We stayed here for a two night stopover on the way back from Italy. Although we probably wouldn't chose this for a longer stay, we were happy enough to book for a short visit. However, our Eurocamp caravan was awful. Dreadful clicky cupboard-style doors everywhere - the one on the bathroom door was an inch too short - nice! Awful layout and no surface space in the kitchen or sitting area and sofa cushions grubby. The decking had seen better days too. We hated the pitch layout - all the mobiles were stuck in end on so pitches were narrow and there was no separation between ours and the next door neighbours. We felt utterly surounded by mobiles and you could hear every bump and squeak from the surrounding mobiles. Tent pitches seemed much better with good separation and shade.
The site itself is very quaint and uncommercialised so it is quiet generally. The pool area was smaller than we expected, although our children loved the slides. Word of warning though - take plenty of plasters as the rough surface cut everyone's feet. The zip wire/tree climbing course was very good and pretty good value at 11 euros for 1. 5 hours, although it wasn't massive so you wouldn't want to go on it more than once or twice. The kids' club seemed very sweet, but as ever seems to appeal mainly to girls who like to sit and colour, but the staff were very friendly. The bar area wasn't very inspiring and the take-away wasn't great. Nothing opened until 4. 30pm which seemed a shame as I like to sometimes have a cup of coffee that I haven't made myself during the day. There was a rather lame disco a few times a week for littlies but there was no great atmosphere on site, although this is supposed to be a low-key rural site so perhaps that's the intention. The lake was nice but as others have mentioned, there are flies literally everywhere, including in your mobiles - I got really fed up with it and we only stayed a couple of days.
What really did it for me was the weather - because you are in a wooded valley near a river, it's much wetter than elsewhere and much colder at night - I was really chilly overnight and it felt like October, not August. In the morning, there was dew everywhere so don't leave towels etc out and the table and chairs were too wet to sit on for breakfast, which was a shame. I like to be nice and warm on my summer holiday and the weather just wasn't as good as the UK even, because of the cold, damp nights, and this is really what would put me off visiting again. Not much to do nearby either so without the good weather, we would struggle to keep ourselves occupied. Such a shame as I thought Castels were the best in French campsites, and although not the worst campsite we have visited, it's not worthy of a second visit.
We had a lovely large grass pitch and our boys ( aged 9 and 7) loved the pool with the slides. We had a fun afternoon canoeing along the river - a bus picks you up from the campsite and takes you up river we then canoed downstream back to the campsite.
However the toilets facilities are out of date and tatty and the river was not one we would swim in after all the other rivers we had enjoyed on our four week trip. Some river and campsite smelt stagnant although our pitch did not. We like to explore the local area however the staff were not helpful with this and knew nothing about cycle routes or even much about the canoeing they were advertising.
There is a restaurant on site and snack bar but neither looked appealing. Instead we chose to cycle to the nearest town for a pizza or cook for ourselves.
For the pitch and the pool we would use it again however it is over priced and some parts out of date.
I booked this site direct through the 'Castels' website after reading their views on the site - I never visited here until we returned to the UK after our holiday and I wish had done so before I booked! We went with my brothers family and two other families.
The reviews here are pretty accurate. The site is huge - and bearing in mind we visited in August 2011 - to find it only half to two thirds full was a surprise. We were pitched with friends in the 'C' section - the furthest point from the entrance and main area but were thankful for that. The pitches were huge (by far the largest I've known in 20 years or so of camping in France) but this could not be said for the other areas of the site. Some pitches were small and tree covered and appear to attract very little sun during the times it appears.
The toilet block for our section was nothing short of disgusting! We repeatedly made the trip on bike (a must) to the newer toilet block at the swimming pool. Fortunately, with the site only half full, it meant this was not a problem. To visit the shop, reception, cafe or bar was a long journey - even the swimming pool (which is small - especially considering the size of the site) was a trek and bikes are a must!
The weather appears very changeable and although we had a pretty much dry 10 days, the week before had been awful. When it rains, it certainly rains and the pitches don't seem to clear the water. Despite 6 days of dry weather, the grass/mud was still soggy and when fellow campers leave, there is a stentch that lingers for days - my brother put it down to the rotten grass under the tents but I'd never smelt anything this strong for so long before.
