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What brings people back to La Garangeoire, in Vendée, France?

La Garangeoire

“We’ve just booked for next Summer. Earlier on I was talking to a woman who’s come here 22 years in a row!”

D and I were sitting outside the bar at La Garangeoire, a 5-star French holiday parc close to the Vendée town of Saint-Julien-des-Landes. The English couple next to us had driven down from Yorkshire, crossed the Channel and arrived in western France to catch the end of the high season. They were departing the next day. Before they left, they’d decided to make sure they bagged one of La Garangeoire’s much-coveted pitches for next summer.

Repeat visits seemed to be common at La Garangeoire. It made me wonder what it was about the medium-sized holiday parc that drew people back, year after year. Campsites are 10-a-penny in France, with over 2,500 across the country. There’d be no need to return to a place unless it were perfect.

I’ve already posted about La Garangeoire’s facilities on offer to families, and about our experience of the kids’ clubs. Having beaches nearby, a lake for canoeing or pedaloes, and plenty of entertainment for kids always helps. Here are some other reasons why I think La Garangeoire is a cut above the rest of France’s holiday parcs.

*We stayed at La Garangeoire on a hosted stay*

The owners live on-site

La Garangeoire

La Garangeoire

La Garangeoire is set in the grounds of a 19th-century manor house. The owners live on-site, and run the parc in a very hands-on way. Anne and Eric Bourgon, the descendants of the family who first established the campsite in 1964, were often to be seen riding around in a buggy, checking the facilities, or chatting to staff and visitors.

Eric, a trim, neat man with unmistakeably Gallic cheekbones, gave us a welcome talk . He explained that La Garangeoire is his family’s home as well as a business, so they’re passionate about keeping it beautiful for visitors, and for the family when the parc shuts down in Autum and all the guests leave. This was reflected in the impeccably clean grounds (even the communal toilet block for campers glistened), with well-tended flowers and plants trailing everywhere. Evening entertainment was low-key. The singer-songwriter performances, karaoke and pool party all finished early.

La Garangeoire

No-nonsense attitude

Staff had a no-nonsense attitude to clamping down on bad behaviour. Our welcome packs notified us that people who persistently made noise after lights-out at 10pm, or who dropped litter, would be removed. And one evening I saw a boy being scolded by a receptionist with the wrath of Thor, for sticking a plastic bottle in the back hub of his wheel, so it would make a noisy racket when he rode up and down outside the bar. The management would have no qualms in ejecting unruly or antisocial guests (so be warned….)

You can experience the real France at La Garangeoire

La Garangeoire

Unlike some holiday parcs, where you feel you could be anywhere in western Europe, La Garangeoire is inescapably French. Woodland and lakes typical of the Vendée surround the traditional stone buildings of the reception, bar and swimming pool hub. Verdant nature is just a short stroll away from the pitches.

La Garangeoire

Food and drink at La Garangeoire

Wine has been produced in the Vendée region since Roman times. Several vintages of medium-bodied reds and crisp whites from the Fiefs Vendéen were on sale in La Garangeoire’s shop. If you wanted to try out local fare, the take-away served préfou, the traditional Vendéen starter, crammed with local ham. The restaurant chef whizzed up a different set menu every evening, with French specialities like grilled “sablaise” sole, chicken in creamy mushroom sauce, or juicy fillet steak. As in many French eateries, the vegetarian selection was poor, but a couple we spoke to said they’d mentioned to the chef that one of them was vegetarian, and he cooked her a special dish (D cursed the fact that he didn’t also do this, after limping his way through a so-so Greek salad).

La Garangeoire

La Garangoire

La Garangeoire

A sample menu of cheese and three different types of wine was available from the bar. The plummy red, complex white and refreshing rosé came alongside an elegant slate platter dressed with brie, Livarot, tangy goat’s cheese and Gouda flecked with fennel seeds. At €20 it was a little steep, but the wine was good quality.

Much better value, at €25, was the two-hour wine-tasting lesson, held in the dining room of La Garangeoire’s manor house (surprisingly homely for such a grand place). With ten other couples, we sat around a long oak dining table. A buyer from one of France’s leading wine distributors taught us how to tell whether a wine was ready to drink, and whether its aroma was of grapefruit, cinnamon, raspberry or even rubber. Along with eight different types of wine, she gave us a range of canapés to set our palates – pâté on toast, anchovies, melon, gherkins and crisps. We took home La Garangeoire wine glasses as a parting gift, along with ruddy faces and fuzzy vision (eight shots of wine is rather a lot).

La Garangeoire

There’s a range of accommodation

La Garangeoire

La Garangeoire had around 300 pitches, which were a combination of mobile homes, tents and caravans, with a handful of quirkier units like tree-houses and eco-cabins. Each pitch had a nature-inspired name: there were islands like Rhodes, Guadeloupe and Ile de Groix; forest creatures like sangliers (wild boar) and renards (foxes); we were in the flower section, with a mobile home called Œillets (carnations). The eco/nature theme continued in the recycling area, where you had the pick of at least five different types of bin for plastic, glass, tin, paper and food waste. Signs also encouraged us to take one of the free recyclable La Garangoire water bottles, and charge up a card so that we could buy water from the Eco-font (a steal at €0.15 per litre).

