TRAVEL | The Perfect Family Holiday at Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière Campsite in the South of France

When we were invited to stay at Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière Campsite in the South of France we jumped at the chance. The South of France holds a special place in my heart, as for more than a decade, we used to spend our family holidays there so I had very fond memories of the region and couldn’t wait to return to see some of the areas I last visited as a child.

Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière Campsite
Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière Campsite

The Journey

With our week in the sunshine confirmed, we set about booking flights and making travel arrangements. To save on airport parking, we jumped on the train to get to Manchester Airport, where we flew with Ryanair to Beziers airport, just 5 minutes away from the campsite we were staying at.

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We decided to treat ourselves and get the holiday off to the best possible start by booking one of the premium lounges at Manchester airport, which meant our wait for our flight was extremely relaxed.

The flight itself took just over 2 hours – quite different to the 24 hours it used to take us to get down there by car as a child! Beziers is perhaps the cutest little airport I’ve ever been to, absolutely tiny, but the service there was great and we didn’t have to wait long for our luggage before we could leave the arrivals terminal and were greeted by a driver who took us straight to the campsite.

For those flying, the campsite literally couldn’t be closer. It takes less than 5 minutes by car to get from the airport – a real plus when you want to maximise time spent enjoying your holiday rather than travelling!

Check in at Sunelia
The reception

The Campsite

Check-in was efficient and friendly and we were given maps, keys and then taken to our accommodation on a little golf buggy, which gave us the chance to have our first proper look around the site.

Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière Campsite

The beautiful landscaping of the site was immediately apparent and the campsite itself was far bigger than those I’ve stayed at in the South of France before, which meant there was plenty of space and heaps of facilities.

We found hiring bikes really worthwhile!
We found hiring bikes really worthwhile!

Walking from one end of the site to the other takes a good 10 minutes, but we hired bikes for the week which made getting around much faster.

Bahia Luxe Mobile Home at Sunelia
Our Bahia Luxe mobile home at Sunelia

On-site there are 4 swimming pools to choose from. I loved getting in some serious lengths at the Olympic pool, and we had a blast at the family pool thanks to the water slides, which we absolutely loved.

The Olympic pool
The Olympic pool is ideal for getting some serious lengths in

Our favourite pool however was the stunning lagoon pool. The design is so clever and with a real sand beach, it felt more like being in the Maldives than on a campsite in the South of France!

Lagoon pool at the campsite
The Lagoon pool which was our favourite

Our Accommodation

As a child we used to stay in a mobile home, and whilst the accommodation we stayed in had some similarities, it was definitely far more luxurious and had a contemporary interior that we loved.

We stayed in Mobil home Sunêlia Luxe Bahia Clim which sleeps up to 5 people and on arrival, we found a welcome pack on the table which included some self-catering essentials along with a bag that was ideal for our supermarket and pool visits.

The Luxe Bahia accommodation has two separate bedrooms, both en suite. The master bedroom contained a big comfortable double bed and had doors leading straight out to the patio.

We did find that storage was a bit limited inside and were glad it was just the two of us however as we used the second bedroom to store our luggage in.

The kitchen was extremely well equipped allowing us to cook tasty meals with ease and we really appreciated the dishwasher too!

Outside we had a spacious patio with table and seating, 2 loungers and a hammock. The hammock was ideal for lounging in with a good book and we loved all the plants and trees which provided a good sense of privacy.

Bahia Luxe Mobile Home exterior
Bahia Luxe Mobile Home exterior

Site Facilities

For families, we felt the site facilities were excellent, including kids play areas, a large communal barbecue area, a bug hotel, cycling trails, outdoor gym and even an outdoor Parkour course which was heaps of fun. Dangling from the monkey bars we felt a sense of playful freedom and we used the outdoor gym most days.

The family pool with water slides
The family pool with water slides

As well as restaurants, there are also a couple of lovely pool-side bars and perhaps our favourite was the slushy kiosk and right next to it, a kiosk selling churros, which were delicious and highly recommended – it’s a good job we made such frequent use of the gym and pools! Check out the fact box at the end of this feature for a full list of everything on-site.

Our only small regret was not having a car. As Beziers airport is so close to the campsite and I’m nervous when driving on the other side of the road, we opted to go carless relying instead on the included airport transfer, beach shuttle bus and bike hire.

Lack of a car meant that we couldn’t get to a local hypermarket to stock up for our week-long self-catering holiday so we were limited to what was available in the small on-site shop.

