Holiday village

Holiday villages are tourist establishments consisting of individual or collective accommodation offering holiday and leisure stays in the form of a package, including food or individual cooking facilities, and the use of collective sports and cultural leisure facilities. The concept was recognised in France by the decree of 25 May 1968. Most holiday villages are managed by social tourism associations (in France, establishments associated with the National Union of Tourism Associations – UNAT); the others are operated by commercial companies (e.g., Club Méditerranée).  They can therefore be full-fledged destinations or they can be located in tourist areas.

Two very different functions and purposes under the same name

The term “holiday village” was coined by the Touring-Club de France in 1948 to refer to its latest creation: a kind of campsite where tents were provided and pre-installed. The model became widespread with the rise of Club Méditerranée. Governed by the decree of 25 May 1968, amended in 1969, 1975 and 1977, it is used indiscriminately for villages of a commercial nature (Club Méditerranée, Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs, Parks and Resorts subsidiary of Walt Disney Company, etc.) and for membership-based villages (e.g., Cap France, VVF villages, Caisse suisse de voyage, etc.), although the way these two types of villages operate and their purposes are different (Vlès, 1996).

A political use of space

The aim of the designers and managers of holiday villages is to promote the notions of conviviality and encounter. To this end, the presence of a central space plays a pivotal role: the central square or the forum serves as a meeting place but prohibits setting up there, forcing holidaymakers to move to other places more conducive to furthering their relations. Facilities for collective use are generally nearby: performance halls, reception point, children’s area where average space per holidaymaker is high. The pedestrian design of the establishments, intended as free spaces, reinforces the objective of conviviality and maximises the level of security (Greffier, 2005).

In parallel, the holiday village, as part of social tourism, contributes to the spatial planning of the territory for tourism purposes, in coordination with the local populations. Thus, the holiday village can welcome the neighbouring populations during special events (evening shows, themed meals, etc.) and its residents can participate in events organised outside, such as visits or meetings with local players, that underpin the territorial mediation defended by the operators (Greffier, 2005). The commercial holiday village is usually a closed, self-sufficient world.



  • Greffier Luc, 2005, «Territorialité et fonctions des villages de vacances du tourisme social en Aquitaine : une méthode d’évaluation», Sud-Ouest européen. n°19, p. 57-69, en ligne.
  • Vlès Vincent, 1996, Le projet de station touristique. Bordeaux, Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 403p.