La Garangeoire

We’d been invited by Eurocamp to stay in one of their Avant 3-bedroom mobile homes, which I’ve posted about here. It suited us: I love the outdoorsy feel that you have when you’re sleeping in a cabin under trees, and taking breakfast on the veranda with birdsong to accompany your croissants and coffee. But if you prefered to sleep under canvas or snuggle up in your own camper van, the option was there.

What would make you go back to a place where you’d spent a holiday?

If you want to read more about La Garangeoire and this part of France, you might like:

Six reasons for families to visit the Vendée, France

A family holiday at La Garangeoire

Eurocamp kids’ clubs at La Garangeoire

A tour of a Eurocamp Avant

What to expect at Puy du Fou theme park

What to pack for a family break at a holiday park

  • La Garangeoire
    A family holiday at La Garangeoire, Vendée, France with Eurocamp

We were sent on a press trip by Eurocamp to La Garangeoire, Vendee, France for the purpose of this post. All views are my own.

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55 Comments

  • Tea ke
    October 20, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Very good value for money:)

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 11:54 am

      It certainly was!

      Reply
  • Wandermust Family
    October 20, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    This food looks yummy. Great photography #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Ting at My Travel Monkey
    October 20, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve read this with interest because I think we’d like to return to France next year and your trip including La Garangeoire looks wonderful. I really think we’d like it here and €25 for wine tasting. I’m in!

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 11:55 am

      I think your family would love it there Ting. x

      Reply
  • Katy Clarke
    October 20, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    The wine tasting is definitely a drawcard. It’s often difficult to find places where you can indulge your love of wine and have children happily occupied at the same time. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Yes, they had a great time in the evening kids’ club while we were enjoying ourselves!

      Reply
  • Cathy (Mummytravels)
    October 21, 2016 at 8:30 am

    It takes a lot to tempt me back somewhere but I can imagine why people choose this – we went on a lot of Eurocamp holidays growing up and some in this area, and I remember them very fondly. The fact there’s wine tasting when you’re grown up is a definite bonus! And that food looks gorgeous #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Yes, La Garangeoire catered as well for adults as it did for kids. It’s not always easy to get the balance right.

      Reply
  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)
    October 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

    It’s a good question, Nell. I hardly ever go back to the same place twice – not because I don’t like them but because there are always so many other places to explore – so I find it fascinating what it is that brings the same people back for the same holidays. This really looks like something special – the gorgeous scenery and Frenchness of this camp would be enough to put it high on my list. Thanks for sharing it on #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Yes, I’m with you on wanting to explore new places, but I can really see why people come back here.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
    October 22, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I’m definitely one who doesn’t like to go back to the same place just because I like to explore new places. That said, I have visited the same hotel in Dubai before and it can be very satisfying knowing what to expect, the quality and facilities for kids too. I can imagine many returning to Garangeoire see the same people every year too so there’s a bit of a community. I must say the wine tasting sounds great and the food looks good too. I like that they don’t tolerate bad behaviour and aren’t afraid to vocalise it! #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Yes – I wouldn’t have crossed the stern staff there!

      Reply
  • Ahila
    October 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Lovely review. I would love to spend a summer at La Garangeoire.

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      It’s a lovely place.

      Reply
  • Corey with fifi + hop
    October 25, 2016 at 3:30 am

    It’s such a testament to a place when people return over and over. As much as I like to explore new places, I definitely have those favorites that bring me back time and time again. La Garangeoire sounds pretty special. #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      We’d definitely go back there!

      Reply
  • Erin Gustafson
    October 25, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I am very interested in these French campsites – such a different experience than camping in the States where it is all about roughing it. Thanks for the honest review and for linking with #FarawayFiles – a lovely inclusion for this week’s collection! Cheers from Croatia this time! Erin

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, they can be quite luxurious!

      Reply
  • Louise Fairweather
    October 31, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Oh wow this looks great – and I would be booking up for the wine tasting!

    Reply
    • Nell
      October 31, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Yes that was probably my favourite bit!

      Reply
  • Daisy - DaisLikeThese
    October 31, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Looks great. Holiday parks are great for the kids as well, they seem to make so many friends!
    And wine tasting for adults is definitely a draw!

    #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Yes, ours had made some firm friends by the end of the week.

      Reply
  • Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    October 31, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Well you’ve sold me on it, Nell. This looks beautiful and hearing from you about the owners and the ethos they have is so good to know.I would have loved that wine tasting too!
    #mondayescapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      That was the highlight, for us!

      Reply
  • Mini Travellers
    October 31, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I would love that. I love a place that feels like you ate staying in the real part of the Country as well and catering for the kids. Thanks so much for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Yes, it was a real genuine slice of France. You’d love it there, I bet!