We did manage to buy fresh chicken most days, and there was a small range of vegetables and salad too which meant we were able to cook from scratch every day.

Collecting fresh bread from the on-site boulangerie
Collecting fresh bread from the on-site boulangerie

As you’d expect from a campsite shop, some of the prices were a little steep (particularly for soft drinks), so we’d recommend ensuring you can get off-site to do at least one big shop to see you through your time there – this is what we’re planning on doing next time as we’ve decided to return to the same campsite next year with the whole extended family.

Churros and slushies - as popular with us as they were with the kids!
Churros and slushies – as popular with us as they were with the kids!

Food & Drink

Although we had a package that included breakfast and one evening meal, again, we’d probably recommend choosing to self-cater and opting for bar snacks during the day if you don’t fancy cooking.

The food at the bar overlooking the kid’s pool was great, and we also made a point of trying a few of their lovely cocktails of the day too – all in the name of research of course!

Cocktails at our favourite pool bar on-site
Cocktails at our favourite pool bar on-site

The options available at breakfast were a little limited (cheese, meat, croissants, toast, cereal and fruit) but it was all decent quality. With a fabulous boulangerie on site though, buying your own croissants and bread each morning and doing your own thing provides more flexibility – we did however like that the site provides the option to have breakfast included and I think if perhaps you have children with you, it could make life that bit easier with one less meal to have to think about.

Enjoying more cocktails at Le Havana Bar
Enjoying more cocktails at Le Havana Bar

We’d love to say our evening meal was delicious, but this was the only disappointment of our entire holiday. Whilst the starter was nice (shown below right), we both opted for king prawn risotto – suffice to say neither of us ate it and we left hungry.

The prices we thought were quite high given the quality of the main course, though this may in part be down to the pound having next to no real value against the Euro and so we opted to self-cater for the rest of our evening meals.

 full-size fridge
Everything in The full-size fridge was purchased on-site

Out and about

During our stay we went on a couple of trips from the campsite. Again, if we’d had a car, we’d have probably spent more time exploring the local area, but a car really isn’t essential and that’s one of the things that’s so unusual and that we really liked about the campsite.

The local beach we visited
The local beach we visited

There’s a beach shuttle bus that’s free and leaves from close to the reception area. It took about 20 minutes to get there and we had a blast swimming in the sea and chilling in sunshine before we sampled food and drink at some of the local bars, and then stocked up on a few more supplies before returning home.

Béziers & Protéger le Canal du Midi

Perhaps the best day out we had though, was the day we spent in Béziers. Having driven through it as a child many times, it was lovely to finally get the chance to see the city and we spent half a day exploring on foot.

Beziers in the South of France

We started our day out at Canal du Midi Béziers which we thoroughly recommend. We were lucky enough to be escorted by the lovely Monique from the Béziers Méditerranée Tourist Office.

Her immense knowledge and clear love for the region meant we received a wealth of information about the Canal du Midi which gave us a real insight into what makes it so special.

Béziers

Built between 1667 and 1694 the canal was instrumental in shaping the Industrial Revolution. Consisting of 328 locks, aqueducts, bridges and tunnels the canal covers 360Km of navigable waterways that link the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Protéger le Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi

We’d definitely recommend a canal-side walk in the sunshine for a super chilled day out, and the immersive cinema too was fascinating and gave us more information on both the canal and the local area. There’s a gorgeous cafe there too, so if you want a lovely day out, we can’t recommend it enough!

 Béziers cathedral
Béziers cathedral

After spending the morning at Canal du Midi, we then went into Béziers and spent a few hours exploring on foot. With no real plan, we just followed our noses and ended up at Béziers Cathedral which was stunning and just behind it there are beautiful sweeping views out over the countryside.

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We found a lovely little restaurant called Brasserie du Palais in the nearby square, Place de la Révolution where we had delicious Crêpes and a beer before walking through the streets of Béziers and having lunch where I ate one of the best Croque monsieurs I’ve ever had!

The things we loved most

We loved the accommodation we were in. Several steps up from the mobile homes I holidayed in as a child with a cool and contemporary interior and everything we could possibly need for a comfortable stay. The range of accommodation on site too is superb meaning there are options for every budget or group requirement.

Some of the other accommodation options available on site

The choice of swimming pools was superb – 4 in total including an indoor pool. Our favourite was the big, deep Olympic pool, which as an avid swimmer I loved. Sadly as we visited at the end of the season the pool closed early in our stay, but the kid’s pool with water slides (a huge amount of fun, we visited several times!) and the stunning lagoon remained open, so this was no real hardship!

