Loitering within tent: brilliant summer campsites

Last updated at 15:32 04 July 2008

Couple camping

Fingers crossed, we're in for a better summer this year. Which means it's safe to pitch a tent and enjoy a break under the stars. Martin Symington suggests some cracking campsites...

LUXURY FOR ALLCamping Les Amiaux, Vendée, France

In the fridge is a bottle of chilled Sancerre, and half a kilo of langoustines. A hammock sways gently in the breeze outside, inviting an after-lunch snooze. The degree of comfort at beach- side sites such as this one set among the pine forests of the St Jean Plage, would have scoutmasters throwing up their hands in horror.

Tour operators supply fullyequipped, ready- erected family tents, and there is ready-made camaraderie and games for all ages in the kids' club, pools, waterslides, adventure park and tame disco.What to bring: Not a lot - it's all there already.

Details: £652 for a week for two adults and up to four children in a family tent including Channel crossing. Canvas Holidays: 0870 192 1154, canvasholidays.co.uk.

Lake District, UK

Get a pitch with a view at Side Farm in the Lake District


Side Farm, Lake District

It is hard to imagine a site more perfectly positioned than this serene patch of green field at the foot of steep, rugged Place Fell, at the edge of Ullswater.

You might just want to sit and soak up the Lakeland scenery. Otherwise, there is boating on the lake, a track up to the summit of Helvellyn from just behind the site, or an alluring stroll to the beer garden at nearby Glenridding, Cumbria. What to bring: Wellies.

Details: Side Farm Campsite, 01768 482 337. Adults £5, children £3, cars £2. No advance booking. WINE LOVERS

Les Sables d'Argent, near Bordeaux, FrancePitch your tent among the dunes on the tip of the tongue-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Gironde. Westwards are miles of beach where Atlantic rollers create a constant clash of ocean and continent. To the east are quite different treats: the finest vineyards in the world, including almost all of the Bordeaux classed growths. Few are more than a short drive away, and many are open for tours and tastings. What to bring: A corkscrew. Details: £19 per day for pitch and two people, plus £3 for additional campers. 00 33 5 56 09 82 87, sables-d-argent.com.


GONDOLAS AT DAWN Union Lido Parc, near Venice, ItalyCrossing the lagoon to the San Marco quayside is one of the most impressive things any parents can do with their children. The gondolas bouncing up and down on their candy-striped pilings against the backdrop of the Doge's Palace and the bulbous Basilica di San Marco will be a moment curiously flooded with familiar images, even though they have never been there.

The way to do this affordably is to stay at a Lido campsite, where there is swimming in the Adriatic and boat trips into Venice.What to bring: Plenty of change, for the best gelati in the world. Details: £666 for a week in a luxury tent for a family of up to five. Eurocamp: 0844 406 0552, eurocamp.co.uk.

Union Lido Parc campsite, Venice

The Union Lido Parc near Venice makes day-trips to the Lagoon City easy, and cheap, for families...

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE Le Sougey, Savoie, France

There are jagged peaks wherever you look, many snowcapped all year round. Pull on your hiking boots, climb on your mountain bike, hire a guide for a serious mountain adventure or ride horses across luscious Alpine meadows. The site, on the shore of clear, turquoise Lac Aiguebelette, also has tennis courts and offers all sorts of watersports.What to bring: Oodles of energy.Details: £551 for a week in a four bedroom tent (sleeps up to six), in August, including channel crossing. Keycamp: 0844 406 0319, keycamp.co.uk.

SUPER-COOL Mitchum's, Croyde Bay, Devon When the surf's up, there are few beaches better for riding the rip curls and revelling in the pounding elemental high drama than Croyde Bay. This is a campsite where dedicated surfers will find themselves in like-minded company. There are surf schools and cafes serving surfers' fare such as nachos with melted cheese, and the Little Pink Surf Shop which provides a touch of camp.

What to bring: Wet suit, surf board and surf wax.

Details: £13 per person mid-week, £30 for two-night weekends. Mitchum's Beach Camp Site: 01271 814 022, croydebay.co.uk.

Larkhill Tipis, Wales

Larkhill Tipis: have a go at 'glamping' - glamour camping - in rural Wales


Larkhill Tipis, Carmarthenshire, Wales

The newfangled term 'glamping' that is doing the rounds, describes sites where a dash of glamour is served with the camping. These beautifully made Mongolian- style yurts and American Indian-style tipis, deep in the Teifi Valley in rural Carmarthenshire, will satisfy the most discerning of glampers.

The site is intriguingly landscaped with a laburnum walkway and a labyrinth scorched into the earth. Comfortable beds are provided and there are solarpowered showers in a log cabin.What to bring: Jimmy Choos! Details: £60 per night for fourberth tipi or yurt, £80 for a six-sleeping tipi. 01559 371 581, larkhilltipis.co.uk.

La Foret, Brittany

Enjoy wine and windsurfing at La Foret in Brittany


La Foret, Brittany, France

This site is one of many that offer the 'mobile home' option. Instead of staying in a tent, you rent a pre-fab trailer complete with bedrooms, and a proper kitchen and bathroom in place of communal washing facilities.

You miss out, of course, on the flapping of fly-sheets and the creaking of guy-ropes in the night that are all part of the magic of camping. So, although mobile homes are convenient and comfy, you can't really kid the kids that this is camping. What to bring: A sense of humour (to deal with ragging from 'true' campers).

Details: £599 per week for a mobile home sleeping two adults and up to three children, including Channel crossing. Carisma Holidays: 01923 287 339, carisma.co.uk.


Mortonhall, Edinburgh

Hoping to go to the Edinburgh Festival? Haven't booked anywhere? Camping is going to be just about your only bet. Luckily, there is room at this upmarket site in 200 acres of parkland just 15 minutes from all the city centre action. Stay in a wooden wigwam or bring your own tent. Either way, watch out for the resident Highland cattle. What to bring: The Fringe Programme (free in all HMV stores). Details: Mortonhall Caravan and Camping Park, £20 per night per pitch for two people. £19 per person per night in a wigwam based on two sharing. 0131 664 1533, meadowhead.com. Festival dates: August 8 to 31.

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