July 22, 2011 10:14 pm

Expert selection: Cool campsites in France

A guidebook editor picks his favourite sites in France, from dairy farms to majestic mountains
A tent overlooks the beach at La Vendette

Inspirational: La Vendette

La Ferme de Croas Men, Plouigneau

Nestled in rolling countryside, this working dairy farm in Brittany was opened 20 years ago by Monsieur Cotty. His artwork is dotted about in the form of hand-painted, flowery signs and objets trouvés sculptures. Aside from the cattle, there is a veritable Noah’s ark of other animals to admire – donkeys, goats, sheep, ducks, rabbits, chickens and Max the Pig. A room in the original cottage, Ty Coz, can be booked for a special breakfast with stacks of pancakes, home-made jam and steaming coffee. The pitches are generous, and the facilities clean and airy.

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Open April-October; tent plus two adults €11.90 per night; www.ferme-de-croasmen.com

Les Perron-Beauvineau, Meurville

What could be more luxurious, or indeed French, than a stay in this intimate sanctuary of sparkle amid the rolling Champagne hills? The Perron family has been making bubbly for five generations and they’re keen for you to try it for yourself. Settled around a lake, the six spacious pitches feel rural but not disconnected. The vineyards creep up the surrounding slopes, and weeping willows and hedges give privacy and softness to the space. If you require more between you and the great outdoors than a sheet of canvas, then why not try one of the three themed log cabins? The beautiful village of Meurville is just a short walk away; nestled between vineyard-topped slopes, it is home to more than a dozen champagne-making families.

Open April-October, tent plus two adults €11 per night; www.champagne-perron-beauvineau.com

La Vendette, Noirmoutier-en-l’Île

Camping at La Vendette isn’t like sleeping on the beach – it is sleeping on the beach. Here you have good facilities and great company but the beach is the star attraction, a sweeping expanse of rippled, golden sand, which, come low tide, is scoured by hundreds of people in search of oysters, cockles and clams. It’s easy to see why the impressionist painter Renoir was drawn here in 1892 – the mild climate, the pine and green oak trees and sandy scrubland inspired his painting “Noirmoutier”. It can feel almost Mediterranean here, which is odd, seeing as it’s only 30 miles below the mouth of the Loire. Take your pick of the pitches, with pine-tree shade or full-on sunshine. Either way, the only thing separating you and that gently lapping Atlantic is a fence, which just so happens to be the perfect place to dry your towel.

Open April 2-October 10; tent plus two adults from €14-€21 per night; www.camping-indigo.com/fr

Les Ormes, St-Etienne de Villeréal

Les Ormes provides the best of both worlds: ruggedly beautiful tent-camping and off-the-scale luxury. This campsite offers 100 tent pitches spread among shady meadows, and then there are also the 25 safari tents, each one with a lavish interior and twinkling candelabra, not to mention its own veranda and fresh flowers – all hidden away in mature woodland. The campsite facilities are par excellence, with an on-site café and gastro bar, tennis courts and swimming pool.

Open May 1-September 15; tent plus car €10 per night – for other offers, see website: www.campinglesormes.com

Pyrénées Natura, Estaing

Pascal and Viviane Ruysschaert have nurtured this beautiful eco-campsite in the mesmerising and spiritual Pyrénées mountains. You could do worse than pitch on the upper terrace, just in front of where the rows of chalets begin, where the views are staggering. Of course, they’re not exactly shabby in the rest of the site either. With a sauna-solarium, soundproof music room, and some phenomenal cycling and hiking trails, you’ll be happy from dawn to sunset.

Open mid-May to mid-September; tent plus two adults €16.50-€25 per night; www.camping-pyrenees-natura.com

Jonathan Knight is the editor of the Cool Camping series of guidebooks

‘Cool Camping France’ is published by Punk Publishing (www.coolcamping.co.uk)

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