boasted day time and evening entertainment. This was mainly charged for, and included archery, football, kids clubs, tennis lessons and more. We did the owners only aqua aerobics class one morning and it was much better led than any Ive done in the UK or Spain. Apart from this we opted out, choosing instead to laze by the pool or on our terrace, or play the occasional game of table tennis. In the evenings there was general noise of some kind from 8.30pm most nights. This invariably started with a kiddie disco and games (and not very inspired ones at that .Mc Jay has nothing to fear from Rory the Tiger). This was followed by either a band or a duo or a singer of some kind or, if you were really lucky, the reps show. You cannot believe how bad this was. It was so bad it circled round to funny again. I know its not easy I holiday repped by way through a summer a few years back but this was bad, really bad.
The site is on the main road down to the beach, but a track runs behind the site and takes you to their official beach club so they recommend you take that route. In actual fact it wasnt any quicker and was slightly scarier as this was little more than a dirt path, nowhere near wide enough for the cars and pedestrians that tried to share its use. All the attractions of Vias are close by you can walk to the old town, to the amusement park, to the beach and to the shops and restaurants.
The only big problem with the location of the site was its proximity to another one. The neighbouring site backed onto La Carabasse, but they kindly kept their pitches away from ours and gave us their entertainment stage instead. They were also fans of the noise approach so several evenings sitting outside our home felt like front row seats to their shows and discos, whether we wanted them or not. The racket stopped at midnight but it did ruin a few supposedly quiet evenings laying on the deck challenging each other to Su Doku solving races
I have nothing really with which to compare this site as my experience of others is from the last millennium. We didnt know what to expect but it was nice enough although some things like the rudeness and general ignorance of the staff could have been helped. The noise is something to consider if you have young kids who might like a pre-midnight bedtime. I know my mother would consider it next time she took her no-longer-that-young 23 year old kid away. However overall the park provided what we wanted a place to laze around for a week for her, a place to recharge in preparation of Oz for me and as long as you take into account the few negatives, it is worth considering for a cheap family holiday in the sun.
We first came across this campsite around 3 years ago through a 'Select Sites' Brochure. I had previously been camping to the Dordogne region and was reluctant to stray far from my old camping patch. Unfortunately the campsites that we wanted to visit were full for the dates we wanted and we were forced to choose an alternative. Fortunately for us we chose Camping le Port de Limeuil, in the west of the Dordogne region and we have not looked back since.
Camping le Port de Limeuil is situated at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers in the Dordogne region of France. The campsite sits on the borders of the Dordogne River, with a pebbly beach running the length of the site. The campsite has a number of facilities including a bar, shop and takeaway, a children's play area, pétanque playing area, bicycle hire, canoe hire and swimming pools.
Anyway, that's getting a bit ahead of myself; firstly I'm sure you want to know a bit more about the area and surroundings. Limeuil is situated near to the town of Le Bugue and is within striking distance of all the major sights along the Dordogne River (Beynac, Castlenaud, Sarlat, Domme etc). It is also only an hour east of Bergerac and its quality vineyards.
The campsite is over the river from the village of Limeuil, one of the most beautiful villages in the region. However while most of the villages in this region of France have this accolade, this one really is quite attractive and interesting. The village itself was a medieval fortress but became an important canal port for transporting things between the Dordogne and Vézère Rivers and their respective valleys. You can find all this stuff out by taking a leisurely stroll through the village and looking at various plaques that adorn houses along the lanes, giving little snippets of information about the villages' history.
The village of Limeuil also houses a number of craftsmen including a glassblower and blacksmith, in addition to a sculptor and potter a bit out of town.
So, there's plenty to do once you get there, but what should you expect from the site itself?
On arrival at the site you will be required to go to reception. If you have pre-booked (I would recommend that you do) you will need to have the confirmation with you. The reception is open from 8am -12:30 then from 1:30 to 8pm and has a couple of handily places waiting areas for you to pop your car. When you check in you will be given a selection of 'emplacement's' to choose from, depending on what you have specified. We go with a tent so often have a larger selection as we don't have any requirements such as electricity or large pitch. Once you have selected your pitch you will be taken to it by one of the owners on a golf cart or bike. I guess this makes sure that they know where you are going to be and gives them the opportunity to check the rest of the site out.
