May is full of bank holidays in France, or rather, 'Jours Feries'.....affectionately known as Fairy Days in this house. Last week, the Fairy days fell on Tuesday (Victory day) and Thursday (Ascension), and, as is often the case, most of the schools declared the Friday also as a day off, or a 'pont' (bridge) day, (i.e. Bridging the gap to the weekend).
So a few weeks ago we decided we'd grab the opportunity for an early camping mini break by using the Fairy days, plus taking the boys out of school on the Wednesday (they are only at school on Wednesday mornings anyway so a Tuesday to Friday excursion and missing a morning of school seemed justified!)
Since living in France we often go away for a short break around this time. I think, like lots of people after a long winter, Spring arrives and feet start to itch at the thought of road trips and camping adventures.
Always and consistently our favourite place to visit in France is in La Drome. A two and a half hour drive from us, it is where we have spent many, many happy weeks exploring all the region has to offer, and after over ten years holidaying here it really does feel like our second home, and our number one area for camping. Location decided by all, all we needed to do was book our pitch.
Camping this time however, turned into a unexpected stay in a luxury 'Glamping' tent. We realised we had amazingly accrued enough points on our Yelloh, ('Yelloh' being a chain of campsites found across France and beyond), fidelity card; amassed from years of staying on their sites for a free stay. Marvellous!
We are very much a camping family, and have been since the eldest trekker was very little. We have honed our camping kit into the perfect combination of tents and blow up beds, camping stoves and fold up chairs, and are usually very happy to set up camp for a week (or more if time and money allows), in the long summer holidays.
I'm not going to fib however - it is such a treat to stay in a fully equipped tent with all needs catered for - even a bathroom! Initially it felt like we were 'cheating', as really it's nothing like camping at all, other than the noise of rain on canvas and rather chilly nights. But.....we justified the extravagance with a few what we thought, worthy points; 1) It was free! 2) Packing for such a short stay would have been just the same as if we went for two weeks...therefore was it really worth it? 3) We are still toilet training the Littlest Trekker and having a toilet was actually very handy!!
So, with all this mind, (and justification happily in place) we set off for our rather fabulous safari tent. We drove a more scenic route than the usual fast motorway so we could drop Tim off about halfway, enabling him to cycle the remaining bit. Consequently I arrived first with the boys and took minutes rather than hours to unpack and set up. We'd already been to the pool and had tea and cake on our wonderful veranda, taking in the spectacular Drome scenery, by the time Tim caught us up. This is a far cry from a camping trip that takes considerable more time and effort to organise (but definitely part of the fun!) For a short trip however, it was great to spend this time relaxing, and I think the boys quite liked being able to get on with the important task of holidaying rather than blowing up their airbeds!
There is another similarity, be it glamping or camping, for us at least. That is the feeling of outdoor living. We all seem to spend so much more time outside than we do at home - everything gravitates to the outdoors, be it eating or playing, and that is why we love holidaying in this way, and why we are such happy campers. We already can't wait for our longer holiday in August where we will be 'real' campers......But just this once we were all more than happy to have a go at glamping, and would definitely consider it again for shorter trips. In the end, it left us more time to be doing the things we love; walking, running, cycling, swimming, fishing....all in a very relaxed and sumptuous environment!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Nikki and Tim Siggs, and the three 'Sigglets'; Rudy (11), Jensen (8), Theodor (2.5) and a Jack Russell called Tofu. Four years ago we swapped the rolling fields of Hampshire for the dramatic peaks of the French Alps to pursue a long held dream .... so far the adventure has exceeded all these dreams.
Favourite place in the world:
So hard to choose an all time favourite! As a family we have been holidaying in 'La Drome', (the bit of France sandwiched between the Alps and Provence) for ten years now; a beautiful, less well known and consequently unspoilt region, we have come back year after year to set up camp amidst the truffle oaks and rivers. But we are still busy discovering our adopted home in the Oisans Valley. A definite favourite is hiking up through the Sarenne Gorge to the plateau where the boys can paddle in the (icy cold!) river and we can picnic on the grassy tufts, keeping an eye out for the elusive Marmottes!
Favourite things to do outdoors:
The older boys belong to the local ski club so the winters are all about being on the mountain ... in the summer you can find us biking, hiking, picnicking and walking - until it gets too hot (and it does get REALLY hot here) where we seek out the blissfully cool waters of the Veneon river for hours of dam building and feet paddling.