You know what they say about the early bird. Well, we can promise more than a frankly unappetising worm if you choose to get a head start on summer with us. We have dozens of parcs open for holidays in April, May and June. And, with an early Easter in 2018 (Good Friday is March 30), maybe next year is the year you treat yourself to an early blast of sun.
Enjoy your holiday your way – whether stretched out on the beach, hiking the hills, cantering on the sands or shopping for treats in evening markets we’ve a parc close to where you want to be. Now, doesn’t that make winter seem a little more bearable? Book before the end of February and you could even grab a week’s holiday for £350 or less. Which is better than a worm, all things considered…
Explore the Breton coast
Waking up from its winter slumbers, the Breton seaside resort of Carnac Plage faces the Bay of Quiberon, and from March, the bay is dotted with the sails of yachts plying the waters that surround this pretty peninsula. Carnac is a great place to go shopping, with over 100 speciality stores, delis, supermarkets, galleries and clothes boutiques. You’ll find them along Avenue des Salines and Avenue de l’Atlantique. If you don’t want to lie on the beach, take the coastal path to the sailing Mecca of La-Trinité-sur-Mer or book some treatments in the thalassotherapy centre: a great way to prep your skin for summer! Then, it being France, it’s time to eat – and Carnac doesn’t disappoint. You’ll find a great array of restaurants, bistros and beach bars offering everything from fine dining to lunch on the go. Try the charming Chez Marie, at 3 Place de l’Egli, or the swish and contemporary Auberge, at Route de Kerlescan, Kercado offering fine local cuisine in a converted Breton barn.
Nearest parc: Des Menhirs
Riviera hikes and strolls
With early summer temperatures regularly hovering around 20 degrees Centigrade, St Rapael is the perfect place for walkers. Stroll along the handsome Promenade des Bains, a pleasant, wide esplanade with the Plage du Veillat on one side and shops, cafes and restaurants on the other side. A leisurely promenade along the seafront near the Vieux Port, or an afternoon’s stroll through the old town centre are both a delight. Notice the Provence-style architecture, with the pastel coloured walls and tiled roofs at Place Coullet, Place Victor Hugo and Place de la République, and don’t miss Cathédrale Saint Raphaël, a 12th century fortified church, also known as Église des Templiers. Drive a few kilometres east along the coast from Saint Raphaël and you’ll reach the Cap du Dramont. You’ll discover some fine beaches, a traditional fishing port, Port du Poussai, and good hiking paths in the Estérel National Forest. But, if the day is fine, and you’ve energy left, head to Le Massif de l’esterel (30km) is a picturesque park, outlined by its red mountains (of volcanic origin). The highest point of the park is the Mont Vinaigre, which at 618m offers spectacular views of the region for the energetic.
Nearest parc: St. Raphael Esterel
Fairytale treasures of Sarlat
The Dordogne is a treasure trove of caves, valleys, rivers, chateaux and prehistoric sites, but for a change of pace consider a day trip to the medieval town of Sarlat.
The medieval centre of the town features many beautiful buildings and monuments and the picture-book streets conjure an otherworldly quality; decked out in the yellow stone that is a feature of the Dordogne region. Get your bearings by heading to the Sarlat Tourist Office in Rue Tourny to pick up a map of the town centre for help in navigating the old town. Visit the town’s Cathedral – the Cathédrale St Sacerdos – a building consisting of three distinct parts built hundreds of years apart. Inside there are paintings and sculptures aplenty. Then dive into the busy streets, where the shopping is great (especially the Saturday market in Place de la Liberte). Really busy in high summer, Sarlat is just perfect for an early summer getaway. Come in June and you’ll enjoy the organic night market in Place du 14 Juillet every Thursday.
Nearest parc: La Palombière Campsite
Chocolates and charm in Languedoc
With plenty of buzzy restaurants, bars and cafes there’s a lot going on in Sommières – and the old town is a Romanesque delight. Writer Lawrence Durrell lived in Sommières for three decades, thinking it the prettiest place he’d ever seen. We can totally understand why – especially before the crowds of high season descend.
The region around Sommières is perfect for walking, riding or cycling, with 250km of marked trails. Call in at the tourist information office to pick up a guide. The Green Path is a former rail track that runs from Sommières to Caveirac, around 20km away, and is perfect for biking or riding. Sommières is dotted with boutiques and offers plenty of shopping. Jewellers, clothes-makers and watchmakers are particularly well-represented, but you’ll want to try Chocolate Courtin on Place de la République; an artisan chocolatier, where you can see how the specialities – including orange peel preserved in dark chocolate – are made. The town has two markets – a traditional Saturday market for food and crafts – and, every Wednesday evening from June, a farmers’ market. The soils and climate in the region are perfect for growing grapes, so the countryside is packed with vineyards – most of which are open and will offer the chance to sample some of the resulting wines.
