Whether discovering exciting new tastes or simply enjoying a family meal al fresco, campsite life has always been the perfect partner when it comes to indulging in a little gastronomy. A touch of gentle activity to sharpen the appetite, a dash of warm, sunny weather to encourage outdoor dining and a soupçon of local produce fresh from the market… Simple ingredients that add a wonderful zest to your holiday.
As customers’ interests in food and wine become more adventurous, and more enquiring, campsite owners are realising the potential on their own doorstep. Of course the gastronomic staples of a camping holiday are still prevalent: the burgers, the roast chicken, the pizzas and the chips. But you’ll also find campsites offering regional specialities with real quality and pride.
A popular campsite restaurant is always a good sign – especially when frequented by locals. And they are generally every bit as good as the local establishments, but without the need to drive back at the end of the evening. Even better, there is the option for restless youngsters to run off and play at the end of the meal while adults can linger with a digestif.
French campsites of course often excel with gastronomic choice. This is a delightful château site in the Périgord Vert region of the Dordogne, renowned for its superb cuisine. Genuinely one of France’s finest campsite restaurants, it offers a fine balance of high quality cuisine and a fair price, with a wonderful setting in the heart of the château to boot. The well chosen menu plays to culinary strengths and highlights the best of local produce.
This Austrian gem has its own lakeside restaurant, complete with private pavilions on decking over the water, and offers fine dining, as well as home made afternoon cakes and a comprehensive breakfast buffet too.
Take it away folks!
Most campsites provide a handy takeaway service, ranging from family favourites to more tempting dishes and specials. It is not uncommon to find delicious dishes like confit de canard or fresh moules on good French campsites. British and Irish parks often seek out local suppliers – the notion of reducing ‘food miles’ and promoting ‘slow food’ has become very topical and it’s a great way to find a unique feature on any campsite.
And of course basics like paella in Spain or pizza in Italy generally surpass any equivalent we Brits might expect at home. The home made pizzas at Camping Weekend are truly memorable and authentic – grab a table on the terrace overlooking Lake Garda for an unforgettable evening.
There are over 350 grape varieties approved for winemaking in Italy
Comté is the highest produced cheese in France, with 40,000 tonnes produced annually
In Sweden, it’s common to find people enjoying a kräftskiva or crayfish party in August. Crayfish are eaten cold and served with bread, cheese and schnapps
Germany has over 1,250 breweries producing around 5,000 different brands of beer
The Galway Oyster Festival in Ireland is the setting for the World Oyster Opening Championship (known as ‘shucking’). Tickets to this prestigious event are €70
The British picnic dates back to the 14th century when medieval feasts were held outside before hunting. Traditional picnic fare includes hams, baked meats and pastries
Off-site foodie treats
There’s something about being on holiday that brings out the foodie in you. Maybe it’s the relaxed pace of campsite cooking that gives you the chance to stop and nose around that tempting looking market. Maybe you develop an urge to ‘go native’ and pick up a bag of oysters or a fine chorizo to enjoy back on site.
Just setting foot inside a good German bakery is enough to drive you crazy with desire for delicious pastries. And we all know the fragrant powers that emanate from a really good fish and chip shop on the harbourside in many a British port.
The fact is, you’re on holiday and life is good, so you adapt your gastronomic rituals. You may not have a Devon cream tea during the rest of the year, but as you’re in the West Country, it seems the obvious thing to do.
Many campsites are well located to discover local culinary specialities and artisan producers. And some site owners organise trips to get up close and personal to these hidden gems. On the banks of the Seine, just 50 km from Paris, Camping la Belle Etoile (FR77070) is but a few kilometres from Mélun, the city famous for Brie. Luc and Yvonne, the site owners, offer a chance to sample this cheese, accompanied by a Gaillac red wine, cider, apple or pear juice or a local beer.
Further south in the Lot, Le Moulin de Périé (FR47010) has a fine restaurant showcasing local cuisine: anyone for chèvre chaud aux fruits de saison or magret de canard au miel et aux pruneaux? Henri goes one further by taking customers to visit his suppliers and taste their produce.
Jacky and Thérèse Avril, owners of the campsite L’Arada Parc (FR37060) near Tours, arrange free trips to producers of local goats’ cheese and AOC St Maure de Touraine. They also offer tastings of local wines and apple juices accompanied by goats’ cheese, rillettes and snail dishes.
And of course, often it’s a question of location, location, location. Padstow Touring Park (UK0430) is on the bus route just a mile from the charming fishing port of Padstow, home to Rick Stein’s foodie empire. Quality, authenticity and local provenance do not come any more convenient.