Camping Paradis Nature
The chances are the area around Camping Paradis Nature will have charmed you before you even arrive. The countryside drive – think pretty villages, working farmhouses, vineyards – is simply sublime. But this is just the warm-up act. Even after such a memorable prelude, the campsite doesn’t disappoint. Au contraire. This is a spacious, secluded site neighboured by a 17-hectare lake (where fishing and windsurfing are available) and a magnificent 11th-century chateau, which makes a wonderful backdrop to all those holiday snaps.
The demeanour here is relaxed to the extreme. Removed from the masses of tourism, there’s little to do at Camping Paradis Nature but absorb the natural environment. The site is well catered for with its male and female ablution block, complete with hot showers, toilets and disabled facilities. There’s also a children’s playground so little ones (who are in their element here) can tire themselves out on the slide and swings, whilst parents kick back with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc, from one of the nearby vineyards.
Whenever you decide to up the tempo, there’s a couple of great day trips nearby. Bustling Bourges has preserved its history well, with a maze of narrow, medieval cobblestone streets and its hugely impressive Cathédrale St-Étienne. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral features a series of stained-glass windows and the oldest astronomical clock in France, designed in 1424. Travel north and you’ll find Orléans. There’s a definite buzz around its broad boulevards, boutiques and elegant buildings. It’s also a city with a past. A one-time important settlement, Orléans sealed its place in history in 1429 when a young peasant girl by the name of Jeanne d’Arc rallied the armies of Charles VII and staged a spectacular rout against the English. Six centuries later, the 'Maid of Orléans'' presence is still felt, and you’ll discover museums and statues dedicated to her all over town.
Camping Paradis Nature is certainly a site that owes a lot to its surrounding countryside and villages, but that shouldn’t retract from the splendour of the place itself. The staff here are wonderfully welcoming, facilities and pitches are well maintained and the onsite tourist information centre provides helpful advice on local walks and cycling routes. So the package is complete – a lakeside space to pitch the tent and a wealth of outdoor activities on the doorstep.
49 pitches, electrical connections, lighting poles and water points. Male and female ablution block with hot showers, toilets, including disabled facilities. Dish pan, microwave, oven, kettle, laundry area with a washing machine. Small tables and chairs ready for a barbecue, fridge/freezer (ask for the key at reception). Playground for children with various games (rackets, bowling balls, balloon games). Tourist information center, sale of fishing licenses and fishing equipment with deposit.
Tents, caravans, campervans, groups, kids and dogs – yes.
Situated in a 50-acre park – including 5 acres of ornamental gardens – Blancafort Castle (0033 248 586 011) was erected in the 15th century by the de Boucard family on the site of an ancient seigniory. This charming brick fortified house rises above the Sauldre canal in pleasant surroundings, enhanced by a French-style garden. The castle (now a private residence), houses beautiful furnishings and tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries. A 30 minute drive away is the spellbinding Museum of Witchcraft (0033 248 738 611), the only European museum of its kind. It's a wonderfully staged reminder that, until relatively recently, witchcraft in this part of France wasn't just a way of frightening the kids. Utterly unique, the museum is packed full of fascinating titbits, including the cure for smelly feet! Wine from the Sancerre region of France is beloved by many – especially Sauvignon Blanc – but local wineries also offer the chance to try Pinot Noir, Rosé and organic wines. Some of the best winemakers you can visit include: Morogues (0033 248 644 248), Maimbray, in Sury-en-Vaux (0033 248 793 731) and Le Bourg (0033 248 542 457).
Food & Drink
There's a traditional working dairy farm down the road which offers interesting tours and an insight into the production of cheese, milk, butter and cream. Bourges (35 minute drive) has plenty of fine places to eat, including Cak-T (0033 248 249 460); a gorgeous tea room run by an equally lovely host. The place is set in a wonderful old vaulted room, which is as almost as impressive as the delicious cakes on offer. Le Bourbonnoux (0033 248 241 476) is a small but perfectly formed family-run restaurant. For the full French experience try the cool asparagus soup with truffles followed by foie gras and a cheese platter. For those with a sweet tooth Dentelle et Chocolat (0033 248 653 645) is a must – the galettes here are cooked to perfection. Nearby Nançay (20 minute drive) is a wondefuly tiny village and home of the delicious shortbread cookie 'Sablés de Nançay'.
From April 7th 2015.
Arriving from Paris: take the A6 towards Lyon, then the A77 until exit 19 in the direction of Bourges (D940). At the Chapel Angillon (direction of Ivoy le Pré), head left at the roundabout then when you arrive just outside the village, take a right at the small road. When you see "The Forge" you're there!
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