The chic French campsite with three swimming pools, glamping lodges and it starts from just £7.15 pp a night

THE South of France conjures up images of haute couture and sipping wine by the sunny seaside.

But as I crashed into the cold water for the second time that morning, the whole thing couldn’t have been further from my mind.

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The magnificent beach of Argeles-Sur-MerCredit: Alamy
The bustling town of I had stayed in the seaside town of Argeles-Sur-Mer

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The bustling town of I had stayed in the seaside town of Argeles-Sur-Mer

I was halfway up the mighty Tech River, completely immersed in nature as I navigated my way through the water on a paddle board.

Despite the falls I had taken, I felt peaceful, surrounded by trees, gently flowing water, and probably otters hiding in the banks.

I had been staying in the seaside town of Argeles-Sur-Mer, about 15 kilometers north of the river.

This is an area known for its outdoor pursuits – and it’s not hard to see why. There are incredible beaches and rugged mountains, including the Massane nature reserve.

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And the best way to stay completely stuck in the wild environment is to settle down in one of the nearly 50 campsites or glamping sites in the area – although there are hotels and Airbnbs for those who prefer a little more luxury.

I’ve never been a fan of camping, but if all campsites were like this, I could get used to it. Mine didn’t involve a tent, but rather a luxurious wooden cabin with heating and running water. Heaven.

Le Dauphin is a five-star site that not only offers glamorous lodge tents and chic mobile homes with proper beds and bathrooms, but also a yoga studio, three swimming pools and an incredible garden with apparently a million plants. different.

My cabin was so cozy that it was difficult for me to tear myself away from my peaceful sleep to soak up the wide open spaces.

But with cloudy eyes I forced myself to put on some gym equipment, ready to tackle the Massane trail which takes you through 14km of rocky pastures and up to the 13th century Massane tower which sits atop the mountain.

Unfortunately the pouring rain didn’t mean breathtaking views and therefore no difficult hike. But we could still embark on the hike on a lower trail that winds past a lovely church and Chateau Valmy, a family vineyard.

We followed paths that I was certain were intended for mountain goats rather than humans, as I stooped and ducked to avoid twigs and leaves, passing a centuries-old shepherd’s hut. .

But that only made the experience more exhilarating.

Climbing up the muddy path the heavens opened up and we were soaked and slipping all over the place. But just as suddenly the rain cleared up and we were left with the magnificent view of a huge stone chapel, built so that farmers did not have to come down from the mountain in the Middle Ages to pray.

Spot the dolphins

The most stunning sight, however, was not the chapel itself but to the right, where a luminous rainbow had formed over the hill, welcoming us to the highest point of our walk.

Refreshed and red-faced, we descended the mountain to the campsite, where a yoga instructor was preparing to stretch our tired muscles. It hurt a lot, but the pain was worth it the next morning.

But it’s not just hiking and yoga that’s on offer here. Being so close to the sea, there are a whole host of water sports you can indulge in. Book a kayaking expedition where you’ll paddle through the waves and spot wildlife under the guidance of a local expert.

Two to a kayak, we swung along the coast, admiring the vast mountains and abundance of marine life, including specially protected seaweed. In summer, you may even spot dolphins.

The trip, surprisingly relaxing for an activity at sea, lasts about two hours and is done in the early morning to avoid strong gusts of wind in the afternoon.

If you’re looking for something that requires a little less power, book a boat that takes you to visit the three neighboring ports, Argeles, Collioure and Vendres – where almost all of Europe’s bananas arrive by freight.

Might be best to save this for a less windy day, especially if you have a sensitive stomach like me.

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The sea can be rough and choppy, so much so that morning kayaking seems like a breeze.

If we had kayaked on these rough waters, I would never have returned.

I forced myself to put on some gym equipment, ready to tackle the Massane trail which takes you through 14km of rocky pastures and up to the 13th century Massane tower

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I forced myself to put on some gym equipment, ready to tackle the Massane trail which takes you through 14km of rocky pastures and up to the 13th century Massane tower
Two to a kayak, we swung along the coast admiring the vast mountains and the abundance of marine life.  In summer, you may even spot dolphins

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Two to a kayak, we swung along the coast admiring the vast mountains and the abundance of marine life. In summer, you may even spot dolphins

TO GO: ARGELES SUR MER

GETTING THERE : Ryanair offers flights from a variety of UK airports, including Luton, Birmingham and Manchester, to Barcelona from £15 each way. See ryanair.com.

STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ rental at Camping Le Dauphin is from £301.38 in total (€360), based on two adults and up to four children sharing. See campingledauphin.com.

For more information, visit argeles-sur-mer.co.uk.