After years of exploring Europe by motorcycle and camping in a small tent, Dutch couple Leonoor and Arno decided it was time to run their own campground... To offer the friendly hospitality they had always experienced, to others. Their search for the perfect place, the campsite that "spoke to them" took years and finally brought them to the Vendée. At inthevendee.com, we extend a warm welcome to them, and we hope that YOU will take advantage of their excellent facilities at the Base de Loisirs in La Tardière, whether you want to camp or spend a pleasant family afternoon by the lake with a cup of coffee or a drink on the terrace. With this interview we'd like to introduce you to our new Dutch neighbors!
Welcome to the Vendée! Introduce yourselves. Who are you, what is your background, where do you come from?
Hello! We are Leonoor and Arno. It took two and a half years of intensive searching before we found our new home: Camping L'Etruyère in La Tardière . To offer people who are busy with work and life all year long a lovely and relaxing time here on our campsite is a dream come true for us both. We enjoy it immensely. We have been welcomed warmly in France by the former owner of the campsite and other people from our area. We'd like to give that back. French people talk about our "change de vie" and that is completely true. Now that our children have flown the nest, we wanted to give our lives a beautiful new twist. That is what this campsite has become.
In Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, we had our own company. We provided training that matched our life philosophy: to teach civil servants to solve problems in society together with citizens and to tackle large projects for social improvement in this way together. This is the opposite of how things used to be. Problems in society (from youth nuisance to homelessness, climate change, traffic problems, and so on), do not have to be solved by civil servants themselves. It is more productive to guide citizens who have an interest in solving a problem to come up with the solution. Moreover, Leonoor was an advisor at the municipality and Arno was a lecturer at the Hague University. So we have completely turned our lives upside down and so far we are enjoying every day.
How did you choose the Vendee for your foreign adventure? And why this campsite? Tell us how it all came about?
At first, the type of camping was the goal more than any country. On our wish list were: not too big, with a swimming pool and a restaurant. Not too far north and not too far south. With that in mind, we visited 15 campsites to see if there was a 'click'. Our search started in the Czech Republic in 2018 but we quickly realized that we were not a good fit for the country. Then we searched all over France. In December last year we arrived at campsite L'Etruyère. So, Vendée was not a goal in itself. But we felt at home here from the first moment, because we know the area from our own vacations and have always had a great time in the Vendée. That is why we chose this campsite.
You guys have been working hard, we so saw on your Instagram account. Did you make a lot of changes or clean a lot?
We didn't clean much because Marina [the former owner] did a lot of work to transfer the campsite properly. The big jobs for us were other things. We built four safari tents in June, complete with furnishings. We built a new patio, bought SUP boards [stand up paddle boards] and, of course, completed a lot of administration to actually make the move to France. We are still not finished with that. The car and the motorcycle still have to be imported. We are waiting for some paperwork from the Netherlands...
Keep reading below incl more pictures!
We wanted to give our lives a beautiful new twist and threw it upside down. So far, we love every moment!
What is your vision for the campground? Is this your first experience running a campground? What can the guests expect from you? Tell me about the campsite, how many pitches, tents and cabins
Our own camping experience (on the road with a motorcycle and a small tent) is the model for what we want to offer people: a quiet campsite with lots of hospitality and a simple meal in the restaurant. No animation program but fun in and around the restaurant. A campsite where you go for two days and leave after six days because the campsite and the surroundings have so much to offer. We like it best when people leave being "homesick" already.
The campsite has 16 pitches for tents, caravans and motor homes, 10 chalets and 4 safari tents.
Who does what in your business? And how are you a team? Give us a glimpse into your typical day and week.
We have no specific division of labour. Together, we determine just about everything that needs to be done. From the color of the restaurant tables to the layout of the kitchen. Leonoor handles most of the direct contacts because she speaks French well. Arno is a few years behind and tries to master the French language in small steps. So, he does a lot of work where you don't need to talk a lot... like mowing the lawn. The day begins with getting bread for the camping guests and making the kitchen tip top in order for the day. After that we usually have breakfast together and then we're off to clean the sanitary building, and checking the swimming pool. Then we prepare the chalets and tents for new guests. At 14h00 the restaurant opens. Then we are usually in the kitchen to prepare the food. Weather permitting we do a bit of garden maintenance every day, like pruning and weeding. The kitchen is open until 20h00 hours. After the last guests leave, we clean the kitchen and sanitary facilities again, check the swimming pool for the second time that day. For all those things you need about 14 hours a day per person.
Can non-campers - like us who live not far from you, also come to eat at your place (menu) or rent a pedalo or use the pool?
Certainly! With the exception of the pool, everyone is welcome to enjoy the Base de Loisire. Many people already know how to find us. We are proud of that. Unfortunately our swimming pool is not very big and capacity is limited, so it is only available for camping guests. If we made it public, it would need to be supervised and we just can't provide that.
But children are welcome in the playground, of course! And the pedalos and SUP are also for rent for everyone (7.50 per hour and 4 per half hour). Life jackets are available. If one wants to fish in the lake, fishing licenses are available for purchase here too. Unfortunately, the old website is still published and it has info that is no longer current e.g. there are no ponies for children to ride and the field of air castles was removed years ago by previous owners. We are in the process of getting the old website removed. Our brand new website provides all accurate information about our services and location.
We felt at home here from the first moment, knowing the area from our own vacations and always having had a great time in the Vendée!
In the summer you may not have much free time. But what do you like to do in your free time, now that you live in France and in the Vendée?
We plan to do a lot of motorcycling. In addition, we're going to use the time to catch up on book reading and to do chores on the campsite (because that's not work for us). And for Arno, he will be looking for a club where he can play trumpet.
What are your plans for the post-season and are you also open in the winter?
We are open from April 1 to October 15. As soon as we have more time we will prepare the campsite for the next season. There is a lot of painting to be done around the campground which we can do nicely when there are no guests.
Site du plan d'eau
85120 LA TARDIERE
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