If you like your campsites to come with a healthy dose of history, check out Domaine de Pradines. According to official documents connected to the property, the site was once owned by a certain M. Cambacères, a key official in Napoléon’s government. Indeed, Napoléon is said to have stayed here during the period of his Egyptian campaign, for which Cambacères planted some trees following the outline of the imperial eagle as a welcoming gesture.
Not impressed? Well, architectural evidence shows that the site harks back at least to the Knights Templar. Still not enough? Okay – how about the discovery of a 4th-century Roman coin on the grounds? (Yes, it really happened.)
Today’s incarnation of the campsite is in the capable hands of Virginie (from France) and George (from Scotland), who have been in charge of the place, along with their respective families, since 2006.
Situated slap-bang in the middle of the Parc National des Cévennes and Parc Régional des Grands Causses, Pradines is as idiosyncratic as they come. It boasts Turkmen yurts, a series of vaulted buildings that date back to the 13th century, wooden chalets, and an almost unbelievably large tract of land (370 acres/150 hectares) that’s mostly left wild.Almost.Seventy-four acres (30 hectares) have been reserved for the main camping site, a vast and fairly unruly space that has a touch of the savannah about it, helped by the African-style BBQ-eating area and tall, blonde grass.
Campers can choose to take one of the huge spaces around the periphery of the field, or lose themselves completely in the woods. Either way, it’s unlikely you’ll be disturbed by your neighbours unless they’re shouting through a megaphone; and unless you have powerful binoculars, you won’t be seeing many of them either.
While the owners admit that the rugged feel of the site isn’t for everyone, it’ll certainly suit anyone with a sense of adventure or with a yen for nature. Besides, it’s not so rough really – the amenities include a shower block ensconced in a charming old vaulted stone barn, a kids’ playground, a pool, a restaurant, a reception with a well-stocked shop... you can even get wi-fi here if you need to.
The real idea, though, is to get a bit closer to nature. To take a memorable hike or adrenalin- pumping raft trip through one of the nearby gorges – the Tarn, Jonte, and Dourbie are all within easy reach – outdoor playgrounds that offer a multitude of activities, from climbing and hiking to kayaking, rafting, and canyoning. You can even paraglide if you want to see the area from a bird’s-eye perspective. Or explore the forests, granite hills, and magnificent caves of the Cévennes; a decidedly different landscape, also in close proximity.There are places like the charming holiday town of Meyrueis to visit. Or try Millau, once the largest pottery-production site for export throughout the Roman Empire and home to the marvellous Millau Viaduct, the highest bridge in the world (designed by Sir Norman Foster).
Guided walks and maps are available from reception. Plus there’s canoeing, climbing, parascending, horse-riding, potholing, and caving nearby, and, of course, the campsite’s expansive terrain, which includes wild flowers (including 30 species of wild orchid among other rarities), birds, and butterflies. Maybe you’ll find something older than a coin from the 4th century bc. A dinosaur footprint maybe?
The Owner SaysDomaine de Pradines, situated in the beautiful Cevennes National Park, is a stunning tranquil escape, where starry skies and nature prevail.
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ReviewsAdd Your Review
This is a great campsite
Huge site but only 20 tents- a wildlife haven yet on-site restaurant +shop and France’s Darkest night skies
Like wild camping but with a restaurant
Wild thyme /time & butterflies
Re-charge and Re-fresh
2 & 4 legged heaven
We camped here the first 10 days in Sept, just out of season and pretty much before the camping shut up for the year. I can honestly say it was the most peaceful and relaxed place I have ever stayed. The site is enormous and even though there were few of us about at that time it was clear by the way the pitches were marked out that even if it had been full there would have been more space than any other site I have been to. George and his wife are lovely, generous people who love dogs and made us feel v welcome. The facilities are excellent: 2 tennis courts, a heated outdoor pool, boules pitch, several bbq areas, powerful showers, laundry. We had an amazing time there and would whole heartedly recommend the site to anyone. The night sky free from light pollution finished every day with a magical display of another world. It all seems a long way away now were back in UK city life! Thanks for the memories :)
We loved our stay at Pradines! The site is idyllic with plenty of space for the kids to explore and make friends; the variety of pitches is excellent (ours was lovely and shady amongst the trees complete with entertaining red squirrels); the facilities are great, especially the pool and shop (refill your bottles of wine for 2.95 Euros!). We will, and have already, be recommending this excellent site to our like-minded friends (people that love a family friendly mix of wildness with comfort) and all this in the most stunning area of France. We swam in the local pools in mountain streams, sat on top of the world on a local mountain peak, wandered through medieval villages and were rendered speechless by a tour of nearby caves. We shall definitely return to this slice of Heaven!
domaine de pradines - absolute gem
We spent 7 glorious days at this site in one of the smaller yurts and loved everything about the place. Fresh, clean, peaceful, spacious and super relaxing. Virgine and George are wonderful friendly hosts who do an excellent job of managing such a large site.
Our yurt was perfect for two and we packed a thick duvet to keep us warm through the cold nights, which should be anticipated when staying on such a high plateau. The large yurts have wood burners which make them an ideal family retreat. All the facilities are here, well Laid out, blending harmoniously into the idyllic wild surroundings. Nice little shop on site from where you can order the best fresh bread and patisseries daily.
A perfect place to get away from it all, situated in a gorgeous part of France which seems to have escaped the spoils of commercialism & tourism.
Having seen the layout and pitches, we will definately return and camp here. This is how all campsites should be!
Beautiful but cold!
Really beautiful campsite, the stuff dreams are made of - if the weather is nice! Otherwise it is pretty cold and miserable if you have the wrong gear.But don't let that put you off! Pack some warm clothes and boots and enjoy!
