This time out, the ACE-FX series on holiday destinations explores an idea you might not have considered yet -- camping trips to the south of France. Usually, when you think of holidays in the South of France, images of fabulously wealthy people relaxing on the Riviera inevitably spring to mind, but this part of the French countryside offers a wealth of incredible camping opportunities as well.
In the following sections, we discuss four of the most attractive options. Any one of them will offer you some of the finest camping in the south of France imaginable, but do keep in mind that these sites are marked by a very sophisticated, high-end style of camping, not the kind with roasted marshmallows, sweltering heat, and two person pup tents.
Le Malazéou in Ax-les-Thermes
The first camping site in the South of France we'll explore is Le Malazéou in the city of Ax-Les-Thermes. Located in the Ariège department right in the middle of the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains, Le Malazéou is a full service, resort-style campground, with cabins that can accommodate up to 8 people and cosmopolitan amenities like free Wi-Fi and a spa. The grounds of Le Malazéou are filled with natural beauty, with an abundance of lush plant life, beautiful rivers, and herds of local animals visitors can view.
Le Malazéou offers a huge variety of activities during both the winter and summer months. When the weather is warm, hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, and mountain climbing are the featured attractions. With winter comes an incredible number of skiing opportunities, with over 100 kilometers of beautiful slopes in the vicinity that are available for both alpine and cross country events. And if you're in the mood for something a bit more commercial or relaxing, there are several nearby villages with fantastic shopping and dining options.
Le Malazéou isn't exactly roughing it, but it might be one of the most beautiful and pleasurable campsites you'll ever visit.
Domaine Les Ranchisses
A truly elegant camping experience, Domaine Les Ranchisses is a luxurious campsite located on the grounds of a huge old farm in the Ardèche department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Here, you'll stay on the edge of a gorgeous river as you're treated to a spa experience that includes massage, aromatic baths, a Jacuzzi, an ice fountain, meditation rooms, and a beauty parlor. You'll also sample an incredible array of various French cuisines, with options that will please even the most discerning palate. In fact, the Domaine Les Ranchisses is as known for its cuisine as it is its camping attractions!
Not surprisingly, the accommodations are luxurious as well, with large cabins that house from 4-8 persons and have every possible amenity. Don't worry though-- there are some more traditional camping activities available at Domaine Les Ranchisses as well, such as caving, equestrian sports, and an abundance of water activities. The natural scenery and the surrounding villages are wonderful as well, as the campsite is located near the Ray Pic Waterfalls, the picturesque Pont d'Arc Valley, and a more than ample supply of shopping and dining opportunities should you tire of the campsite's rough and tumble squalor.
Holiday Green Resort and Spa Campground in the Cote d'Azur Region
Holiday Green might be the only "campground" in the world that's more upscale than Domaine Les Ranchisses. Located in the midst of a 15-hectare pine forest seven kilometers from Frejus and the beaches of Cote d'Azur, Holiday Green offers incredible accommodations, a bounty of exquisite contemporary art, and a wellness center in the guise of a campground. The Holiday Green accommodations are sparking tributes to good taste and finery, with a gorgeous pool complex and great entertainment from April to September.
The activities at Holiday Green are practically endless and include something to satisfy the habits and taste of every visitor. Everything from fishing, hiking, jet skiing are available and the site's proximity to famed cities like Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice make it an epicenter of magnificent French culture. Last but certainly not least, there's the tremendous French cuisine that's available three meals a day.
L'Escale St. Gilles
Set on the beautiful St. Gilles beach, this campsite is located in the seaside resort city of Benodet near the mouth of the Odet River. Known as a land steeped in legends and traditions, visitors can follow a mythological themed itinerary complete with megalith walks, traditional celebrations, and visits to the nearby cities of Morlaix and Pont-Aven, which both inspired many famous French painters.
Among the greatest features of L'Escale St. Gilles is its impressive array of thrilling outdoor activities. While staying there, visitors can participate in fishing, marvelous sea trips, kayaking, multiple levels of diving, or attend one the nearby internationally known water sports events. Visitors can also take a quick cruise over to the Glenan Islands and walk or hike to their heart's content down a number of tranquil paths.