Camping La Grande Sologne
Trivia time: how many French rivers are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Just one – the Loire. Snaking its way through some of central France's most gorgeous towns and cities, the unspoilt Loire Valley is at once both wildly tranquil and beautifully untamed. Throughout the ages, the mighty Loire has conveyed warring armies, nourished those who dwell by her banks, and fed the imaginations of myriad painters and poets. The iconic, château-dotted settlements which line the river's unwieldy banks bring the history of France's gilded past vibrantly to life. Within this spellbinding landscape, just south of fabled Orléans, lies the Sologne region – a land of enchanted forests, moorlands and lakes; of timber-beamed cottages and brick farm dwellings, unchanged for hundreds of years. And it is within one such charmingly sleepy town (Nouan-le-Fuzelier) that we find another of the region's hidden treasures – Camping La Grande Sologne.
When your host has previously run not one, but two Cool Camping-approved sites, there's no denying she knows a thing or two about what campers want. After eight years charming guests at both Camping de Troyes in Champagne and Camping Les Grèbes du Lac de Marcenay in Burgundy, lovely Marie stumbled across this underloved little spot in the Loire. Picking up sticks (in every sense), Marie and her team (completed by co-manager Eric and affable Irishman Bill) rolled up their sleeves and set to work creating the fantastic site we see today.
La Grande Sologne boasts nine hectares of spectacular camping. Out of the 165 pitches, 150 grassy ones are for just about anyone and everyone. Some are shaded, others are in a dappled half-shade, while some have no trees at all, so you're covered for every eventuality. What brings real charm to the place is the campsite’s beautiful central lake. Spread over two spectacular hectares, guests are free to fish the abundant carp, black-bass, perch, bleak, roach, rudd, crucian, breme and tench that inhabit the tranquil waters. In 2016, even sturgeons were added to the existing lot.
If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent a mobile home or a ready-equipped tent or, if you really want to scale up the glamping experience, you can stay on the remarkable “Flotente” cabin, floating on the edge of the lake. There’s also a waterside Bivouac tent with the best views of the water (Flotente excluded). You can even see the sun glimmer on the surface from tucked within your bed.
The transformation of this place since Marie’s first arrival is really something quite special and there is no doubt you’ll be charmed by its natural beauty. A UNESCO World Campsite? Sadly they don’t exist yet. No doubt if they did, Camping La Grande Sologne would be on the shortlist.
3 sanitary blocks (disabled and family facilities available). Fully-equipped laundry. Free wi-fi available at site reception and on 1/3 of the pitches. Heated outdoor swimming pool. Complimentary games/activities available (including minigolf, trampoline, billiards, badminton) and tennis court opposite. Small onsite shop selling all basic provisions, plus ice-creams.
Tents, campervans, caravans, motorhomes, trailer tents, groups, dogs – yes.
Orléans is the capital of France's central region, has some beautiful medieval architecture to pontificate over including the imposing gothic Cathédrale Sainte-Croix. The city is also synonymous with France's most famous heroine, St Joan of Arc, for it was here that she relieved the besieged city, thus earning the nickname 'The Maid of Orléans'. Be sure to visit the timber-clad Maison de Jeanne d'Arc (0033 238 683 263).
Food & Drink
In high season, you can buy freshly-baked bread and croissants every morning, while the little snack bar, Calypso, is open from 6pm for simple meals, fresh salads and tasty desserts. There is also a take away. Ask Marie for eating out recommendations. L'Etna Pizzeria (0033 254 882 348) is popular with locals and tourists alike. They have a nice terrace and a kid-friendly menu of pizzas and other Italian favourites. No visit to Sologne could be complete with a thimble or two of it's most famous export, Chambord. This sweet raspberry liqueur was made by King Louis XIV during a visit to Chateau de Chambord (0033 254 50 40 00) and is still made in the same 300-year old tradition.
OpenApril – October.
From the North: Take the A10 towards Bordeaux. At Orleans, take the A71 for Bourges/Clermont Ferrand. Take the exit N°3 for Lamotte Beuvron, then take RD2020 towards Nouan Le Fuzelier for 7km. Cross the town centre and turn left at the public garden and train station. Campsite entrance is 200 metres further.
From the South: Take the A71 towards Paris. Take the exit N°4 for Salbris, then take RD2020 towards Nouan Le Fuzelier/Orleans for 15km. Shortly after entering Nouan, turn right just after the petrol station. Campsite entrance is 200 metres further.
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