Having grown up enjoying caravanning and camping holidays in France, I am a big advocate of the freedom and choice that they offer families.
Previously, we’ve been camping in France to a Canvas Holidays campsite in Canet Plage, just outside Perpignan, where we had an amazing time. So, when Canvas Holidays asked us to review one of their holiday parks in France, we jumped at the chance to go camping in Port Grimaud.
Guest post by Helen and Nick Gaskell
Disclosure: Helen, Nick and Amelia were guests of Canvas Holidays for the week for the purpose of this review. All opinions are, as always, entirely independent. They have enjoyed Canvas Holidays before and will do so again!
Camping Port Grimaud
Our campsite was Holiday Marina Resort located in the Gulf of Saint Tropez in the South of France. It’s a Canvas Holidays site and, in my opinion, one of the best holiday parks in France for families with young children. I also think this is one of the best campsites in Port Grimaud in general.
If you’re looking to go camping in St Tropez then Holiday Marina is also a good option as the ritzy town of Saint Tropez is just a short boat ride away.
The Holiday Marina Resort was smaller than other holiday parks in France that we have visited previously. It was also really quiet, most likely as we stayed just outside of high season.
Our daughter Amelia was able to walk and run to her heart’s content as we took our daily walk to the heated swimming pool, where she spent the time playing in the children’s pool complete with slides and water jets and practicing her swimming skills in the big pool.
One of the reasons for choosing this Canvas Holidays campsite was the children’s pool, and it paid off – Amelia loved it! The pool complex was not huge but reflective of the size of the campsite and definitely better suited to toddlers than teens.
This Canvas Holidays camp site also featured a small soft play area for toddlers. There are also outdoor sports areas (football, basketball, volleyball and boules) for the older children and adults.
This family campsite also has a bar and restaurant (with a takeaway option), and a small shop for your morning pastries and a few essentials. There are also laundry facilities if you really can’t wait until you get home!
In the high season (July / August) the site also offers a kids’ club and evening entertainment.
The other thing that we loved about Holiday Marina was the location. If you’re looking to enjoy family holidays to the South of France then I can highly recommend this region of Port Grimaud, it’s beautiful!
Holiday Marina Resort Accommodation
The Holiday Marina Resort offers a range of two- and three-bedroom homes. We stayed in a three-bedroom mobile home which can sleep up to 8 people, and it meant Amelia could sleep in her own room, giving us the space to sit and relax with a glass of wine after bedtime. It worked brilliantly for us and was a refreshing change from being sat in bed in a dark hotel room trying not to wake her!
As the nights were a little chilly during our trip this extra indoor space was an added bonus. There was a family bathroom plus an ensuite.
Meal times for us can be a bit of challenge on holiday. Trying to find a place to eat that appeals to us and that also offers something that our daughter might eat can be challenging!
For us, the mobile home offers the solution; the kitchen area provided hobs, an oven and a microwave – fantastic when self-catering with a two-year-old! The patio area with a table set and BBQ was a very welcome facility and offered a lovely small outdoor play space.
The static home was very clean and tidy throughout on arrival, and we made the most of an option to add towelling and bed linen. You can opt to save a little money and take your own if you’d prefer.
There are Canvas Holiday reps on site available if you need anything and can provide information for things to do in the local area.
Things to do in Port Grimaud
We loved camping in Port Grimaud as there is so much to do. Located on the French Riviera, the area is arranged into four islands dotted with pastel coloured Provencal-style houses that are linked by bridges over the canals. It’s fun to watch the impressive boats make their way in and out of the waters.
A large area of the village is private access, however there are organised bout tours around the waterways and you can also hire your own little electric boats with a map for 25-30 Euro for 30 mins – perhaps not quite the thing for a two-year-old, but this is on our ‘To Do’ list for when we next come camping in Port Grimaud.
There are restaurants, a handful of small shops and a few salon de crème glacee. Port Grimaud also has its own sandy beach (Plage Port Grimaud) which was a massive hit with our daughter; jumping in the small waves was a particular favourite, as well as digging in the sand.
Access to the beach is just a 10-15 minute walk from the site, so it was perfect for an after dinner stroll to burn off some the energy before bed!
From Port Grimaud there is a boat service operated by Les Bateaux Verts to Saint Tropez if you don’t fancy the 7km drive. We took the boat option and it didn’t disappoint, offering brilliant views of the coast line and the opportunity to spot the rich and famous as you pass by a bay of super yachts.
St. Tropez itself is very pretty and still holds much of its French feel. We visited on market day so the town was very busy. The market was as impressive as any French market we’ve seen, selling a variety of local produce.
However, a large part of St. Tropez is all about the image, with a number of eateries trying to outdo each other in how over the top they could be – both in decor and price! The port was no different, with boats trying to outdo their neighbour in a bid to gain attention of the anyone passing by. A
t times this felt very much like a zoo, with large groups of people gathering around the rear of the boats at any site of movement, trying to establish just who it might be. It is well worth the trip, getting to see just how the other half live is simply jaw dropping, but for us a day was more than enough.
Some of the villages and towns around Port Grimaud are truly stunning. Having explored large parts of France over the years, these were definitely some of the most picturesque towns we have ever visited in France.
The perched village of Grimaud, about 10min drive from Port Grimaud or a ride on the Le Petit Train de Grimaud, is dominated by an 11th century castle which has partially been restored. The climb up to the castle is well worth it, providing unparalleled views across the entire bay of Saint Tropez.
Grimaud village wraps around the hill, with amazing little cobbled streets and houses, each with their own gorgeously vibrant flower displays that only add to the tranquillity of the village and it quintessential French feel.
During our visit to Grimaud, the village was holding its annual Foire to la Laine (wool fair) – a traditional celebration that fills the centre of the village with colourful market stalls offering homemade local produce, from cheese and jams to fabrics and jewellery.
There were also demonstrations of sheep shearing and wool spinning, which you could try your hand at if so inclined, and regional dances and music.
Sainte-Maxime & Saint Raphael
The town of Sainte-Maxime is a short drive up the coast, and St Raphael a little further on. Both towns have markets throughout the weekend which vary in wares on offer, and you can pick this information up from any of the local Office de Tourisme.
St. Maxime is the closest to the Holiday Marina Resort and offers a large sandy beach. The town has a old-meets-modern feel that as you follow the streets that wind upwards away from the beach, with cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the pavement, shops, the Marche Couvert, and the odd small independent art studio. It’s well worth a visit!
We feel we only scratched the surface of what Port Grimaud and the surrounding area has to offer; there is an abundance of activities and places to visit that offer something for all the family, and a Canvas mobile home is the perfect base.
We visited Holiday Marina, near Port Grimaud, Côte d’Azur with Canvas Holidays (www.canvasholidays.co.uk / 0345 268 0827). UK-based Canvas Holidays has been arranging holidays for UK holidaymakers for more than 50 years. Holidaymakers can join the MyClub loyalty programme for the chance to win the cost of your holiday back (one winner each week) and extra discounts and offers.
The nearest airport for the Holiday Marina Resort is Toulon or Nice. Costs per week start from £200 for a classic 2 bed mobile home – included in the up to 40% off sale, on bookings made before 23 June.
Canvas Holidays has campsites throughout Europe. If you’re interested in reading more then you may enjoy the following posts: