Classy Camping on the French Riviera – Meanderings through France
Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Do you remember a time when camping meant little privacy, minimum comfort, sharing lavatories with complete strangers or “enjoying” the smell of cooking sardines from your neighbor’s barbecue? These days are history now and you can enjoy a close to nature and convivial accommodation in a preserved environment while getting all the amenities you could expect in a 4-star hotel.
Glamping at the “Esterel Caravaning”
Glamping comes from the combination of the two words glamour and camping and well sums up this new kind of camping sites. Located on the hills overlooking Agay a seaside resort between Cannes and Saint Tropez, “Esterel Caravaning” is a 5-star campsite that can appeal to all the family members. From the beginning in 1974 when Mr and Mrs Laroche bought 30 acres of deforested mountainous land in the Esterel they meant to create a totally innovative kind of luxury campsite with private lavatories for each tent or caravan. Using bulldozers and dynamite they created huge terraces overlooking beautiful landscapes to welcome the pitches and 30,000 trees were planted.
Today their daughter Aurore keeps things moving forward the same goal: offering her guests the best amenities they expect to find in a 5-star campsite. Among the 160 pitches created for motor homes and caravans, the most luxurious ones have a private bathroom, a Jacuzzi, a washing machine and a washing-up machine. But all pitches are pretty big: 80 to 120 square meters for a standard one…
Mobile homes at “Esterel Caravaning”
Most of all “Esterel Caravaning” has develop its mobile homes offer and 330 gaily coloured little houses are scattered on the hills of the campsite. With mobile home pitches up to 300 square meters, “Esterel Caravaning” is classified as a 5-star campsite and is among the 50 best European campsites!
If space creates a feeling of luxury and well-being that’s what you will get in the mobile homes. All of them have a big wooden terrace with an astonishing view over the red rocks of the Esterel mounts or over the forest. Some of them also have a private outside Jacuzzi. There is a wide range of mobile homes for 4 to 8 persons, with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms and one or two bathrooms and separate toilet. Flat screen TV, stereo, air-conditioning, free WIFI access, a fully equipped kitchen, everything is done to make your stay as comfortable as can be. Back home you will probably miss the moments when you were dinning on your terrace watching the mild sunset light on the Esterel!
In the same time environmental protection is a main concern here: 3,000 more trees and shrubs were planted in 2011, recycling bins are to be used by everybody in the campsite, the staff only drives electric cars and the Laroche take part in a reforestation plan in Africa by replanting mangrove in Benin. Forest fires still happen all too often in Southern France, that’s why barbecues are strictly forbidden!
Leisure or active holidays at “Esterel Caravaning”
The list of all the amenities seems to be endless: indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bar next to the pools area where you can have breakfast on its terrace or dance the night away, an ice-cream parlour, a restaurant serving tasty and sophisticated meals or a Snack place to get take away food if you don’t feel like cooking. The Mini Market provides all you need to make your own meals and if you need a new swimsuit you might find it in the Indian Bazaar where they sell summer clothes, jewellery and trinkets for a much better price than in most shops of the Riviera!
You will have no excuse to forget your daily sport routine: horse riding, daily group classes of step, Zumba, Pilates or yoga, tennis and squash, a skate park, table tennis, water games, archery… They can arrange for you hiking and mountain bike tours with all circuits available on a telephone application. Water-skiing, diving, sailing, canoeing, golf, climbing are all available close by. And the Spa Esterel is waiting for you feel too stiff after a busy vacation day.
Of course children are not forgotten! Parents of kids aged from 4 months to 3 years old can entrust them to a dedicated nursery nurse in the Baby Club. Furthermore the Jungle Paradise welcomes children under nine accompanied by their parents to enjoy this indoor water park with slides, water games and fountains: an undisputed success! Creative workshops, sports tournaments, fashion shows or cowboys and Indians games are daily set up for children from 4 to 12, while teenagers until 17 years old have their own Teens Club. They even have their own disco where drinking alcohol and smoking is forbidden but where fun is guaranteed!
“Esterel Caravaning”: a perfect starting point to discover a beautiful region
The Mediterranean Sea is close by and the 3 beaches of the Agay cove are waiting for you at only five minutes by car. Going east you can drive on the magnificent “Corniche d’Or”, the rocky coastal road that connects Agay and Cannes and its famous “Croisette”. Inland overlooking Cannes you can go to Grasse and visit the famous Molinard or Fragonard fragrance distilleries.
Going west from Agay you can drive to the small Poussaï Port, leave your car there and take the footpath that will lead you to beautiful secluded creeks and get a beautiful view of the “Ile d”Or”, the Golden Island and its lonely tower. Further west you will get to Sainte Maxime, Saint Raphael, Frejus and even Saint Tropez and enjoy these trendy and busy seaside resorts. Inland you can visit typical villages of Provence: Ramatuelle and its winding medieval streets, Gassin and its long plaza line with welcoming cafés from which you’ll get an impressive view of the sea and the landscape below and Grimaud with its romantic medieval castle.
“Esterel Caravaning” is open from around mid-March to the last days of September.
For more information: www.esterel-caravaning.fr
Text © Annick Dournes
Photos © Frederic de Poligny