On the way to your pitch you will go past the Shop, Bar and Takeaway. The shop has the same opening hours as the reception although remains open over lunch. You will need to come to the shop every morning to buy your bread and croissants, which are delivered from a local bakery yummy. The prices are reasonable too, not over inflated like you would expect at a small campsite shop. The shop also sells general groceries and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). It also has a small inflatable toy and jelly shoe section which is a must visit for all (more about this later)
Next to the Shop is the Bar area, an important place for some campers but not really that important for us. The bar sells ice creams, coffee, beer etc. It has a TV in it (although it may not always be on) and seems to be quite a friendly place. When camping we don't really spend time up at the bar as it's often nicer to sit back and relax with a glass or two (or 6) of wine and chat the evening away. The prices are fairly reasonable however and the bar is a really handy facility if it's an extremely hot evening and you just need a cold beer (or 2).
The bar has a takeaway attached to it which sells burgers and chips, pizzas and salads for those that want it. We tend to use the takeaway for emergency food (if it's raining for example and you can't keep the barbeque dry) or to satisfy the cravings for crêpes after tea. Running along the back of the bar is a games area which has foosball and air hockey. There is also a pool table in the bar. These areas do tend to attract the younger folk that are at the campsite and may not therefore be places you want to spend that much time. Across from the bar, shop and reception you will find a children's play area, with ropes and wooden structures and a slide, and also a pétanque area, which is large enough for a couple of games to take place at the same time. There are regular activities at the bar in the evening but I can't comment on these as I am not really an organised activity kind of gal.
******HOME SWEET HOME******
So, you drive past this hive activity and make your way to your pitch, what you should expect to find. Well there are around 100 pitches on this campsite (officially) which all have access to electricity. If you don't want or need access to electricity then you will more than likely end up in a pitch on the field nearest the river, or indeed right on the river bank. The picture below illustrates the campsite layout quite well. Most pitches have adequate shade during the day and sunlight either in morning or afternoon. They are flat pitches and can vary in size, in fact one of the pitches in absolutely huge (although next to the toilet block!). Some of the pitches have hedges between them for added separation but you'll find that not all do. Each pitch is near a water tap so you won't have that far to go when you need to fill the kettle. People are asked not to wash up at the taps however but use the sinks provided at the sanitation block.
Barbeques are accepted on this site and you can also take pets (although not to barbeque!). There are many trees available to string your washing line to as well although it should be hung discreetly. You should remember that you will need to park your car on your pitch as well as have your living areas, although I would imagine all pitches are large enough for this. The campsite does have some chalet type accommodation which is available to hire, and they also have some Eurocamp accommodation. The chalets are away from the main camping areas and the Eurocamp tents are just like normal tents but green and red, so aren't that obvious.
******WASTE DISPOSAL AND CLEANING FACILITIES******
You will surely by now be needing to freshen up and want to now about the sanitation blocks. There are 2 toilet/shower/washing blocks on the campsite and there is rarely a queue for any of the facilities. The toilets are kept clean and have a ready supply of loo roll so you don't need to take any with you, alerting other campers to the nature of your call! The shower pressure isn't great but again there are plenty of showers and if you go at some random time (mid morning or around tea time) you should find the showers empty. There are also wash hand basins separate from the showers, which is handy as at night you can just go and brush your teeth without having to wait for a free shower. Washing up sinks are available in the blocks with a ready supply of hot water (provide your own bubbles!) although I believe there are no plugs for the sinks, my advice would be to take your own washing up bowl.
******FANCY A DIP?******
So, you've freshened up and got your pitch sorted, now would be a good time to go for a swim. The swimming pool is near the bar and is actually 3 separate pools; 1 for babies which is about 6 inches deep, one for children (about 1m with a small slide) and 1 for adults (1.20m I think). The pools are obviously busy at peak times but you should be able to find a space to have a little cool down. Cooling down being the operative word here, the pools are not exactly the warmest in the world although in the heat of the summer you'll be fine once you get in. There are always plenty of kids running round the pool area with their parents lying in the sun alongside on the handily placed sunloungers. It can get a bit annoying in the busy periods but you can always go and have a dip in the river.