Nearest parc: Domaine de Massereau
Lakeside leisure at Bardolino
Pleasure boats bob alongside Bardolino’s pretty shoreline, but there are stretches of lakeside open if you want to take to the waters with little more than a pair of flip-flops. Take the Gardesana (lake road) to picture-perfect Cisano, with its delightful lakeside walk, or enjoy the small shingly beach, just out of town, with its deckchairs, parasols and – of course – tempting beach bars.
As a centre of olive oil production, Bardolino’s always been a gastronomic hotspot, and its waterside restaurants – undeniably pretty – are the place to head for a memorable evening meal, complete with sunsets over the lake. The narrow streets of the old town and the main piazza are good places to try, too. Look for daily specials, usually featuring fish caught that day.
Bardolino has no shortage of options for a touch of retail therapy, Italian-style. Its vibrant core is lined with shops and souvenir stalls catering for the stylish tourist and local shoppers alike: giving the town a real ‘authentic’ feel. Try to check out the craft and produce market in the Piazza every Thursday morning for even more bargains – especially on wines and olive oil.
Nearest parc: Serenella Campsite
Beach combing in Playa d’Aro
Playa d’Aro is a town of two halves, Castell d’Aro is the ancient village inland, hugging the contours of a medieval castle and fortified church, and Platja d’Aro, once a small fishing village, now a busy seaside resort adjacent to a fine stretch of golden sands.
In fact Platja d’Aro’s wide expanses of sand comprise of eight different beaches, and a cluster of small coves where swimming, water sports and sunbathing are all on the menu, even in early summer, when the mercury rises to the early 20s. Head for the quieter coves of Cala del Pi or Cala dels Canyers for peaceful afternoons, or try Platja Gran or at Cala Rovira for fun, sports, pedalos and beach bars.
Around the coast, at Sant Antoni de Calogne, and on to Palamos, the same great, ochre-coloured sands are lined with parasols, sunbeds and a lovely promenade perfect for strolling, cycling or even roller blading along. Maybe next time…
Travel 10kms north to the series of small “calas” between Port Bo’s and Canadell’s beaches, where natural salty water swimming pools offer great, natural lagoons, great for a touch of wild swimming.
With its green routes and paths winding from beach to countryside hiking is a distinct possibility from Playa d’Aro. The Sant Antoni hermitage, located 1,345 metres above sea level, offers a spectacular view of the Camprodon valley. To get there, you follow a local path that ascends through the woods until it reaches a large plateau. Ask for a map from the Tourist Information office.
Nearest parc: Internacional de Calonge Campsite
Getting active on the Costa Dorada
Hugging a lovely beach, and bristling with tourist facilities, Vilanova i la Geltrú is the perfect Catalonian seaside town. Its trim streets are lined with tempting restaurants and bars, and its shopping is first class. Add a fine beach and great early summer temperatures and you’re all set!
Stroll along the palm-fringed promenade, the Mediterranean lapping ashore along six miles of level, clean sands, or try your hand at horse riding, at Centre Hipic Can Llorenc (Ctra. de l’Arboç, s/n). They run classes for beginners all the way through to advanced, with the option to canter across the sands. The outdoorsy adventure company, Events and Adventures, c. Josep Coroleu, 85, runs mountaineering, canyoning, white water rafting and orienteering days out, and there’s a golf course at Escola Golf el Portal del Roc, SA Camí de la Talaia.
Alternatively, you can walk the coastline from here north to Sitges, a chic resort 8kms away. But for better views, ask at the tourist information office for details of walks to Sant Pere de Ribes, or into the hills behind the beach. Start at the Cap de Creu square and leave the town, crossing the motorway. Walk as far as the Mas de l’Artís. Go past the farmhouse and on through the Fondo de Grifi through pinewoods and Mediterranean woodland. Pure bliss.
Nearest parc: Vilanova Park
The Netherlands’ green heart
Surrounded by parks and forests, Tilburg’s a great area for recreation. The Leijpark and the Reeshofpark are the largest among the parks in Tilburg. Leijpark is next to the St. Elisabeth hospital and monastery, the Cenakel, and is laced with tracks for walking, cycling and running, while the newer Reeshofpark is home to coffee shops and a small lake.
Wrapped around the city, Tilburg’s ancient forests add acres of space to explore, on foot or on bike. The Wandelbos, a forest south of the similarly named neighbourhood in Tilburg-West, is great for picnics and cycle rides. Slightly further out, the national park Loonse en Drunense Duinen is home to dunes of drift sand from the west coast, with pine trees poking through the sands. Quite an intriguing sight!
The Loon and Drunen Dunelands are very close, while just beyond Goirle are the Gorp and Roovert woodlands and the Rechte Hei with its extensive open meadows. To the east, just over the canal, is Moerenburg, with its pretty canals and windmills.
In town, Tilburg’s compact, car-free centre is great for shopping. The side streets contain the town’s real gems, the excellent antique and second-hand dealers, bookshops, galleries and arts and craft shops.
Nearest parc: Beekse Bergen