Castel Domaine de la Paille Basse

Europe France Western France Dordogne & Lot

Castel Domaine de la Paille Basse, 46200 Souillac, Lot, France
A large campsite in the Dordogne valley bursting with onsite activities.
At first glance the idea of Castel Domaine de la Paille Basse seems disastrously incongruous with the restoration of an ancient settlement. The vast 100-pitch campsite spreads around buildings that were once medieval farms and it’s easy to frown at restored old barns filled with shiny shower cubicles and a polished onsite shop. Yet in the Dordogne valley, full of chateaux, caves and museums dedicated to ruined relics of the past, there’s something fulfilling about seeing the buzz of life amongst these old stones. Even more impressive is the way such modernity is installed without a touch of garishness – with the glitzy games room snuggled beneath the eves of a hayloft and the plastic waterslide running across the exposed stones of a hilly slope, both looking alarmingly fitting amid the scene. New life hasn’t just been breathed into the place, it’s positively blown in with high-gale gusto and, if you’re looking for a site with a bit of everything, Castel Domaine de la Paille Basse is certainly one for the list.

Camping-wise there are various pitches on offer. The site begins at the old farm buildings and spreads into a small open apron before it, then stretches into a green maze of dappled woodland, riddled with clearings where the best of the camping pitches lay. The result is an eclectic range to choose from, sunny spots out on the open grass or a more rugged camping feel amongst the bows and the branches. Campers can also decide between four pitch types ranging from the cheapest, simple pitches, without electricity, right up to their premium pitches which feature the likes of a BBQ, fridge, tables and chairs and free access to the Wi-Fi. There’s a toss up to be had between pitches at the top of the site, with a bit of a walk back to the ablution facilities, and those closer to the action but, consequently, a little closer to all the noise.

Domaine de la Paille Basse is, as you may be gathering, a pretty active place. As tranquil as the old farmsteads may have been, today they are a hub for games, fun and general camping bustle with restaurants and activity spaces housed within the buildings. Outside there is a bar overlooking a long terrace that frames the swimming facilities on offer. ‘Facilities’ being plural, of course, owing to the three various pool sizes – one for babies, one for children and one for everyone else – and the separate, four lane waterslide. But it’s not just onsite frolics. The campsites situation lends itself to a carefree lifestyle, not least being cast within the appealing landscape of the Dordogne valley, shaped along the languid, canoe-friendly river that is perfect for a lazy day drifting in the sun. You can hire bikes from the campsite and descend the hill to Souillac where canoes can be rented and then paddled downstream to a collection point at the other end. It’s the best way to explore the pretty riverside towns and test the tipple in small-time waterfront cafés. By the time you're back at camp, noise will have died down to a pleasant evening murmur and stars will be scattering the sky. The latest summer activities are all ended by 11pm when the site is doused in quiet and a mass of happy campers snooze into a deep and contented summer slumber.

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