Family friendly fun when camping in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines

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Nothing beats camping for a fun-filled family holiday, especially when you pitch your tent somewhere like Saint-Clément-des-Baleines.

Everyone’s favourite childhood memories involve a family camping trip, right? To make your family’s holiday memories extra special, pick a campsite surrounded by natural beauty in a picturesque location such as Saint-Clément-des-Baleines on the Île de Ré in France.

Saint-Clément-des-Baleines

Where in France: Île de Ré, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Drive from Calais: 736km / 7h 10m

The commune of Saint-Clément-des-Baleines is made up of five little villages: Le Chabot, Le Gillieux, Le Godinand, Le Griveau, and La Tricherie. It is one of 10 small communes on the Île de Ré, which means ‘isle of ferns’ because of the marshy fenlands that divide the island just off the coast of La Rochelle on the mainland.

The lovely little village of Saint-Clément-des-Baleines
The lovely little village of Saint-Clément-des-Baleines.

Saint-Clément-des-Baleines in particular gets its name, rather tragically, because of the whales that used to get stranded en masse on the beaches of this part of the Île de Ré during their seasonal migrations. The word ‘baleines’ is French for ‘whales’. Thankfully, this no longer happens, but the place name has stuck, as have the names of several local businesses and attractions named in honour of the whales.

Saint-Clément-des-Baleines is the perfect basecamp for a family holiday on the Île de Ré, with plenty of lovely campsite options to choose from.

Campsites around Saint-Clément-des-Baleines

There are four main campsites local to Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, including La Plage, La Côte Sauvage, Les Pérouses, and of course Les Baleines. Each campsite has its own unique charms and benefits, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your next family holiday.

Camping La Plage

La Plage has been rated four-stars, and has 138 pitches surrounded by shrubbery for privacy and partial shade. Its location is hard to beat, with the sea just 100m away from the campsite and a nature park just a little further. There’s an outdoor pool, surrounded by sun loungers if you fancy a day away from the beach, and there are plenty of sports and activities available to keep everyone busy, from pétanque, basketball and table tennis, to horse riding and even a sailing school nearby.

Campsite La Côte Sauvage

Two-star campsite La Côte Sauvage has been recognised as ‘eco-friendly’ since 2009, and offers a large choice of 351 pitches. The campsite doesn’t have its own pool, but it couldn’t be closer to the beach if you fancy a dip in the sea. There are a number of other activities available on-site, though, such as volleyball, boules, a games room, and arts and crafts centre. There are also plenty of cycling trails just waiting to lead you off on an adventure.

The stunning sands of the Plage de la Conche des Baleines
The stunning sands of the Plage de la Conche des Baleines.

Les Pérouses du Pare

The smaller Les Pérouses offers just 52 sites at its four-star campsite, making it feel much cosier than some other options, with a combination of mobile homes, chalets and tent pitches. Les Pérouses also doesn’t have a swimming pool, but the sea is only about 400m away. On-site, you can enjoy a traditional game of pétanque, or challenge your family to a table tennis tournament.

Les Baleines

The three-star campsite of Les Baleines is mid-range in size with 185 plots, 24 of which are mobile-home accommodation and the rest are available for your tent or motorhome. You’ll find mini-golf and table tennis available on site, as well as loads of fun activities nearby including scuba diving and horse riding excursions.

See the sights of Île de Ré

From your campsite in Saint-Clément-des-Baleines, you’ll find yourself in the perfect spot for visiting the attractions of the whole of the Île de Ré. And because of its small size, you can even explore the island on your bikes, if you fancy a break from driving – and don’t worry if you didn’t bring your own, there are plenty of places you can hire bicycles from.

Pretty much on your doorstep, and certainly the most prominent feature on the horizon, is the lovely Phare des Baleines lighthouse. Alongside the lighthouse itself, there is also a museum and the old tower that you can visit. There is a small fee to enter the attractions, but the surrounding park is free to visit if you just fancy admiring the structures from the ground with an ice cream in hand. The view from the top of the 60m lighthouse is definitely worth the climb, though!

The striking black and white bell tower in the heart of Ars-en-Ré
The striking black and white bell tower in the heart of Ars-en-Ré.

While you’re up there, you’ll have a great view of the nearby commune Ars-en-Ré. The most famous landmark here is the black and white 15th century bell tower, which is part of the 12th century Church of Saint-Étienne. Aside from it simply being aesthetically striking, the reason that the bell tower is painted this way is that it was used as a marker for sailors, helping them to navigate around the treacherous coastline.

You may not be able to see it from atop the lighthouse, put further along the island towards the mainland bridge is the fascinating Fort La Prée. Built in 1626, it’s the oldest fort on the Île de Ré and served as its primary defence before the construction of the citadel of Saint-Martin-de-Ré later in the century, but remained a tactical stronghold afterwards as well. There is a small fee to enter, and for a little extra you can join one of the guided tours.

A classic house on the Île de Ré
A classic house on the Île de Ré.

And whilst you’re on the island, you simply have to spend a day in the aforementioned town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. Surrounded by 17th century fortifications, almost every house in Saint-Martin-de-Ré has shutters painted one of 16 shades of officially approved blues and greens. It may seem a little limiting, but the overall effect is very beautiful, particularly when these shutters are contrasted against the vibrant hues of the hollyhocks that grow rampantly all over the town. To make the most of it, you don’t have to go with a specific activity in mind. Simply stroll around aimlessly, and enjoy your surrounds at your leisure.

If you’re feeling inspired to eschew the mainland in favour of a more laidback island pace, the Île de Ré is the perfect place to do just that. Remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best fares available.