Camping La Semnadisse

Europe France Limousin Creuse

A perfectly sized, natural camping space for enjoying life's simple pleasures
Created during the French Revolution, the department of La Creuse has a population that last peaked all the way back in 1851. Since then it’s been on the gradual decline with, currently, just 58 people per square mile. Not that it’s without it’s charms of course; the region is a patchwork of rich green pastures woven by threads of hedgerows and grand, mature trees. The youth, it seems, just prefer the big city.

The result, however, is a destination that’s perfect for camping; where roads run empty, beckoning to your bicycle, and quaint little villages plod only to their own, lackadaisical pace. It’s easy to see why Alastair and Iris moved here from the Netherlands in the early 90s, determined to start a campsite and confident that it would grow.

And grow it has. Next to the tiny village of La Semnadisse, on a neglected 19th-century farm, they began by restoring the original buildings with just six camping pitches, tucked among the undergrowth of the gradually rejuvenating grounds. Today, the campsite boasts a handful of extra spots, electrical hook-ups for those in need and a clutch of ten mobile homes and chalets for the tent-aphobes still out there. The number is still low enough to mean the campsite has a small and intimate feel, while the communal barn café ensures a sociable atmosphere.

The campsite still remains a labour of love. Alastair and Iris are continually making changes, they tell us; there will always be something else they can improve. And this commitment is reflected all around. The site facilities are clean and up to date, with disabled access and a baby bath for use, while a semi-antique washing machine still alludes beautifully to the site's agricultural past – you can half imagine it being discovered in one of the old farm buildings. To top it off, the ‘artificial’ facilities, like table tennis and a play area are put to shame by a beautiful natural swimming pond – a million times better than the shiny swimming pools most French sites are famous for.

The pond mirrors much that is great about this location. Entertainment here is the kind you make yourself, with inspiration pouring in from the natural world around. Footpaths lead directly from the campsite, threading past wild orchids and hyacinths into pockets of semi-wild woodland, and country lanes are perfect for family bike rides. It makes you wonder how the population could ever get so small. By the end of the holiday you may very well want to stick around and boost the numbers!

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The Owner Says

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Reader Reviews

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Relaxing time in rural France

We stayed a few years back (just the two of us) and had a lovely relaxing time. Alistair and Iris are very welcoming and we went round with Iris feeding the hens and collecting plums. There is a lovely lake for swimming and quiet lanes for walking and cycling. We camped but it was also great to have the barn for somewhere to sit, read and play table tennis. The brasier was good on cooler nights.

Great for a short stop-over whether you're wending your way north or south (it's bang in the centre of France) although you could easily spend a few days just relaxing and getting to know the area.

May 1, 2016 by Chris

Friendly campsite with great pizzas!

Been several times, first year they opened and last time was summer of 2014. We love it and Alastair and Iris are the best, most welcoming, interesting people to make your stay memorable. Relaxed, lots of space so everyone can find their niche. If you want to you can meet up with others in the barn relaxing on sofas round the fire with a drink or at the tables sharing homemade pizzas from the pizza oven. Great countryside and chances to cycle, walk or tour around. If you are looking for somewhere a little bit special, where you can unwind but be part of a great camping community then this is the place. If you don't have a tent then you can stay in the quirky converted camping cabins with your own hand built wooden verandas with plenty of space around to feel you are on your own patch. We will be going again but I am biased as am family.

Mar 14, 2016 by fiona knox

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