In June 2014, James and I took the kids (then aged 8,8 and 10) camping to the South of France. We had been to this particular area of France many times before and we really wanted to show the kids why we loved it. It’s a really beautiful part of the world and I would highly recommend it as a holiday destination for families.
From Ireland, you can fly direct to Nice from Dublin with Ryanair or Aer Lingus. The campsite we like to visit is about 40 minutes drive away so I would always suggest hiring a rental car. Alternatively, you can get the overnight ferry into Cherbourg or Roscoff and then you have the freedom to use your own car and also enjoy the drive down through France.
We chose to camp with Canvas Holidays as we had used the company before and found them competitively priced and reliable, in fact this was our fourth time visiting “Les Tournels“. The campsite is located in the Gulf of St. Tropez, about half a mile from the famous Pampelonne beach. We had stayed in their maxi tents before but when you have children with you, basics like running water and a toilet are priceless so this time we opted for a 2 bedroom mobile home.
The Mobile Home
The classic 2 bed mobile home is pretty basic and ideally suited to a family with two children. You can however convert the table in the lounge into a double bed but we didn’t fancy doing that. Some classic mobiles do have a third drop-down bunk bed in the 2nd bedroom but unfortunately ours didn’t so we ended up ‘rearranging’ the 2nd bedroom to fit all three children in! As we were flying to France on this occasion, we had hired our bedlinen and towels through Canvas. If our children were smaller, we could’ve requested a cot and highchair too.
On this occasion we did however regret not choosing a mobile home with air-conditioning as it was incredibly warm for June and this made sleeping a little uncomfortable.
There is a restaurant onsite which is a bit pricey however we really enjoyed cooking in the mobile home. It was relatively easy even though ours didn’t have a microwave or oven. We did however have a gas BBQ on the pitch so we cooked outside most evenings on the decking.
The campsite is located on a hilly terrain amidst a 20 hectare pine forest. Be mindful of this if you have accessibility issues, you could be a good 10 or 15 minute walk from the swimming pool and other facilities if you’re at the back of the campsite (although you will be lucky to have the best views!).
Talking of the swimming pool, it’s the best I’ve ever seen anywhere. There’s a separate fun kiddies pool and also a meandering lagoon and pool with waterslides for the older kids and adults.
There is a heated indoor pool in the “Entre Vigne et Mer” spa which is also equipped with a balneotherapy space which I never got to try out but it certainly looked indulgent.
The campsite had a brilliant playground and the kids could freely (and safely) wander round the campsite in the evenings, making friends with the German and Dutch children who were also staying on site.
One of the benefits of travelling with Canvas holidays is that there are English couriers living on site which is really handy if you have a problem. They also have a mobile office near the reception area with books, magazines, board games and beach toys that you can borrow when needed.
There is a large SPAR shop with everything you could ever need about 500m from reception area. The shop does have a pop up bakery in the mornings on site but you need to get down early to beat the queues!
At Saucepan Kids, we love teaching the children about real food and where it comes from and this is equally important when we travel so we had so much fun visiting the nearby local markets in Ramatuelle or Port Grimaud sampling local cheeses and meats.
One of my absolute favourite delicacies from the region is the dessert tarte tropezienne. In fact, our 10 year old celebrated her birthday while we were away and wanted this dessert as her birthday cake. We were happy to oblige!
As the gulf of St. Tropez is a popular destination for celebs and Hollywood stars, some restaurants are incredibly expensive but we found some wonderful (and great value) family friendly bistros in the neighbouring villages of La Croix Valmer and Cavalaire.
The nearby beach is about 1500m from the campsite through a stunning vineyard which is easily walkable with older children. In July and August the campsite however does run a shuttle service to the beach which is very popular with families with small children.
Having a hire car meant that we were able to explore beaches in the surrounding area and we often headed to the family friendly beaches of L’Escalet, Pampelonne and Cavalaire-sur-Mer for a change.
Unfortunately Canvas Holidays no longer have a presence at Les Tournels, the campsite has been taken over by the Yelloh Village chain so if we go back, we wouldn’t be able to book with Canvas.
However as we have had such positive experiences with Canvas Holidays in the past, we would definitely look to see where else they have campsites in the area and maybe buck the trend and try somewhere new!!
Here’s a short video of our time in the South of France. We can’t recommend the campsite enough and if you do visit it, please let us know how you get on.
We paid in full for our own holiday at Les Tournels and received no financial contribution at any time from Canvas Holidays, Yelloh Villages, Hertz or Ryanair. Our opinion, as always, is 100% our own.