The Lagoon pool
The Lagoon pool

We loved the onsite boulangerie which meant we could get fresh croissants and baguettes every morning – a task that really took me back to my childhood!

We also really loved the friendly atmosphere on the site and the fact that it felt – and this might sound odd – very French. By that I mean it wasn’t full of Brits, in fact, we only came across a couple of other British families during our week there.

Insider Tips

If you want to explore the area and are planning self-catering for a family, then make sure you hire a car, even just for a couple of days as there isn’t really anything within walking distance of the campsite.

There are a range of beaches nearby within a drive of about 20 minutes or so, but there is also a free beach shuttle bus which we took advantage of to get us to the nearest local beach. If you have a car, I can recommend a visit to Marseillan Plage, an enormous 6km stretch of beach I have fond memories of visiting as a child.

There are some seemingly odd rules in place for the swimming pools – primarily, no long sleeves for women (which makes rash vests out, a shame as I get very dark in the sun and much prefer to wear a light long-sleeved rash vest when overseas), and for guys, there is a strict no swim shorts rule which means tight trunks or speedos only.

The on-site spa made for a truly relaxing couple of hours, and is not something I’ve come across on campsites in the South of France before. I had a lovely massage and would thoroughly recommend it!

Do make sure you spend a day in Béziers. We found our day spent there a great contrast to lounging by the pool or at the beach. The town of Béziers is lovely and the stunning cathedral is a must-visit. A walk or boat trip along the impressive Beziers Canal Du Midi also makes for a fabulous few hours.

Our stroll beside the canal accompanied by the amazingly knowledgable and friendly Monique from Béziers Méditerranée Tourist Office was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Me relaxing in the sunshine on our patio

About Our Stay

We stayed at Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière, Vias-sur-mer on the Mediterranean South coast of France.

Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière is open from 3rd April 3 to 1st November 2020.  It is located between the sandy beaches of Languedoc and the Canal du Midi. A week’s holiday for 4 sharing is priced from €392 for a 2-bedroom/one bathroom Prestige Cottage (includes a covered private terrace) in low season (April, May, October) rising to €1309 in high season (August).

Prices start from €259 rising to €889 on the same basis staying in a one-bedroom/one-bathroom bedroom that sleeps 2 or 3 people and also includes a covered terrace. Tent pitches inclusive of electricity, water and facilities start from €224 per week rising to €623 in high season. Supplements, terms and conditions apply

Final Say

Our Rating

Accommodation 5/5

Campsite Facilities4.5/5

Location 3.5/5

Value 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Facilities on-site

The natural lagoon (launched 2017) a 10 000 m² space with palm trees and beach.  Regular and free shuttle to 7km of sandy beaches at Vias.

In/outdoor heated pools, water park (3 different areas), cycle hire and throughout the park there are closed cycle paths, table tennis, multi-sports ground, archery, luxury SPA, varied dining options (bar, 4 themed restaurants), disco, mini-market, Sunny Club (kids’ clubs including nursery for babies from 3 months), WiFi. Entertainment & sports programmes, including dance/Zumba/aqua gym etc., are available throughout the year, and fishing, horse-riding and more closed cycle paths are available less than 5kms from the site. 

Further afield plenty of old cities, nature reserves and the Canal du Midi – all easily accessible.

Dogs permitted (micro-chipped, passports, vaccination records required and must be on lead in grounds) and hotel services (cleaning etc.) also available. Accommodation ranges from tent pitches to designer lodges for up to 10 people<

The Sunêlia Privilege Card costs €35 and, valid for two years providing immediate benefits and discounts, and loyalty points that count towards free accommodation in the future.

Sunêlia Vacances has a portfolio of 30 sites in prime coastal, mountain or countryside locations across France, Spain and Italy.  All parks offer a wide range of accommodation options from spacious camping pitches and mobile-homes to architect-designed lodges and chalets.

In July and August, some parks request a minimum one week stay; outside those months all parks offer stays from one night.

Camping South of France
This is a family holiday that gets a big thumbs up from us!

DISCLOSURE We’d like to thank both Béziers Méditerranée Tourist Office and Sunêlia Domaine de la Dragonnière for an amazing stay.

Our accommodation and trip into Béziers were both gifted to us. Our flights and other travel arrangements were booked and paid for by ourselves. We were not paid to write this feature.

Ryanair flights from Manchester to Béziers including hold luggage and security fast pass cost us £152 pp.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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