For a cheap but very comfortable stay in a relatively unknown part of France, pitch a tent, book a B&B room or rent the fantastic apartment as a group at Forest View Campsite and B&B, in the beautiful Le Parc Naturel Régional du Perche. The campsite has mini-golf, a splash pool and beautiful views over the stunning countryside; Le Perche is home to picturesque medieval towns, bucolic countryside and delicious local cider. A stay in this region, part of Normandy, offers full immersion in rural French life and plentiful, impossible to resist, camembert. Heaven.
“Pour les curieux, les amoureux, les randonneurs, les baigneurs…”- an irresistible three miles by one mile island of sweeping sandy beaches, a port, a restaurant and two cafés. Perfect for a five day break. Drive over – Portsmouth to Caen?- with tent and bikes, leave the car in Quiberon and take the boat. Cycle to the tip of Houat and camp wild like the French. Not a lot to do, just the beauty of nature, but that’s why you’re here isn’t it? A holiday you won’t forget.
Camping de la Filature is a small, tranquil campsite set in an orchard beside the gentle River Sioule.This is outdoor life at it's most peaceful but with plenty of opportunities for activities such as walking, cycling, fishing and wild swimming. The Auvergne is a beautiful, yet relatively undiscovered region of France and campsite fees are much lower than more touristy destinations. Once you've pitched your tent or parked your caravan you can soak up the magical beauty of the place and relax.
On the edge of the French Pyrenees stand four well equipped tipis sleeping four to six people in peaceful surroundings with breathtaking views of the Cirque de Garvarnie. There are many reasons why this might be your best holiday ever; spectacular walks at your fingertips, singsongs round the campfire while pet goats freely roam around you and you really don't have to dig too deep in your pockets for it all.
The best way to enjoy a budget holiday in France is to camp in municipal campsites, which exist in most towns or substantial villages. Good value, clean, with hot showers, these can be very cheap in out of the way places, such as the picturesque town of Estaing at the eastern end of the Lot valley. For an enjoyably easy-going holiday, just decide on the region you are going to and a rough route. Then choose somewhere to stop - look for small towns on rivers and you can't go wrong. Then check out municipal campsites on Archiescampings App on your smartphone or i-pad.You only need book in busy tourist areas.
Archiescampings App costs £2
This is a great campsite for families, couples and friends on a budget. On the confluence of the Dordogne and the Vézère, it's wonderful for swimming, relaxing and you might even catch a fish if you're really lucky! As far as I remember, you're allowed to BBQ, but there is also a great restrant on site. If you're willing to walk a VERY short ou can always distance across the bridges then you'll find a wide variety of excellent traditional French restaurants and a few bars. My parents made sure it was always one stop on our road trips through France and I hope I can do the same with my children.
F-24480 Alles/Dordogne, France
+33 (0)553 632 976
Google map: bit.ly/15k1BWL
France offers the very best and cheapest camping facilities in all of Europe. We know, we have been camping in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, to name a few. Use two guides: the Michelin Camping Guide and Le guide officiel camping caravaning. The Michelin gives good advice for facilities, shade, quiet, etc., and the Guide Officiel gives all 8,565 campsites in France. Between the two you can find what you want whereever you find yourself in rural or urban France. Now even the initial outlay for tent, cooker, sleeping bags, etc. is a lot cheaper than it used to be. If you want very good gear get it second hand on eBay. Happy Camping in France!
Le guide officiel camping caravaning: www.campingfrance.com/UK/Guidebooks/Guidebooks/The-guide-of-all-the-camp-sites-in-France
Stay for a few nights in a camping cabin at the Old Oaks Touring Park, stocking up on very local farm produce, home-baked cakes and cider at the friendly site shop. Check the weather forecast using your free WIFI, and then get up in the early hours of the morning ready for an adventure... Walk past Gog and Magog (two thousand-year-old oaks) up the tiny tree-shrouded lane from the site that climbs towards Glastonbury Tor, and then follow the spiralling path worn by countless millions of feet through the ages up the famous hill. The Somerset Levels are laid out before you as the sun climbs over the horizon, wreathed in spring mist and the fire of a new day. This is how I asked my fiancé to marry me, and it is a sunrise that should be on everyone's bucket list for the UK!
The camp was situated at one of the most scenic locations, just at the banks of cauvery. Although booze is not allowed in the forest region, we did have some good mocktails and snacks with the campfire. The early morning trek to tower was great and the experience was top notch.
+91 968 602 0000
Google map: bit.ly/14TqJSL
Strewn out for miles along the southern Atlantic coast of Spain is the stunning El Palmar beach. You won't find yourself short of things to do at the village end - with a mix of restaurants, bars and surf shacks; but walk (or drive and park for free) along to the far eastern edge of the beach and you'll find yourself completely alone with just the wide expanse of sand and sound of waves for company.
You can surf, swim, body board or simply throw out your towel and sit and watch the waves hit the beach and relax. It is perfect at any time of day - for a morning swim, a lunch-time picnic, romantic stroll or to watch the sun go down over the water.
Also at this end is a wonderful little restaurant with a beautiful garden, just right for lounging back on a wicker chair with an Estrella.
You can camp in El Palmar but we stayed in the town of Vejer de la Frontera, 12km away - probably my favourite town in Spain.
11159 El Palmar, Cadiz province, Andalusia, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/13VpdPV
I've just returned from a trip of a lifetime walking in the desert with an excellent guide, a docile dromedary carrying everything for a night's camping and the dromedary minder who led me on spectacular rides into the sunset. Imagine, the only sound was birdsong, no other people to be seen, delicious meals and a star filled sky at night - truly a dream come true! Reach the desert by 4X4 from Marrakech.
