La Coue Campsite in Travers, Switzerland, the best campsite we stopped at on a month long road trip through Europe. Situated on the very west of Switzerland near the French border.
I’m a wild camper at heart but even I have to occasionally admit defeat, delve in to my pocket and pay for a campsite. One of two things can cause me to wave the white flag, the desperate need for a proper hot shower (as opposed to a wet wipe wash) or the inability to find a wild camping spot due to darkness or tiredness or in some cases both. On this occasion it was the former.
On crossing the border from France to Switzerland I dug out my mobile and decided to search for a small campsite. I have an absolute giant sized dislike for busy commercial campsites. My search throws back camping grounds the size of small towns. There was only one thing for it, I’d have to delve in to the rarely visited encyclopedia that is page two and beyond on Google. I spot an uncommercial looking website for a campsite (in French), undeterred a Google translation tells me that it’s a tiny campsite on a farm with ten tent camping spots and three spaces for camper vans. Exactly my type of campsite, not a caravan or motorhome in sight.
It all sounded wonderful but we didn’t want to rock up and not get one of the three camper van places. Unprepared I ring the number on the website and with the assurance that everyone in Europe speaks English began with my best French/Yorkshire ascent ‘Bonjour!’. Quickly followed by my slowed down version of English. The lady on the phone clearly didn’t speak a word of English. I quickly reverted to my GCSE level French which is very limited (I’m ashamed to say my eleven year old niece knows more French than I do). My conversation is nothing short of pure embarrassing. The call ends with me being fairly confident that we have a camping spot for the night, whether that’s for a tent or a camper van is anyones guess. Thank god for the Google translate app, I type a follow up message, translate it and text the lady. She quickly responds to confirm our camper van reservation. Bingo!
We pass a few town sized campsites on route and I’m feeling smug that I’ve found what I hope to be a tiny gem of a campsite.
We take the western side down lake Neuchatel, the campsite is only a few miles from the lake shore. We drive through Travers and a tiny easily missable left turn takes you on a short track about half a mile to a farm nestled on the hillside of the valley. It looks old, rugged and picture perfect.
We park up Horace the camper van next to the main farmhouse and are instantly greeted by a very friendly campsite dog, who we quickly learn goes by the name of Texas. A lady comes over to greet us and her warm smile and friendly nature is welcome after a long days drive. Isabelle then proceeds to take us on a tour of her campsite, despite the lack of a common language we’re clearly still getting the full tour. She’s obviously very proud of her campsite and rightly so.
The campsite is based within the grounds of a working farm that rears Angus cows, there’s a beautiful building that Isabelle and her family live in. An enormous homely kitchen that I imagine produces some delicious feasts. Outside are an array of picnic tables and benches all made from logs. The sound of the various animals can’t help but bring a smile to your face. The donkey constantly hee hawing sounds wonderful. There’s horses too, the rabbits have a home bigger than my camper van. Chickens, geese and goats share what can only be described as an animals adventure play ground. Kids aren’t forgotten either, they have a play area complete with zip line!
Adults have lots to keep them entertained too, a pizza oven and log burner in the indoor area with all glass walls making you feel like you’re outside. There’s fridges full of food all operated on an honesty system. Everything has a lovely wooden, handmade feel.
I spot an outdoor jacuzzi but don’t even attempt to try and ask if it’s for use by campers, that is well above my still counting numbers with fingers level of French.
After the tour it’s time for a much needed shower, we have several days of road trip / camping grime to wash away. The shower is in a wooden enclosure, unisex with a pallet to stand on. Sounds awful. Wrong, it’s one of the best showers I’ve had. The sun was shining through the ceiling as I showered, bathing me in extra heat.
Our pitch had a great view of the valley, in a lovely quiet location but not too far away to miss the friendly comings and goings of friends and locals to the farm. We settle down for the evening cooking a curry in the camper and enjoying a bottle or two of cider while watching the sun set.
In the morning, we shower (again!), wash the dishes, pack up and head over to say goodbye. Isabelle greets us and hands us a bag and points at a tree. A few moments of pointing and laughing later we understand that she’s telling us to go pick plums from the tree to take with us on our road trip.
Goodbyes done, we head to our destination for the morning which is only a few miles away, the Gorges de L’Areuse walk. While walking in the glorious sunshine I get a text message from Isabelle kindly informing me that I’ve left a ring by the washing up sink. After the walk we drive back to the campsite, rather sweaty after walking in the mid day heat. I collect the ring and ask Isabelle if we can pay for a shower, she absolutely insists we have one for free. Back at the camper I select a small bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin and write a post it note of thanks. I intend to leave it on the bench where Isabelle sits outside to prepare food but she catches me. Her face lights up with thanks when I offer her the small gift.
For the second time that day we leave the campsite smiling at having experienced such a warm welcome at a fabulous campsite that oozes homeliness and friendliness. A much needed stop after several days on the road and wild camping. Tonight however, we intend to camp in the mountains and enjoy the views that Switzerland is renowned for.
By Ana – The CamperVana
La Coue Campsite: www.lacoue.ch
Address: La Coué 1, CH-2105 Travers, Switzerland
Ring Isabelle on +41796935723
Daily rate per adult CHF 6 (approx £4.60)
Daily rate per camper van or camping car CHF 8 (approx £6.10)
Daily tourist tax CHF 3 (approx £2.30)
Daily electricity (optional) CHF 3 (approx £2.30)
Cooked meals available.
Angus Beef available to purchase.