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)

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam