French rural dream pays off for former Doncaster family

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C’est magnifique! A campsite set up by a former Doncaster couple who decided to live the dream has been voted the third best in the whole of France.

Stu and Syb Bradley decided to sell up, and moved lock, stock and barrel across the Channel nearly 10 years ago.

Now their hard work in driving their holiday business forward has paid off, after they collected the honour from internet travel website Trip Advisor.

Stu, aged 51, who gave up his career as a civil engineer to move to the Loire Valley, said: “We were absolutely delighted when we found out we had been named the third best campsite in the whole of France.

“It has been a lot of hard work and when we originally moved it was a big gamble and we wondered if we were doing the right thing, but things like this show it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Stu and his wife Syb, 50, formerly a school non teaching assistant and swimming coach from Woodlands, decided to take the plunge after becoming fed up with their careers.

“We didn’t feel we were getting what we wanted out of life,” he said. “We went to an exhibition about French properties, saw a place that we fell in love with straight away, and in a moment of madness we decided to go for it.”

And, within a matter of weeks, a then rundown campsite by the name of Le Chant d’Oiseau near Mouliherne was theirs – and the couple and their three children, Liam, Hannah and Niall set about transforming the place and immersing themselves in French life.

“I could barely say anything other than ‘bonjour’ when we first moved, and we were in tears when the children went off to school on the bus on the first day. But when they came back laughing and joking and waving to their friends we knew we’d got it right,” said Stu.

Gradually, the tumbledown site has been renovated with new buildings, pitches and facilities, making it a hit with campers from all over the world – and helping the couple to receive the plaudits of their French neighbours.
Stu added: “You are never quite sure what the French think of you, but we’ve had people coming up to us in the street congratulating us and saying they are really pleased for us. It really means a lot.”

A little corner of Doncaster in depths of rural France

Le Chant d’Oiseau, which translates as ‘birdsong’ in English, is situated deep in the Loire region – with the couple’s nearest neighbours more than a kilometre away.

Surrounded by trees and lush countryside, the site near Mouliherne has been renovated totally from top to bottom by Stu and Syb, and now offers accommodation in three gites created from ancient farm buildings, collectively known for hundreds of years as Les Chants d’Oiseaux.

Alternatively, campers can pitch around a central barn area, which has also been transformed by Stu and Syb, as a place to meet, eat and socialise and soak up the tranquil French way of life.