Camping La Pinede: A Campsite Review

Where did you spend your summer #holibobs this year? Somewhere exotic? A staycation? Well for us it was a trek down to France again. This was in the main because we weren’t quick enough to get a ferry sailing to Spain in the school summer holidays. Yet, we struck lucky, and landed (although booked and planned), on the Camping Le Pinede campsite, near La Palmyre, in the Charente-Maritime region of France.

Campsite with everything?

This large site allows camping in tents/motorhomes etc., and it has mobile homes and safari tents for rental. Within the site there is, obviously, the very large aquatic water park with two sets of toboggans, slides, lazy river, Jacuzzi (within the pool) and the pool. Another pool is situated in the middle of the campsite. This pool is effectively two outdoor pools with a toddler splash area. Very welcome when we stayed as the weather was scorching.

This water-lover’s paradise  also boasts a large modern playpark, a smaller toddler play park, bouncy castle, mini golf and a small farm with animals! AND there’s bike hire, bar, a restaurant with take away and shop.

Pool at La Pinede

 

The campsite is split in to two distinct areas. The older part has space for camping and mobile home rental. We were over on the newer camping area. This part of the site has larger pitches, alongside mobile home rental and safari tents. On our side, we had a separate campsite entrance, a third play park together with a dinky food van. Over the course of the holiday this provided an outdoor restaurant with live music.

The obligatory petanque pitch was often in action. We decided to embarrass ourselves on the pitch beside us rather than in the public eye – nothing to see here!!

Serviced Pitch at La Pinede

Our large serviced pitch looking like a yard sale! With sand!!

The nitty gritties!

As I’ve said, our part of the campsite was separate yet included within the whole site. Our entrance was easier to navigate with the motorhome, than the main entrance. We discovered, having arrived after an eight-hour drive and with patience running low, to find we blocked the main entrance. With a tiny, heavily-barried car park, blocking the entrance for other users doesn’t endear you. Once at reception we collected the wrist bands (which were checked during our stay), to show we were part of the site.

Pitch Perfect

Our pitch was a large one. We ‘d made a point of booking a larger one because we’ve had experience of being crammed in and not being able to move the motorhome in or out. And that turned out to be a good idea. The main camping part was tight, the pitches themselves were a reasonable size, but negotiating the motorhome onto the pitch would’ve been a heck of a hassle.

The pitch was fully serviced with water, electricity and open waste (little dodgy feeling!). And it was large! For the first time in a few years we were able to erect the awning. The downside? It was on sand. Sand, sand and more flipping sand! Even my dreams were full of sand! To be fair to the campsite, they had an area where you could pick up some decking and place it on your pitch to help alleviate the sand issue, but …sand everywhere. It’s not clean sand either. Our feet and legs were filthy and in constant need of washing. That’s our only grumble about the pitch though.

On our side of the site, we were welcomed with what looked like an almost new toilet block -extremely clean and modern. There were extra showers on the outside – though still under cover. We used the external ones every time.

We can see that in rougher weather (we sunbathed every day bar two) you wouldn’t want to freeze outside, which means there could be a bun fight for the two remaining indoor ones. However, everything was well-looked after and spotless.

Onsite & nearby activities

Across the road from the campsite you have La Luna Park. This is a fun fair type park which opens from 8pm until the small hours. Although we could hear the roller coasters etc., it didn’t impinge on the evenings or the holiday. It was great to be able to walk over there in the evenings to mooch, and play mini golf. It’s clear that this a very popular attraction because the car park was full every night.

The aquatic park was the draw for us when booking because our daughter loves swimming (we’re not so keen!) and anything to do with water. As you would expect it was busy, but not too crammed. There were plenty of lifeguards so we felt comfortable letting her go off by herself. I even tried all the toboggans and slides myself: oh my! The other swimming pool in the centre of the campsite was the usual pool you would get at any campsite. By which I mean rectangular and freezing cold! We spent most of our time here. Because the weather was so schorchio the pool didn’t feel too bad. Again it was busy, sunbeds limited, but not as jammed as the water park.

Friendly Sheep at La Pinede CampingEvery day held a full schedule of activities. From yoga to salsa dancing, aqua keep fit to water polo – everything you could think of to entertain you. In the evenings the entertainment team, put on themed evenings in the bar – shows, karaoke etc. We popped in for a couple and they were well attended. Behind the bar, the campsite has a purpose-built stage with seating, all outdoors, so we were a little bemused to see them use the bar area.

Activities for the children were numerous, with a kid’s club, (although we didn’t use that); two great play parks, the animals (we got to camp beside the goats, much to the daughter’s delight), mini golf and bouncy castle.

Polar Bear at La Palmyre ZooWhat’s in the area?

There are loads of things to do – far more than we had time to see. As the campsite was well equipped, we limited our days out, which provided a more relaxing break for all of us. We did though get out to La Palmyre Zoo, which is a must do. The only time we’ve seen a polar bear, (they’re not common in Swindon) which obviously is a mixed feeling – should they be there? Then there’s Planet Exotica, with reptiles and dinosaurs. For towns there’s La Tremblade, which is very pretty and the medieval town of Brouage. We also made it to the beach.

The beach is about a ten-minute drive from the campsite, but if you’re in a motorhome, best of luck is what we say. Everywhere is height-barriered. We couldn’t get near a beach within spitting distance of the campsite in the campervan. And the campsite was a good twenty-thirty minute walk to the beach. We managed a beach day, along the coast from the La Coubre lighthouse, again, parking where we could and walking for half an hour. Not ideal for very small children and a bit of a struggle with a whiny ten-year old!

There are the old towns of La Rochelle, Rochefort, the island of Oleron, Fort Boyard (from the TV quiz game) and the oysters of Marenne. You’ll find plenty of activities around including quad biking, pony trekking, cycling, jet skiing and flea markets, to keep you out of trouble.

In conclusion

Would we go back? Not for a few years. It is a great site, lots to do if you want it, lovely touches like the live music on our side of the site. The facilities were great and the staff were all super helpful and friendly. Our daughter became convinced the bakery lady held back a special baguette for her every morning, and that’s what makes a campsite special.

Yet, for us oldies, the site was huge with more mobile rentals than camping. It was also missing the usual mix of nationalities. We usually camp amongst Dutch, Danish, Germans and Italians, but they were conspicuous by their absence. Our fellow campers were in the main French (fancy that, what with it being in France?!) with a smattering of English and Irish.

In hindsight we didn’t research the site enough to know that it was on sand (rocking in corner!), or that the beach access was more difficult than we thought. We saw the waterpark and location and booked. We’ve learnt our lesson.

With that in mind, I would still recommend this campsite. Friendly staff, beautifully clean, loads to do.  But be mindful that it’s stuffed to the seams with people – and sand. LOTS of sand.

 

If you’ve been here then let us know what you thought. We’re as usual on Facebook and Twitter, Until next time #getoutdoors

Summary
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La Pinede Campsite
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