Camping le Gouffre de la Croix
But it’s unfair, of course, to say that the backdrop is everything. There’s a fair degree of management that benefits this site too. The facilities are excellent, there’s a playground and table tennis for the kids, a reception shop where you can order fresh bread and loan a book from the library, and an excellent little bar that offers the perfect spot to while away the evening hours. Yet what they’ve done well is work with the setting to create a site that doesn’t flaunt these man-made additions, instead snuggling itself subtly away beneath the dappled shade of the trees.
The pitches themselves number fifty in total, spread over terraces that stagger their way down to the riverside – ideal for tents and small campervans, with spaces for a few caravans at the top of the site. For glampers there’s also a new safari tent-style ‘lodge’ mounted on a wooden floor and stocking everything you need for your holiday, minus the bedding and towels. Ideal for five people, the wood and canvas tent has two bedrooms and a living space with kitchen.
For days out there are eclectic options too. Walkers can grab their fresh croissants from reception as they head out the door and into the surrounding mountains – the area is renowned for its spectacular gorges; the more high octane side of the river where it’s squeezed through the hard-rock valleys to the east. Families, meanwhile, can enjoy another benefit of the Bourne, the magnificent caves of Choranche, carved underground by tributaries of the river and pooled throughout with green-blue pockets of water. Stalactites droop from the ceiling on their way to meet their centuries old partners poking up from the floor and walkways lead you through the vast grotto. Only two kilometres from the campsite it’s a natural wonder not to be missed.
FacilitiesAll pitches have electricity. 2 wash blocks, with toilets, sinks and showers, one of which has laundry facilities (a washing-machine and dryer). A small grocery shop in the reception area also serves fresh bread and croissants every morning, plus there is a bar serving drinks and snacks open every evening. WiFi is available in the bar area. Playground and trampoline for children. 2 river beaches with access for swimming and playing.
Tents, campervans, caravans, couples, families, dogs (on a lead) – yes.
NearbyAs with any site boasting such a fabulous mountain location, it's difficult to know where to start! Miles of well marked footpaths lace the Presles Mountains, where you can see wildflowers like chamois and orchids plus the local waterfalls to the east – there are maps and tourist information in reception. Canyoning is also popular with some of the best spots just a few kilometres east of the campsite. Mountian biking, fishing, kayaking and climbing are also all on the cards – again plenty of info in reception. The caves of Choranche (+33 4 76 36 09 88) are the main local highlight. The stream that winds through the caves feeds a stunning, emerald underground lake. There's a sound and light show that takes you through its history. From the campsite, you can walk to the caves (an attractive route) approximately a one hour walk. By car it takes 10 minutes.
Food & DrinkAlong with the small bar onsite and fresh bread in the morning, it is a short walk to Choranche where there is a small restaurant in one of the hotels (+33 4 76 36 12 62). Or drive to Pont en Royans (8km) which is the next option for eating out. There's a clutch of bars, restaurants and cafés along with the essentials – grocery, chemist, doctor and post office.
Opening TimesMid April–mid September.
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