Gypsy caravans are a popular option in campsites all over France, but usually these ‘roulottes’ are no more Romany than President Sarkozy, being simply wooden-walled chalets with curved roofs. One of life’s pleasures is actually finding out where they are, because signs on nearby roads are few and far between – these might encourage the idly curious. The ‘roulottes’ advertised on French campsites are invariably nothing like as authentic or atmospheric as the five circus caravans Monsieur Séné has here. His roulottes are stationed either in their own little field or in a woodland arbour by the stream, and they present a retrotastic traditional camping experience, full of simple pleasures. The caravans are of different vintages between the 1920s and the 1970s and have been restored and decorated accordingly, painted in rich reds, greens, mauves, and carmines, filled with life-affirming patterns and vintage furniture. They may be small, but it doesn’t feel that way. Minimalism doesn’t get a look in and they’re full of character.
Nuzzling up to the banks of a river so slow it looks like a long pond, the site is surrounded by trees; as private as you could wish for. It’s a great hideaway and children love the freedom to play in and around the roulottes and the stream. A hammock swings between trees, there’s a stack of wood for the fire, canoes to paddle in, and a riding centre ½ mile (1 km) away. Plus there are bikes here, allowing you to take advantage of a local network of routes to explore the grand chateaux. However long you stay, the time will just fly by.
Campfires are positively encouraged as it’s the principal cooking method. There’s just a small toilet and shower in one of the roulottes. There are bikes and canoes to use while you’re at the site.
Suitable ForCouples, families, dogs – yes.
NearbyThere’s a network of cycle routes to explore the chateaux and countryside. Chambord, with 440 magnificent rooms, is close, with a huge park and woods. A short drive away, in Blois, you can experience hundreds of years of architectural styles and stories of murder and derring-do (and that’s just the chateau), plus the Maison de la Magie (00 33 2 54 90 33 33) museum of magic.
Food & DrinkThere are many shops within 1 mile (2 km) to get supplies to cook on the open fire, or there’s a hob and a microwave if it’s really raining. Alternatively, head into Blois, where Au Bouchon Lyonnais (00 33 2 54 74 12 87) combines the local cuisine with dishes from Lyon in menus from €20.
Contact Les Roulottes, 41350 Les Marais, Huisseau-sur-Cosson, Loir-et-Cher, France
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