Camping Terre Ferme
The owners of Terre Ferme, Matthijs and Renske Witmans (yep, they’re Dutch), bought this place years ago while they were still living in the Netherlands, and over years of long-distance commuting have slowly and painstakingly turned what was an old maize farm into a new and stunning campsite.
They restored the magnificent long farmhouse and designed and built a facilities block in the local rustic style. Eventually, a few years back, the place was finally ready to make the big move south and it was 'so-long Holland' and 'bonjour La France'. Now that all the works are complete Matthijs and Renske can sit back and admire what they’ve achieved, which is a really charming little ‘aire naturelle’ campsite.
Terre Ferme is situated in Le Petit Condal, a tiny hameau in rural Burgundy that is as small as the name implies. Condal itself is pretty small, but this place is so tiny that it hardly features on the map at all. Mind you, the property here covers 17 acres, of which some has been cleared to make the camping field, some penned off to keep donkeys, sheep and chickens and others left as natural woodland and a spring-fed pond. The two and a half-acre camping field has only 20 pitches and cars are kept off the grass, so you can imagine how much space there is to stretch out. If you don’t fancy sticking up canvas yourself you can always hire a pre-erected safari-style tent in the field. This sleeps four and has its own cooking facilities and fridge. Or there’s a compact wooden chalet, which sleeps four in a double bed and two bunks set off to the side behind the facilities block.
Most of the immediate area is given over to maize farming, and the quiet back roads are a maze, too – perfect for idling around on a bike. These are available to hire from the farmhouse, including a tandem. This is also the terroir which breeds the famous poulet de Bresse, the most famous chicken in the world. These beauties are reared outdoors on small, dedicated farms and are protected by the same kind of Appellation d’Origine Controllée that governs the production of wine. They don’t come cheap, but let’s face it, half the reason you come to France is for the food and drink (the other half’s probably a combination of the weather and the scenery), so it’s worth giving one of these especially edible chooks a spin around the rotisserie. They are to your standard cellophane-wrapped supermarket chicken on its little plastic tray what a filet mignon is to a burger. And much the same can be said for the delicious little site at Terre Ferme, which is certainly a class apart.
One facilities block, built in the local rustic style, with showers and toilets (both unisex) and a urinal tucked round the back for the chaps. Washing-up sinks, a washing machine (€4.50) and a terrace with tables and chairs. A minute’s stroll down the hill from the main camping field is a quiet spring-fed pond surrounded by trees and there are various domesticated animals to pet.
Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (for a fee) – yes.
This is a fairly remote farming area and there isn’t a decent-sized town for miles around. Neither is there a huge number of activities available. You can hire bicycles from the site at €18 per day. If you can make it that far (it’s about 6 miles/10 km away) it’s worth visiting St-Amour, a little town of narrow, colourful streets, ivy-clad houses, and an impressive old church. But then if you have a car exit 10 off the A39 could be the gateway to a whole other world.
Food & Drink
There are various facilities (fridge, coffee-maker, for example) on the terrace, and all kinds of goodies on sale from the farmhouse, along with wine and beer, and you can order up fresh bread for the morning if you ask the night before. The bread oven is also used on Wednesday evenings, when campers can make their own pizzas, and an old Citroen campervan is currently being transformed into a chips van. In Varennes there’s a boulangerie and butcher and a small Proxi supermarket plus a decent little restaurant, Le St-Saveur (0033 3 85 74 65 59) specialising in local grub and with a range of set menus from €25 to €40. For better choice, though, head to St-Amour, which has a Casino supermarket and several small tabacs.
The site is situated off the stretch of A39 autoroute that runs between Lons-le-Saunier and Bourge-en-Bresse. Come off at exit 10, and just after the péage booths, take the first right at the roundabout. Follow the road towards Petit Condal. Just before the village turn left and the campsite entrance is a few hundred metres on your left.
The closest public transport hub is the railway station at St-Amour. You can arrange for the campsite owners to pick you up from here, however.
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