Family holidays in France
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Holidays in the South West

The area of France known as Aquitaine consists of the Gironde, Landes Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne & Pyrenees Atlantiques departments of the south west of France, and is world-famous for family camping holidays on the beaches of the Cote d’Argent, which stretches for over 200 km from the mouth of the Gironde estuary to Biarritz. Behind the beaches lies the largest forest in western Europe – Les Landes – and despite this the area offers the family holiday maker the chance to discover isolated French sandy beaches. There really is still plenty of space here to get away from it all on your French family holiday.

Carisma Holidays offers family holidays to France at Camping Biscarrosse & Camping Messanges, Le Vieux Port,- two campsites offering very different family camping holiday experiences to this area of south-west France.

The French Atlantic coast is a haven for wild-life, the environmentalist and nature-lover with its offshore islands being on the migratory routes of many birds. Visit the salt plains and the mussel farms.

A day or two in Bordeaux provides families with visits to the medieval quarters and the wine vineyards and chateaux. This is the land drained by the mighty Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde rivers – whcih in themselves provide leisure activities for all the family, as well as drainage for the vines.

Starting just south of Bordeaux, a rich and diverse city on the banks of the Gironde river (well-known for the Sauternes sweet wines) a visit to Arcachon is a must. It is a picturesque and diverse town offering day cruises to such places as Liile aux Oiseaux , the Dune due Pilat (Dune de Pyla) and Cap Ferrat.

Arcachon is the oldest resort on the Cote d’Argent with magnificent beaches of white sand, while Arcachon’s central jetties, Thiers and Eyrac provide the boat trips around tourist destinations.

The Dune du Pyla (sometimes known as ‘Sahara by the sea’) is 114m high-, the highest sand dune in Europe. From the Carisma Holidays campsite at Biscarrosse it is a fascinating day out for all the family. Climb the steps dug into the side of the sand dune for a superb view of over the bay of Arcachon, Cap Ferret and the forest of les Landes stretching away to the south. The family will remember running all the way down to the bottom of the Dune du Pilat on their Carisma camping holiday to France. Or take the option of the boat trip into the Arcachon basin and see the sand dune from sea level.

Lying at the point where the beaches of the Gironde meet those of the Landes, Biscarrosse and its surroundings form a fascinating microcosm of life and landscapes of the Landes, which is 40kms south of Arcachon.

The beach at Biscarrosse-Plage is one of the longest unbroken strips of sand and dune on the Cote d’Argent, swept by salt breezes tinged with the scent of the pine trees. Alternatively you can enjoy a day on one of the many lakeside beaches from Carisma’s camping Biscarrosse, and often have the beach to yourselves. Try taking a boat out onto the lake to discover a truly private beach for the family to enjoy a picnic before participating in one of the many water sports on offer on the fresh-water lake. This area lies between Arcachon to the north and Mimizan to the south, and is a really relaxing and relatively tourist-free area of France whilst still offering plenty to see.

The area around Biscarrosse has miles of cycle tracks going through the forests and along the scenic roads, leading to the lakes at Sanguinet and Parentis. Bicycles are readily available to hire at the Biscarrosse campsite, and the children will find cycling around the campsite a pleasure, whilst parents can be assured of their safety.

For those interested in history, the region borders the Dordogne (Perigord et Quercy) and there are well known ‘Bastides’ worth a family day out. From Biscarrosse there is the bastide at Cadillac. It is a 700 year old hilltop bastide surrounded by its 14th century ramparts and has a long and colourful history including its position on a rocky limestone outcrop overlooking the river Garonne. St. Emilion is the very famous wine region 35km south east of Bordeaux is worth a visit in its own right from Carisma’s campsite at Biscarrosse, or as a stop off on the way south to Carisma’s campsite at Messanges.

Les Landes is a flat, sandy pine forest very popular with families on holiday for cycling through and benefitting from the shade provided by the trees. Children will be fascinated to see the museum at Sabres and take a steam train to the Ecomusee de Marqueze which illustrates the traditional French Landais where shepherds used very long stilts to go through the scrub. Since 1970 this region has been designated as a ‘parc naturel regional’.

Further south towards the Spanish border is the Carisma Holidays campsite at Messanges. It lies adjacent to the magnificent sandy beach and provides families on holiday with hours of enjoyment either on the beach or in the campsite’s amazing pool complex. Children of all ages will find a pool to suit them, while parents will enjoy watching them from the side of the pool on their sunbed. The beaches at Messanges are famous for surfing, and indeed attract surfing championships each year. Families though can rest assured they are safe on the beach, as areas of it are patrolled by lifeguards, ensuring swimmers and surfers do not mix.

After a day on either the lake side beaches of Bisarrosse or the Atlantic beaches of Messanges, families can enjoy a BBQ outside their mobile home or treat themselves to a meal in the campsite restaurant.

Biarritz was until World War II the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic coast. Now however the beaches attract holiday-makers for their white breakers breaking onto the sandy beaches. Surfers and families enjoy long, sunny days on the beaches before heading back to their mobile home on the campsite for the evening.

Oyster farming is a very important part of life, especially around Ares, Andernos-les-Bains and L’Herbe. Some of these are tiny villages welcoming Carisma Holidays families to watch, and of course sample their wares. L’Herbe is one of the most picturesque places in the Arcachon basin. Gujan-Mestras is the oyster capital of Arcachon. It had seven harbours and here you can find out everything in relation to oysters.

After visiting the oyster villages children will enjoy a visit to the Aquacity leisure centre or the Coccinelle zoo. As a holiday destination this diverse region offers families a choice of everything.