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Family Campgrounds: Europe’s Alternative to Cramped Hotels

My husband and I have always traveled a lot, before and after having kids. We have stayed in everything from tents to luxury all-inclusive resorts and we always prefer the accommodations that give us a bit more freedom in nature, and are nicer on the wallet. Recentlywe returned from a campground in Normandy where we fit a family of five in a mobile home and paid only a fraction of what we would have in an apartment or hotel, and with many more amenities.

Campgrounds have always been a fun way for families to travel, and the great thing about European campgrounds is that they appeal to every member of the family. Accommodations range from budget tent camping to deluxe mobile homes and cottages. Some sites offer creatively built tree houses or glamorous, romantic tents that have their own private hot tubs (think “glamping”)!

One thing to note about European campgrounds is that like their home-living style, their camping isn’t private. It will be hard to find a tent site that provides a large private pitch/lot like in the states, so you may prefer to rent mobile homes to allow for more privacy.

Our son exploring our mobile home neighborhood in Normandy
Our son exploring our mobile home neighborhood in Normandy

 We really enjoyed our recent stay in Le Cormoran in Normandy due to all of the extra curricular activities available. Most all-family campgrounds will offer a wide variety of these. Some examples of amenities and activities you may find at a European family campground include:

•Bike Rental (baby/child carriers almost always available)
•Fishing gear, or in Normandy, shrimp nets!
•Book nooks for reading and borrowing/exchanging books
•Video game and/or movie areas for bigger kids to congregate
•Live entertainment
Tourist information center, guides, and maps
•Grocery store/market
•Numerous playgrounds
•Jump castles, trampolines, ropes courses
•Pools, slides, waterpark (check for indoor and outdoor, most have both options!)
•Restaurant or snack shack on site
•Wellness centers and spa services
•Horseback riding
•Golf
•Boat rentals
and my favorite, a bar or biergarten that welcomes both parents and kids.
Pool at a EuroCamp
Pool at a EuroCamp

There are two popular chain companies that cater to a wide array of campgrounds, but may bit a bit more on the pricier side due to all that they provide:

1. treehouseEuroCamp claims to have the largest network of campgrounds covering 13 countries (and islands!) including France, Spain, Italy, and Croatia. They offer options on the beach, in the country, in the mountains, or even near major cities to escape the traffic and crowds.

2. CenterParcs offers campgrounds in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. The amenities are similar to EuroCamp, but the facilities are mostly cottages and deluxe tree houses.

Camping.info is another website that provides a really custom search to all campgrounds in Europe. On this site you can search by facilities, location, ratings, and pretty much anything you can think of. Many campgrounds in Europe don’t allow campfires, but there are many that do! As an American who grew up singing and roasting marshmallows around a campfire, that’s one of my first search requests. Click here are a list of campfire friendly sites!   

Europe has done such a wonderful job preserving its forests and natural settings. Camping is a fantastic way to experience this nature and bring family and friends together in a setting other than a hotel or apartment rental. Bring some playing cards, a good playlist, and a full cooler to enjoy a relaxing, stress-free alternative to traveling in Europe.

Follow more of Holly’s adventures and tips at packthecorkscrew.com

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