Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering. ― Charles Dickens
We are not as well versed in coming home as we are in moving on in the world. Since leaving our more traditional life in 2013, most of our trips have been one way. Even when we booked a return, we took the long way around, until recently.
This summer we had the opportunity of a lifetime – an epic road trip with Eurocamp, the UK’s leading European camping specialist. We jumped at the chance, with very little time to plan, because we knew we could come home. Right now, home is Portugal. It is not somewhere we planned on staying for an extended time, and now we can’t imagine our lives without what we have learned from this welcoming country. Our confidence to go on such an incredible road trip came from intimately knowing the place we would return.
If you are reading this from the comfort of your own home, perhaps it will inspire you to plan a Eurocamp adventure of your own (Tweet this). While we share our itinerary below, much of what we experienced is applicable to any multi-parc holiday using countless combinations of 180 Eurocamp destinations spanning 10 countries …
The following map depicts the Eurocamp portion of our road trip. Our loop through Gascony/Gironde, Dordogne and the Pyrénées areas of Southwest France could easily be accessed by the following airports: Biarritz, Bordeaux, Bergerac or Périgueux. Car rentals seemed to be the most competitively priced at Bordeaux but any of the airports would work perfectly to loop in either direction. We opted to drive rather than fly and had incredible adventures in Portugal and Spain before our official loop even commenced.
4 Parcs, One Holiday
3 Reasons Multi-parc Holidays Create More Memories
In past Eurocamp adventures, we combined both long stays at one camp with multi-parc itineraries. We love the multi-parc potential Eurocamp offers because it pushes us out of our comfort zone and gives us something to talk about for years upon returning home. It was much easier to fall into our comfort zone and familiar routines while staying at one parc. If we were going to go, we wanted to go big!
Reason #1: Seeing Amazing Sights
One of the biggest problems with Eurocamp is the parcs are so full of amenities that our kids don’t want to leave to go sightseeing. From epic waterslides to engaging kids club couriers and mouthwatering local cuisine, it is frankly hard for anyone to find a reason to leave the parc. The beauty of booking a multi-parc holiday is planning sightseeing trips on your travel days between parcs.
- We would have been hard pressed to pull our kids away from the myriad of activities on offer at Le Vieux Port. Instead, we had breakfast at the Sunday market in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and a picnic on the beach in Biarritz on our trip between parks. Our kids are still talking about those glittering seaside towns and it all happened before our 3pm check-in at our next stop.
- We left La Cote D’Argent headed toward Saint Avit Loisirs early enough to beat the traffic into Bordeaux, did a family walking tour, and were in the legendary village of Saint-Emilion in time for lunch.
- The historic catholic pilgrimage site at Lourdes was a natural stop for us before we climbed to our next park at Airotel Pyrénées in the shadows of the Col du Tourmalet.
Reason #2: Experiencing Rich Diversity
There is richness in diversity, from landscapes to regional and cultural differences, accommodation options, and parc sizes. Every day was an adventure.
- We traveled from the pristine farms dotted with Périgord to the highest paved road in the Pyrénées in one morning.
- We surfed the crashing Atlantic on a Thursday and were hiking in the Cirque de Gavarnie on Friday afternoon.
- From glaciers to fields of sunflowers, vineyards to towering sand dunes, castles to mountain huts, we soaked in every texture and color.
- Our palettes were rewarded by the diversity as well. From the Atlantic coast where mussels are king, to the foie gras trail in Dordogne, no two dishes were the same.
- We stayed at extra large parcs like Le Viex Port and small parks like Airotel Pyrénées, and each park offered us a diverse experience. Our daughter met four new friends from four countries after four minutes in kids club at Saint Avit. Our boys loved the archery instructor at La Côte D’Argent. They spotted him on the beach the day after their lesson and he taught them how to ride the special waves that bring people to Hourtin-Plage.
- From the luxurious amenities in our Avant mobile (dishwasher+camping = more time to play) to waking up with the Pyrénées at our doorstep in the mountain lodges of Airotel, Eurocamp offers accommodation options that are as diverse as their parcs. There is something for almost every price point and yet there is consistency from parc to parc in terms of what you can expect from Eurocamp. The consistency means it doesn’t take long to settle into a classic tent or a luxury holiday home and get down the business of fun.
Reason #3: Checking Off Bucket List Trips
Our Eurocamp loop this summer put us in the heart of the Tour de France. It has been at the top of our bucket list since our honeymoon, and Eurocamp made it possible.
- Between Saint Avit Loisirs and Airotel Pyrénées we were within easy reach of a rest day, race start in Périgueux, sprint finish in Pau, and a legendary mountain stage in the Pyrénées.
- On the days we were not chasing the race, we we able to bike, hike or drive to prominent race sites not on the route this year like the Col du Tourmalet.
- We were able to get tips about timing stages, parking, and prime spots to see the most cycling action from knowledgeable parc staff. We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary with our three children by our side, cheering on the riders during Stage 11. We couldn’t have asked for a better gift.
Whatever is on your family’s bucket list, Eurocamp makes it easy. Culinary tour through France? A grand tour of the Italian Lakes? Trekking in Austria and Switzerland? It is inspiring to think of the possibilities. As soon as the Tour de France passed us as we cheered, our kids turned to us and said, “What will our next Eurocamp adventure be?”
3 Quick Tips Before You Book a Multi-Parc Holiday
#1 – It is a bit more work to move from place to place but in hindsight it is worth every ounce of effort. Tolls are certainly a factor in budgeting your muti-parc holiday, particularly in France. However, not so much for budgeting but for scenery, we told our GPS to avoid tolls and the rewards were infinite. Often the scenic route only added 15 or 20 minutes to our travel time and we ambled past a patchwork of sunflower fields and farm stands where we would stop and feast on fresh fruit while we stretched our legs.
#2 – Investing in a cooler when you land, or bringing one from home if you drive, will prevent food waste when planning a multi-parc holiday. It also helps to have a few things on hand when arriving in a new parc so everyone can settle in quickly and take full advantage of the facilities right out of the gate.
#3 – Use travel days to go off the beaten path and see sights along the way because typically accommodation is not available for check-in until 3pm. If you think you will arrive on parc early, put the swimsuits and a change of clothes in an easily accessible spot, so you don’t feel like you are waiting around to check-in before enjoying all the parc has on offer.
It wasn’t until we returned that the story truly began. We were so engaged in the journey that we kept the stories tucked away, like adventurous morsels to nourish our souls upon returning. We share them at special times when we are feeling most connected, around the table, over morning coffee, or on a family walk after a long day of work. With the comforts of “home” surrounding us, the memories keep the embers stirring until we are ready for our next adventure.
Thank you Eurocamp for helping us create the kind of stories our children will someday tell their children. Simply legendary!