Lieu dit Louise, 31550, Gaillac Toulza, France
A healthy tan, a nice dose of vitamin-D – there’s much to be said for sun-seeking. And if you’re one who needs an excuse, just look to nature. It’s a part of our natural evolution. Like a field of sunflowers in the Midi-Pyrénées turning from east to west as the day goes on. Or like the leaves of the fig trees tilting in the afternoon light as they bring themselves to fruit. As the hippies would say, “it’s all natural man. It’s all natural”. So while during the winter months Country Camping may close the gates for a little shut-eye, come the beginning of April campers seem born to trickle back again – human sunflowers coming down from the north to catch those revitalising rays.
Nonetheless, that the Midi-Pyrénées is often dubbed “Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrénéan Desert” is something of a misnomer – a reference not to the heat but to the relative absence of activity in these parts compared to the bustling city an hour’s drive away. There’s a definite rural feel, a landscape that is home to more farms than any other region in France. And it’s this quiet rusticity, this peaceful countryside charm and pastoral joie de vivre vibe that Country Camping is very much a part of.
In springtime, catch the last of the colourful blossoms as they’re replaced by cherries dangling appetisingly from the trees. In autumn, it’s the peaches, like soft, velvety fists, ripe for the picking. Whenever you come, the shady trees that enclose the 20 grassy pitches provide a natural, green feel that’s in keeping with the pastoral French surroundings. The best spots are actually those with the slightly lower hedges, the gaps revealing views across the neighbouring field and partially wooded valley.
Those looking for a little more luxury can try one of the three, fully furnished safari tents onsite or the wooden bijou chalet. Yet the real comfort of this campsite is the easygoing atmosphere it affords. A small outdoor swimming pool sloshes around under the energy of younger campers, overlooked by the chilled-out bar terrace where quieter kids are setting about a nerve racking game of giant outdoor jenga. After that try the neighbouring stretch of woodland, somewhere to build dens and search for dragons and gruffalos – though the ones around here are French speaking, so kids may have to brush up on their vocab before any unexpected encounters.
In all it’s these simple pleasures that make Country Camping such a great campsite, independently of the pleasant attractions nearby. It’s an easy cycle to the old military village of Saint Ybars, while a drive to the spectacular natural park Pyrénées Ariégeoises provides an endless list of outdoor activities to try. But while these exploratory day-trips reveal the place to be anything but a desert there’s something just as charming about a lazy afternoon back at base, frolicking in the pool and enjoying the ever present necessity of the sun.