Château de la Baudonnière, Les Chambres 50320 La Haye-Pesnel, France
When you are gifted with a beautiful French Chateau set within 100-acre grounds, most sites would be happy to add a couple of toilets and welcome campers in their droves. Not so at Forest Escapes, instead of just tucking you away in the dappled shade of the woodland, they’ve decided to up the game by offering exquisite glamping accommodation and an ‘all-inclusive’ style experience, which includes home-cooked meals and a wealth of activities. The outcome is a masterpiece.
Forest Escape’s “woodland village” sits in the heart of the Normandy countryside, just north of Avranches. It’s an apt description for a place that gains, over the course of a weeks’ stay, a real community feel. There’s a convivial social atmosphere – aided by fantastic group meals washed down with local wines – yet also tranquil, private spaces to enjoy quiet family time.
The tree houses are perhaps the most stand-out feature. There are two – playfully named Les Singes (Monkeys) and Les Ecureuils (Squirrels) – the larger with a three bedded bunk room and a mezzanine floor with a double bedroom, the smaller sleeping one less, all on a single level. Both tree houses have their own eco toilet and Indonesian shower room back on terra ferma, while traditional Mongolian yurts and the woodland cabin all share facilities in the Rangers Lodge.
In the centre of the glamping glade, the Rangers Lodge is where most things can be found. As well as the facilities, it is here that breakfast is served, while lunch and dinners are inside the chateau itself – accompanied by the site’s own home-pressed cider. The Lodge also acts as a main meeting place when you choose to break out of your family bubble and enjoy some of the onsite activities. Nothing is compulsory but, you quickly realise, you’d can’t help but get involved!
The range of activities available are extensive - canoeing, climbing, archery, orienteering, fencing, raft building, wild swimming, clay pigeon shooting, bike touring, animal petting, bread making… and so on. Many activities are undertaken as a family and others, the children are taken off to do age appropriate activities whilst the adults take part in for example clay pigeon shooting. A particularly popular option is taking the walking tour across the bay to Mont St Michel – possibly France’s most famous landmark outside of Paris. Built in the 11th century, the abbey is a feat of spectacular medieval architecture with outstanding panoramic views. It's approached by crossing a dramatic tidal causeway, where a guide will make sure you follow a safe route and point out interesting features along the way including quick sand.