Carry on camping

Holiday parks go well beyond a tent pitch or caravan – now you can expect swimming pools, circus skills, nature walks and even spa facilities

What's the attraction?

These glorified campsites have developed from offering a space to pitch your tent to feature pre-erected tents and mobile homes, with extensitve facilities. The main operators are Hoseasons (0844 847 1356;, Eurocamp (0844 406 0402;, Keycamp (0844 406 0200;, Canvas Holidays (0845 268 0827;, Thomson Al Fresco (0871 231 3293;, Siblu (0871 911 2288;, Matthews (01483 285213;, Venue Holidays (01233 629950;, and BreakFree Holidays (0844 84 84 534;

Adult adventures

If you're prepared to jostle with families, holiday parks can provide convenient bases for singularly adult pleasures. Jazz fans should pitch up at the Sol à Gogo campsite (00 33 2 51 54 29 00; on France's Vendée coast for the Jazzellerault Festival ( at Châtellerault from 1-9 June and the Rendez-vous de L'Erdre (00 33 2 51 82 37 70; in Nantes from 30 August-2 September.

In Italy, oenophiles can tour the vineyards of Chianti from Norcenni Girasole Club (00 39 055 915141;, just outside Florence. And art lovers should base themselves at Camping Nautic Almata (00 34 972 454 477;, near Roses on Spain's Costa Brava, to follow the trail of Salvador Dalí (00 34 972 67 75 05; around the local museums and landmarks dedicated to the artist.


Staying power

Tents and those mobile homes that don't move – static caravans – aren't the only options available in Europe's holiday parks. Gypsy caravans, safari tents and treehouses are among the more unusual places you can opt for. But the most bizarre accommodation must be the Lake House at Chateau des Ormes campsite in Brittany. The two-bedroom thatched-roof house, accessed by a walkway, sits on a floating platform and can be punted around the lake. It's available for three-night stays through Keycamp. Arriving on 16 August, a family of four pays £550.


City limits

It's easy to mix the great outdoors with a city break. Camping International Maisons-Lafitte (00 33 1 39 12 21 91; is 20 minutes outside Paris. But beware, it's basic – no pool and few leisure amenities. Camping Village Fabulous (00 39 06 525 9354; is only 13 miles from the centre of Rome via the nearby EUR Fermi Metro Station. At Orbitur Guincho (, you can hop on a bus for the 20-mile journey to Lisbon. And Vilanova Park (00 34 93 893 3402; puts Barcelona just 30 miles down the tracks.


On the nature trail

Birdwatching is on the agenda at the Eco Camping Village at Camping Bled (00 386 4 575 2000; in Slovenia. Kelling Heath Holiday Park (01263 588181; in Norfolk is the scene of two star-gazing parties each year. El Bahira (00 39 092 397 2577; on Sicily is near the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Holgates Holiday Park (01524 701508; has created a Butterfly Walk at its Silverdale park near Morecambe Bay. And Beekse Campsite ( in Holland has its own safari park.


Staying chic

Holiday-park breaks rarely require a banker's bonus, but you can still join the high-flyers in their seaside playgrounds. Les Prairies de la Mer holiday park will put you just six miles from chi-chi St Tropez on the Côte d'Azur. Thomson Al Fresco (see left) has seven nights for up to six people for £322 in total in May, including return ferry crossings with car. Meanwhile, Camping Capo d'Orso (00 39 0789 702007; is smartly located at Palau on the classy Costa Smeralda, the jet-setters' holiday haunt on the Italian island of Sardinia. A week's hire of a mobile home, for two to four people, costs from €245 (£200).


Spa stars

You don't have to visit a five-star hotel to indulge in a little pampering these days. Siblu is just one of the holiday-park specialists offering spa treatments and facilities at some of its sites these days. Visit Les Sables du Midi in Languedoc and you'll find a sauna, steam room, hot tub and fitness centre. Seven nights from 14 July starts from £693 for six sharing, accommodation only. Massages cost from €20 (£16) and saunas from €5. At its Domaine de Kerlann park, near Pont Aven in Brittany, massage styles from across the world – including Californian, Kalari Marma and Zen Shiatsu – are offered.


A family affair

Only the brave venture into a holiday park without children during the school holidays. The target market is mum, dad and the kids, so parks spend their energy on thinking up ways to attract the family pound. This year, Canvas Holidays (see above) has expanded the free FamilyExtra programme (circus skills, zorbing, radio production) it offers at a selection of European parks in Italy, France and Switzerland, to include "Balanceability", an accredited learn-to-cycle scheme for children aged 30 months to six years – a holiday where your children can learn a life skill.


Who said that?

"It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds, to rain on a tent" – Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

"All the people, so many people" – Parklife, Blur

"My first holiday memory was camping on the Maltese island of Gozo. I remember it being bedlam, boiling hot canvas tents, sand everywhere, tears and tantrums" – Monty Halls, writer and broadcaster


Insider information

"Most holiday parks offer cots, high chairs, baby baths and buggies andthis will save you a huge amount of packing space in the car. But it is a good idea to call ahead to ask about the availabilityand pre-book where possible." Jo Taylor, marketing manager, BreakFree Holidays (

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most