Most Brit’s haven’t heard of Alphonse Daudet but in France this native novelist encapsulated southern culture with his light-hearted tales of life in Provence and colourful outings to the coast. His most famous work, Letters From My Windmill was set here in Fontvieille, which, to this day, retains the narrow streets, stony market squares and inviting old café-restaurants of his stories, where wooden shutters are flung open and the sound of nattering spills out. Just beyond the post office, past the tourist office and after Ramey Windmill – the very one that inspired Daudet’s famous novel – you’ll find the village’s well-known, family-friendly campsite. Sadly Huttopia Fontvieille wasn’t around in time to feature in any mid-19th-century masterpieces. A few pages in the latest Cool Camping guidebook will have to do.
Set in almost 10 acres of pine-clad parkland, this well-established campsite is run by the renowned Huttopia group and, consequently, comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. Facilities are excellent – family washrooms, free Wi-Fi, tourist information and fresh bread every morning – while the likes of an outdoor heated swimming pool, volleyball courts and a playground happily keep kids at bay for hours. With a little help from the locals, they’ll even return from the holiday as pétanque aficionados. Those who don’t fancy pitching the tent, meanwhile, can choose from one of their fully furnished glamping options: a family-sized safari tent or a wooden summer cabin.
For all the man-made frills, Huttopia Fontvieille still has a wonderfully informal, natural feel. The humming of cicadas (Provence’s tree crickets) and the sound of the breeze in the pine trees wakes you most mornings and the charming old village is refreshingly free from the tourist trappings of the nearby south coast. It’s still an easy half hour drive to the beach or an hour to busy Marseille but, for a quieter holiday experience, retreating into the greenery of the hills behind Fontvieille – the Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles – is a joy. Or stay put and enjoy exploring the village itself. Start at Château de Montauban, Daudet’s favourite holiday spot where there is now a museum dedicated to his work, then follow the one-hour signed trail to the author’s four beloved windmills. Throw in ancient troglodyte houses built into the hills and the tiniest of village cinemas and you’ll quickly realise the beloved culture of the south is still very much alive and well.
The campsite owner saysIn the very heart of the Alpilles in Provence, Huttopia Fontvieille - Provence campsite boasts an exceptional location in the pine forest of Fontvieille.
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