I just spent 12 days in the south of France, the first 7 of which were at the Vegan Surf Camp in Moliets. It has taken me a while to write this blog, just because I’m still trying to process everything as it was one of the funnest, most action-packed summer trips I’ve done in a very long time. Everything from the food to the campsite, to the activities and people, made it an incredible experience that is likely to stay with me forever.
I think, instead of starting with food like I always do, I’m going to review the campsite and activities first.
The Vegan Surf Camp is just one surf camp of many on the huge Les Cigales campsite right next to the beach in Moliets. Someone said that in the height of the summer there are around 5,000 people camping there. The week we were there, I believe there were 80 people at the Vegan Surf Camp alone, but that was expected to grow to 120 the week we left.
The site itself was really well set up. All the tents are ready for you when you arrive, and there are little communal hangout points between every 5 or so tents where you can relax, eat, charge your phones or just chill out. The campsite is under a wooded area, so there is nice cover from the wind and rain. The only downside is that the tents are next to a road, and early in the morning you can hear cars and trucks speeding up and down it. So take ear plugs.
In the main area of the camp there are more communal hangout points where you can sunbathe, along with a few large tents for serving food, dining and indoor activities when it rains. There is also a really cute little bar where you can purchase wine, beer, soft drinks and a few snacks. There is also a ping pong table where we spent many nights battling it out with the other guests.
From the tents to the beach it’s about a 10 minute walk, and maybe another 5 to get to the flag if you are taking surf lessons. It’s a good, and at times tough, walk through the deep soft sand – especially carrying boards! You also have to cross over the river which can be fun when the tide is high and there’s a strong current 😉 If you walk 10 minutes through the camp in the opposite direction, you’ll get to the town of Moliets where there are loads of little shops, restaurants and bars. So if you do forget to pack anything, there’s no need to worry.
As you can imagine, the main activity at camp is surfing. You don’t have to sign up if you don’t want to, but I would really recommend it. You go out almost every day for around 2 hours, and are in small groups of about 6-8 people per surf instructor. If you’ve never done it before, surfing is tough! That said, almost everyone was standing up on the board by the end of the week (apart from Andrew!). The other popular activity all week was yoga under the trees. There were two yoga classes everyday – one before breakfast and one at 5pm. I admit I only did one morning session as I was more interested in sports, but it was really lovely to be outside under the pines doing yoga.
Each day the surf camp organizes a new activity for everyone (all optional of course). These include a bike ride around Moliets (which I highly recommend!), a day trip to San Sebastien in Spain, beach volleyball, cooking classes, speeches, sunset yoga on the beach… so many things, so little time.
There were a couple bad things that happened but were fairly minor. The first was halfway through the week I stepped on a weeverfish which was pretty painful. The poison dissolves in hot water, but it was a long walk back to camp! The other thing was my brand new £40 bikini top was stolen from the showers on the last day. I left it there by accident for a few hours, and when I went to find it the top was gone but the bottoms were still there. We shared the showers/toilets with another surf camp full of 16 year olds, so I don’t think it was anyone from the vegan camp. Still such a bummer though and put a big damper on my final evening at camp.
I also wasn’t keen on washing our plates / utensils after each meal. I think if I went again I’d probably take my own – but that’s just because I’m a slight germaphobe and I question other people’s thoroughness!
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…..
Every day we were served breakfast and dinner, and given plenty of options for making sandwiches at breakfast to eat for lunch or whenever you like. For breakfast most mornings we had a choice of different hot and cold cereals, miso soup, French bread, brown bread, sweet and savoury spreads, fruit and roasted vegetables. And of course coffee and tea that you could help yourself to all day.
For dinner each night we were treated to something completely different. It usually consisted of various types of grains and/or pastas, curries, soups and loads of different, beautifully prepared vegetables. Needless to say, we never went hungry! I think my favourite was this bean stew we had one night with mashed potatoes (not pictured)… heaven. And on the final evening we were treated to a sushi night complete with an evening dance party and mojitos. Even though we ate SO much food, I don’t think anyone put on weight just because we were incredibly active all week.
As you can probably already guess, I had an amazing week at the surf camp. What I especially enjoyed was meeting new people from all over the world. We made friends from Belgium, Switzerland, Brussels, Australia, France, Germany, Ukraine…. and it was a real mix of ages too. There were a lot of single people around our age who travelled on their own, as well as families with kids (both young and teens), and some older folks who wanted to try something different. And while you would expect everyone to be vegan, it wasn’t always the case, but didn’t seem to matter much. Everyone who worked there was fantastic too – and it was funny because most of the time they just seemed like other guests rather than workers! By the end of the week I was still meeting people first the first time who were working there.
For me the highlight of the trip was playing volleyball on the beach under a beautiful sunset while drinking wine with a fantastic group of people. We stayed out so late that the stars were popping out by the time we decided to head back to camp.
By the end of the week there’s a real sense of community, and you feel like you’ve made good friends for life. I was truly sad to leave and say goodbye to everyone!
Here are some of my tips if you do decide to go next year:
- Don’t overpack – it is very casual at the campground, and you’re likely to end up wearing the same thing everyday. For me it was my blue cotton booty shorts and a tank top with flipflops. If I’d known, I would have just brought several pairs of cotton shorts and a summer dress or two (for San Sebastien). Even the little town of Moliets is super casual. Also, don’t bother with a hair dryer. Everyone just lets their hair go au naturel, and the hairdryer / straightener just takes up unnecessary space in your bag.
- Bring a sheet (and a pillow) – you will want the sheet for the blow up mattress. Even with a sleeping bag, you’re likely to end up on the mattress itself so you want to make sure you have something clean to lie on. You’ll also need to take a pillow – I took my big one from home. It did take up a significant amount of space, but it was worth the good nights’ sleep.
- Take a light sleeping bag – even on the cooler nights, we mostly slept on top of our sleeping bags. Plus, the thinner the bag, the less space it will take up in your suitcase.
- Take good earplugs – most people are respectful of the 11pm noise curfew, but you do get the odd people talking (or snoring!) loudly, especially in the early morning. There are also loud trucks and cars that drive up and down the road behind the campsite.
- Bring two towels – one for the beach, and one for showering.
- Bring a lunch box – you make your lunch in the morning during breakfast, so you’ll need something to keep it in. We didn’t have lunch boxes, so ended up buying some tin foil to wrap them in.
- Prepare for rainy weather – it can really rain in Moliets (as you’ll see in my vlog below!), so make sure you bring a rain jacket or poncho. Also bring a sweatshirt or two as it can get chilly in the evenings.
- Try as many activities as you can – surf, yoga, cooking classes, bike rides – sign up to as many activities as you can! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before – plenty of people are in the same boat as you.
- Bring a book – there is so much to do at surf camp, but even still, you will inevitably find yourself with some downtime feeling slightly bored (time seems to stand still at the camp). Because of this, make sure you are armed with a good book to pass away the time.
- Make new friends! – the best part of this trip was meeting new people from all over the world – so make sure you speak to as many people as possible!
- Don’t leave your new bikini in the showers 🙁
Be sure to check out my vlog below, and also give the Vegan Surf Camp a like over on Facebook 🙂