About an hour the airport we arrived in Puget-Theniers, a small, traditional French village with cafés and narrow streets. Shortly after, a narrow side road took us past children playing sport at their local school and parked lorries bearing log piles up a winding hill to the gates of our destination.
The site is surprisingly spacious with areas that you could easily miss unless you make a point of seeing them. Owner Michel, who was pleased to speak French with us, took us around the site on a ‘golf buggy’ so that we could see what accommodation types were on offer. Well-appointed modern chalets, smaller chalets with yet more stunning views, and cottages with mezzanines and mirrors above the double beds(!) were all shown to us. The site is undulating and full of trees and greenery. In one hidden dip with stairs leading down and lush vegetation live two donkeys, we heard that they are spoiled by guests who put their left-over fresh bread into boxes for them. Another camping area was found up another winding road and all the pitches have a stunning view.
We were staying further down the site in a chalet shaded by pines conveniently located right next to the sauna. What bliss! Every evening we popped into the Swiss style wooden sauna with a slatted platform that could easily accommodate four people lying down or many more sitting and admiring the view through the windows. The sauna building had a large carpeted ‘meeting room’ with chairs for guests to rest or relax in, again with mountain views.
The centre of the site is dominated by the large well-maintained outdoor pool and sunbathing terraces and two smaller pools, one with a water slide for children. The restaurant terrace is above this area and provides not only a view of the large pool, planting and stream that feeds into the pool, but also a panoramic view of the mountains beyond the site.
Venturing around the site, and up one secluded set of stairs among the fauna we found the start of what can only be described as a ‘naturist hike’. This 7km excursion takes you hiking high up the mountain side behind the resort among trees and rocks where you can continue on the trail following painted arrows on rocks right across and down to the other side of the Origan Village. The whole walk is all part of the resort, so you do not have to worry about being clothed. If you prefer an easier adventure you can cross the site and take a more gentle walk downhill where, in about 10 minutes following a gravel path beside the stream, you will come across part of the river Var which is secluded so that you can cover yourself in the clay mud or just bathe in the river, or both, all in your naturist state. There is a set of stairs leading up from the river to the mouth of the stream that you followed down. For those who are more adventurous it is possible scramble up the rocks where the stream is flowing, and dodge the water tumbling down it’s path, all the way back up to the top.
With all this natural beauty and space it is easy to imagine that some would chose not to leave the tranquillity of the site for the duration of their stay.
We did venture out to see if there was anything that would tempt guests away from the Village. Just outside, as we drew into nearby Puget-Theniers we were greeted by the screech of a whistle and the puffing sound of a steam train. Black smoke rose up as the train chugged out of the tiny station. We had by chance witnessed the Puget to Annot tourist train setting off on it’s weekly excursion. A short drive (10 minutes to the west of Puget) following the direction of the train, we came across the awe-inspiring medieval village at Entrevaux. It is not often I would describe something as a ‘must-see’ destination but this village really is for anyone who likes the idea of a charming village that could come straight from a film set with its own fortress, built under King Louis XIV around 1860. Access is via a large footbridge where you enter through an archway with its own watch towers, where you arrive at a small square with cafes and tiny shops. Beyond these you are lead into winding alleyways shaded by tall narrow houses, drawbridges and ramparts. There were signs for a motorbike museum down one tiny alleyway, which was quite unexpected. Walking is plentiful around these delightful streets or for three euros you can enter the Citadel which is built into the side of a narrow rocky spur and girded by the River Var where the challenge is to walk the length of the long zig zag cobbled path to the top to see and read the history within. It is literally breath-taking at the top! If you have your wits about you, it is possible to find an exit on the other side and find a path that leads through the forest and trees downwards to a narrow mountain track which eventually leads you back to the village.
We were only at Origan Village for a few days and were sad to leave so soon. We promised ourselves that we would return because we felt so relaxed there and enjoyed the space and ambience so much. Check out the BN Members' holiday to Origan this August