Review: Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins

Chldren on water slide at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins

In the summer of 2022 we spent 10 nights at Camping Les Grands Pins at Lacanau on the south west coast of France. Part of the Yelloh brand, the holiday village is quite large with very good facilities. We found it well maintained and its location within walking distance of the miles of sandy beaches at Lacanau is unbeatable.

Lacanau is in the Aquitaine region of France, around an hour west of Bordeaux.

Lacanau sign
Lacanau Ocean, near Camping Les Grands Pins

Prior to this we spent a few days on the Île de Ré – if you’d like to find out more about this little Atlantic island and why it’s perfect for families, check out my article about Île de Ré family holidays. You can also read more about French holidays in my post about France for families. Île de Ré is a great place to break your journey if you’re holidaying in the south of France.

Overview of Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins

Our overall experience of Les Grands Pins was positive. Here are the key points if you’re interested in a family holiday at this Yelloh Village holiday park:

Positives:

  • Unbeatable location within walking distance of a vast sandy beach.
  • Excellent swimming pool complex with slides and lazy river
  • Perfect for water sports fans – every sport is available close by.
  • Great on-site facilities – shop, restaurants, evening entertainment and kids club
  • Bike hire on site – cycling distance to Lake Lacanau for freshwater swimming, SUP and kayaking.

Negatives:

  • It is a really long, and at times very busy, drive to south west France.
  • Not close to any “charming” towns or villages.
child on body board
Fun in the sea at Lacanau

Accommodation at Camping Les Grands Pins

There’s a mix of accommodation options at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins. Part of the resort is traditional camping pitches, shaded by pine trees. There are also glamping options – some basic safari tents for two as well as more upmarket tents with two or three bedrooms and en-suite facilities.

Les Grands Pins features a wide range of cabins – or chalets – I’m never sure how best to label them. These range in size and age and you can pay extra to pick a location. The cabins are typical of resorts across France with a decent outside space for dining while indoors space tends to be on the snug side. The cabins can sleep between two and eight guests.

We stayed in an Alize chalet. These two bedroom lodges are well equipped – indoor and outdoor seating, decent sized fridge freezer and a dishwasher. The kitchen was a bit cramped – there wasn’t a great deal of space for us to store food other than in the fridge and only a very small worktop area for preparing meals. However, it’s all about outdoor living at these places so this wasn’t a huge problem. 

The accommodation is definitely better suited to people who – like us – are on the smaller side. If you have big lanky teens they might struggle sharing a bedroom together. The double bedroom is rather snug, with not much of a gap between the bed and the walls, but the bedrooms have plenty of storage space.

The beginning of our stay at Les Grands Pins coincided with 2022’s 40 degree heat wave. The chalets do not have air con so it was a bit of a struggle getting to sleep – we left our front door wide open overnight to get a bit of air through the cabin. After a couple of nights the weather reverted to 25-30 degrees with cooler evenings. Hopefully the crazy 2022 heatwave won’t become an annual event just yet otherwise air con may need to be an essential feature.

The swimming pools at Les Grands Pins

Les Grands Pins has a great swimming pool complex. For little ones, there’s a decent splash park and paddling area. There’s a lazy river and partly covered swimming pool.

Swimming pool at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins
Les Grands Pins swimming pool complex

There are lots of slides of varying lengths and gradients – depending on the level of thrill you’re seeking. The main swimming pool is quite deep – 1.5 metres – perfect for kids perfecting their dive bombing, although there is a restriction until 11am for those wishing for a more sedate swimming experience.

Chldren on water slide at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins
Water slide fun at Camping Les Grands Pins

There’s also an adult’s only swimming pool which I managed to visit once – it was silent and empty and very relaxing. Sign your kids up to one of the free kids club sessions if you fancy experiencing a serene swim.

Entertainment at Les Grands Pins

We didn’t make much use of the kids club aside from one football session but it seemed to be popular – there’s no charge to use it. The kids club is split into three age brackets and covers ages five to 17. There’s also a surf club which looked busy, I’d recommend booking ahead for this.

There’s a well maintained play area next to the restaurants but it’s not very well laid out. The equipment stretches across a linear section of the resort and it didn’t feel very interactive for children.

There’s an indoor soft play area which was more popular than the outdoor play ground. There was also a bouncy castle in the main square which was popular with little ones – and with their grown ups who could enjoy a drink in view of the kids.

Yelloh Village Les Grands Pins evening entertainment
Yelloh Village Les Grands Pins evening entertainment in the main square

The main square is where you’ll find the entertainment stage with lots of seating around it. Nearby is the bar, the mini supermarket, restaurants, one of the camping wash blocks (with loads of washing machines), the kids club and the soft play area. There are also various food kiosks selling salads, pizzas, and so on. The sweet treats kiosks were always busy with queues in the evening for pancakes and ice creams.

evening at Les Grands Pins
Night market at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins

The evening entertainment was a bit hit and miss. Some of it was good – a live band covering popular recent hits – and some of it was a bit naff. But it always pulled a fairly good crowd in. There was a night market held once a week with the chance to purchase local wines, cheeses and other yummy products. The majority of guests at the resort are French so the market felt fairly authentic (as opposed to tourist tat).

The beach at Lacanau

The lovely long sandy beach at Lacanau stretches for some 14 kilometres. The beach is accessed from the holiday park via a gate and a wooden walkway through the pines and across the sand dunes. It takes about 10 minutes.

