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Review of Ecovallée Yurt Camp, Dordogne, France

Reviews
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Posted by Richard Hammond at 10:13 on Tuesday 12 October 2010

> For contact details and to check availability, see the full listing for Ecovallée Yurt Camp

In splendid isolation: Ecovallee's yurt and safari-style kitchen camp. Photo: Richard HammondIn splendid isolation: Ecovallee's yurt and safari-style kitchen camp. Photo: Richard Hammond

Ecovallée is a family-friendly yurt camp in a 12.5-acre field surrounded by oak and pine trees, a few hundred metres outside the lovely village of Lalinde in the Dordogne, France.

The spacious yurt has a double bed and two single beds.  Photo: Richard HammondThe spacious yurt has a double bed and two single beds. Photo: Richard HammondThe Rooms
There is currently just one large 18-foot, cream-coloured yurt. It has a wooden door (with key), large double bed with chest of drawers and two single beds with mattresses, pillows, duvets, and linen. A dry compost toilet is in a separate hut about 20 yards away. The nearest washing facilities are a couple of minutes walk up to the camp's main entrance. A high chair, travel cot and all-terrain buggy, etc can be provided. 

The Food
Self-catering. There’s a open plan, safari-style kitchen camp opposite the yurt with all the basic amenities, such as plates, pots and pans, cutlery, kettle, gas cooker, sink with mains water, and a large gas-fired BBQ - see video below.

The owners grow their own salad, fruits and vegetables, and there's usually a surplus of eggs from their chickens. In Lalinde, there are three bakers and two butchers and plenty of shops for groceries and wine. For eating out, there are several good restaurants in Lalinde, including four cafes in and around the square, which has a covered area. I ate at Le Petit Loup, a locally run restaurant just off the main square with an excellent a la carte menu for 15 or 21 Euros.

Here's a short video of the safari-style open plan kitchen:

 

The Activities
A few yards downhill from the yurt is a smaller yurt that’s a kid’s play room with lots of books, games and a dolls house. The owners’ horse lives in an enclosed paddock and at the far north end of their land is the animal enclosure, home to pigs, rabbits and chickens,. Outside the camp, this is the Dordogne, with any number of wine cellars and chateaus – their website has a really good list.

What makes it a green accommodation?
The owners, Alex and Clare, live on the small holding in a yurt with their two small children all year round and are clearly committed to living off the land as sustainably as possible, growing their own salad, fruit and vegetables and keeping chickens and pigs. You can read more about their experiences on Alex’s blog. The yurt has been handcrafted from coppiced chestnut and the camp is effectively off-grid in terms of electricity. The laundry is cleaned with eco detergent. Toilet is dry compost.

Ecovallee is more like a 'glampsite' than a traditional campsite.  Photo: Richard HammondEcovallee is more like a 'glampsite' than a traditional campsite. Photo: Richard HammondTop tips
The eggs from the owners' chicken are delicious! Also, I recommend walking into Lalinde, it’s about 20 minutes, great to work up a little appetite for dinner, and the walk back at night under all those stars is well worth it. Thursday morning is Market day in Lalinde though you can find a market locally every day, apart from Mondays. Ecovallee’s website has a  list of timings for many of the local markets.

Getting there
The nearest train station is in Lalinde, from where it’s about a 20-minute walk to the yurt camp (see website for detailed directions). To book Eurostar tickets to Paris and beyond, go to greentraveller’s Rail Journey Planner. When I visited, I took the train from Sarlat to Lalinde, which I reckon is one of the most scenic train journeys in France, meandering along the lush green Dordogne river valley through the fields of sunflowers and miles of vineyards. Suggested ferries, include Newhaven to Dieppe or Portsmouth to St Malo with Brittany Ferries.

Verdict
Ecovallee is wonderfully isolated; you feel like you’re miles from anywhere, though in reality you’re just a couple of hundred metres from the lovely Lalinde. I was there during the meteor shower in early August, and I can’t think of a better place to have seen such a marvellous spectacle that night. The camp has more facilities than just the pre-erected yurt, but don’t expect all the creature comforts of an urban hotel. Think ‘glampsite’. Alex told me that a lot of guests come to see what it’s like living in a yurt. If you’re thinking of buying a yurt or living off the land, then this is an excellent place to pick up a few tips. But equally, if you’re looking for a quiet bolthole in the Dordogne, particularly if you have young children, this is ideal. Inspirational.

For contact details and to check availability, see the full listing for Ecovallée Yurt Camp, Dordogne, France

The view from the safari style kitchen camp.  Photo: Richard HammondThe view from the safari style kitchen camp. Photo: Richard Hammond

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