A family story since 1964

1964: The pioneers

But what could Robert and Marcelle Vaquer, then 33 years old, have pushed to leave the orchards of Ille-sur-têt to settle in the hamlet of TAXO in Argelès-sur-Mer with their little daughter Anne-Marie ? Why did this couple of farmers from Roussillon leave their peach trees in bloom on the foothills of Canigou for the seaside ?

To understand it, you have to go back a little bit and try to immerse yourself in the context of the time… almost 50 years ago! If my maternal grandparents changed their lives in 1964, they owe it, without knowing it, to two men in particular : Léon Blum and Charles de Gaulle.

First, because by signing the Evian agreements in 1936, Léon Blum paved the way for the creation of paid holidays that would allow tourism to flourish on the Catalan coast after the war. The second, because it was under the impetus of Charles de Gaulle that the Languedoc-Roussillon coast acquired the necessary infrastructures to welcome the first holidaymakers and that many campsites were created in the 1960s.

Did my grandparents guess how important tourism would be to our country’s economy ? Did they anticipate the advent of the 4th week of paid leave in 1968 and the 5th in 1982 ? I doubt it. But they have invested all their energy, all their savings and part of their health in this project of a lifetime. They bought, hectare by hectare, small plots of land to plant, one by one, the pines that gave the campsite its name. As they so aptly put it, “it was not a question of being lazy” and it was through hard work that “Taxo-Les-Pins” was to be born.

If today Argelès-sur-Mer can boast of being the European capital of camping with 55 establishments and 13,000 pitches (according to the Argelès-sur-Mer tourist office), this has not always been the case. It was therefore necessary to develop and acquire the necessary infrastructures for the smooth running of the holidays. However, it took time to modernize and it would still take almost 16 years for the campsite to open its first swimming pool in 1980 and move into a new era.

1987: The child of the ball

Since 1978, the first “mobile homes” have appeared, depriving campers of the camping monopoly. A real highlight! But these “trailers”, which were created in Great Britain in the 1950s and will always be known by the English name “Mobil Home”, are not just a fashion trend. This is what Anne-Marie Vaquer became Perez and her husband Jean-Marie understood at the end of the 1970s. They therefore decided to embark on the adventure and began to buy “mobile homes” in order to offer the campsite’s customers the first rental stays. It was also at this time that the campsite saw a great bearded battalion arrive. Family legend has it that he broke down with his truck not far from the campsite and never left. On this last point, I can attest to this because “Jacob” is still there.

The 80s were the scene of many changes for camping in general and for Taxo-les-pins in particular. First of all, the family is growing. I was born in 1979 and my brother Jerome in 1982. The 2 little boys we are then spend their summer holidays in the middle of the summer holidays and divide their time between the pool and their mother’s already busy skirts. In 1987, Anne-Marie took over the torch. After 23 years of total investment, my grandparents are retiring to take a well-deserved break. It is therefore the “little Anne-Marie”, whom the first campers knew as a child, who takes over the reins of the family business. It is now up to her to develop the campsite and meet the expectations of holidaymakers in an increasingly competitive environment.

Over the years, the campsite has grown in size and equipment. Since the 1990s, Taxo-les-pins has been a shaded 11-hectare park with a water park with several pools, multi-sport grounds, a grocery store, a restaurant and a large mobile home park. Camping ceases to be a simple means of accommodation and becomes a place of life and leisure. Animations are developing. The days are punctuated by sports tournaments and nights by “disco” evenings. The outdoor hotel industry is expanding rapidly and campsites are taking inspiration from Club Méditerranée. We now speak of “camping club” or “leisure park”. Establishments are becoming more professional and large groups are beginning to emerge.

2006: From mother to son

The early 2000s saw the rise of large financial groups. Camping is in fashion in the media and financial companies are investing massively in this sector. Taxo-Les-Pins is now facing competitors with significant financial resources. However, the choice is made to remain independent and totally in control of one’s own destiny.

In 2006, after studying management, a Master’s degree in tourism and several summers as a seasonal worker, Jérôme joined the Taxo-Les-Pins team to take care of the operational management of the site. While it is part of the continuity of family action, it also provides a new perspective on the development of the business and new ideas in management. Respectful of the environment and concerned about protecting himself against the risks of fires that regularly threaten the region, he first undertakes a fundamental work to develop the campsite. The pines planted half a century ago are gradually being pruned and replaced by less flammable species. The locations are gradually being redesigned to offer more comfort and privacy.

The early 2010 was marked by the financial crisis and we are witnessing a consolidation trend among large groups that are limiting their investments in the outdoor hotel sector. But it is well known that family businesses are more resilient to the crisis. Taxo-Les-Pins therefore decides to continue to modernize its infrastructure and invest in a quality rental stock. As an experienced professional, Jérôme is aware of the challenges of the future and the need to continue to progress in order to meet our clients’ expectations.

Season after season, for almost 50 years, the history of the campsite has been merged with the history of our family and those who make it a daily reality. Since the 1960s, many employees and seasonal workers have worked alongside us to ensure that you have a pleasant time with us. We sincerely thank them for their help and involvement over the years.

Finally, and this is the most important thing, we would like to thank all the people, the Works Councils and Tour Operators who gave us the honour of choosing Taxo-Les-Pins to spend their holidays under the Roussillon sun. Without you, none of this would have been possible and it is thanks to you that, season after season, we hope to continue to write the history of the campsite for the next 50 years.

As it is said in Catalan: « Per molts anys ! »

With kind regards,
Franck.