5 star glamping on the French Riviera – Meanderings through France n° 217
By Annick Dournes & Frédéric de Poligny
“Esterel Caravaning” one of the most classy camping site of the French Riviera was finally able to reopen on June 2nd after the end of the Covid-19 lockdown. New health and safety guidelines have been set up to ensure guests and staff’s safety while all activities and entertainment are maintained. Set in the heart of a hilly estate between the Esterel red mountains and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea “Esterel Caravaning” combines luxury and fun for unforgettable holidays.
There once was a time when camping meant little privacy, minimum comfort, sharing lavatories with complete strangers or “enjoying” the smell of cooking sardines from your neighbours’ barbecue? These days are history now and you can enjoy a close to nature and convivial accommodation in a preserved environment and in the same time be a few minutes drive from Saint-Raphael and Frejus. “Esterel Caravaning” was the first campsite in the region to get the 5-star rating in 2011 and is awarded “best European campsite” by ANWB and ADAC since 2014. In 2019 DDC awarded it with its prestigious Platinium award.
Stretching over 19 hectares Esterel Caravaning offers 331 mobile homes and 164 caravan pitches with great amenities. 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 camping site 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 with the same goal: offering her guests the best amenities they expect to get in a 5-star camping site. Some of the pitches created for tents or camper vans have a private bathroom, Jacuzzi, washing machine and washing-up machine.
If one word could define the feeling of luxury and well-being it would be “space”. And space is what you’ll get everywhere on the campsite especially in the mobile homes. All of them have a big wooden terrace with an astonishing view over the red rocks of the Esterel or the forest. Some of them even have a private 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 a mild sunset light on the Esterel!
Everything has been designed to make you feel comfortable not only in your mobile home but also on the sport and entertainment areas. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bar next to the pools area where you can have breakfast on the terrace or dance the night away, an ice-cream parlour, a restaurant serving tasty and sophisticated meals and 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!
Staying fit will not be a problem. 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… The campsite staff 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 whenever feeling stiff after a busy day.
“Esterel Caravaning” is tailor made for families and it’s an endless party time for children. Little kids aged 4 months to 3 years old care welcome at the Baby Club where professional nursery nurses are in charge. 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! When night comes the whole family can enjoy concerts, shows and cabaret on the central patio or at the bar.
There is also plenty to do close by and discover the French Riviera. The Mediterranean Sea is only a 5-min drive and the 3 beautiful beaches of the Agay cove are easily reached from the campsite. Going east you can drive on the magnificent “Corniche d’Or”, the rocky coastal road that connects Agay to Cannes and its famous “Croisette”. Inland overlooking Cannes you can go to Grasse and visit the famous Molinard or Fragonard fragrance distilleries.
In the other direction 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.
More and booking at www.esterel-caravaning.co.uk/en/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny