Pyrenees Atlantiques, St Jean Pied de Port

picture from site's own website

picture from site's own website

Europ Camping    June 2010

This is quite a small site, very green and open, with a few trees, and surrounded by farmland. There are some cabins for rent in among the touring pitches, which are grassy but some of them are not very level. Water taps, waste water disposal and electric hookups are shared between 2 or 4 pitches. There is a large bar/restaurant with free wifi, and a small swimming pool. The shower block is large and modern and all under cover - washing-up, laundry and separate men's and women's facilities. There's lots of hot water but no way of regulating the temperature of the showers, which are push-button, and they were a bit hot for me. Loos have seats but no paper, washbasins but no soap or driers.

The surrounding Pyrenees scenery must be lovely but it rained all the time we were there so it was covered in low cloud! The nearby medieval town of St Jean Pied de Port is very picturesque, and was (in fact still is) the traditional starting point for pilgrims walking the Route of St James. It's in the Pays Basque so the shops are full of interesting food and handicrafts typical of the region, and road signs are bilingual in French and Basque.

Pyrenees Atlantiques, Urrugne

Camping Larrouleta    January & December 2012, December 2014 & March 2015

January 2012:  In winter this is a popular overnight halt on the way to Spain. It's a large site incorporating a lake with bathing beach and boating in summer, and most of the pitches are grass, but in winter the pitches in use are the gravel ones nearest the only toilet block open. (In summer there are 3 in use. )

The facilities are unisex - slightly disconcerting for ladies to walk past the urinals - but are well-heated, clean and with lots of hot water. Showers are fully controllable and wash-basins are in private cubicles.

The washing-up and laundry sinks are fully enclosed. There is a laundry room with washing machines and driers at 4 euros, and free irons.

The restaurant is closed in winter but bread is available from reception. There is a big LeClerc supermarket within walking distance.

It's worth staying a day or two to explore the spectacular coastal corniche road, and the pleasant resort of St Jean de Luz, and Biarritz with its surfing beaches (well used even in temperatures just above zero!)

There is a covered swimming pool in use all year round.

An excellent stopover, and it would make a very pleasant base for a summer holiday too

 March 2015:  As there have been some alterations at this site since my last review in 2012, an update is in order. Some previous reviews mentioned building work - this is now finished. There is a smart new reception block near the entrance, and at the back of this building, on a lower level, a super new laundry room with plenty of machines, at 4 euros per wash. This is a big improvement on the rather tatty outbuilding which previously served as a laundry! Next to the new laundry room there is a new games room, with a patio outside with a table-tennis table.

The toilet block is looking a bit dated but is still very comfortable for winter stopovers, with heating, plenty of hot water and wash basins in cubicles for privacy. The indoor heated indoor swimming pool is also popular.

Major road improvements have been made nearby, with the construction of a large roundabout between the LeClerc supermarket and the campsite.

Even on a stopover it's worth staying an extra day or two to make the most of the lovely surrounding scenery. This time we enjoyed a steep ride on the vintage rack railway up to the summit of La Rhune, the first mountain in the Pyrenees chain (or the last, depending where you start from!) The views are spectacular.

Larrouleta is certainly not the smartest site we've stayed on but having been there four times now we find it homely and welcoming

Aude, Montclar, Carcassonne

Domaine d'Arnauteille    June 2008

 A large, spacious site in a lovely position on the top of a hill, surrounded by vineyards. There are pitches of varying sizes - we opted for a larger one with its own water tap, and some shade. Some of the pitches had no shade at all and as the temperature was in the high 80's / low 90's while we were there, this could be a problem.

As other reviewers have said, the Roman-themed pool and toilet blocks are wonderful! There is a pleasant little restaurant, a reasonable shop and a lovely cool library and internet room, though the internet charges are rather high.

When visiting the old, fortified city of Carcassonne it's worth getting there quite early in the morning as by lunchtime it's heaving with tourists. The lower city is also very interesting and the restaurants are cheaper than in the old town - we had a very good set meal for 11 euros. There's a rather nice art gallery, the Musee de Beaux Arts, and large supermarkets such as Geant

Aude, Tuchan

Domaine de la Peiriere    April 2012

This is a small campsite with basic facilities, but its main attraction is its position close to two of the most spectacular of the Cathar castles, Queribus and Peyrepertuse.

The pitches are medium sized, earth/gravel, level and shaded by tall trees. There are 2 small sanitation blocks although only one was open in April. There are both normal and squatting toilets, seats but no paper. Shower cubicles are rather small but there is plenty of hot water. The wash-basins are more or less in the open, as are the washing up sinks which have cold taps but there is one central tap supplying hot water. They weren't cleaned very often during our stay but this might be because it was low season and there were very few customers.

We didn't use the restaurant and bar but they were quite lively, and we got the impression that people from the village used them. The swimming pool wasn't open but looked as if it would be pleasant in high season. Despite the fact it was a small site there was entertainment provided in high season.

There was no internet or wifi, and no shop. The village of Tuchan, a short walk away, had a reasonable Spar supermarket, a baker, butcher and pharmacy. It's a long way to the nearest large supermarket!

The site has a small lake for fishing, and a small menagerie of friendly goats, ducks, and a noisy turkey!

The castles of Queribus and Peyrepertuse are about half an hour by car, and are truly spectacular, as is the Gorge de Galamus. The campsite is surrounded by the Corbiere vineyards.