      Reply
  • Ruth
    November 1, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I like the way you have described this place. I am all for authentic places. It would be great to experience the real France and feel like it is difficult to have that same feeling somewhere else. #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      Yes, I’d recommend La Garangeoire for a ‘real’ taste of France.

      Reply
  • Lolo
    November 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Looks like a very quaint and relaxing get away! I find myself wanting to go to places like this more often where there are less to no tourists. #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      I know – it was prety unspoilt.

      Reply
  • Melissa Day
    November 24, 2016 at 9:47 am

    we’ve been back to La Garangeoire four times and I completely understand why people return year after year. It’s a lovely, lovely place. When we arrived two days late this year because our car broke down in Le Mans (note, never ever break down in France unless you speak very fluent French and have the patience of a saint) Jean Luc greeted us with complimentary wine and a smile and it almost made up for the completely awful car insurance company and breakdown garage! (oh and lovely Steven from the bike hire stepped in as translator when we needed to go to a local garage to have further repairs done)

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 27, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      That’s an impressive welcome. It seems they have a real personal touch there.

      Reply
  • Helen Prince
    November 24, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Brilliant review – sums up this wonderful campsite perfectly. We spent 7 summers there; only stopped when we sold our caravan but we do miss it terribly! There is just something so special about turning into the drive and seeing the first glimpse of the chateau. It’s like a home from home (and prior to finding it, we never went back to the same place twice!)

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Ah, you should go back some time! Not surprised you miss the place.

      Reply
  • Rebecca
    November 24, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Returning for our fifth year at La Garangeoire. Can’t explain why I love I so much. it’s just wonderfully French, so chilled, so relaxed. I just love it there.

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      It does seem to have an undefineable something, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  • Marije
    November 24, 2016 at 10:46 am

    As a kid we’ve returned to La Garangeoire for 13 years. There was only 1 year we didn’t go ’cause we were going on a road thip through the USA. I’ve always loved it. It’s been 12 years since I was there for the last time and I still have dreams about it. I loved it there. Especially because everyone was returning each year. I made friends who I saw every summer. Every time we arrived at La Garangeoire and I saw the castle, I felt like I was home. It was relaxed, it was fun (back in the old day, we went down to the lake at night to have a drink and just have a good time. Later on it wasn’t allowed anymore because of the noise , oops). I miss it deeply and would love to return some day.

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 27, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      I wonder how many of your old friends you’d run into if you went back there now?

      Reply
      • Marije
        November 30, 2016 at 7:53 pm

        I guess not much. I was 16 when I was there for the last time. I’m 28 now. They are around the same age and don’t think they are going there now. Maybe in a few years with little kids. I know I would love to return when I have kids so they can expierence they same summer vacations I always had.

        Reply
        • Nell
          December 2, 2016 at 1:49 pm

          Yes, it’s a great place for making beautiful family memories.

          Reply
  • Nadia
    November 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Next year, it will be our fourth year and we never returned twice to the same place before this! I totally agree with the other reviews: we feel at home, La Garangeoire is so relaxing and the team is just so friendly!

    Their facilities are excellent and the pitches are magnificent. Our girls love the place & have made lots of friends over the years and there is no way that they will allow us to go somewhere else!

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      That’s a great story and a good testament to the quality of the place.

      Reply
  • Steve Allan
    November 28, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Going back next summer, we go every 3 years. We keep trying to find new sites and new experiences but eventually we end up back there. If you do go make sure you Velo rail – bicycle railway and great fun. I cant wait to be back.

    Reply
  • Emily
    December 2, 2016 at 7:38 am

    That looks lovely, though the receptionist sounds a little terrifying… #AllAboutFrance

    Reply
  • Our french Oasis
    December 2, 2016 at 9:05 am

    I can see why people return year after year.

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I know!

      Reply
  • Janet T
    December 3, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I love the greenery, the trees and the flowers on a site like this. If it looks well-tended I think that influences the experience of the site and the behaviour too.

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 8, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      I agree. Everything felt very orderly!

      Reply
  • Pauline
    December 7, 2016 at 9:30 am

    It is a beautiful relaxing place to spend time. In fact as a camper from Ireland told me last year, there is no need to leave the site ! Splendid entertainment, great pools, tour of the site guided by the owner and even a shuttle to the beach if you want to leave paradise .

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 9, 2016 at 10:46 am

      You’re right. We only left on one day, and it was a big wrench!

      Reply
  • Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    December 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    22 years! That’s amazing, they must be doing something very special, but having said that I’m afraid I’m in the “rarely go back” camp! Very often we leave a place saying we must go back because we’ve loved it so much but we almost never do because at the end of the day there’s so much out there in this world to explore. I haven’t lived anywhere longer than 7 years and I really can’t imagine holidaying in the same place for 22! However, a campsite that offer wine tastings certainly deserves at least one visit! Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

    Reply
    • Nell
      December 9, 2016 at 11:01 am

      D and I were talking about this. We’re lucky to be able to travel quite a lot. But if you only had one precious holiday a year, it would be good to know you’re guaranteed a good time….that’s one of the reasons why I reckon so many people return.

      Reply

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