It’s difficult to discern where the sand dunes of Basse Benaie beach end and the campsite – Huttopia Côte Sauvage – begins. With the nearest pitches tucked among tufts of spikey marram grass and flowering sand-verbena, the whole place gives the feel that you are almost camping on the beach. In truth, no real distinction does exist. Set just 20 metres from the sea, the campsite and the dunes have become one entity, with stick beach fencing dividing up different areas. It's only as you wander a few metres further inland that the deep, soft sand between your toes gradually hardens as shrubs and tall trees populate the campsite proper.
Part of the established Huttopia group, (who also have a second campsite three kilometres inland), Camping Côte Sauvage is a large family site that's awash with children in school summer holidays. The 100-odd pitches are, for the most part, left for regular tent and campervan campers, while fully furnished safari tents allow those travelling light to stay with minimal fuss. Ample facilities, meanwhile, include three separate washroom blocks and a central reception lodge with free Wi-Fi, a small shop and a reading area, while the soft dune sand also lends itself to a decent children’s playground and those all important boules pitches (a staple no respectable French campsite should be without).
From Basse Benaie you can walk further along the coast to Montamer beach – one of the island’s most popular swimming spots at high tide – or stroll inland, via the tiny vineyards, to pretty Sainte-Marie-de-Ré. With its daily market and plethora of locally farmed goods, the place has the feel of a rural village you'd more likely find deep in mainland France, rather than here beside the coast. The giveaway, though, is the fish, mussels and sea salt for sale in abundance, strangely found alongside locally produced potatoes by the bucket load.
Beyond such local finds, the rest of the island is easily reached on a bike and the campsite has plenty available to hire if you haven’t brought your own. With over 100 kilometres of car-free trails it’s easy to get around and you can cross the island to the northern coast in around 15 minutes. Cycle the half hour to Saint-Martin-de-Ré, though, for the best of the island’s museums and history, or continue west to the famous tidal flats where ‘white gold’ is dried out at Île de Ré’s renowned sea salt farms.
The Owner SaysJust 20 metres from the beach, if you love tranquillity and unspoilt nature, you will be seduced by Huttopia Côte Sauvage - Ile de Ré Campsite. Peaceful holidays guaranteed on the Ile-de-Ré!
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