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Peaceful, lakeside camping in the grounds of a classic 19th-century Breton château

How many of you have harboured dreams of staying in your own French country estate? Well, look no further than Camping Deffay. This peaceful, lakeside park lies in the sprawling grounds of a classic 19th century Breton château, four kilometres outside the pretty commune of Pontchâteau.

In the heart of the Brière national park, Camping Deffay makes its name as a central base for exploring some 154 acres of marshland lakes and islets. The region feels, in many ways, like one of France's last great wildernesses. That is until you marvel at the many thatched cottages which adorn the reed-lined waterways, and realise that the Brière is in fact a living snapshot of Brittany's rural history. Besides the park, Camping Deffay offers the ideal position for exploring the many delights of western France. From the vineyards of the Loire Valley, to the glitzy beachside bars at La Baule; from the medieval citadels of Guérande, to the vibrant Grand-Ouest capital of Nantes; Deffay is equidistant from any number of great days out.

But if a good old dose of r'n'r is paramount on your agenda, then you rarely need to leave this laid-back, lakeside hideaway. With brand-new wash facilities worthy of its four-star status, a cheap and cheerful campsite bistro and bar, plus delightful multi-lingual staff that are only too happy to help, this really is fuss-free camping.

The real draw here, though (and providing a handy division between the site's camping area and the smattering of statics and bungalows on site), is the lake. Guests are allowed to fish the waters and take the campsite pedalo out for a cruise, while flat, well-drained pitches sit right along the shoreline. You'd be hard pressed to find a more idyllic spot to pitch. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the family of resident coypus on the lake's small island. You'll generally hear them before you see them, providing a soft, calling soundtrack to this quiet camping retreat.

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This peaceful, lakeside park lies in the sprawling green grounds of a classic 19th century Breton château.

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