Castel Château de Lez-Eaux, 240 avenue de Lez-Eaux, 50380 Saint Pair Sur Mer, Normandy, France
The long, tree-lined avenue that leads you into Camping Lez-Eaux is like a shaded runway landing you at your holiday destination. At its end you taxi into a maze of camping pitches dotted, like a busy terminal, with folk from all across Europe; Belgians in board shorts, Dutch in wide brimmed sun hats and French holidaymakers folding out their deck chairs. To say it’s a hidden nook of France then, would be like calling Babybel a traditional French cheese, but for all its commercial hum-drum and broad European appeal, Camping Lez-Eaux is still an exceptional place to stay. The grounds are spacious, the facilities are excellent and your children will have befriended their continental companions before you’ve even unpacked the car.
Based around a 15th century chateaux, Lez-Eaux – translating as ‘close to the sea’ – is a family run site that’s now into its fifth generation since the building was first bought. Over the years, the camping area has steadily grown and altered shape, gradually spreading itself beyond the charming stony building with its outlying fishing lake. Despite a string of chalets and static caravan accommodation, the site still very much sticks to the traditional camping roots. Tents cover the vast majority of the grassy pitches, each with ample space and an electricity hook-up if you wish to use it, and classic vintage campervans pepper one or two of the sunny spots. The atmosphere is laid-back and family friendly, while activities in the peak of the summer period give you a pleasing time-out if the kids are still running wild.
The real quirk of this campsite, however, is not in the age old essentials, like fresh croissants in the morning and a well-kept outdoor swimming pool, but in the newest additions that few other sites can match. Six meters up, in a pair of old oaks on the edge of the grounds, two strikingly cool tree tents are the envy of every canvas camper. Inside, the tree trunk forms a centre column, around which everything is orientated, with a plush double bed and a single for kids. They’re each reached by a spiral, wooden staircase, while a rope pulley system allows you to try hoisting your breakfast basket up and down in the morning – playful if not always the most practical!
Elsewhere, sports pitches, paddling pools and tennis courts entertain, while, for most, the morning is one of readying and picnic-making for a day along the coast. It takes just four minutes in the car to reach the nearest beach, while a route designed for cyclists will lead you to the same spot in little over half an hour (ask at reception for a map). From here you can skirt south along the coastal roads, taking in historic settlements and endless beaches, or skip north a couple of kilometers further to the seaside town of Granville, home to a range of eateries, shops and a historic, walled centre.