The river is the other end of the campsite to the pool area and you can access it from a number of areas on the front field. You will need some sort of water shoe to enjoy the river and this is where the jelly shoes section comes in at the shop. I wear my jellies every time I go into the river as some of the pebbles can be a bit sharp. The river is quite fast flowing and you will need to be careful that small children don't get carried away by the current. Most people seem to spend their time walking up the beach and floating back down on some sort of inflatable creature (alligators were very popular this year!). That said I actually prefer the river to the pool as it is more refreshing. Also if you didn't request electricity it is likely to be right on your doorstep!
The campsite runs canoe trips which are really enjoyable and cost around £10 per person. You are taken up river, dropped off with all the canoe stuff and left to make your way back to the campsite in your own time. A really enjoyable way to spend the morning or afternoon. These trips are not too strenuous and take about 2 ½ hours to complete.
The campsite is open between 1st May and 30th September and a basic pitch costs between 14 and 20 euros per night depending on the time of year you visit. If you want electricity and stuff there is a surcharge to pay.
When we went in July there were a lot of Dutch holiday makers although I imagine that more British families tend to go in the school summer holidays. There is a fete in the village for the week of 14th July which includes annoying fair noises (I think it was the bumper cars) so you may want to avoid that week.
A really lovely campsite that is quiet and restful most of the time, giving you the option of being active while at the same time allowing you to be totally inactive. Clean toilet blocks with plenty of showers available. A choice of water activities in the pool or down in the river. Check out www.leportdelimeuil.com
Although it is only a 3* campsite le Port de Limeuil gets a resounding 5* from me.
One last thing though, please don't all book up for next year until my reservation has been confirmed!!
About 6 years ago, and after a long break from camping, we decided to try it out with the kids who absolutely loved it! A great adventure, sleeping outdoors in a tent! After a few trips in the UK we decided to try Europe and booked a trip to France, Normandy and Brittany and this was such a great holiday that we went mad, bought a huge trailer tent and went back to Normandy the following year. Booking As we had the year before, we used the Carefree Camping Service from the Camping and Caravanning Club to book our stay, as they offer good discounts on both ferry travel and pitch prices and it takes the hassle out of contacting the sites yourself if you're not a seasoned traveller. Having said that, every e-mail query I sent to Patrice (the site owner) was answered within a few hours in perfect English so it wouldn't be a problem to organise your own ferry and book direct. We had stayed at this site briefly last summer on our way further south, but liked it so much we took our main holiday there this year. Driving In case any of you are worried about driving abroad, don't be. Driving in France is great, 600 miles, no road works, no traffic and only two bumps in the road, for which there were apologetic 'chaussee deformee' warning signs! The Site Only 40 minutes easy drive from Cherbourg and about 10 miles from the fantastic Normandy coastline where all the car parks are free (unbelievable after Cornwall), the site is owned and run by Patrice Laurent, friendly Frenchman, who speaks very good English as do his staff. From here you can easily go south to Mont St Michel, east to Bayeux and the Normandy beaches, stay in the area and enjoy mile after mile of beach to yourself, or nip back to Cherbourg and visit 'Cite de La Mer' where you get a guided tour of a French nuclear sub. Not cheap but well worth it. Helpful Staff The site is incredibly clean, the maintenance staff are hard at work trim
ming bushes, emptying bins, cleaning toilets and showers and helping people decide which bits of rubbish go in which recycling bins long before anyone has climbed out of bed, and are still there smiling and wishing everyone 'Bonsoir' as they clean their teeth and hit the sack! The 'Horror' of French Plumbing! There are lots of clean toilets/showers/basins and the only gripe is that the toilet paper is kept on rolls outside the actual cubicles and you need to remember to take some in with you, better still take your own. The French toilets weren't as bad as I had heard, only difference being the lack of doors on the men's urinals and women walking by. Horror stories about French plumbing and sanitation are unfounded on this site. Pool There's an excellent swimming pool with waterslides for the kids (if they can beat the big kids to the stairs!) and a nice jacuzzi. The water chemicals are checked regularly throughout the day for any nasties. French hygiene rules are strictly enforced meaning you can't wear swimming shorts, and I had the trauma of buying my first pair of trunks for many years. There are kids play areas, bouncy castle, ping-pong tables and the like, set up in a barn, a bar which also sells ice-cream and even a small library of books to borrow. There are 'animations' most days, organised games for adults and kids alike if you like that sort of thing, barbeques in the evening. A large terrace overlooks the pool and lake so adults can sit and have a beer whilst the kids play in the pool. Supplies There is no shop, but bread, croissants and pastries for breakfast can be ordered the day before for morning collection so they are nice and fresh first thing. Fishing Fishing is free and the lake has some huge carp made fat by freebies from campers, according to Patrice his fish like cheese best. We caught loads this year using bits of bread. The gi