Domaine de Pradines - great campsite
We loved this campsite. Truly back to nature. We've camped in several areas of France and it's definitely the place to stay if you want space, peace and tranquillity. All of the pitches are very spread out so you won't hear your neighbours snoring in the night! The owners George (or Derek!), Virgine and their family made us feel very welcome. They encourage very much a communal feel with BBQ areas, a pentanque competition and wine tasting evenings. There is a small shop and lovely little restaurant. My step kids loved the pool, ping pong table and tennis courts. If we were on site we didn't see them for hours. There is loads to do in the area - we went kayaking, swimming in the nearby rivers, horse riding as well as exploring by car - the scenery is breath taking. It's worth the driver to get there. We'll definitely be back.
"Un petit coin de paradis"
A wonderful place ! Each of our stays (4 in a tent in summer and once in a loft in spring, with our children and some friends) has been delightful : large pitches in natural surroundings, a quiet place with all confort needed, lots of activities for both children and adults on the Domaine de Pradines or in the region around ..., and above all very welcoming hosts. If you need a break from a stressful life, this is where you should stay... We love the place and truly recommend it !
The Domaines de Pradines will surprise and delight the serious campers who are travelling around France and Europe, it always rewards those like ourselves, mere amateur campers, who return every two years because of the serenity and atmosphere generated by Virginie & George. It is a photographers dream with vistas across wild flower meadows as far as the eye can see, horses grazing and galloping through fields, buildings that have been modernised but have retained their much earlier feel. The original house is 13th century. Just gorgeous.
It has an ambience that allows the visitor to just stop. How refreshing in this second decade of the 21st Century to stop. If required Domaines de Pradines has wifi that can connect you to the world...if you so desire?
chez Virginie et George
my husband and I stayed in a "Gite" in Pradines last year with our 2 kids . everything was fabulous, Virgine and George who welcomed us, the site which is truely beautiful, the activities (hiking, cycling, pool, just siesta too). The kids were having fun too (and they played on their own a lot), they met other friends from different countries. Virginie recommended many nice places to visit and even came with us to do some canoe-kayak on her day off. staying at Pradines makes you forget everything if you have a stressful life it is just the kind of holiday you need. I want to go back to try the yourtes which looked so interesting.
beautiful place, nature every where, people very sympathic, nice welcome
i just love this place
Cool place in Cevennes
domaine de pradines
Great place to stay. The location is amazing, it is completely in nature, in a beautiful and untouched part of France. The owners are very welcoming and full of recommendations. There is a campsite but also a variety of accommodations to rent. Charming, and with a lot of space.
Great relaxing time
3 of us stayed here and had a very relaxing time. It hit the nail on the head: We wanted a mental break from hectic decision making London life and this place was spot on. We left calm and refreshed and ate reasonably well at the local restaurant. It's on a plateau so the views on the way up and down are fabulous. The owners were friendly and helpful with their local knowledge and they both speak fluent French, English and Scottish! The only reason I did not put 5 stars is because i never do.
Recently returned from 2 weeks at this campsite with the family. We had a great time. This is a lovely site with loads of space. It has a nice little shop and restaurant, pool and BBQ areas. The owners George and his wife are really friendly and helpful. The local area has lots to offer both for day activities and good local restaurants. The site is at 3000 ft so nights can be a but chilly even in August, but makes sleeping easier, just bring a jumper. This is a site the kids loved, was never crowded and we thoroughly enjoyed. Would recommend happily and return. As we left kids said "best holiday ever" ...says it all.
Worth the windy roads
We started our 2 week break in France here and wanted somewhere relaxed, friendly and away from it all. It is all of these things. Grab one of the pitches up on the hill and you get masses of space under lovely trees. We moved on after 5 days for the coast and wished we'd stayed. We wouldn't have got the beaches but you can swim in the river nearby.
The epitome of 'cool'
This is an excellent campsite. The pitches were huge, open spaces with the site itself having numerous activities and facilities available. The owners were extremely friendly and could not have been more helpful. The prices were so reasonable we extended our stay twice! Exactly what a 'cool' campsite should be.
A bit disappointing
Domaine de Pradines had great reviews so I was looking forward to studying there with my 4 year old son. It is set in the mid Pyrenees about 40 mins drive from Millau - the town with the big bridge! We arrived on a Sunday and my petrol tank was dangerously low so it was a bit of a stressful journey along the winding roads up the mountain as to whether we'd make it! We did - just! The site is large and rustic which gives it a nice authentic feel. However I found the shower/toilet blocks dirty and it was all a little unkept. It was also a bit isolated unless you journeyed out with only the little village of Languejols nearby.
My son however loved the site! With plenty if families he easily made friends and enjoyed playing in the two parks and tennis courts and ping pong rooms. He says it was one if his favourites of all the sites we stayed at but I think it has more to do with the friends he made!
It's a good site for family holidays and was very reasonably priced. It also has a well equipped shop and restaurant although we didn't eat there.
Perhaps I was just used to smaller more intimate campsites but this was not one of my favourites!
Domaine de Pradines
We have had several stays at Domaine De Pradines, even one in the winter months. We have been well accommodated in one of the several chalets on the site. The owners are extremely welcoming and informative of the surrounding area. The scenery in the Tarn valley is spectacular, well worth the drive along the narrow, winding roads. We love it so much we are heading back this summer!
Domaine de Pradines
Located in a wonderful and magic place, hidden away in one of the most beautiful parts of France. A true treasure. Great walks and bike rides, nice villages and local markets to visit and explore too. Loved it. Warm and welcoming place to stay.
Domaine de Pradines
Best camping experience ever! Friendly, helpful owners, stunning scenery and many interesting places to visit nearby. Highly recommended. We will be back!
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