With all that is going on in the world, we are so pleased we managed to get away to France this summer in our Mazda Bongo camper. We’ve always been huge fans of the French campsites; spacious pitches, fresh croissants every morning from the bakery, a bar and restaurant on site. And when it comes to families, France really does have some of the best family campsites in Europe.
The road ahead for travel is desperately uncertain, and I wouldn’t suggest booking anything in, even for 2021. But the beauty of the majority of family campsites in France is that they don’t seem to get booked up like the UK ones during school holidays and you’re able to book just a few days in advance. This is perfect for those families who own campers/caravans or tents and don’t want to be locked in.
So along with the help of a couple of fellow family travel bloggers here are our suggestions for the best family campsites in France. Perhaps keep some in mind for next summer.
1. Camping Château des Marais, Loire Valley
Set in the heart of the picturesque Loire Valley of France, Camping Château des Marais is a fantastic kid-friendly campsite that we have returned to time and time again. We first started visiting by booking through Canvas Holidays and staying in one of their pre-erected tents on site. But more recently we’ve returned independently in our Mazda Bongo camper.
The reason we keep returning is that firstly it’s only a four hour drive from Calais. But mainly this site has a fantastic pool for younger kids; it’s not too big and the five slides and lazy river keep them happy for hours. There’s also a covered pool which is heated for those cooler, drizzly days. Plus, there are no less than three playgrounds, a bouncy castle (next to the bar!) and kids’ entertainment.
This isn’t a huge site, so we can allow our boys (age 5 and 6 on our most recent visit) some independence, and I personally love the morning walk to the onsite bakery every day to pick up our fresh croissants for breakfast.
Sites are shady and not too packed in. EHU is provided and each pitch has access to water. The wash facilities are never too far away, are cleaned regularly and in good condition. If you don’t fancy cooking there is a restaurant and take-away on site.
From the campsite there are a number of designated cycle tracks (pick up a cycle map from reception). It’s a 9km cycle to Chateau Chambord along the River Loire following the cycle tracks. Do stop off an Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire enroute. There are a couple of bars next to the church that welcome kids.
2. Les Alicourts, Loire Valley
Les Alicourts to the East of the Loire Valley has it all. This is the place to come to pitch up and not leave for two weeks as there is everything you need on site; a supermarket, restaurant, take away, bar, kids clubs, water sports, playgrounds, a massive water park, and a stunning lake as the focal point of the resort.
This isn’t usually our style of camping, but after a month long road trip around France it was just what we needed; with so much on offer, there is plenty to keep the kids busy.
The landscaping and design around the site is beautiful, the grand reception entrance alone is very impressive. Although this is a big site to get around, so we advise taking scooters or bikes. There are plenty of tent pitches, but if you rather a bit more comfort, you can book a fully furnished mobile home with Canvas Holidays.
The waterpark is the main reason to stay here. It’s free entry for all those staying on the resort and we visited every single day. There are slides galore, a sunken pirate ship, an outdoor wave pool, and heated indoor pool. However, in peak season it does get rather busy, so try and visit early in the day.
3. Sandaya Le Litterol, Vendée
Whilst the pitches here are a little on the small side and offer little shade, the facilities for kids more than makes up for it. The swimming pool complex has both and indoor and outdoor section, handy for those cooler days, and there are water slides and even a water factory. The playground is large and sandy, with a huge climbing frame, and footballers will be in their element on the football court.
A small rock cove is just a 100 metre walk from the edge of the campsite. This is a lovely spot to watch the sunset.
From the campsite there are cycle tracks that lead you along the coast. The seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne is a 10km bike ride one way, and the sandy swath of La Plage Du Veillon (easily the most impressive beach in the region) is 5km the other way. Head a little further down the coast and Plage des Conches is a great place for kids to take surfing lessons with Manu Surf; our youngest was just 5 years old when he tool his first surf lesson here.
4. Domaine d’Oléron, Ile d’Oléron
Situated on the island of Oléron, accessible via a toll-free bridge from the mainland, this Domaine d’Oléron has a great family atmosphere featuring a fantastic swimming pool and playground.
The swimming pool at Camping Domaine d’Oléron was a huge hit with our boys, and they will tell you that it was the best swimming pool out of all the campsites we had visited on our summer road trip through France and Spain. The playground is also not your standard playground and will keep your little ones entertained for hours. Indeed it is the swimming pool and playground that really make this campsite.
There are also Canvas and Eurocamp accommodations on site, so it’s very popular with British tourists, and does somewhat lack a French flavour. But if you can tear your kids away from the waterslides, there are whitewashed villages to meander and Atlanitic beaches that feel tropical on a summers day.
