For every well-trodden tourist hot spot there is always some less crowded but equally spectacular place and life-enhancing experience you probably never even knew existed. All of the following are close to one of our parcs and these marvels of Europe won’t disappoint.
On the Atlantic Coast in southern Brittany, on the mossy-green landscape around the town of Carnac are thousands of ancient stones. It makes for the perfect Celtic twilight despite being created by the pre-Celtic Neolithic culture around 4500 BC. The stones were central to the culture and may have had some astrological significance. The Musée de Prehistoric de Carnac tells visitors all there is to know about these enigmatic stones.
Parcs nearby: La Grande Metairie (Carnac)
This is the most complete surviving Roman amphitheatre in the World. It still entertains crowds today with music as well as bullfights. The arena is 2000 years old, has 34 rows of seats in three tiers originally socially graded from the front seats for dignitaries to the distant high rows allocated to slaves where you can vividly imagine heroic gladiators doing battle.
Parcs nearby: Sommieres (Domaine de Massereau), Les Tours (St Amans-des-Côts), Le Ranc Domaine (St Alban)
In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to a young peasant girl, Bernadette, above the town of Lourdes. This is now one of the greatest pilgrimage sights of the world, and the nightly procession to the Basilica of the Rosary is one of the most moving events in Christendom.
Parcs nearby: Camping Pyrenees (Luz St Sauveur)
The vineyards of Burgundy, nestled against the straight ridge of Côte d’Or give the region its fame and is one of the most beguiling landscapes in France. In the middle ages the court of Dijon was Europe’s wealthiest, but its real soul lies in its monestaries – Cluny, Montigny, Citeaux and towering above them, Basilica of Vezelay.
Parcs nearby: Château de l'Epervière
Carved into the white cliff above the Loire river, the pretty troglodyte village of Troo has provided safe lodging for centuries. It’s oldest dwellings date from the 12th century and are still in demand as second homes by stylish Parisians.
Parcs nearby: Chateau des Marais (Chambord)
This aqueduct near Montpellier, not as famous as the Pont Du Gard, is still is one of the most spectacular. Stretching 800 metres with the dramatic backdrop of the Massif Central mountains behind the aqueduct is still in use with the chic neighbourhood of Les Arceaux beneath its arches.
Parcs nearby:Club Farret (Vias Plage)
Venice is one of the most popular tourist spots in the world but the elegant bell tower of St Mark’s Basillica is a treasured icon with its red brick tower, arched belfry, pyramid spire and golden angel Gabriel with outstretched wings.
Parcs nearby:Garden Paradiso (Cavallino), Camping Marina di Venezia (Punta Sabbioni)
Just southwest of the city of Rome sits Rome’s ancient port Ostia Antica, which is one of the best preserved Roman towns in Italy. The most impressive sight is Forum of Corporations where 61 maritime offices are arranged around a great temple, each identified with its own descriptive mosaic. If you can hang on until dusk when the sun glances off the sea and bathes the umbrella pines and ancient buildings in a glorious warm glow.
Parcs nearby: Camping Village Fabulous (Rome)
Delft, sometimes referred to as “mini Amsterdam”, offers a succession of charming canals edged with cafes, cobblestones and historic grandeur. The market square (the largest in the Netherlands) is hemmed with dozens of cosy restaurants and pavement bars. Delft has a serene atmosphere where pretty stone bridges straddle tree lined canals and gothic style houses rub shoulders with flower-clad convents, ancient monasteries and ornate church spires. This unblemished gem is also a hit for art loving romantics around the world.
Parcs nearby: Duinrell (Wassenaar)
This charming hilltop town keeps to its medieval roots and dates back to the 10th century. This Tuscan gem flourished for centuries as a waypoint for pilgrims to the Holy City. By the 13th century it became a powerful, wealthy and independent community. Families vied with one another to build ever taller tower houses. The town where skyscrapers were born, once had 72 towers creating an awe-inspiring sight – and the sublime aspect is still in tact today although with far fewer towers. In June the Feria delle Messi festival brings knights, acrobats and medieval musicians to town.
Parcs nearby: Valle Gaia (Cecina)
One of the earliest Renaissance chateaux, Azay, with its fairytale turrets and spires, displays the transition from Gothic to the Renaissance style.
Parcs nearby: Chateau des Marais (Chambord), Parc des Alicourts (Pierrefitte)
Tours is often overlooked, lying between the Loire and the Cher rivers, the city has a half-timbered medieval centre with a first rate art gallery, cathedral and sophisticated boutiques.
Parcs nearby: Parc de Fierbois (Tours)
Although you don’t need to see a performance to appreciate Verona’s wonderful amphitheatre, an evening watching the opera here is unforgettable. The auditorium holds 15000 people and was once faced in pink and white limestone.
Parcs nearby: Cisano/San Vito (Lake Garda), Europa Silvella (Lake Garda)
Just north of Delft lies the The Hague boasting a buzzing energy, characterised by medieval cobbled streets, handsome 18th century mansions, paved courtyards, opulent palaces and eye popping collection of clock towers and spires.
Parcs nearby: Duinrell (Wassenaar)
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Flore in Florence, is an architectural masterpiece of the Italian renaissance. The magnificent octagonal dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and required some four million bricks. The building of the cathedral started work in 1296 and the lantern that crowns it was not completed until 1461.
Parcs nearby: Norcenni Girasole Club (Florence)
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