As you drive through the tall fir trees along the winding hilly roads in search of Les Chalet du Tarn, where to your side rolls the calm, serene Tarn river, you can't help feeling as though you have escaped. Escaped the busy day-to-day hassle of life, the crowds and heat of tourists and have discovered a wonderful retreat in the heart of the French countryside in the Midi-Pyrenees.
The road curves and you cross a small, stone bridge and crawl across taking in the breathtaking views up and down the Tarn. A quaint church sits at the opposite side and as you reach this you take the lane to the left, following alongside the river again, driving carefully between it's banks and the Chateaux on your right. This is a place of heritage and original architecture.
Les Chalet du Tarn is a campsite, but there are chalets you can hire. Before you have even pitched your tent, with views that are hard to put into words, the friendly owner invites you to dine tonight - what's on the menu? "Ce soir", he says, "Moules frites". Heaven to my senses.
Each night the owners create a new menu, everything is home made and served fresh to your private, if basic, table.
Imagine: you are sat back, relaxed, with a glass of locale vin blanc/rouge/rose in your hand; the quiet hush surrounds you, a slight rustling of the trees and background run of the river; a few children play over in the park while on the other tables couples sit and converse in their mother tongue. The owner stands command over the hot coals, stirring and lifting the steaming moules in a home made garlic and white wine sauce. The smell is phenomenal. He is a master of precision, carefully watching and marinading the most incredible moules you will ever eat (and that is some claim).
As they are served, straight from the huge wok style pan, to your table the traditional skinny frites are rushed from the kitchen by his wife and staff where you are left to dive in and devour these delights.
Smack bang on the National Cycle Route 1, Ivy Grange Farm Yurts is the perfect place to start your cycling season off by exploring the bike-friendly Suffolk countryside. You can take your own bike or borrow one from the owners, select your Sustrans map and choose your route - the popular Brewery Tour, including St Peter's; the beaches at Southwold and Walberswick; or the market town of Beccles, the self-styled Gateway to the Broads. It's perfect for families, novice or expert cyclists. And when you get back to base, you can relax at your beautifully finished yurt, refresh yourself in the solar-thermal woodland shower and watch the sun go down by your campfire.
What it lacks in creature comforts, this small, friendly campsite makes up for in stunning scenery and a warm welcome. Practically on the Pembrokeshire coastal path, it is a short walk to the nearest beach and there is a gorgeous, reasonable but not overlong family walk round Dinas Island from one beach to the next. Why not order fresh bread and Welsh cakes from the farmhouse for your picnic? Delicious. This is our top tip for a budget beach holiday: camping in a farm field, five minute walk to some sand and bathing quality sea, national park coastline walks, short drives to larger beaches with more amenities and much quieter than Cornwall or Devon: plenty of sand space even in school hols.
Obviously you can camp if you want to. It's Scotland, everyone is tough as nails and actually the year-round campsite at Glencoe Mountain Centre is pretty good with fine showers and toilet block. But we're not tough as nails, so stayed in one of the microlodges on site which look kind of like modern day gypsy caravans. We packed three of us into one which was very cosy but at least we weren't cold. You still need to bring your camping stove as there's no kitchen or anything. I guess essentially it's a big wooden tent. But you'll be thankful of it when your ski kit is wet and you don't want to battle with a damp tent.
Jacques & Evelyne run the most idyllic camp site at the end of a quietest valley of the quiet Cantal region of France's Auvergne. I have kept it a secret for a while because i don't ever want to be told that there isn't a space for my family each summer, but this year is time to share the secret.
Europe's last primeval forest. The innermost sanctuary of the national park is reserved for guided visits with one of the rangers. Wonder at ancient trees taller than cathedrals, then visit the Bisons’ Reserve, where as well as bisons, you can see lynxes, wolves, elks, wild boar, and deer. Stay at the cosy and clean Camping Grudki and warm up any cold evenings with some delicious Zubrowka bison grass vodka.
Bialowieza, Zachodnio-Pomorskie, North
+48 (0)85 6812484
Google map: bit.ly/TXfL9R
Luxury woodland glamping in hand crafted yurts, tipi and shepherds hut. Adult only tranquil atmosphere with great attention to detail. Woodland sauna, wood fired pizza oven and communal traditional games yurt.
Accessible only through Wolohan's Caravan and Camping Park, this sheltered sandy cove is more like a Mediterranean beach. We shared it with only two other families when we visited in late August. There was plenty of room to build sand boats to catch the incoming tide and to spread out as we picnicked under the cliff.
We watched a seal fishing in the breakers all morning, and when the tide started to ebb, we were able to walk round the headland to its home. There were seal tracks in the sand which disappeared into a cave, but we decided it was prudent to leave the animal alone.
The campsite charges a small fee to park and to cross their land to the cove, which varies throughout the year. But it's worth it.
Staying in caravans and tents, particularly on designated "sites", had never appealed to me until I spent a few days last week with my partner's family at this Suffolk coast campsite. They used to come years ago, and we were here because his youngest brother had called everyone together to help him re-live his rosy childhood memories with his new son.
The rows of mobile homes and tents carefully spaced between wooden sleepers on the closely cropped grass, and the ranks of clean, cream static caravans on the other side of the path look neat enough, but it is the endless beach stretching north and south that really impresses. One night we sat on the verandah of our caravan when a muntjac strolled past. Birds hover and swoop all day, and it's not uncommon to see seals playing just offshore. The site is surrounded by woods and there are plenty of paths for walkers and cyclists to follow.
The Sizewell nuclear power stations are a spit away (my partner tells me he remembers swimming in the water close to Sizewell A because it was warm, and I'm still not sure if he was having me on), but with all the fresh air and natural beauty they are surprisingly unobtrusive.
The area is full of families who have been returning for decades.
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