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A wonderfully hidden, family-friendly, riverside campsite with space for just a handful of lucky campers and wild swimming.

Blink and you could miss Camping Moulin De Liort. Hidden off a winding road that worms its way around the wooded valley of the River Liort, the campsite feels utterly lost amongst the trees. Indeed many have been undone here in the past. A group of campers once had to be returned by the local farmer after losing their way on the local hiking routes. An impromptu eau de vie tasting session in his orchard nicely perked them back up first – no one does wilderness rescue quiet like the French.

Aside from pungent local drinks and verdant vegetation, there’s plenty more to love about this tiny pocket of Aveyron countryside though. Follow the track down to Moulin De Liort itself and, beyond an old stone house, the most charming of campsites reveals itself. Anne-Marie Simons is the homeowner and camping host extraordinaire, with a tonne of veg from her garden available to buy (along with other essential groceries) and a wealth of local information to share with you. Alongside her husband, she also helps host the campsite’s popular summer events, including tractor and trailer rides, great communal campfire evenings and delicious pancake nights.

Including the house and garden, the site comprises some five acres of space, split down one side by the bubbling river, whose presence supplies a constant soothing soundtrack. Almost all of the 18 camping pitches are perched on flat ground beside the wild-swimming-friendly water, which is the perfect height for children to paddle and frolic in. Older swimmers, meanwhile, will need to drive the 10 minutes to the confluence with the larger Viaur River, where there is also a pleasant park and picnic space beside the beach.

Elsewhere, the region’s medieval towns are the real highlight. Walking through the ancient cloisters in Villefranche de Rouergue, taking in the sights and sounds of the market at Sauveterre or sitting in a café in Najac looking up at its hilltop castle, you get a sense that while the world has modernised the atmosphere of these old towns has hardly changed at all. Najac, in particular, is a fantastic old spot. Head back down hill from the castle and you can rent canoes at the riverside to take in the whole valley at an unbeatably relaxing pace.

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The campsite owner says

In the heart of nature, camping to your heart's content. Large pitches, seperate carpark, privacy. Good sanitary equipment. Organic vegetables, wine  and eggs. Situated deep in the unspoilt countryside of the Aveyron, a region of France not yet on the main tourist routes. Nearest towns of interest Villefranche de Rouergue, Najac, Sauveterre de Rouergue, Belcastel, Albi, Rodez.

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