Huttopia Oleron les Chenes Verts Huttopia
9 Passe de l'Ecussière, 17550 Dolus d'Oléron, Île d'Oléron, Charente-Maritime, France
Though toll roads zip you speedily across France and a ginormous, two-mile long bridge takes you to Oléron, it’s good old fashioned bicycles that rule the roost on this sunny Atlantic isle. The total cycle network, spreading from the pine forest in Saint-Trojan-les-Bains right out to the Chassiron lighthouse on the northern tip, covers no fewer than 110 kilometers. Given the island itself is only 172 kilometres squared, that’s quite a feat.
No surprise then that Camping Les Chênes Verts is strewn with family bicycles. Even if you don’t bring your own there are extras you can hire, with the campsite boasting instant access onto the nearest trails. It’s all part of the ‘get active’ spirit of the place, home to a host of facilities to keep you occupied. There’s a playground, pétanque court, volleyball and table tennis, plus a heated outdoor swimming pool. Beach-wise, it’s a mere 50 metres down to the waterside at Passe de l'Ecuissière, whose golden sands sweep north towards La Perroche and south as far as the eye can see. It's safe for paddling and increasingly popular for horse-riding too.
Sadly the campsite is not a family-run location. Owned by the Huttopia brand (who also have a second campsite on the island), the place is manned by staff and closes down through the winter. But with 100 pitches, it’s actually one of the smaller campsites on the island and keeps itself distant from holiday park commercialism. This is still camping as it should be. The wooded setting gives every pitch some privacy, with bumpy roots and worn, sandy pathways keeping the place natural and relatively untarnished, while tasteful safari tents are provided for glampers, rather than static mobile homes or nasty chalet buildings.
All in all, the campsite is one of the best on the island, with much owed to its combination of beachside location and shady wooded setting. If you do make it beyond the beach, there are tours of the fascinating saline harbour to be had, the medieval Château de Saint-Jean d’Angle to explore and the wooden fishermen's cabins, coloured houses and charming ports of the coast to discover. And if you don’t make it beyond the beach? Well, we wouldn’t blame you for that either.