Luxury camping in France
So hip it yurts... A luxury hand-crafted tent with a king-sized bed - it's camping but not as we know it in the Ardeche
There's more to camping than roll mats and sleeping bags. At a new luxury campsite in the south of France, you can now "sleep out in style" from the comfort of a cosy four-poster bed in an oak-framed domed tent. Modelled on the yurt - the small, portable home used by the nomadic people of Central Asia - the luxury hand-crafted tent is the kind of cosy, opulent pad that Genghis Khan strutted around in when he was conquering the steppes of Asia...
"It's more like a hotel room but under canvas," claims the owner Ruth van den Belt. Canvas Chic opened earlier this month with 12 yurts: nine are designed for families (with access to a conventional tent where there's a fully equipped kitchen), while three other yurts, intended for couples, are a short walk further into the leafy oak forest in a more secluded part of the camp.
The site is at the edge of the stunning Ardeche Gorge, in a nature reserve that Ruth and her husband Lodewijk are hoping to regenerate in partnership with the local forestry department. A trail from the camp leads down the side of the gorge to an opening in the forest and out on to an idyllic natural bathing area surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.
After a day spent walking along the gorge and a few dips in the river, I ate at La Petite Auberge in the nearby village of Labastide de Virac, a fabulously unassuming local restaurant with a selection of "wines from the region".
Canvas Chic is featured in a forthcoming book on Cool Camping, which lists some of the world's most scenic sites and includes tips on how to get the most out of camping. The author, Laura James, believes the interest in luxury campsites like Canvas Chic comes from people who are looking for more of an "experiential" holiday. "Camping used to be endured rather than enjoyed," she says. "But now it can be hassle-free as well as low impact, and you can enjoy the same kind of comforts outdoors as you would at home."
For full contact details see greentraveller's full listing of Canvas Chic. Three nights costs from £255 per tent including breakfast for two. July 8-September 9, Eurostar (eurostar.com) runs trains direct (Saturdays only) from London Waterloo to Avignon from £99 return. Bus from Avignon station to Vagnas (towards Aubenas) costs €21.80 return. Arrange pick up by hosts from Vagnas on booking (+4 7535 0902. Cool Camping, by Laura James, will be published by Collins on June 5 at £9.99.
For other great luxury campsites and green accommodation in France, follow the links below: