Huttopia La Plage Blanche
Indigo Plage Blanche, 3, rue de la Plage, 39380 Ounans, Jura, France
The water-based fun is symptomatic of the sort of campsite Huttopia La Plage Blanche is. With 188 camping pitches this is not a spot that does things by halves and doesn’t fall into the ‘small and intimate category’. Yet what it does offer is facilities by the bucket load and a surprising ability, despite its scale, to still feel deceptively uncommercial and personable. It has all the essentials any self-respecting French campsite should – fresh baguettes and croissants in the morning, bottles of the local wine in the campsite bar and a boules pitch where the fiercest of family duels take place – while its riverside location means the best pitches have a great sense of space, with the open river on one side.
Offsite, the best bet is to bring a bike (or rent one from reception) and head cross country towards the beautiful village of Dole, built up around the banks of another river – the Doubs – and partly populated in the summer by the wealth of tourists who chug through in their narrow boats. Perhaps the main highlight of the place is some of its tiny restaurants and bars (including an excellent converted space around the old water mill). It’s also the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, and the small museum inside his old family home offers a fascinating insight into his monumental legacy to the world of science.
Further afield, dramatic Besançon to the north east is a must-visit. Located on the inside of a remarkable tight bending meander, it seems to denote a shift in geology where France becomes mountainous and forested, like hills of giant broccoli. The hilltop Citadelle and the town centre's haughty cathedrals are particular highlights. Though walking up to the former is tough on the legs – particularly after all that swimming.