We did not go there to visit places - we were after a water based holiday with inflatable kayaks. The lake at the site is fantastic although the 'rules' spoil it slightly. For example, to reach the lake, we had to carry our kayaks from our pitch - a 7 minute walk. With two young kids, this meant us adults having to carry everything ourselves which was a struggle. You can drive around the lake (or you could if you were allowed!), but we weren't allowed to drive there to drop our boats off - this even when the lake was empty. You are not allowed picnics at the lake - fair enough you might think but this lake is huge and the 'restaurant' at the lake is not to everyones taste - we were camping and camping involves picnics. Doesn't it???
Toilets at the lake are worse than the toilets near our tent which meant the kids having to trek back to the campsite to use the swimming pool toilets all too frequently. Again, high season, but there was nowhere to purchase ice creams at the lake and you had to back to the campsite restaurant if you wanted an ice cream. The pedalos were only available on our last two days at the site and if you look at the lake pictures and see jets of water being shot into the air - don't be swayed! 10 days and these did not come on once whilst we were there!
We spent two days kayaking along the river (L'Ognon). The first day we drove to Villersexel and kayaked back to the campsite in our own inflatable kayaks. A great 4-5 hour trip - consider doing this rather than hiring the kayaks as to buy your own kayak would work out almost the same price! The trip was great fun but is shallow in places so care is required. Some of the rapids are great fun, but some are unpassable on inflatable kayaks but we enjoyed the experience of getting out and carrying them passed the rapids - a true adventure for us and the kids.
The second kayak trip we took involved us parking our cars in a small village outside Rougemont and cycling back to the site (4 miles). We then kayak'd from the site to the cars which took another 3 hours or so but again great fun and because the organised kayak hire companies finish at the site - we were completely on our own the whole way which was great fun.
Back to the site - we contacted them before we went and were told the electrics were of a UK connection (no need for an adapter). When we arrived, two of the families had this, and two didn't. We were able to obtain the last two adapters the site had to convert EU to UK connection but I wonder if this would have been possible had the site been busy. There is only one place for rubbish to be deposited, and you guessed it, its near reception so miles from where we were. Why they can't have a bin near each toilet block is beyond me
The shop was well equipped at times but ran out of croissants etc very early. We cycled every morning to Rougemont to visit the bakers and have breakfast. The cycle was fine for the 4 kids (aged between 8 and 11) although does involve a hill. Whilst in Rougemont, the butchers is great and very very friendly. We stocked up on our daily food from there before cycling back and would highly recommend him.
It might sound as if we had a real downer on the holiday. One family of our 4 left early! BUT, we still had a great time. Yes, there are lots and lots of things that could and should be much much better - especially for a Castels site charging this much, but we still had a great time. Value for money - probably not but we are easy going and we went there for the water attractions and the lake is great! We would not go back there again though - the weather, distance and lack of decent facilities means there is much more that appeals elsewhere. Would I recommend it - not sure. Everyother Castels site I've been to (every year for the last 7/8 years) I would - but no, probably not this one. But I didn't visit this site before we went so expected SO much more!
We found the site to be quite isolated in that it was a good half hour drive to visit any attractions. The site is well laid out and the staff were very helpful. There was a strong Dutch presence and the Dutch animation team was very good especially as they had to had to translate everything into English and German as well as Dutch.
Our pitch was near the pool virtually opposite a new and modern shower block. The pitch was quite snug for our twin axle although there were much larger pitches elsewhere on site. Bring bicycles as there can be a fair distance from some of the pitches to the pool. The shower block near us was very modern and had five washing machines and dryers. The only downside was that the sinks used for plate washing never got hot,only lukewarm. (perhaps an anti scalding device?) The showers also required a bit of shower handle 'juggling' to keep the temperature constant(be careful with little ones).The pool was ok as a fun pool but did get crowded at times. The nearby lake is better for proper swimming with clearly defined swimming areas for novice and experienced bathers.
