With well over 200 camping pitches, Huttopia Les Chateaux is less of a campsite and more of a camping village. When you strip it back to the stats on paper it doesn’t strike you as somewhere naturally found in the Cool Camping guidebooks. It’s vast in size, run by an amiable platoon of logo-wearing staff and boasts the full plethora of children’s activities, sports pitches and covered swimming pools. Thankfully, there’s more to life than statistics.
Located on the banks of the River Beuvron, a tributary of the Loire, Huttopia Les Chateaux is, in fact, an enviably located campsite in one of the most historic regions of all France. Though substantial in size, it’s still run with a clear focus on traditional camping, with family tents and cyclists populating most of the pitches. There are a range of glamping chalets, safari tents and, yes, mobile homes, but it’s canvas and pegs that are most dominant. “Family tent camping on an island”, is how someone describes it to us, pointing out that the river splits at one end and reconvenes at the other, technically meaning the campsite is indeed on a river island. It’s not exactly a tiny, personal affair but for the location alone it gets our seal of approval.
The charming village of Bracieux is on the doorstep, alternating between days of sleepy inactivity and bustling local markets, hosted in an old covered square built in the 15th century. As the campsite name suggests, though, it’s the châteaux of the surrounding valleys that are the real treasures. Magnificent Chambord – the most famous of all the castles in the Loire valley – is just 8km away, Chevenry is 9km, the Royal Château of Blois 18km and it’s a half hour drive to Chaumont-sur-Loire, where there’s a fourth castle 30km away. Venture further still and you’re greeted with dozens more, among them Château de Chenonceau instantly recognisable from the postcards in every Loire valley village.
All the exploring leaves little time to kick back and enjoy the facilities of the campsite itself. Swimming, tennis and a quick game of boules will just have to wait until the evening – best finished off with a glass of the Loire valley vino on the terrace of the onsite bar.