Way back in 1959, a local family opened a campsite on the banks of the Verdon river at the mouth of the splendid Gorges du Verdon. Today, Domaine Chasteuil-Provence is still run by their descendants, who take great care to create a welcoming place for adults and kids alike.
The campsite itself is massive, spanning 500 or so acres; but the pitches (which at an average of 100 sq. m certainly verge on the generous side) sit handily on the nearly 15-acre patch beside the sparkling Verdon. The pitches are shaded naturally by an assortment of trees and, though the site is fairly large, the gentle whisper of leaves combined with the soft whoosh of the river perfectly illustrates the fact that the emphasis here is on the natural, not the commercial.
The facilities are extensive without being obtrusive with a well-organised reception, a reasonable restaurant, a handy shop, plus well-maintained toilet and shower blocks.
Being riverside, a host of aquatic activities naturally present themselves: canoeing and kayaking along the Verdon is a great way of experiencing the scale of the gorges. The owners have been working with a rafting partner for years and can easily arrange individual and family excursions.
If you don’t fancy the river, but still want some water-based fun – simply sashay across to the heated pool. Walkers and climbers will be spoiled for choice, too, thanks to the abundance of hiking trails and climbing walls in the nearby area.
Throughout the summer the site organises entertainment twice a day for kids and can arrange extra family-style canoeing and walking trips. With so much land at your disposal, hide and seek is always an option. You could even trat yourself to a relaxing horse ride around the gorges and lakes. Ask at reception for details.
The Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon envelops an area of almost 200,000 hectares, and there’s plenty of opportunities to explore this natural wonderland. The cute cliff-top village of Castellane – about 5 miles (8 km) away – is the place to get info and organise trips, though much can be arranged directly through the helpful people at reception.
If you have a car, a great scenic drive leaves Castellane and follows the D952 along the north rim of the canyon for 20 or so miles (30 km), taking in the Point Sublime – a popular spot with spectacular views along the canyon’s narrow, deep cleft. A full drive around the whole 60-mile (100-km) rim takes an entire day with a few stops.
The facilities are very family-friendly, and include a heated pool, restaurant, playground and a well-stocked convenience store.
Tents, campervans, caravans, motrohomes, dogs (on leads) – yes.
History – nay, prehistory – buffs will definitely want to check out Musée de Préhistoire des Gorges du Verdon (0033 4 92 74 09 59), where you can discover how primitive peoples lived in the area. Examine the 400,000-year-old artefacts unearthed at the Grotte de la Baume Bonne (at the village of Quinson, a few miles west of Lac de Sainte- Croix) and then step back in time and wander around the fascinating Village Préhistorique. Plus, the museum organises regular events and activities for all ages. The almond-shaped building in itself is a must-see, having been designed by celebrated British architect Norman Foster, who also created the impressive but delicate-looking viaduct at Millau.
Food & Drink
Pizzas and salds are available onsite. The family-run eaterie, Auberge de Teillon (0033 4 92 83 60 88) on Route de Grasse in Le Garde, near Castellane serves elegant French cuisine and Provencal specialties including le Saumon fumé par le Chef, le Foie Gras d´Oie mi-cuit à l'Ancienne. Be sure to save room for the epic cheese board and delicious sweets. Set menus start at €29.
May - mid-September.
Two people with a car and tent costs from €16.50 - €28.20, depending on the season. Additional adults are charged at €3.50 - €5 and €1.80 - €2.60 for children (under 6).
From nice, take the A8 west (direction Aix-en-Provence) and exit at Cannes. From the Cannes-exit roundabout, follow the signs for Grasse, taking the limited access road. From Grasse, take the N85 Route Napoléon to Castellane, and follow the signs for the campsite.
Regular buses from Nice to Grenoble stop at Castellane, and local bus services run from Castellane past ther campsite twice a day.
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