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; hoseasons.co.uk), Eurocamp (0844 406 0402; eurocamp.co.uk), Keycamp (0844 406 0200; keycamp.co.uk), Canvas Holidays (0845 268 0827; canvasholidays.co.uk), Thomson Al Fresco (0871 231 3293; thomsonalfresco.co.uk), Siblu (0871 911 2288; siblu.com), Matthews (01483 285213; matthewsfrance.co.uk), Venue Holidays (01233 629950; venueholidays.co.uk), and BreakFree Holidays (0844 84 84 534; breakfreeholidays.co.uk).

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; solagogo.com) on France's Vendée coast for the Jazzellerault Festival (festival-jazzellerault.com) at Châtellerault from 1-9 June and the Rendez-vous de L'Erdre (00 33 2 51 82 37 70; rendezvouserdre.com) in Nantes from 30 August-2 September.

In Italy, oenophiles can tour the vineyards of Chianti from Norcenni Girasole Club (00 39 055 915141; bit.ly/Hfn94v), just outside Florence. And art lovers should base themselves at Camping Nautic Almata (00 34 972 454 477; almata.com), near Roses on Spain's Costa Brava, to follow the trail of Salvador Dalí (00 34 972 67 75 05; salvador-dali.org) 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; sandaya.fr) is 20 minutes outside Paris. But beware, it's basic – no pool and few leisure amenities. Camping Village Fabulous (00 39 06 525 9354; ecvacanze.it) is only 13 miles from the centre of Rome via the nearby EUR Fermi Metro Station. At Orbitur Guincho (orbitur.pt), you can hop on a bus for the 20-mile journey to Lisbon. And Vilanova Park (00 34 93 893 3402; vilanovapark.com) 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; glamping-bled.com) in Slovenia. Kelling Heath Holiday Park (01263 588181; kellingheath.co.uk) in Norfolk is the scene of two star-gazing parties each year. El Bahira (00 39 092 397 2577; elbahira.it) on Sicily is near the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Holgates Holiday Park (01524 701508; holgates.co.uk) has created a Butterfly Walk at its Silverdale park near Morecambe Bay. And Beekse Campsite (libemavakantieparken.nl) 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; capodorso.it) 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 (breakfreeholidays.co.uk)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee