This year’s holiday was a little different, although last year’s holiday was wonderful we were aware that the children were a little bored and resorted to wifi a lot. So this year we decided to try out a holiday that would keep them more occupied.
Decision. A Eurocamp holiday at Chateux de Marais in the Loire Valley in France. having got a new(er) car last year we were more confident could make a longer journey.
Hubby and I are so not campers (we both like hot running water too much amongst other things) so we booked an Esprit Chalet, which is pretty basic but functional. The beauty of Eurocamp is the activities on site to keep the children occupied, several pools with slides and a lazy river, go-karting, crazy golf and although we were too late to book a site with a ‘teenage’ club we knew that the kids would muck in with whatever activities were on offer particularly as we were having a wifi/internet free 10 days. Yes even me! Wifi codes could be bought but if the children were going without, so would I!
Day 1 – The Journey.
Not as straightforward as we thought. It was crazy!
We got to Dover beautifully and as it was a glorious day the channel was just like a mill pond so the crossing was really smooth. We foolishly decided not to go the suggested route as it skirted Paris but to follow a route we were very familiar with from previous holidays, however leaving Calais, the route to Boulogne was cordoned off and the road filtered us onto the route to St. Omer and there was no way of turning round.
It took us about an hour and a half to reroute ourselves and get back onto the right road but that also meant that as we were approaching our destination 6 hours later it got a bit stressful as we were losing light and couldn’t read the map. A situation where owning a SATNAV would have been pretty useful.
Actually we did find the site relatively easily (quite by chance). Very tired arriving 12 hours after leaving home, it was 10pm and the camp restaurant and take away had just closed. Thankfully the gorgeous manager took pity on us and cooked us the most delicious pizzas ever.
Thursday 10th Aug – Day 2
After a good long rest we woke to beautiful blue skies, a quick tour of the camp and we were happy.
The pool complex was great but we soon realised that it was the age-old problem of lack of sunloungers. The children were in the pool of course with Hubby but I had to sit on a wall for a while until a chair became free. Eventually by 5pm we all had a place to sit.
Friday 11th Aug – Day 3
Hahaha. Not to be beaten our daughter was at the pool as it opened today and acquired some loungers. I was there shortly afterwards and the guys within the hour. We spent a great day by the pool only breaking for a quick lunch. Fabulous relaxing perfect day!
In the evening we went over to the activity centre, where there was a football tournament run by Team Animation taking place which kept all the children occupied for a while. I used the time really well by crossing another of my 101 challenges off my list, getting 10 basketballs in a row, this was witnessed as well, whoop whoop!
Saturday 12th Aug – Day 4
Phew what a scorcher! We had decided as a family to leave the camp every other day to explore the local area so today we got in the car and heading to the nearest town, Blois.
On the way we found our nearest hypermarket (I Lurve French hypermarkets) We bought fresh croissants and pain au chocolate (breakfast) and fuelled ourselves and the car before heading on our way.
Blois is so pretty! And VERY steep. A lot of steps which didn’t do a great deal for my feet. the town is busy and it has a huge market, a chateau and the Maison du Magie (magic) featuring illusions and magic, all inspired by the illusionist Robert Houdin. We didn’t go in but it had a very impressive display of several dragons popping out of the windows at various intervals – all a little weird.
Back via the supermarket to do a shop that should last us the week and we had a delicious BBQ in the evening.
Sunday 13th Aug – Day 5
Urgh – Rain hammered on the roof of our chalet all night and we woke up to the most dismal sky and with no hope of it becoming better for the day.
We sat around and read books etc for a while and took a trip in the car. The Loire valley is full of beautiful Chateaus, they seem to be very mile or so. the most impressive by far is Chambord, we drove up outside, it is an incredible building.
We came back to the chalet for a lovely lunch.
One of our main reasons was booking Eurocamp was for the organised activities but actually most things you have to pay extra for, it also turned out that the Eurocamp programme is aimed much nearer to the lower age of the 4-12 year range, which meant it is wasn’t at all suitable for my 12 year old boys. Unperturbed the children tried to infiltrate the Canvas Holidays clubs as they were very more impressed by their programme but unfortunately they were not allowed to join in being booked into Eurocamp. Ho hum.
The saving grace was that the park’s own entertainment rep ‘Maxime’ ran a ‘Team Animation’ programme and although it is aimed at younger children there is not age restriction or camp restriction so in the afternoon we went over to the Team Animation family music quiz. We were ‘Team Legend’ and we won!!!!! (shhh I am not confirming that there were only 2 other teams taking part).
In the evening the rain had eased a little and we headed over to Team Animation’s Basketball tournament, great fun the children had a marvellous time.
Monday 14th Aug – Day 6
More rain, it was so grey it was hard to remember the first couple of beautiful sunny days. The children spent the day in Team Animation clubhouse making posters for a future event for Maxime. Hubby and I read in the chalet and I must admit were suffering with cabin fever, these chalets are not meant for comfort.
In the afternoon we had a family game of crazy golf. It cost us €2.50 each to play which I thought was outrageous particularly as the court wasn’t maintained and was fairly shoddy. Free activities? Don’t make me laugh. We had a good time though (even though I came last). I am going to sneakily tick another one of my challenges off here, (play a round of golf).
Evening came and the children went off to yet another Team Animation activity – Tennis! although they have no real experience of tennis they seemed to really enjoy it. Thank God for Maxime – she was such a superstar.
Tuesday 15th Aug – Day 7
Grrrr brassed off by now – more rain! The chalet was too small! thank goodness we were not camping 🙂
We went down for the Eurocamp Quiz in the afternoon, either it was cancelled or we were in the wrong place but we couldn’t find anyone – go figure! More games of Uno and we went for a drive over to Blois. It was all pretty soggy.
Coming back we were stopped by French police. Who knows why. They asked us a few questions and sent us on our way. An interesting adventure.
In the evening the children went to play a murder mystery game that the lovely Maxime had set up. We initially thought it would be to basic for them but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Wednesday 16th Aug – Day 8
Woke up to glorious sunshine and felt a lot more optimistic. As we had had cabin fever over the last few days and Team Animation didn’t have activities the children fancied we thought we’d take a trip to one of France’s most famous chateaus, Chambord which was only 3 miles away from us.
Commissioned by Francois 1st it was a beautifully impressive building built in white stone in the 15th century. Centring round a marvellous double spiral staircase, there were several rooms to look around before reaching the rooftop terraces which gave magnificent views across the countryside.
Back to the site and a couple of wonderful hours by the pool before…guess what…the clouds came across again. Quick look at the forecast and looks like tomorrow is going to be a write off. We were all a little despondant we had spent the only fine weather morning inside
Thursday 17th Aug – Day 9
As forecasted, the weather today was diabolical, luckily we had a wet weather plan about a 50 min drive away was Château of Clos Lucé the last residence of Leonardo di Vinci. A gorgeous house and gardens which now features a plotted history of Di Vinci’s inventions, art and ideas. What a clever chappie he was.
The evening brought a performance of ‘Team Animation’s’ sleeping Beauty featuring about 20 of the camp’s children all organised by the lovely Maxime and assisted by our kids who helped make all the publicity and props. It was a hoot! We squelched back to the chalet at about 10pm as it had now been raining for hours.
Friday 18th Aug – Day 10
Typically the weather was forecast to improve the following day, just In time for our departure. We actually enquired about staying another night to catch the last rays of the sun but apparently the camp is full. We spent the morning at a local chocolaterie, it was quite good, not quite Cadbury World but actually very informative and the chocolate was so rich you only needed a tiny bit.
The afternoon was spent catching at few last rays by the pool. The cover was on the main pool but that was fine. the kids had a great time.
We finished the holiday as we started it, with a yummy pizza. Well you have to don’t you?
Saturday 19th Aug – Day 11
With bags all packed the night before it didn’t take us long to get going. We decided to go the more direct route home but the journey wasn’t without it’s complications. Why oh why don’t the numbers in the road atlas match the numbers on the road? We went great guns towards Paris and even navigated round the perapitite beautifully but as we got off we got lost looking for the N1 and ended up driving around a northern suburb of Paris for ages. How were we to know we were meant to to looking for the D301? Makes no sense to me.
Back on the road we get stuck in a traffic jam as there was only a couple of toll booths open and finally as we picked up speed (we had lost an hour or so at this point) the trimming came undone from the windscreen and was flapping uncontrollably and banging against the window. We made a stop in Bracieux to get it fixed and by this time were fairly fractious. Another toll booth created traffic jam later and we barely made the ferry in time.
A holiday of ups and downs but it IS good to get away and it IS good to be without Internet for a while. Despite all the rain the children are all set to try a similar type of holiday next year, providing we have a teenage club, so they must have be happy :p