Nestled at the end of a narrow lane and found by following home-made signs, just outside the village of Goudargues in Provence, Haut Toupian is exclusive by design. The accommodation is limited – there are only two pitches on the 11-acre (4.5-hectare) site and they come pre-filled with tents. But what spectacular tents.
Both of the large, rectangular safari constructions are set on raised timber decks with a terrace out front. From one of the terraces the panorama of trees and mountains is spectacular. The other terrace enjoys a more rustic view, taking in the traditional stone farmhouse, gîte, and surrounding woods.
There are no busy roads within earshot, so birdsong and wind rustling through trees forms the soundtrack – with the occasional rustle of a nearby boar. Fungus growing on oak trees is testament to the purity of the air (fungus can’t grow in polluted air), as is the crystal-clear view across the Cèze Valley’s woods, vineyards, and lavender fields. The calm tranquillity is genuinely overwhelming and it really takes your breath away.
Having taken in the view, you need to prepare for more delights as you step into the tent. For a start there’s a double bed: a real bed, draped with a thick duvet and soft, furry chocolate-brown throws. There are sofa chairs that open into single beds, a wine-and-cheese fridge, a Nespresso machine... taking the term ‘all mod cons’ to a whole new level. The bathroom, tucked away at the back of the tent, has a porcelain loo and basin, jet shower, fluffy towels and dressing gowns, and a range of organic toiletries. Already this is 5-star camping, but there’s more.
Haut Toupian’s owners are Polly and Hans. Polly is a great cook, who, with a little notice, will prepare a five-course feast using fresh, local produce. Your dinner might well be the highlight of the whole trip. Perfectly griddled scallops served with local peach wine, neat stacks of goats’ cheese, aubergine, courgette, tomato and Parmesan, confit of duck with sautéed veg, cherries poached in Merlot, cheeses, and bread. All bursting with local flavour and accompanied by local red and white wines. Polly also prepares and delivers your morning breakfast daily.
In keeping with the lazy mood so easily brought on by good food, great wine, sunshine, and a pool, the countryside around Haut Toupian is sleepy. Horse-riding, cycling, canoeing, and walking are recommended for active types, and for everyone else the region’s plentiful wine-tasting tours combine agriculture, history and, of course, regular swigs of velvety reds and crisp whites.
Adventurous foodies will enjoy exploring the culinary treats in Goudargues, also known as ‘Venice of the Gard’ – an exaggerated title for somewhere with just one canal. The weekly market (on Wednesdays) is well worth a visit for its cheeses, wines, and sausages in particular. Between Polly’s kitchen talents and the village, a stay at Haut Toupian is a treat for the tastebuds, if not the waistline. This is certainly not a cheap camping break, but Haut Toupian’s luxurious tents, idyllic location, and sublime food have set a new standard at the very top of the glamping scale.
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