rls each caught fish bigger than anything I caught for years, first time out! Pitches The pitches are large and separated by hedges, so no danger of leaving your tent and returning to find someone pitched in your car space or up tight against you. Electricity is included with every pitch and there are convenient water points nearby. La Haye Du Puits The village of La Haye du Puits is about 1km away, very pretty and friendly. and a nice walk in the evening but also has free parking everywhere if you need to drive to lug the beers back. You can buy almost anything here and there are regular market days when the streets are closed off and filled with stalls. As is the tradition, everyone suddenly vanishes at lunchtime to eat, and drink Cassis or Calvados before for an hour or two so if you want you can virtually have the street to yourself. The Champion supermarket has everything, including camping gear and food is about the same price as the UK but tastes better. Must be the fresh air. They also sell camping gas and other useful things, live lobsters and crabs from a tank on the fish counter. Plastic garden chairs are a couple of quid, 35 litre coolboxes for 7 euros (£4.40) and a 2m gazebo for the same money. In the bars, prices are about the same as the UK, but in the supermarket beer, wine and 'cidre' are cheap. 12 stubby bottles of Kronenbourg 1664 will set you back a staggering 5 euros (£3) and a good bottle of white Bordeaux about 90p. Cases of lager were flying out of the supermarkets this summer with the temperatures in the 40's all the time. Site Prices Pitch prices vary according to season but the most you can expect to pay is around £25 daily for a family of four including electric hook-up. All in all an excellent site and surroundings. We met a lot of people who were regular visitors to this site and I can't recommend it highly enough. Camping L'Etang des Haizes
St Symphorien Le Valoir Le Haye du Puits Normandy Telephone: Tel : + 33 (0)2 33 46 01 16 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.etang-des-haizes.com/ Open: 30 march till 15 october No of Pitches: 100
This was our first experience of an overseas family holiday (the children then were 4, 2 and 10 weeks), and has made Francophiles of us all! We went at Whitsun (end of May/beginning of June 2001), so we were still technically in the low season and the site had only been open for a week or two. I will admit now, that we cheated and stayed in an excellent mobile home, although some friends of ours stayed in a tent on the same site. The drive from Calais is about 7-8 hours, plus time for stops etc. On the whole, the drive was fine, except around Paris (without the detailed instructions it would have been very easy to get lost on the various ringroads circling Paris). The last hour or so of the drive is cross-country rather than by Autoroute, but the scenery is breathtaking. THE SITE The campsite itself is quite small and is set in the grounds of the Chateau and is run by the Count and Countess, who are often to be seen emptying bins, cleaning up etc - the Countess is also well known for dashing about in her golf cart and taking orders for bread etc for the next day (which can be collected from the small grocery/take-away) - if you miss her, bread can be ordered from Reception. Most of the site is on very level ground, although you do have small hill to walk up to get to the pool, bar and restaurant. There is a large lake and (I believe) pedallos/boats can be hired and I believe fishing may be allowed. For the children there is a nice play area which is mostly enclosed (although if you have a determined Houdini they can get out) and is mainly covered in sand - so even if they don't want to play on the swings, slides etc, they will normally be quite happy to play in the sand (and bury their shoes, just to watch you on your hands and knees searching for them)! There is a childrens pool with a very small plastic slide - the pool is about 1-2 feet at its deepest. Although the older children much preferred going
