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Travel: Living it up at dela Rive; Perfect base for exploring beach, lake and forest delights of SW France.

Byline: By Jim McGhee

IF it's sun, surf and sand you're after, it would be hard to find a better base than Camping De La Rive.

The site nestles on the glistening lake of Cazaux-Sanguinet in the Aquitaine region of south-west France.

It has its own golden sandy beach and offers countless watersport activities.

And while the lake's serene waters could hardly be classed as surf, the spectacular Atlantic rollers of Biscarrosse Plage are just a 15-minute drive away.

As for the sand, 45 minutes' drive away is the phenomenal Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe.

It stands more than 370 feet high and stretches for two miles, commanding panoramic views of the Arcachon basin and sprawling Les Landes pine forest.

With a little effort, the whole family can walk up the stairs, have a picnic, then run, or roll, back down the side.

At the start of our 12-day fly-drive break, we collected our hire car at Bordeaux airport. And in just over an hour were being shown to our impressive Keycamp accommodation at Camping De La Rive.

The three-bedroom Grand is a mobile home from home, complete with en-suite and all the mod-cons you could need on a self-catering holiday.

With three restless teenagers in tow and lots of activities to try, we didn't spend much time indoors, though.

As well as tennis courts, the site has its own mini-waterpark complex, with waterslides, outdoor pools and a covered one. But bathing in the lake was just as much fun.

The gradual slope was ideal for smaller children and the water temperature always comfortably warm.

De La Rive has a private port on the lake where campers can berth their own boats.

It also offers windsurfer/catamaran hire, canoeing, dinghy sailing,'banana' boating and more.

The lake, which is full of perch and pike, is also popular with anglers.

The lakeside became something of a focal point for the kids, who met their new campsite friends for a nightly candelit beach party there. De La Rive has a decent restaurant serving local specialities.

There's a bar, too, and younger children were entertained by resident animateurs on the small stage outside.

The surrounding Les Landes forest is perfect for walks and cycling. Bikes can be hired on-site.

The sleepy town of Biscarrosse Ville, and Biscarrosse Plage five miles further on are worth a visit.

At the busy beach resort, we enjoyed a three-course lunch featuring a delicious bowl of fresh mussels - plus a glass of wine - for just pounds 15.

The Plage also has an interesting nightly market and, when we visited, the evening came alive to the sounds of a reggae band playing in the square.

Biscarrosse itself has been a noted seaplane centre since the Thirties when they took off from Biscarrosse Parentis lake for the 60-hour flight to New York.

The local hydroplane museum is worth a visit and you are usually able to catch some 'hydraviation' activity out on the lake.

We took the one-hour drive to the elegant seaside resort of Arcachon, with its fine shops and cafes.

From the pier, you can take a boat trip around the Arcachon Basin.

Like us, you might like to combine this trip with a climb up the formidable Pilat - which certainly gives a new meaning to 'dune the watter'.

DETAILS

# A 2005 Keycamp holiday (0870 700 0750, keycamp.co.uk) at Camping De La Rive, Biscarrosse, starts at pounds 548 per family in May, rising to pounds 1043 in August, if you book before October 31. Prices inclusive of 12 nights' mobile home accommodation and a return Dover-Calais ferry. If you fly-drive, deduct pounds 60 per party.

#12 days' fully inclusive car hire with Holiday Autos from Bordeaux starts from pounds 216. Call 0870 400 0010 or visit holidayautos.co.uk.

# Flights from Glasgow to Bordeaux, via Gatwick, from around pounds 160. Call 0870 850 9850.

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PINE AND DANDY:; The De La Rive site has a beautiful forest setting
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 21, 2004
Words:665
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