Etang du Camp
Situated on a mountain plateau beside a lake ornamented by a Monet-style bridge is Étang du Camp, a once-neglected municipal site, which, in 2006, was lucky enough to be rescued. The views are serene, but there are a couple of quirks you might want to prepare yourself for – you’ll be shaking your head to be sure you’ve not been teleported to the equator. Imagine camping by a reed-fringed lakeside, honeyed African light dappling the canvas of your safari tent. Sneak a look outside for lions and, in the elephant grass, spy the hulking form of water buffaloes. Check your GPS and you’re actually in Aveyron, home to ten of France’s plus beaux villages (most beautiful villages). As to the buffaloes, they belong to a neighbour. But the lake and the safari tents, they’re all real and very alluring, plus the latter come fully-equipped with a real bed and cooking facilities.
Stuart and Christine are great hosts and an excellent source of knowledge on how to make the best of the area. Their organised campfires are an ideal time to share ideas, enjoyed with a glass of vino and aligot-saucisse (local-style sausage and mash). A first port of call is the nearby settlements. Medieval Conques looks as if it’s stepped straight from In the Name of the Rose; the cliff-huddling town is unforgettable. Sit in the peaceful Abbaye de Ste-Foy (best visited in early evening as the light is fading) and listen to choral music before walking the labyrinthine streets. You’ll be following in the footsteps of thousands of Santiago de Compostela pilgrims, who’ve been coming through here since the 11th century.
The site has mature shaded areas and a maximum of 40 pitches. Clean wash-block catering for babies and disabled campers. There’s also a washing machine (€4). Ice cream parlour, table tennis. Play area. Lake home to pike, carp, and perch. Fishing free - provided no-kill. Organised campfires. All safari tents have real beds, cooking facilities, a BBQ and picnic table. Fresh bread delivery if ordered the night before.
Tents, caravans, campervans, dogs – yes.
Aveyron’s wooded valleys, poppy-flecked mountain meadows, honey vendors, and pottery workshops. One of the loveliest walks is the 4-mile (7-km) ramble in La Vinzelle (ask Christine for details and a map). Views of the valley and glittering River Lot are life-affirming. Pick up a kayak and float down the Lot from Entraygues-sur-Truyère.
Food & Drink
Christine serves up continental breakfasts (€6.50–€7.50) with fresh bread and evening meals can also be arranged. In July and August there are several evening markets in the area. The nearest town is St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou, which has plenty of cafes and grocery shops. Hervé Busset (00 33 5 65 72 84 77) is a 1-star Michelin restaurant in a magnificent historic setting. Dishes range from €35–€95. Auberge St-Jacques (00 33 5 65 72 86 36) is also in the old town and is great value with 3-course meals starting at €18.
By car from Brive-la-Gaillarde, head to Figeac on D840, then to Decazeville. From here it’s easy to reach St-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou, then follow signs to Sénergues (D502 then D46) and L’Étang du Camp (D242) is signed.
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