An eccentric, laid-back campsite / country estate where kids rule and anything is possible: go-karts galore, rabbits on leads, ponies and a hay barn full of delights. Nearby, a bit of river picnicking and light canoeing. What’s not to like?
We loved: the glorious middle-of-nowhere views, the quirky kid-friendly vibe, the family activities and all the beautiful rivers in this part of the Midi-Pyreneese.
Tips: Take plenty of loo roll and hand-wash as this is one of those sites that (bizarrely, in my opinion) doesn’t supply either.
We found this place on the Cool Camping site. We were looking for somewhere outdoorsy to stop for a few days on our way from Spain to the Dordogne, preferably with a pool and some fun simple things for the kids to do. Esperbasque, near Salies de Bearn, inland from Biarritz, seemed to fit the bill.
The pitch was divine, with breakfast views to die for and enough space to play games. Go-karts were scattered around the place (although the kids quickly learned that some go-karts worked better than others, and none of them were great on small slopes!), there were ponies and huge rabbits in the barn, a hay barn, trampoline, the bar/cafe was fairly buzzing and there was a pool. Camping heaven!
This part of the Midi Pyrenees is special. It’s fairly quiet, full of beautiful rivers to picnic next to, swim in or canoe on.
It’s also within driving distance of the Camino di Santiago and its hub, St Jean Pied de Port. We had hoped to walk a little of the Way, but didn’t quite get ourselves organised enough, so settled for (heresy!) driving a bit of it, watching the walkers trundle through town, and waving in a positive way.
In many ways, Esperbasque is a lesson in how to run a family campsite. There was plenty to do, and a good system for doing it. We bounced, we swam, we rode, we walked rabbits, we played board games in the bar and shot arrows and bullets (supervised, in the barn one evening). Each evening a mobile food van would appear offering all sorts of cuisine.
It was full of families who were on their fourth or fifth visit and it was easy to see why you would return again and again. However, we learned something at Esperbasque and it was this: we’re not ready to be that laid-back. Next stop, somewhere in the Dordogne with a more military approach to toilet cleaning and more generous with the soap!