Thinking of choosing a Huttopia campsite for a holiday? Find out what we thought of our first time in Huttopia Noirmoutier, in France.
Where is Noirmoutier?
That’s what we asked when a friend told us they’d just got back from there! Noirmoutier is an island off the Atlantic Coast of France, in the Vendee region. It used to be cut off from the mainland by the tides a couple of times a day, but is now accessible at all times thanks to a bridge that takes you directly onto the island. It has a micro climate all of it’s own, leading to mild temperatures all year round.
This summer we had no idea what we were doing. Mr STAS was in the process of leaving his job, and we were facing into quite a bit of uncertainty financially. However, we knew our beloved caravan Swifty was sitting there waiting for an adventure, so we kept talking about the possibilities.
Then, when a friend popped round and told us they’d just got back from a week staying at the Huttopia campsite, in Noirmoutier, France, we looked it up. And planned immediately to try to get there.
A few days later, we found out that our trip away was a possibility, but by this point we had just 24 hours to plan, pack and set off if we were to have any chance of making one of the few ferries that still had tickets left. So, that’s exactly what we did!
One drive down to Portsmouth, one ferry trip, and several stopovers and miles later, we arrived at Huttopia Noirmoutier.
Huttopia Noirmoutier is a BIG site. We have camped in tents, a motorhome and the caravan and we’ve never seen a site quite like this before. I think both me and MR STAS were overwhelmed, while the kids were just excited to spot a playpark with swings.
Check in was really straightforward. The check in staff were super friendly, and explained everything to me in perfect English, despite my attempts to communicate in my very basic school level French. They explained that the site is 2km long, and on looking at our caravan they immediately switched our pitch for one that was more suitable for our size of vehicle. We also hired a barbecue from them as our last minute getaway meant that we hadn’t had chance to buy one.
Then to find the pitch. This is always my least favourite part of every stay on a campsite, no matter what I’m staying in, but a caravan adds a new dimension of trickiness to proceedings. I found our pitch easily; all the pitches are clearly labelled with discrete signage to help you know exactly where your boundaries are. With a little bit of help from a friendly pitch neighbour we were in!
Astonishingly, given that we were so last minute with our organisation and planning, we managed to bag ourselves a beachfront pitch. And I can honestly say I have never, ever camped anywhere quite like it. We looked out from our caravan straight onto the beach, with the sound of the sea in our ears. Our pitch was separated from the beach by a wooden fence and some greenery, and it was set above the beach slightly so it didn’t feel any less private than other campsites.
We did feel fairly close to the pitches on either side of us, but despite this there was still clear space and bushes between us and our neighbours, which is way more space than other European campsites we’ve stayed in previously. Also, because of the beach on one side we in no way felt hemmed in in any way.
This was our first time staying on a Huttopia campsite and we loved, loved, loved the rustic feel and general vibe of the place. It was a huge site, with a lot going on but it still had a relaxed feel. I think some of this was down to the mix of accommodation – there was everything from tents, campers, caravans, motorhomes and Huttopia’s own canvas tents. This is VERY different from some of the ‘white box’ caravan sites we’ve stayed on in the UK.
There is a lot going on all the time on the campsite. We watched a kids petanque tournament (my dream is now to have a French house and play petanque on a Sunday afternoon) and saw a kids nature group going on. Our children didn’t want to take part which was fine by us, but it was nice to see some low key kids activities going on.
Elsewhere on the campsite you can hire bikes and paddle boards, book pony trekking, or watch one of the daily shows that take place everyday in July and August. Again, on other campsites this could be really intrusive and loud, but somehow this campsite manages to maintain a relaxed vibe, even with all the activities going on.
Food and drink is served from retro caravans and trailers on a decked area, and at night time this acts as a bar area with live music, complete with fairy lights everywhere. We mostly self catered but we did eat here on our first night and we found the food delicious, and would highly recommend! We would also head here for a cafe au lait while the kids had a play on the playpark next to it.
Huttopia Noirmoutier lies alongside the beautiful golden Sableaux beach. The tide comes right up the beach, meaning the water is shallow a long way out. This makes it ideal for being on or in the water with children, and we found it perfect for swimming and paddle boarding. We also loved playing boules on the beach once the sun had gone down in the evening.
In the mornings, when the tide is right out, you can see people shellfish gathering as far as the eye can see, then taking the fruits of their labour home for a fresh meal. We didn’t try this ourselves but if (when!) we go back I am determined to give it a try. All the equipment was available to borrow from Reception on the campsite, or we saw it for sale at the local Decathlon.
Huttopia Noirmoutier is located on the east side of the island, on the outskirts of Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile which is the historical capital and the main town. The town itself is fairly small, and you can walk or cycle most places. We found that for our family, walking was easier as our youngest two aren’t very confident on their bikes, and you do have to negotiate quite a bit of car traffic when getting around. Once out of the town, we saw lots of designated cycle paths so reaching other parts of the island by bike looked fairly straightforward.
About one third of the island is covered in salt marshes, which were established by monks in the 5th Century. These were impossible to miss; we saw them dotted around everywhere as we drove onto the island and as we walked around. Tours of the salt marshes are available to book through Huttopia – but as we were so last minute with our travel plans these were all booked up! However we did try some samples and stocked up on enough of the lovely sel marin to last us until our next visit! It’s sold in lots of the local shops and is easy to find.
Our first experience of a Huttopia campsite did not disappoint. We loved the relaxed feel of the place despite it’s size, and found the facilities, food and drink and activities on offer all fantastic. The location helped enormously; it was SUCH a treat to be that close to the beach and I feel like we might have spoiled ourselves for all future campsites now! We are already planning a return visit, which I think says all you need to know about how much we loved our time at Huttopia Noirmoutier. We’ll be back!