The island is much more understated than neighbouring and fashionable Île de Ré and boasts much better beaches. Having now visited both islands, we prefer Île d’Oléron. There are bike tracks criss-crossing the island, but it’s easy to drive around and find parking.
5. Camping le Haras, Western Mediterranean
Swaying to the rhythmic guitar at the Camping le Haras restaurant, sipping a local vin blanc, and watching the boys smother ice-cream around their mouths; we were in true holiday mode and drinking in those Catalan summer vibes. This lovely small-scale camping site is a shady oasis with distinct Catalan architecture, has a superb swimming pool, friendly staff, and is just a short stroll from the centre of understated Palau del Vidra, which specialises in glass blowing.
The camping area is compact, but there is a wonderfully friendly vibe on site and the towering trees offer shady respite from the harsh midday sun. Due to the arid climate, the ground is very hard. Tent pegs therefore need more than a gentle persuasion and even hardy campers may need to ditch the thermorest for a blow up mattress or raised camp bed.
All pitches come with power, although ensure you have a long extension lead as it is sometimes a little way to the nearest electrical point.
Whilst the swimming pool and playground were a huge hit with our boys, their highlight was the pony ride, which is complimentary to all children staying at the park and held on a Monday morning.
6. Camping Vaubarlet, Ardeche
Camping Vaubarlet is a small campsite nestled in a verdant valley of the French Auvergne, 1.5 hours south west of Lyon. Tall pines trees offer welcome shade from the midday summer sun, and alongside the campsite flows a gentle stream, shallow and safe for little ones to wade in. Summer days can be very hot, but the temperature drops at night time, so pack warm sleeping bags. It’s an incredibly beautiful location, suited to nature-loving families looking for a quieter site, and is very popular with Dutch families.
At this site there is a small swimming pool, playground kids club, and bouncy castle. There are some cycling and hiking tracks around, but this is is the place to sit back at relax and let the kids have fun.
The campsite is in the depths of the forest and there are no nearby villages within walking distance, although there is a lovely walk through the forest trails that you can follow (pick up a map from reception). You will need a car to get anywhere and no public transport passes by. This is very much a campsite to get away from it all.
7. Château de Chanteloup, Loire Valley
Suggested by Jacquie from Flashpacking Family
The Château de Chanteloup campsite is located near the little town of Sillé-le-Philippe in the Pays-de-la-Loire region, 17km north-east of Le Mans.
It is part of the Les Castels campsites association which is known for their beautiful campsites in the grounds of French châteaux with family-friendly facilities. It offers pitches for tents and motorhomes with EHU as well as a few glamping tents and apartments.
There is a lovely pool area surrounded by greenery with a main pool and a separate pool for small children. Next to the pool area there is an excellent wooden playground and even a mini village with several wooden playhouses. For older kids, there are sporting facilities including football pitches and volleyball courts as well as an outdoor gym. If the weather isn’t great, there is a beautiful games room inside the château and a separate reading room.
All of the sanitary facilities are spotless, and the onsite restaurant offers a great choice of meals in a lovely setting or there is a takeaway pizza kiosk.
The grounds are extensive so you will never feel like the campsite is busy. You are encouraged to explore the grounds (there are 21 hectares to explore!), either by taking walks in the woods, boating on the lake or biking.
8. Moulin de la Pique, Dordogne
Suggested by Cosette from KarsTravels
Moulin de la Pique is a 5-star campsite in Pays de Belvѐs in the Dordogne region. Enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the Dordogne on this historic estate.
There are numerous facilities on the campsite. For the kids: playgrounds, a play attic, a kidsclub, treasure hunt and an entertainment team. In the sports category there’s a jeu-de-boules track, ping pong tables, soccer field, tennis court, mini golf, volley-ball-field and a recreational lake for fishing. Enough to get out that energy and stay moving. The campsite organises kayak tours.
Other facilities are a campingstore, laundry facility, restaurant with terrace , a snackbar, wifi, library and they offer fridges for rent on your pitch.
Best of all there’s an outdoor aquaparc with 4 swimming pools and 3 slides: a 4 double slide, the rainbow splash and a 45 meter long slide. Enough for hours of fun.
The pitches are large, comfortable and luxurious with EHU. They also rent out mobile homes, bungalow tents, safarilodges, maisons and coco sweets.
Close to the campsite is the medieval town of Beynac, where you stroll around town, take a ride on a Gabarre or go kayaking on the Dordogne river.
Were you an intrepid backpacker in your previous life? Exploring distant and exotic lands on a budget, getting off the beaten track and feeling like you were doing something different? Now that young kids are in the picture, travel priorities may have changed. But you don’t have to get sucked into the package holiday bubble. Adventure travel with young kids is possible! Jenny x