We found it a bit too basic for an extended stay, but fine for a couple of nights to visit the castles.

Pyrenees Orientales, Le Boulu

Camping les Oliviers    December 2008 & October 2012

Pyrenees Orientales, Canet Plage

Camping Mar Estang    April 2012

This is a large site with lots of facilities for a family seaside holiday. The pitches are level, grassy, in a range of shapes and sizes but mostly reasonably spacious. They are separated by hedges and in some cases, walls or fences.

There are a lot of mobile homes and ready-erected tents run by holiday companies like Vacances Soleil, but the touring area is quite separate from them and also well away from the bar area so there is little or no noise.

There are several sanitation blocks which are well-equipped and clean. Toilets have seats but no paper, and the showers have no hooks which is a drawback. In the block we used the water in the showers was almost too hot for comfort, but in the washing-up sinks it was barely warm, but other blocks would probably be ok!

Reception staff were pleasant, and there were lots of organised activities, even in early May. The swimming pool and water park were fully operational and looked nice. We didn't use the restaurant or bar, but the takeaway was good. The supermarket is large but not especially cheap. There is a separate bakery which was good value. The launderette was well-equipped but rather expensive at 6 euros for a wash. Wifi was available free but only in one outdoors area, provided with a number of picnic tables, but no lighting for evening use.

Canet Plage is a pleasant and quite smart resort with a huge, sandy beach, a marina and a long promenade with the usual bars and cafes. There are frequent markets on the prom. The campsite is near the beach which can be reached by a tunnel, to avoid having to cross the road.

The site backs on to a large lake with flamingoes and other birds, which is part of a nature park. It does mean that there are some mosquitoes in parts of the site.

Given the level of facilities it was very good value at 14 euros a night with an ACSI card.

Vaucluse, Avignon

Camping Bagatelle    May 2012

Of the three campsites on the island in the Rhone at Avignon, this is the closest to the historic centre, which is about 7 minutes away on foot, over the Edouard Daladier bridge. There are lovely views of the Palace of the Popes and the Pont d’Avignon from the terrace of the site’s restaurant.

It’s a medium-sized site with level pitches of sand/gravel, heavily shaded by tall plane trees. Pitches vary in size, some being quite large, and although there are some hedges most pitches aren’t clearly separated.

There is one large central sanitary block which is clean but very dated. However there is plenty of hot water, showers are fully controllable, loos have no seats but paper from a central dispenser. There are only four washing-up sinks which got a bit crowded at times. There are no water taps anywhere on the site so water has to be obtained from the washing-up sinks which is a bit awkward.

There is a useful shop which even sells English newspapers, and fresh bread is available in the morning. There’s a bar and restaurant, which we didn’t use, but the prices looked reasonable – the set meal was 9.90 euros.

There are a very small number of permanent caravans but most people only use the site for a short stay so there are a lot of comings and goings. There is some road noise from the bridge. However we found it a pleasant and convenient site as a base to see the sights of Avignon.

Alpes Maritimes, La Colle Sur Loup

Camping Les Pinedes    May 2012

we intended to head for a pitch on one of the higher terraces, but when the lady in reception saw our outfit she almost insisted we use the lowest level, as she said the pitches were larger there. We didn't want to get into an argument so went along with her suggestion. We were only staying for 3 nights so weren't too bothered about the traffic noise.

In fact, we didn't find the noise a problem. However, access to the sanitary block was up a series of irregular, narrow steps which would be impossible for anyone with the slightest mobility problem. This particular sanitary block was in fact only accessible by steps (down) even from the two higher levels. Not only that, but the lower level terrace had no lighting at all after dark, and the toilet block was also in complete darkness (when you got there you had to use a light switch) so a torch was absolutely essential. This seems to be a serious health and safety risk. The facilities themselves were fine.

The site claimed to have wifi cover but although we tried in various locations, it was very unreliable, going off all the time. As we'd paid 5 euros we complained. The first receptionist we saw was unhelpful to the point of grumpiness. A different one, on another day, was apologetic and gave us a different login to use in the internet room (actually, a small hut. ) Unfortunately this closed at 7 in the evening.

All in all, we weren't very impressed with the site. As another reviewer has said, the restaurant was expensive - and so was the bread and croissants available from reception! 

Bouches de Rhone, Aix en Provence

Camping Chantecler    December 2008

Savoie, St Genix Sur Guiers

Camping les Bords du Giers    June 2011

This is an excellent Dutch-owned site in the Savoy, 'between mountains and lakes' to quote their brochure. It's on a level, grassy site bordering the River Guiers, within a short walk of the pleasant town of St Genix, and next door to a Lidl. There are 55 good-sized pitches,numbered but not hedged, 6 bungalows for rent and a couple of ready-erected tents for rent.

The toilets and showers were clean and modern, though they were unisex. The shower cubicles were quite small but had very good storage space for clothes and towels, and though push-button the temperature was good and one push lasted quite a long time.

There's a small snack-bar, bicycle hire, volley ball, a good children's play area and a pleasant swimming pool. According to the brochure there is a programme of animation in high season.

We used the site as a stop on our way back from Italy so we didn't explore the area, but it would be a very pleasant place to spend a few days. It's only 3 km from Lake Romagnieu, and also near Lake d'Aiguebelette, which is reputed to be the warmest lake in Europe. It was only 11 euros a night with an ACSI card, which is extremely good value for money.