Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Camping Le Ch'ti

I was recently lucky enough to win a competition with 365 Camping & Caravanning so last week saw me jetting off to the Southern Ardeche region of France for a stay at Camping Le Ch'ti Franoi.

The site is in an absolutely beautiful setting at Planzolles in the Cevennes Mountains. It is surrounded by a pine forest and vineyards and is unbelievably quiet! I'm so used to the traffic noise from my home city that the peacefulness of this place took a little getting used to! In fact for a few days I kept stopping suddenly and just listening to the silence. What absolute bliss!

My week was spent in this mobile home towards the rear of the site.

The owners, Audrey & Steve, try to put customers in the best location available on arrival. This mobile home was in a great position overlooking vineyards and mountains.

The September weather in France is thankfully not quite as hot as mid summer so this mobile home was brilliant because the sun hit the patio for a few hours in early afternoon and again in the evening and there was plenty of shade from the surrounding pine trees for when the temperature soared in mid afternoon.

In mid summer, apparently, the mobile homes at the side of the site are much in demand because it is so hot that people are begging for shade!

We certainly couldn't complain about the weather while we were there. Temperatures hit the mid twenties each day even at the campsite's height of 500m. When we ventured into the local towns the temperatures on chemist shop displays were showing over 30 degrees so we were pleased to get back to the site!

In mid September the campsite was very quiet. There were only a few families staying in the mobile homes and just a couple of the pitches for tents were in use. I was impressed by the pitches, which are separated from each other by hedges so each tent has a clearly defined space.

Facilities on the site are good for families. There is a large swimming pool, a mini golf area and plenty of sports equipment and cycles available to hire and during high summer there is entertainment around the bar /restaurant area. Steve told me that at one point during the summer there were over 200 people on the terrace enjoying the disco! It was hard to imagine so many people on site when we could wander around all day and not bump into anyone else!

Although we didn't need the washing facilities because the mobile homes have private showers & toilet facilities, I naturally went to have a look, just to be nosy :-) The washing facilities and toilet block were clean and well maintained. If I had been camping I would have been happy to use these.

A walk just along the road brought us to a picnic area with a display showing the local wildlife. We had a very brief encounter (thankfully) with a wild boar on our last night! We had walked down to the bins after dark and met a wild boar! Well, I say we 'met' it....the boar obviously heard us coming and took off like greased lightening towards the road just a few yards in front of us. I don't know who was more scared, us or the boar!

We spent a few days checking out the local area. The towns nearby are very pretty and typically French. I couldn't help humming the theme from 'Allo 'Allo as we walked around Les Vans. The TV show could almost have been set int his little town.

Following Steve's recommendation we headed into Les Vans on Saturday to the market. It was brilliant, with hundreds of craft, food and clothing stalls. An accordion was being played which just added to the French atmosphere and put us in the mood for lots of souvenir shopping!

Back at the campsite we experienced some of the prettiest sunsets I've ever seen. As the sun went down over the mountains I sat on the balcony sampling a little of the local 'grape juice' (ahem) and thought, 'yes, this is definitely the life for me!'.

Once darkness fell the stars were spectacular. I have honestly never seen so many stars. The light pollution in British cities obviously masks so much. I spent ages outside just bending over backwards and looking up at the sky trying to spot any constellations I recognised! Fantastic!

Overall we had a brilliant, relaxing week and I loved every minute of it. A huge thank you to 365 Camping & Carivanning for hosting the competition, and the same huge thank you to Steve & Audrey who welcomed us and gave us a week to remember for a long, long time!

For more information about the site check out their website:

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