BelRepayre Airstream & Retro Trailer Park
nr Mirepoix, Ariege (09), Midi-Pyrenees, France
A couple of decades ago, Perry Balfour and his wife, Coline, set about transforming a beautiful part of the Ariège countryside into a themed trailer park. Locating an impressive collection of 15 Airstreams, the pair painstakingly restored each one to its former glory, then decked them out in 1970s-era fabrics and flea-market paraphernalia. Most of these glistening beauties have come all the way from America, although one, transformed into a distinctive, colourful diner called Apollo Lounge, was discovered sitting under the Eiffel Tower.
Though the exteriors look majestic – especially when winking simultaneously in the Ariège sunshine – the interiors look even better, with their cute little bathrooms and showers, funky bedrooms, and plethora of aptly psychedelic touches that includes floral curtains, retro crockery, black-and-white TVs and even an eight-track music system. Sliding in a scratchy Sly and the Family Stone cassette and putting your feet up on the sun lounger outside is a pretty cool experience, to say the least.
Elsewhere on site, there's a dainty little pond, an activities field, a nearby wood to explore and a small store at reception. In the evenings, all the action is centred around the neon playground known as the Apollo Lounge, where Coline serves up tasty French food and wine from a 1946 Clipper Caravan – one of the earliest food trucks in America – while Perry, cunningly disguised as DJ Bobby Lotion, lives out his pop-star fantasies, spinning everything from Motown to rock ’n’ roll and disco on vinyl.
If ever there was a campsite to help you trip back in time – this is it…
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An experience I won't forget
This summer I've been travelling around with my 4 year old son and we booked all of the campsites for the French leg of our travels via 'Cool Camping'. Originally I just looked in the map and chose BelRepayre for the location which was in a good spot for our itinerary. However when u read that it was an Airstream and Retro camping site I thought it sounded fun and definitely had the 'cool' factor.
Communication with Coline was always quick and clear and she was friendly, accommodating and helpful. Coline informed me that the weekend I'd chosen happened to be their annual 'Airstream' meeting so if I was after a quiet stay it was probably not the weekend for me. We'd rested lots at our previous site so I thought it could be a fun experience and we were only staying one night. I now wished we'd stayed longer!
BelRepayre is a wonderful place. You instantly feel as if you've either stepped back in time or entered an animated other world of sorts. Not only are the impeccably restored Airstream trailers impressive but the whole site is decorated and kitted out in 60s kitsch in-keeping with the retro era. It's a smallish site which makes it all the better and is clean and immaculately presented. There is a fantastic games area which my son loved complete with table tennis, giant Lego, badminton equipment and various balls. All amongst a backdrop of an old double decker bus, London taxi and English old phone box so we felt at home!
Perhaps one of the best things at Belrepayre is the Apollo Lounge - the Airstream trailer converted to the cafe/lounge area that serves drinks and snacks in the afternoon and meals and music in the evening. All of course in retro style!
The Airstream meeting evening was a fantastic experience. The evening was a fixed price which included live entertainment, a 3 course meal and a performance at the end of the evening from Perry the sites co-owner and his son. If you get to go to BelRepayre make sure you speak to Perry, Coline or their son about their lives as they have the most interesting brilliant stories ever! Perry was a professional clown who convinced Coline to run away to the circus with him (I don't care what anyone says but this is every girls dream!) they then had their own circus for years travelling around France and Italy bringing up their 4 boys before retiring and building BelRepayre. They are the perfect hosts and I will definitely be going again.
The location is also great close to the lovely town of Mirepoix and surrounded by sunflower fields. All in all it's an experience we won't forget!