Camping Huttopia Beaulieu sur Dordogne
Who wants to camp in France this summer? Then you’ll enjoy today’s addition to the series “Let’s Go Camping.” Anna (otherwise known as @born.voyage over on Instagram) and I got to chatting about camping in the south of France when she mentioned the campground they fell in love with last summer. Of course I had to ask her to contribute!
1. Tell us about your campsite and the best way to get there.
Last summer we spent ten wonderful days at the Huttopia Beaulieu sur Dordogne campsite, located in the Nouvelle-Aquitane region of central France.
We live in the UK, so we began our French leg of the journey from Dieppe, which meant (at best) a 7 hour drive to the site. In the end, we decided to break up the journey with a one-night stop at a B&B in Saint Gaultier (near Poitiers), before an easy two and a half hour drive to Huttopia the following day.
In terms of the site itself, all I can say is that it really does have it all! Located on a natural island, and just a stones throw from the lovely medieval town of Beaulieu sur Dordogne, it has access to a private river beach, its own pool, is set in beautiful woodland and is so well placed to discover the region. We just loved it!
Note from SFT: If you are driving from Switzerland the journey is a good 8 hours.
2. What types of accommodation are on offer?
All Huttopia campsites offer a range of accommodation options, from chalets and mobile homes to little wooden ‘roulottes’ and safari tents. There are also pitches for people bringing their own tents, camper vans or motorhomes and all pitches are scattered among the trees, giving the whole site a lovely natural vibe.
As a family of five, we chose a Classic 5 Safari Tent with two sleeping compartments, which easily accommodated us all with a double bed in one and a bunk bed and single camp bed in the other. Our tent also had the luxury of its own internal shower room (with a piping hot shower!), indoor kitchen, with fridge and an outdoor (undercover) dining area with a BBQ grill.
We were really impressed with the facilities and how well equipped the tent was, even down to the lockable chest for valuables and coat hangers!
3. What types of facilities does the campsite offer?
One of the big highlights of this Huttopia site was the central restaurant and bar area next to the pool. The restaurant served simple snacks in the day and great wood fired pizzas at night and was a real communal hub, with a children’s play area, volleyball net, ping pong tables and petanque.
The reception had a very small shop offering the basics, which was more than enough as it was just a quick trip in to town where we found the local supermarket. There was also a daily bread and pastry service. The children loved this and enjoyed wandering up to the bar each morning and coming back with warm bread and croissants!
The large, heated pool is immaculately clean, with a children’s fun splash area and slides. The washrooms and toilets were also well maintained. They also have easy to use laundry facilities for which you need to purchase tokens so we were able to do our laundry a couple of times, too.
4. What activities does the campsite offer?
There was a daily kids club on offer for children aged 5-11, which we didn’t actually use, but it did sound really nice and simple. There are no dancing mascots here or organised pool games, it’s all very back to nature with lots of woodland craft, simple games and a forest school vibe.
In addition, you could take part in a free archery session and for a small fee, go on canoeing trips or high wire ropes courses, all from the site.
In the evenings there was some entertainment, which seemed to alternate between louder shows and music acts, with quieter volleyball games and petanque championships, as well.
We also enjoyed spending time at the river beach, where the children loved floating down the river on their inflatables.
5. Breakfast, lunch and dinner: what are your recommendations?
Breakfast was always at the tent – fruit and yoghurt (I’m obsessed with French nectarines!), maybe some bread and cheese and of course, croissants!
If we were at the site, we would also have lunch at the tent, which was positioned by the river in a woodland glade, so was a really welcome break from the midday heat. We would usually have salad, bread, cheese and cold meats.
We ate dinner in the town twice during our stay. There is a wonderful little creperie called ‘Le Beau Lieu Breton’ tucked down a side street in the medieval part of the town, which served really great food. We also ate in one of the restaurants off the main square, which had a little children’s play area at the back.
Other than that, we would BBQ in the comfort of our tent, while the children played with their new-found friends. Bliss!
6. What to see and do outside the campsite?
The site is in the region of many of the French Plus Beaux Village, meaning beautiful towns. So we visited a few of those, which were stunning.
The Gouffre de Padirac caves are a must see – with a gondola ride along an underground river. Totally spectacular! I would definitely advise booking this in advance and choosing an early slot – we had to leave and come back the following day as we hadn’t booked in advance and the crowds were huge. It’s slightly chaotic getting in, but definitely worth it. Just don’t forget to take a jumper as it’s cold underground!
We also made a trip to La Foret des Singes – a monkey sanctuary at Rocamadour. The children loved feeding the monkeys popcorn and the whole place was really interesting to wander around. Rocamadour is also a beautiful town built on the rocks, and worth a visit.
And finally, don’t miss a visit to the local swimming lake, Plan d’eau de Miel near Beynat – about a 30 minute drive from the site. Here you will find a manmade sandy beach, diving boards, water slides and a inflatable water park, all included in the cost of your parking, which was roughly 8 Euros for the day.
7. Any tips on what not to forget?
River shoes! The river beach was pebbly and tricky to navigate in bare feet, so we had to make a trip to the local shoe shop for five pairs of river shoes. Inflatables, such as a large doughnut ring or small boat, are also great fun on the river.
We took a swing ball set with us, which we set up outside the tent and it became a bit of a hub for the children and their friends. Many a match was played between children of all nationalities during the trip.
Other than that, pack light – especially clothes! I always pack too many and we never wear them all.
8. Best way to book the holiday?
We were there in mid-August so had booked in advance and did this directly through the Huttopia website, where we found the staff to be extremely helpful.
9. Anything to watch out for?
Our tent was very near to the river, so if you have young toddlers or babies, you might consider asking for a pitch in the middle of the campsite.
10. What sets this camping ground apart from the rest?
It’s hard to explain, but the overall atmosphere was just so lovely. Everyone was really friendly and the children made lots of friends and it felt really safe. It was also so relaxing sitting among the trees near the tent – we saw water voles swimming, and heard owls hooting at night.
11. What type of campers are you?
We are a travel-loving, outdoorsy family of five - my husband and I and our three children aged 8, 6 and 3.
We’ve always loved camping and have tried a bit of everything in the past including, tents, camper vans, mobile homes, yurts, and safari tents! We’re not afraid to get back to basics and have camped at a few festivals in our time, as well as at campsites with composting loos and no showers! Although now with the children in tow, a few home comforts are always very welcome.
We used to live in Australia where we enjoyed many camper van trips up and down the coast. This has recently inspired us to buy our very own camper van which we will be taking around Europe this summer on a six-week road trip.
A big thanks to Anna for sharing her insights on this wonderful campground. I don’t know about you, but I am trying to figure out how I can visit! If you want to follow Anna’s adventures this summer, why not pop over to her Instagram account and say hi.
If you have a campground that you would like to share with the Simple Family Travel community, please get in touch!