The Loire Valley is perhaps best known for its magnificent chateaux and, whilst they are all stunning, there’s far more to the region to be explored on a camping holiday! The region is located along the Loire River in Central France, and is often referred to as the ‘Garden of France’ due to its abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and asparagus fields. This central part of the Loire River Valley is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The region includes many historic towns including Blois, Angers, Orléans, Saumur and Tours, and has a warm summer climate. It’s also one of the world’s most well known areas of wine production, with famous wines such as Muscadets, Sancerres and Pouilly-Fumé all being produced there. Be sure to take some bottles home to enjoy!
No visit to the Loire would be complete without visiting at least one chateau and Chateau de Chambord is a great choice for the whole family. It may be grand and imposing, but it makes for a fun family day out. Pick up a ‘HistoPad’ at the front desk when you arrive – these interactive tablets are designed with youngsters in mind and will keep them engaged on the tour round the inside of the chateau. In the vast grounds children will love the horse-drawn carriage rides and the boat and bike tours. In the summer there’s also a period-style equestrian show.
The Forteresse Du Faucon Noir, near Montbazon is also sure to be a hit with the family. This ruined fortress comes complete with costumed actors telling stories of the past, a torture chamber and a range of summer activities such as candle making, fencing, calligraphy and coin minting.
For animal mad youngsters La Fleche Zoo is a wonderful day out, with some 1,200 animals kept in enclosures designed to replicate their natural environment as closely as possible. The zoo is best known for its innovative viewing windows, which allow visitors to see into usually off limit areas such as dens, without disturbing the animals. And continuing on the animal theme if you have horse-mad youngsters be sure to take a trip to the town of Saumur – home to the famous Cadre Noir horsemen. You can take guided visits inside the Cadre Noir stables and, if you’re visiting in July, you might be lucky enough to get tickets to their annual equestrian show.
Be sure to take advantage of the beautiful Loire River during your stay. You can sail down the river or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not hire a canoe or two for the family? Or, for an overview of the whole region, book a hot air balloon ride and see the stunning landscape and historic chateaux from the air.
The region is served by a number of airports. You can fly to Angers with British Airways, Tours with Ryanair and Nantes with Flybe, Ryanair, EasyJet and several others. You can also take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then connect to a TGV train from Gare Montparnasse. Finally, if you want to take your car the fastest way is to catch a ferry to St Malo with Brittany Ferries and then drive to your destination.
Family friendly campsites
Loir-et-Cher, Pierrefitte, Les Alicourts Resort
Les Alicourts Resort is set beside a stunning lake, with spacious emplacements surrounded by mature oak trees. The site has a multitude of facilities including mini golf, football, go-karts, adventure playground, tennis, table tennis and golf (the site has its own nine hole course and driving range). Kids will adore the fantastic pool complex with wave pool and water slides, while adults can relax in the spa. You can also try out water skiing or canoeing and kayaking on the lake.
Loir-et-Cher, Cande-sur-Beuvron, Grande Tortue
Situated in the heart of the Loire Valley, between the cities of Tours and Orléans, is the lovely Camping Grande Tortue campsite. The flower-filled site is only 500 metres from a beautiful river, where fishing is permitted. The site has a wonderful pool complex, complete with water slides and there are lots of activities to try out including volleyball, tennis, boules and basketball. There's a children's club in high season, or why not hire a bike from the site to explore the surrounding area?
Loiret, Poilly-Lez-Gien, Bois du Bardelet
Set in the peaceful countryside of the Loire Valley is Camping Bois du Bardelet. Within the spacious grounds are two lakes with canoeing and fishing available, and there's a fantastic pool complex with swimming pools, children's pool and water slides. Enjoy the first class facilities with a children's playground, multi-sports pitch, tennis, mini golf, fitness room and spa, or hire a bike to explore the region on one of its many cycle paths. The restaurant and bar offer a wide range of regional specialities and local wine, with evening entertainment during the summer months.
Domaine de Dugny campsite is set in beautiful countryside, amidst traditional farm buildings and with a lovely on site lake. You can try your hand at a spot of fishing there, or take a relaxing pedalo trip. There's a wonderful pool complex with slides and a toddler pool, plus lots of sports to try out on the site. And you're just minutes from the beautiful Loire River itself.
Loir-et-Cher, Muides-sur-Loire, Chateau des Marais
Chateau des Marais is set in the beautiful grounds of an old manor house, with grassy emplacements shaded by trees. There's a wonderful pool complex, complete with covered pool, a lagoon-style pool, lazy river, jacuzzi and water slides. Other facilities include a badminton court, tennis court, table tennis, go-karts, pool tables, mini golf and a games room, meaning there will be plenty to keep the whole family busy. There's also an onsite restaurant and bar to keep you fed and watered.
Var, Saint Aygulf, Saint Aygulf Plage
Camping Saint Aygulf Plage is located in a beautiful park, where pine trees meet the waters of the Mediterranean. The site has direct access to a gorgeous golden sandy beach and is less than a mile from the pretty resort of St Aygulf, where you can pick up local Provencal produce at the market. There's a lovely pool on site, with a jacuzzi for adults to unwind in, or enjoy a swim or try some water sports at the beach.