down the waterchut e and being caught at the end in the separate pool. The main pool is wonderful, but probably a little small during high season. The waterchute is fun, but again quite small - however it was a great hit with both the adults and children alike. Again in high season it may get a bit crowded. Although there is a restaurant, we didn't get to try this out, prefering to spend our evenings around the barbeque with some friends who were also staying on the site. The bar seemed a little expensive, although no more than most local bars. The on-site grocery is quite small, but does stock the basics. There is a medium sized Champion and a rather cramped Atac in Boussac (about 5 minutes drive away). The town of Boussac itself is fairly quiet, although it does get busier on market day. The nearest big hypermarket that we could find was a Carrefour in Gueret. The shower/toilet block is only a couple of years old and purpose built. Although we didn't need to use it since we were in a mobile home, our friends (who were in a tent) found the facilities excellent and extremely clean. Since we went out of season, there were not many activities going on and there was limited opening hours for the bar and shop. In general it is a quiet site, ideally suited to either very young families or for those whose families have grown up and want to take things easy. Whilst we went with a holiday company (Fleur - www.fleur-holidays.co.uk), it is possible to hire either gites or mobile homes directly or to arrange with them to pitch a tent or a camper. They do have a website (www.camping-de-poinsouze.com), which has some great photos and details of their direct rates (but don't forget you have to add the cost of getting there). This is definitely a site we would visit again, although being relatively new converts to overseas holidays, we are currently trying out various d
ifferent regions in France. THE AREA Boussac is about a mile (at most) from the campsite. Whilst we did not find a huge amount to do there, we did stumble across the Chateau de Boussac, which was well worth a visit. Although we did have a slight language problem (my French is very rusty and the guide's English is non-existent), we did manage to understand most of what was being said. Parts of the Chateau itself date from (if I remember correctly) the 15th or 16th centuries. It is built on the top of a cliff, with the walls continuing upwards from the cliff-face. From the balcony there is a sheer drop, which for those that suffer from vertigo, would be terrifying. However, the views over the valley are breathtaking. Although there aren't too many shops in Boussac itself, they do have the basics. There are two supermarkets (as mentioned above), a sports shop, tabac, post office, gift shop, hairdressers, shoe shop, pattisserie etc. There are usually two markets a week, in the mornings (I believe on Tuesday and Saturday, although I may be mistaken). For eating out, a very good and reasonably priced meal can be found at the Pizzeria (sorry can't remember the name) - where many of the locals congregate and they aren't fazed when 4 adults & 6 children turn up for a meal! Limousin itself is a very lush, green region with a small population. The roads are well maintained and signposted, making driving a pleasure. This is definitely a region worth exploring.
This site was visited for seven nights at the beginning of September 2001, and we enjoyed excellent weather which I hope does not colour this review too strongly! The Gers is a county which is not widely visited by the British in general, although there were certainly plenty of GB cars on the site during our stay! This was the only site during a month's holiday where the Brits outnumbered the Dutch! Yet the site is Dutch-owned, and there is a very European feel to the place. Mingling is encouraged through social events both during the day and in the evening. Daytime activities (if you want to join in with them - we are apparently anti-social and didn't!) include trips out to places of interest, rambles in the local area, etc. Evening activities include the site restaurant (well-known and popular in the area), a weekly barbecue, the site's bar, etc. Boules competitions are organised regularly, too. If this smacks of forced conviviality, you may be pleased or put off, depending on your nature. If, like us, you prefer the quiet life, and appreciate the simple pleasure of sitting at your barbie with a good book and a glass of wine, then you are under no obligation whatsoever to join in with anything. We felt under no pressure at all: no reminders, no questions from the staff ... On the other hand, if a good holiday for you means that there should be plenty of things organised by others so that all you have to do is turn up and enjoy yourself, well then you can do it here! Both camps (excuse the pun) should be happy. The site is rated four stars, and the facilities were quite modern and very clean. I will not list the usual sanitary facilities, but they are what you would expect on a four-star site. There is a very attractive swimming pool, which is the focus of the site during the summer days. It is well organised, with shoe racks at the entrance, and plenty of sun loungers. It is closed in the evenings, but illuminated so
