With Charlotte Richmond from Freckles in the Sun
Following the ever increasing concerns regarding the effects of flying on the ozone layer and global warming as a whole, we decided to organise a holiday without the need to fly. We booked the Eurostar to France and opted for an eco friendly family camping holiday.
Having never slept in a tent before I researched and researched to find something a little more comfortable than a ground sheet and a tent. I was delighted when I stumbled across Camping Mille Etoiles, a small and intimate campground located at the top of the stunning Ardeche Gorge in the Rhone-Alps region of Southern France.
Eleven oak and ash framed yurts, covered in natural canvas and each individually hand crafted and styled, are dotted around a nature reserve perched high on top of the Ardeche Gorges. The views are stunning and the campsite itself is spectacular too.
A trail leads directly from the campsite, 300 meters down a steep decent to the bottom of the gorge where you are rewarded by a beautiful natural bathing area. The breathtaking limestone gorge towers above you as you dip in the cool waters or sunbathe around the banks of the crystal clear Ardeche river.
Mille Etoiles not only offers an idyllic intimate atmosphere and a charming place to stay but also promotes reducing greenhouse gases. Solar powered lanterns are supplied at the start of the trip and are yours for the duration of your stay. Charged in the sunlight of the day the lanterns are ready to guide us back to our luxury yurt each evening.
Each yurt has its own deck and hammock in its own leafy hideaway and with no neighbours positioned too close. The kids loved the yurts and when we were taken on a private tour of the campsite we were delighted to find that the bathrooms and shower blocks were as luxurious as the four poster beds that were positioned in the centre of our luxury yurt. We were staying in the Safari yurt which I can highly recommend.
An evening meal is included most evenings at Mille Etoiles, breakfast daily and the relaxed and friendly owners, Ruth and Lodewijk are so welcoming, nothing seems too much trouble. The barbecue is an evening that everyone looks forward to.
Playing table tennis or simply sitting around in the candlelight enjoying the local wine after dinner in such an amazing setting is a wonderful way to end the day.
In the centre of the campsite you will find a spectacular double storey yurt where weddings can be held and exercise and relaxation classes such as yoga are organised during the week if you wanted to join in.
Labastide de Virac is the nearest local village, only 5km away and definitely worth a visit. This beautifully preserved medieval village has two great restaurants for evenings that food is not served at the campsite. Restaurant La Petite Auberge and Mas des Roches are both perfect for an evening out.
There is plenty to do in the day too and the nearby town of Vallon Pont d’Arc is the place to head if you want to enjoy some more active pursuits. Here you can organise activities like canoeing, hiking, climbing, biking, horse-riding and caving.
At Vallon Pont d’Arc you will also find a geological wonder, a natural stone bridge carved out stone by the river and which spans the gorge. Kayak under it as part of a day trip – the white water rapids (very gentle in summer) provide great fun and floating under the Pont d’Arc is a magical experience.
We did the whole 32km in two man kayaks, split over two days. It really is stunning, the scenery and the beautiful sights that you see as you drift along the crisp clear Ardeche river are unforgettable. The excitement at each rapid (marked out with helpful instructions from the tour guide) are great fun too. We booked through Aigue Vive who we would recommend without hesitation.
The Chauvet Caves can be found near Vallon. Discovered in 1994, they are Europe’s oldest painted caves – some more than 30,000 years old. To preserve the caves and their unique paintings the caves are not open to the public, but there is an excellent exhibition in Vallon.
Although there are plenty of activities to keep the whole family amused, simply relaxing in your own hammock suspended in the shade of the trees by your yurt is the perfect break away from school and work commitments.
Canvas Chic are a member of the Ethical Collection and you will also receive a 10% “zero emissions” discount if you turn up on foot or bike!