Unusual lodgings

Domaine des Ormesl © Peter Allen/Kura Agency
In the trees, in a lighthouse, in a yurt or a tepee,…. For a few years there’ve been more and more alternatives to the traditional nights in hotels, campgrounds or bed and breakfast. Giving new sensations or the feeling to be in another continent, these new kinds of lodging delight old and young alike.

[ Practical ]

Tree houses
- Ardennes, Le Chêne Perché
0324533562, www.lecheneperche.com
- Ille-et-Vilaine, Domaine des Ormes
0299735300, www.lesormes.com
- Creuse, Lou Fagotin
0555636218, www.loufagotin.com
- Pas de Calais, Cour de Rémi
0321033333, www.lacourderemi.com
- All around France
Cabanes de France
La Cabane en l’Air
Yurts and tepees
- Near Paris
0143547704, www.nomade-lodge.com
- All around France
0143547704, www.yourte.com
- Sarthe, Bonheur de Vivre
0243955754, www.lebonheurdevivre.net
Horse drawn caravans
- Jura, Auberge Le Sillet
0384511616, www.auberge-sillet.fr
- Tarn, Ferme d’En Goût
- Ille-et-Vilaine, Les Bigoudenes
0299488105, www.bigoudenes-roulottes.com
- Roulottes de campagne
Campement africain
- Ardèche, Campement Tamana
0475972040, www.point-afrique.com
Quilles en l’air
- Finistère
Maison d’hôtes Kastell Dinn, Crozon
- Pas de Calais
Camping Municipal La Falaise, Equihen
0321312261, www.ville-equihen-plage.fr
It’s not always easy to find vacations that please the kids. But, offer them to sleep or to stay in unusual lodgings and they will be right away ready to follow you. Nowadays, everywhere in France there is a wide choice of such places offering from basic to luxury accommodations in mostly very peaceful settings.

Lou Fagotin © CDT Creuse
 In the trees
In one’s youth everyone had at least once the desire to live or to sleep in the trees. A dream that is now easy to fulfil. Everywhere in France, a large number of forest adventure parks, hotel estates and private owners indeed offer rooms or apartments perched in trees between 2 and 15 m off the ground. These lodgings are either accessible by a spiralling staircase, a rope ladder or an aerial runway and they can accommodate from 2 to 6 persons. They are sometimes dotted with a terrace from where one can enjoy panoramic views while listening to the birds chirping. The most rustic of these tree houses don’t have running water, are lighted by candles and are equipped with dry toilets. The most comfortable have running water, electricity, heating, TV and charming furniture. Others are very original like the ones at Lou Fagotin in the Creuse department where one sleeps in a kind of cocoon hanging from the branches. For the most adventurous the members of the Accrobranche network gives you the possibility to sleep perched on a hammock suspended at all four corners but don’t be afraid you’re tied in by a rope and a harness.

Porel lighthouse © DR
Wake up with the sea at your feet, stand in front of raging streams. To experience these feelings there is nothing better than to spend your vacation in a lighthouse or in the attached house where the keepers lived. In France, this possibility is unfortunately reserved to the civil servants of the Ministry of Equipment. However in Croatia a dozen of those buildings can be rent for a night, a weekend, a week or even more. They stand either on the coastline or on islands located up to 100 km offshore in the middle of the Adriatic sea. If you don’t fear loneliness then you will get a beach or even an island on your own. That’s the guarantee not to be disturbed and to be able to recharge one’s batteries far away from any noise except the sound of the waves. Besides, the agency renting the lighthouses can take care of the food supply as well as of your transfer if you don’t have a boat.

Yurt © T.Joly
 Yurts and tepees
Do you want to have a glimpse of what life looked like at the time of Gengis Khan ?... Spend a night in a yurt. All around France and in Spain, sixty-five “yurt and breakfast” offer you to sleep in this vast tents so high you can easily stand up inside. Made up of felt, they are decorated with traditional Mongolian furniture while the toilets and the bathroom are located in an annex building. Only 45 minutes away from Paris, between Fontainebleau and Provins, the Nomade Lodge boasts a camp of yurts of different sizes. The largest ones can accommodate up to 12 persons.
More cramped and also less common, tepees plunge you into the Indian universe. In the Sarthe department, the “Bonheur de Vivre” village consists of 18 tepees where to spend a night or a weekend. Visitors are initiated to the Sioux way of life through different activities such as steam bath, archery, tomahawk throw, canoe ride and traditional dances.

© T.Joly
 Horse drawn caravans
Travelling in horse drawn caravans is for many people synonym of freedom. It’s also an ecological and pastoral way to ramble and to discover a region without having to worry about finding an accommodation or a restaurant at the end of the day. Horse drawn caravans are indeed equipped with a small kitchen and beds to accommodate up to four persons. But you can also choose to stay in a farm or in a bed and breakfast along the way. Very popular in Ireland for years, this kind of vacation does also exist in France, for example in Franche-Comté or in the Tarn where it is possible to do two to seven days trips. A short initiation session lasting less than an hour is enough to learn how to drive, to harness, to take care and to feed the horse. A task the kids enjoy. If you don’t want to take care of that, some suppliers offer you as an option to do it for you. For the ones who prefer more sedentary holidays, “Roulottes de France” has more than 200 static horse drawn caravans scattered on about fifty places around France. Having all comfort, running water and electricity, they are located in the middle of the nature, in garrigue scrubland, in orchards, by rivers or within the enclosure of holiday villages or hotels offering swimming pools and animations for kids.

© Point Afrique Voyages
 African Camp
No need to cross the Mediterranean Sea to find traditional African lodging. During the whole summer the travel company Point Afrique set up in Ardèche a camp bringing together several kinds of African lodging that you can rent for a night, a weekend or a week : Songhoy cabins from Mali, Haoussas thatched huts from Niger and tents used by nomads in Mauritania… Each housing is dotted with a terrace and nicely decorated with traditional objects and furniture while dry toilets and solar showers are located outside. The breakfast is made up of exotic products such as mango jam, bissap juice or ginger syrup and a diner of African specialities is served on request every Saturday night.
Various activities are available all day long including guided walks in the gorges of the Ardèche river, cooking lessons, building a Dogon granary or manufacturing craft objects. Lastly, musicians and storytellers entertain the guests on the evenings.

© Mairie d'Equihen
 Under a boat hull
In the past, the poorest fishermen of Northern and Western France lived in very simple and small houses which had the peculiarity of having a roof and the upper part of the wall made up of a turned over boat hull. Called “Quilles en l’air” (Upside down keels), they almost all disappeared after the Second World War and most of the people have forgotten about the existence of those strange buildings. However a few enthusiasts work to save the surviving ones they consider to be part of the French architectural heritage. In Equihen, in the Pas-de-Calais department, where there were so many of them than they formed like a small settlement by the beach, the city council decided to turn them into kinds of mobile homes with all comfort. Located in the municipal campground, they offer panoramic views over the sea. In other regions, individuals turn them into guesthouses.

June 12, 2016
Pascal Lefeuvre