The beach at Camping Les Grands Pins
The beach at Camping Les Grands Pins

The lifeguards at Lacanau have quite a serious job to do – the ocean is powerful and it felt different each day. The patrolled area tended to be quite narrow and the ocean was usually packed with people – lots of bodyboarders and plenty of folk leaping over the waves. Outside of the patrolled zone, surfers took to the waves. As well as lifeguards in their elevated seats on the beach, there was also a guard on a jet ski on the far side of the breakers – keeping an extra look out for anyone in trouble. The currents and waves were really strong.

Bodyboarding at Lacanau
Bodyboarding at Lacanau

Things to do near Camping Les Grands Pins

If you’re after quaint French villages, you might be disappointed. The Lacanau area is all about the ocean. Surfing and body boarding are the main pursuits here.

Cycling

Cycling is really popular at Camping Les Grands Pins – most French cars arrive with several bikes strapped to their roofs.

Cycle path near Lac de Lanacau
Cycle path near Lac de Lanacau

Although many of the cycle paths were closed during our stay due to a heightened fire risk, we did manage to hire bikes and cycle to Lac de Lacanau. There is an extensive network of cycle paths through the forests and usually visitors can cycle for miles without having to share a road with motorised vehicles.

Lac de Lacanau

This great expanse of water is a peaceful alternative to the ferocious waves of the ocean and we enjoyed kayaking and paddle boarding on the water. The kids loved hiring a pedalo.

Lac de Lacanau, France
Lac de Lacanau

The lake is lovely for swimming and there’s sand on the shore which our kids enjoyed playing in. During our stay there was an inflatable assault course on part of the lake. The course was really popular – and great fun. It tended to be fully booked in the afternoon so it’s worth arriving in the morning if you’re keen to book a slot. Bear in mind that you use a whole set of muscles on the assault course which are usually at rest – I felt pretty stiff the next day. Unlike our local lake in Hertfordshire which has one of these attractions, the water at Lacanau is wonderfully warm so we didn’t need wetsuits.

We loved visiting the lake and enjoyed a particularly good lunch at La Paillote Du Paradis which overlooks the water.

Lacanau Ocean

Back to the ocean, there’s an annual surfing competition at Lacanau with surfers from all over the world taking part. Lacanau Ocean has a great buzz to it and what it lacks in beauty it certainly makes up for in volumes of crepe shops and ice cream palours.

view from Lacanau Ocean
The view from Lacanau Ocean

Lacanau Ocean is a great destination for teens – the strip of bars and cafes is really lively but has a good mix of young people and families. There’s live music in some of the bars and a marching band was parading one evening.

band parading in street at Lacanau Ocean
The street band at Lacanau Ocean

From the access point where Yelloh Village reaches the beach, it’s a walk of around 20 minutes to Lacanau Ocean. With the waves to paddle in, it’s a fun and easy walk for families if you fancy an evening in the beach town – we loved wandering in for an ice cream and to watch the surfing championship. You can also cycle fairly safely on quiet roads back to Les Grands Pins in about 10 minutes.

Lacanau Ville

Inland is Lacanau Ville (as opposed to waterfront Lacanau Ocean), around 20 minutes by car. It isn’t a characterful town but it has an excellent Saturday market.

canelé cakes
canelé cakes

We stocked up on cheese, meats and fresh fruits and vegetables. I managed to track down the local chewy cakes – canelés – which are delicious. There were so many tempting stalls – if it hadn’t been for our children itching to get back to the pool I would have parted with far too much money.

Medoc vineyards

There are endless vineyards and caves to visit in the Medoc region. We drove along the D2 passing impressive chateaux and elegant estates.

Medoc wine route
Driving the D2 Medoc wine route

There’s no need to book in advance – we just turned up at a few of the more modest chateaux and enjoyed plenty of wine tasting. We brought home enough wine in the back of our car to last us until our next trip to France!

Bordeaux

We combined our wine tasting in the Medoc with an afternoon in Bordeaux. The bustling city made a great contrast to the chilled vibes of Lacanau. The road between Bordeaux and the ocean seems to always be busy so it was slow going on our evening drive back to Les Grands Pins.

Sanna sculpture by Jaume Plensa in Bordeaux
Sanna sculpture by Jaume Plensa on shopping street Rue Saint Catherine, Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a good city for shopping – apparently it has the longest shopping street in Europe. Despite this, our kids managed to track down the Lego shop and we all paid a visit to Decathlon. Whatever your interests – toys, bikes or fashion, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained.

Little kids will enjoy splashing in Bordeaux’s giant water mirror and you can take in the sights of the old town on board the Petit Train – ideal if it’s a hot August day and you have a couple of reluctant tourists in tow.

Getting to Les Grands Pins

Distances: 930km from Calais, 655km from Caen, 585km from St Malo, 730km from Roscoff

The journey to Les Grands Pins from the UK is long and once you’re south of Nantes the roads can get quite busy. If you’re flexible with your dates, it’s worth visiting at the end of August when some of the French have finished their holidays. You might find accommodation prices are lower then too.

We took a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. We found the roads were fairly quiet for the first half of the journey (others we spoke to agreed) but traffic increased further south. The last hour – especially around Bordeaux – was slow with lots of traffic.

Coming home, we booked a hotel near St Malo as we had a day time crossing back to Portsmouth. I’m glad we didn’t have to drive directly to our ferry or to the Eurotunnel from the campsite – it would have been stressful with the volume of traffic we encountered.

****

We paid for our stay at Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins. You can find out more about the holiday resort on their website.

Have you visited Yelloh Village Camping Les Grands Pins or any of the other Yelloh resorts? Let me know in the comments below.

More on France:

France for families

Île de Ré family holidays

Corsica with kids

Paris in winter with kids

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