You reach La Corconne off a picturesque route linking Millau with Nîmes. There are no high rises with satellite dishes. No burger chains. No-one sporting the latest hairdressing fashions. Just narrow roads weaving their way around stunning vistas, broken only by wafts of chimney smoke rising from hillside shacks. Just south of Vallerague is a tiny bridge (too small for caravans) leading into thick woods. Here, six gîtes have been carved into the rugged forest to blend with nature’s colours and 33 pitches are spread amongst the trees and a neighbouring field. In keeping with the arboreal harmony, the felled green oaks and chestnuts help build a large chalet, which friendly owners Peggy and Nol also rent out, and a dining hut that, reached by a footbridge, wouldn’t look out of place on a Thai beach.
Cévennes became a national park in 1970 in order to protect and preserve its myriad valleys, ravines and gullies. All this dense woodland attracts a menagerie of friendly creatures to the campsite, so don’t be surprised to see lizards, butterflies, squirrels and rabbits shuffling amongst the leaves. One holidaying botanist recently counted 17 different types of plants and shrubbery from the comfort of her deckchair. And, what’s more, all these nesting opportunities intensify the most wondrous birdsong at dawn.
La Corconne is a perfect choice, particularly because children are happy to splish and splosh about in the water of the River Hérault all day long, leaving parents to enjoy quality down time. Whenever you fancy an outing, there are plenty of walks nearby but you’ll need a car to explore the surrounding area. In the evening, the gentle itinerary continues: one live music performance is the sole weekly entertainment on site. Instead, campers ‘connect’ as a family and do very little except loll around their tent before devouring delicious candlelit suppers.
Energetic ramblers might like to climb nearby Mont Aigoual for a stunning view that sweeps from the Alps along the coast to the Pyrénées. It’s an eight-hour expedition there and back, so less-committed walkers should enquire about shorter hikes. Also top of the list should be a trip to the tourist- driven River Tarn, to swim in its famous canyons, before continuing on to Millau to shop among its cobbled alleyways.
Back in the sixties, this region’s back-to- basics lifestyle attracted a mini-wave of hippies, some of whom camped out at La Corconne. Although they’ve since moved on to more conservative pastures, their children and grandchildren keep coming back year after year after year.
You’re in deep, deep countryside here and La Corconne welcomes those who respect the primitive nature of the environment. Whilst you won’t exactly be rubbing two sticks together (fires are not permitted in these woods) you might well find yourself hunter-gathering. Well, for your children at least.
You can pre-order evening meals and the shop sells ice creams, cold drinks, beer and Fair Trade items, as well as the usual basics.
Tents, dogs – yes. Caravans – no.
Order wood-fired pizzas at the campsite or go to Pizzas Nonna (0033 6 31 13 13 90) in Valleraugue for equally tasty versions. Beyond that, just enjoy days of doing nothing, except swinging from the trees, reading and playing pooh sticks.
Food & Drink
Taste the raw, sweet tang of oignons doux, the local speciality of southern Cévennes. A jar of confit d’oignons relish on sale at a roadside kart outside the campsite goes brilliantly with breads and pâtés.
April - October; all year for huts and chalets.
Two people with tent and a car from €12.50 - €20 per night (depending on size). Six wooden cabins range from €90 for 1 night to €545 for a week (low season). Longer stays available. See website for full details.
Contact La Corconne, Camping La Corconne, 30570 Valleraugue, Gard, France
Driving from the south, turn off the D999 that connects Millau with Nîmes, onto the D986 towards Vallerague. Before the village turn right at a small bridge. Blink and you’ll miss it.
Fly to Marseille or Nîmes then take a bus that stops at Pont d’Hérault 2 miles (3 km) from the site.
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