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Loire Valley

Chateaux of the Loire, one of the sites to be seen while camping

Camping holidays now cover a range of possibilities.

It no longer necessarily means wrestling with pitching a cramped tent, hoping it is rain proof and communing with nature in the raw.

In an attempt to put the glamour into camping, the latest buzzword is glamping.

Not since my long past Boy Scout days have I felt the urge to spend one night under canvas.

A well-equipped mobile home in the bucolic Loire Valley, however, is a different proposition altogether.

Siblu is one of the leading French specialists in the field and has 14 holiday villages in France. Comfort combines with endless countryside for a fantastic family holiday at a cost that won't give your bank manager palpitations.

We travelled to Domaine de Dugny between Blois and Tours and discovered a site offering a good variety of activities to keep both parents and children happy.

If mum and dad want a bit of "me" time while the kids are at Club Bubbles, Pirates or Barracudas, there is always the attraction of wandering around the many and varied chateux de la Loire or hitting the wine trail.

Our destination was more than 300 miles and a good five hours away. We arrived in sizzling sunshine but a spectacular thunderstorm loomed.

A Siblu mobile home in the Loire valley.Once settled into our mobile home with a balcony and a barbie at the ready we were taken on a tour by our enthusiastic French host Corentin Dallay.

Facilities include swimming, cycling, crazy golf, tennis, pedaloes, riding, archery, petanque, trampoline, fishing, pedal gocarts and a cyber cafe to name a few.

In the evenings the French and English-speaking staff put on a show in true holiday camp style.

The mobile homes come in three grades. We were billeted in a two-bedroom Esprit that can sleep six. The Elegance sleeps up to eight and there is an even larger option with the Excellence.

We soon settled into village life, collecting our pre-ordered croissants in the mornings and sampling wines on the terrace from vineyards we visited such as Vouvray.

Our nearest and favourite chateau was Chaumont-sur-Loire, with extensive ornamental grounds, which dates back to the year 1,000AD.

We also explored the Chateau Royal in Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci joined the court and was interred after his death in 1519, the jewel of the French Renaissance Chambord, and we were inflamed by the son et lumiere at the Chateau Royal in Blois.

It may not be camping as we know it but we handled it with great sangfroid!

Our holiday started in style aboard P&O's latest addition on the Dover-Calais run, the giant 2,000 passenger capacity Spirit of Britain.

We went club class and took advantage of priority boarding and a welcoming glass of bubbly.

The sailing, taking just 90 minutes, passed almost too quickly and we had barely finished browsing the designer shop before the French coastline appeared.

The ship sails for Calais five times every 24 hours. Current standard return ticket prices start from £30 each way for a car and up to nine passengers.

Motorists access the ship via their own private car deck which has special lanes for those selecting priority loading.

For those wanting a bit more luxury and style, the ship's exclusive Club Lounge comes complete with its own private sheltered outside deck equipped with cruise-style teak furniture.

To book call 08716 64 64 64 or visit our website at www.poferries.com



A seven-night holiday at Domaine de Dugny for a family staying in an Esprit mobile home with terrace, departing June 10 2012 is currently available from only £251 with an early-booking saving of £51 on the brochure price. To book go to www.siblu.com or call 0871 911 7777.


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