that it remains an attractive feature. Pitches are of a good size and are all on the level. Hook-ups are UK style!!! At first, I wondered why my two-pin/one-socket continetal adapter wouldn't fit, and I was walking to reception to ask if there was some kind of different adapter I could borrow/hire, when I suddenly realised that I was dealing with a "proper" connection! Many pitches enjoy very pleasant views across the rolling countryside, and of the lovely sunsets. This was our first holiday abroad without children, and I regret to say that we did not explore the play area, so can make no comment. Sorry! Staff at reception speak a number of languages and are extremely friendly and helpful. Takeaway meals are available, and morning bread and croissants can be purchased in the bar. Numerous leaflets are available which should give you a long list of places to visit. The Gers is an agricultural county, without large towns, and with no theme parks or other huge attractions. The places of interest are lower key: Roman remains at Séviac (a wonderful villa, strongly recommended); the hilltop bastides dating back to the Hundred Years' War (a number of them beutifully kept, and again recommended); the Château Montluc, where, after a free guided tour, you can buy Pousse-Rapière, a liqueur you can mix with the Château's own "Vin Sauvage", a sparkling white wine, to produce a deliciously different apéritif; the numerous producers of Armagnac and the fruit drinks that are made with it; and the producers of Floc de Gascogne - our favourite - a drink very much like Pineau des Charentes, and not a million miles away from the more syrupy sherries. Another free visit is to the Château de Cassaignes, where Armagnac, Floc and other drinks are made; it was one of the settings for the recent filming of another film version of the Three Musketeers. And 11km away from the campsite is the interes
ting little town of Condom. Whilst we were there, you could visit the "Musée du Préservatif" - but I think this was only a temporary exhibition. For shopping trips, Agen is about 26km to the North, and Auch about 40km south. Auch is the capital of the Gers, and the home town of d'Artagnan, the musketeer. Learn about the pride of Gascony in his birthplace. However, don't expect too much much of Auch: apart from its splendid cathedral with its magnificent stained-glass, there isn't a lot there, and, to be frank, it is the only place I've been to in France where I felt vaguely threatened in the evening. Access to the Camp de Florence is easy, and the site is signposted from the village of La Romieu. In the village itself, there is a medieval "collégiale". Guided visits are available if you book at the tourist office opposite. The village also has a café/bar, a baker's and a general store for everyday requirements. We felt very comfortable at the Camp de Florence and were very sad to leave both camp and area. We thoroughly recommend both to the seeker of knowledge, but if you prefer Ibiza, Blackpool, London, Singapore or Sydney, you probably would be bored stiff! On arrival at Camp de Florence, you will be offered a very helpful booklet of information in the language of your choice. If only all sites did this! All emergency info, takeaway opening times, pool rules, market info, etc, in one small booklet! First rate! You can find the site as follows: From Agen take the D931 towards Condom. At Ligardes, turn left, following signs for La Romieu. Le Camp de Florence 32480 La Romieu France Tel: 0033 56126.96.36.199 Fax: 0033 562.28.20.04 www.campdeflorence.com email: email@example.com 2001 prices: Pitch 126F (inc 2 persons); extra persons 37F; under-9s 27F; elec 20F; pets 10F. There are out of season reductions, and the site accepts
Camping Cheques out of season. Our seven-night stay cost us (two adults, caravan and electricity) £47.70, as we used Camping Cheques at £7.95 each, and the site does a deal whereby seven nights cost only six Camping Cheques.
I have just returned from a holiday in France at a camp site called Chateau de Poinsouze which is in the centre of France quite near Tours. It was the first time that we had taken our 3 year old away and what a success not only for us but she absolutly loved it. We booked a 9 day stay through Fleur Holidays in a mobile home which i must say was very luxurious on a beautiful campsite that had a huge lake,swimming pool and child's play zone which was a lifesaver at times,donkeys and sheep that kid's can feed and pet. The site was very safe and we had no worries about letting her off the reins as such and there was a great restaurent that was happy to have kid's then again everywhere in France seems to allow kid's even the Bars. We visited loads of great and cheap cheateau's,stone formations,farm's,lakes,waterfalls and loads more all of which were very child friendly. The food and wine were very cheap and the market in the nearest town of boussac was amazing but those with a squimish stomach should avoid the butcher stalls. A BBQ was supplied with the caravan so lot's of outside cooking and night's of wining and dining in the sunset and early evening. I would advise all those with kid's to have a camping/caravan holiday great fun for all especially in the lovely settings of France. You can if you wish take a look at Fleur's site at www.fleurholidays.co.uk they are very helpful and made things so simple for us we will defiantly use them again.