A SPECIAL SPANISH ESCAPE
:: Sun, sea and canvas are the ingredients for the perfect family holiday, says Caroline Davison
What do you think of when someone says “campsite”? I used to picture a walk to the loo at night, freezing in a tent with two jumpers on and a long drive across Europe to get there.
Fast-forward to lazing on a sun lounger in a warm Spanish breeze, sangria in hand, outside my air-conditioned mobile home, kitted out with all mod-cons – having got there by plane. Bliss!
We’re staying at Costa Brava’s Castell Montgri – a huge, upmarket campsite that I that I first visited aged nine with my parents.
With three pool complexes, I knew it would keep my stepson Joe, 14, busy and I suspected I’d enjoy it as an adult, too.
So, what has it got? Well, the Ombra pool complex has water slides for the young and young at heart, as well as a restaurant where we enjoy paella on the first night.
Up the hill is Panorama – with a huge pool that attracts serious swimmers who take a dip early in the morning before the kids get stuck in. It also boasts a superb view across to the Mediterranean, just a mile away.
But my favourite is La Bassa, which has waterfalls and looks like a rock pool. Hidden among pine trees high up a hillside, you’d hardly know you’re on a campsite. And the sun loungers are a stone’s throw from a bar serving drinks and snacks.
Another bonus is Eurocamp’s Base activity club for teenagers. Joe enjoys meeting new mates after plucking up the courage to sign up – and he attends lunchtime and evening sessions most days from then on.
Once fully settled in, we check out the nearby town of L’Estartit. It has the usual shops, restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours, but the posh marina means it’s a cut above the typical Spanish seaside resort you may think of when you hear the word ‘Costa’. The main attraction is the vast sandy beach.
Having a hire car gave us the freedom to explore more towns further south.
If you fancy some history, visit Pals. It’s a hilltop rabbit warren of medieval streets with an ancient church, castle, and stunning views.
Also highly recommended are Llafranc and Calella. Tucked away in a rugged section of coastline, the two towns are linked by a lovely seaside walk.
We stumble upon an ancient Iberian settlement of Sant Sebastia de la Guarda in the hills above the two bays, with magnificent panoramic views. The site dates from the sixth century and has been recently excavated to show how villagers once lived.
On our last full day, my partner Dave, and Joe, get up early to climb to the hilltop Montgri Castle, built around 1300, which towers above the campsite and L’Estartit.
If you’re interested, it’s 45 minutes of hard slog. I wasn’t, and made full use of the mobile home’s sun lounger and a cool drink from the fridge. OK, I admit it, I could get used to campsites…
:: Caroline Davison was a guest of Eurocamp (www.eurocamp.com; 0844 406 0552) who offers seven nights in July at Castell Montgri parc, staying in a three bedroom, one bathroom Classic Plus mobile home with decking, from £802 per party, accommodation only. Fly-drive and ferry packages can be arranged through Eurocamp at a supplement.