Domaine names are a tricky business. Not those double-yew double-yew double-yew dot internet domain names, but the names of little French estates. Call them something fancy like Domaine de Beauregard and the neighbours think you’re pretentious. So this place keeps it pretty simple. Domaine du Bourg, it says on the gate: ‘Small Market Town Estate’. And what’s inside’s fairly straightforward too. Dutch owners Peter and Trudi de Lange have converted some old farming buildings into a cracking, pretty sizeable home, along with four gîtes, three B&B bedrooms and some dorm rooms for hikers. Beyond the huddle of buildings, meanwhile, is 250 acres of camping space with a trio of canvas safari lodges, a wooden gypsy caravan and a clutch of just 25 grassy pitches (so you can do the maths to work out how much room there is).
The small market town in question is Gannay-sur-Loire, a sleepy little place if truth be told, but the quiet roads and gentle countryside are ideal for exploration by bike. These are available for hire from the site and come equipped with maps. The site is also on the new ‘EuroVélo6’ cycle route, which stretches across six countries from the Atlantic coast to the Black Sea. The French section starts at St Nazaire and follows the course of the River Loire through Orléans and Nevers, before swinging north through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia and south through Hungary and Serbia, finishing in Romania. So there’s no real excuse for coming here and just lounging around.
The Loire also beckons budding water babies down to its glistening depths. There are plenty of lazy watersports available, including kayaks available to hire from the site. The slow, soothing pace of the river is the perfect antidote to all your worries. Drift along in the sun on what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful rivers in France (and also the country's longest) – it was also awarded UNESCO heritage status in 2002 so is pleasantly free from noise, buildings and commercial fare. Instead the banks are either alive with chirping wildlife or quaint historic villages – the perfect place to pick up yet another buttery croissant as you glide along.
The campsite owner saysIdeal Glamping in the Auvergne with a choice of a beautifully restored Gypsy wagon and 3 spacious Safari lodges.
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