There is a shop on site and it is well stocked -we found the prices very reasonable with not too much of a mark up.
There is a restaurant for eating situated by the lake, we tried it and were not impressed by the food or the prices. If you want a good restaurant go to the hotel in nearby Villersexel (10 min drive) were the food was excellent and service was good. The snack bar next to reception served the usual everything with chips as well as pizzas which were very tasty. Prices were reasonable, the only downside here was that the snack bar area had more than its fair share of flies which could be quite off putting.
There is tree climbing immediately adjacent to the site which was operated by the dutch animation team. It cost 10 euros per child and for that you got two circuits of the course including river crossings -very popular with the kids. The canoe trip was also excellent and we had great fun 'shooting' the rapids -again this was also popular and early booking is essential.
For days out we went to the Peugot museum which was very interesting and had audio guides in English. The Grotto d'oselle caves were fantastic and well worth a visit. A day trip to Switzerland is possible but beware as it is very expensive!
Overall we enjoyed the site although it quite isolated (nearest big town is Vesoul -twenty minutes drive and has a big l'Eclerc hypermarket)
It was also a long drive from Calais -we broke this up by staying at Chalons en champagne overnight. Recommended.
We have just returned from a lovely two weeks at Val de Bonnal.
We had a truly enormous pitch at the far end of the site yet within a good reach of toilet block. The showers in block C however were very poor so we cycled up to the new ones in block A which were fantastic. The pitches were clean, well maintained and separated by trees and bushes. Ours was partial sun and partial shade.
I was very glad that we had bikes with us as the site is very large and we were some way from the bar/reception area. The kids had great fun playing on their bikes on some steep slopes at the back of the site.
Activities were varied and well organised and the staff friendly. The kids loved the tree climbing (like a mini go-ape) and we used the kids club on a couple of occasions.
The pool was great for the kids, but a bit small considering how large the site is. We preferred to spend time at the lake and the water was great for swimming in. The bottom is quite stony so paddling shoes would have been useful. Picnics are not allowed at the lake but it is near enough to pop back to the caravan for some lunch.
As a family we loved the canoeing trip. The site provided a bus which took us to Villersexel and then we were able to canoe the 9km back to Bonnal down the river inluding navigating 8 wiers. It took a good 4 hours so make sure you have plenty of water and suntan lotion but if you get too hot you can always just fall in - as many seemed to do intentionally. You can stop anywhere but we stopped at a campsite about half way where they sold beer and ice creams from their office at only 1 euro each! It was the cheapest price we found for either!
The wifi at the site was 10 euro's for 3 hours and you could use it by the minute. 3 hours was plenty to check my e-mails and update facebook every couple of days even though it was painfully slow.
Many of our friends took a drive into Switzerland for the day. Other excursions were cave trips, the Peugeot museum, Dinozoo - all within an hours drive. We shopped at various supermarkets but the nearest is in Rougemont - 3 km away and they had an excellent selection of things.
All in all a great holiday, we met some lovely people and the kids had plenty to do so it ticked lots of our boxes.
We visited this site on our return journey from Italy via Switzerland as a last minute 'ring and reserve.' We stayed for 2 nights and thought the site was very well kept with large pitches and a really 'country' vibe which was a nice change after the hectic beaches and lakes in Italy.
The site has a small shop and a nice bar where you can get quite reliable wifi connection for a fee.
The large new toilet block by the pool was great but the others could do with a bit of an upgrade. We were pitched right at the bottom of the site which only had a few toilets and no showers and so we had to go up a fair way to use the middle toilet block. There aren't really enough considering the size of the site.
Pool is ok with slides to keep the kids happy but a bit on the small side and quite cramped but you do have the lake with cordoned off swimming area and grassy area for sunbathing.
Lots of cycle tracks around and the site organizes a 3 hour canoe trip which you need to sign up for at Reception. A bus picks you up and you can canoe right back to the site.
There is a very popular take away service and the site holds regular mini and teenage discos.
Would definitely visit again but it is a bit on the pricey side. We paid more per night there than in Italy!
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