France has plenty to offer when it comes to family holidays, say Joanna Booth
DOMAINE DE LITTEAU
Holiday village operator Siblu is adding a giant new adventure zone to this Normandy park. A six-hole foot-golf course, where players use their feet and footballs in the place of clubs and golf balls, is likely to get parents acting as giddily as the children. It’ll also feature BMX jumps, zip wires, climbing ropes, a giant swing, an archery range, a bouncy castle, a mini farm with sheep and pigs, and a giant maze made from maize!
The site sits on the edge of the peaceful Cerisy Forest and has a covered pool complex and free kids’ club. Dads will be happy: all mobile homes come with a free barbecue, and all World Cup matches will be shown in the bar.
Book it: Seven nights in a two-bed holiday home with terrace starts from £555 on July 19.
NORMANDY GARDEN VILLAGE
Northern France isn’t always boiling, but guests here can enjoy the tropical water park with indoor and outdoor heated pools whatever the weather. Hoseasons offers a huge amount for families here, with children’s clubs from three months to 17 years split across five age groups. Extra activity programmes teach circus skills, and there’s a new ‘secret agent’ course, where kids use code-breaking, metal detectors and infrared glasses to solve a mystery. Parents can sneak off to the nearby D-Day Landing beaches, Trouville or Deauville in the meantime.
In the evenings, there’s a mini disco and story time for little ones, Le SpOt, an exclusive lounge and disco for teens, and adults can taste local produce at occasional events profiling the region.
Book it: Hoseasons offers seven nights in an apartment sleeping up to six from £1,153 on August 2.
DOMAINE DE DRANCOURT
This Picardy park is also in the grounds of a chateau, but alongside historic charm it has a host of facilities to tempt families. There’s a cinema, crazy golf and bikes, plus three pools and a sun terrace. In the evenings there’s a restaurant and bar on site, plus a shop for groceries.
Families can choose accommodation ranging from low-cost classic tents, which have real beds, and a grill and gas hob; to static caravans and safari tents, which sit on wooden decking and have a kitchen with a fridge. Nearby, family fun can be found at the Aqualud Water Park, or on the rides at Parc Bagatelle.
Book it: Eurocamp offers seven nights on August 2 in a classic tent sleeping up to six from £640, with two nights free – book by June 18.
DOMAINES DES ORMES
Set in the grounds of a 13th-century chateau in Brittany, families who stay at this campsite can enjoy a quintessentially French feel. Kids will love the three heated pools, the water park with slides and the treetop adventure course. Parents will find excuses to sneak off to the lake for fishing, to the former coach house, now the golf club, and to the old watermill – now the bar.
Quirky thatched Woodland Lodges sleep up to seven with kids’ beds on a mezzanine level, have fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms, UK satellite TV, heating and al fresco terraces.
Alongside fun from pedaloes and pony rides to badminton and boules, Canvas Holidays offers a complimentary Family Extra activity programme, with sessions including arts and crafts and watersports.
Book it: Canvas Holidays offers seven nights starting July 19 in a Woodland Lodge, which sleeps up to seven, from £1,638.
For families who prefer their own space to a busy campsite or holiday village, France is full of self-catering cottages. Brittany Ferries has a peaceful option perfect for a family of four in Le Beugnon, a little village near Parthenay in Poitou-Charentes, where the odd farmer’s dog barking or a church bell is all that’s likely to break the silence. There’s one double and one twin room, a well-equipped kitchen, and UK satellite TV, and families can dine al fresco on the terrace or at the nearby restaurant, which the property’s British owners highly recommend.
When it comes to family fun, within an hour’s drive is the historical park of Puy de Fou, where they’ll find Viking battle re-enactments, Knights of the Round Table, and bird of prey shows, and also Futuroscope, a high-tech theme park.
Book it: Brittany Ferries offers seven nights for a family of four including a ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Caen from £728 on August 4.
Those with Riviera aspirations but a budget that won’t stretch to a hotel on the Cannes seafront can book into this good value site where Alfresco offers mobile home accommodation in the Cote D’Azur at Agay.
Within easy reach for day trips to Nice and Cannes, on site there’s a pool complex with room to sunbathe, a games room, mini club and outdoor fun from volleyball to boules. Older children can really enjoy themselves, with high season options that include a dedicated teens’ club, skateboard park, horse riding ranch, masseuse, disco and evening entertainment programme.
Book it: Alfresco offers seven nights departing August 2 in a Puccini Riviera mobile home sleeping up to six from £1,030.
This Belambra club in Capbreton near Biarritz is set in a 10-acre conservation area of sand dunes and pine forests, and families reach the club centre from their contemporary chalets by taking a wander through the woodland on footpaths.
Apartments have fridges but no kitchen, and there’s a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, so clients can book half or even full board, perfect for those who don’t want to bother self-catering. There are meals suitable for toddlers aged two to three, and five kids’ clubs that cater for those from three months to 17 years. Adults can get active too, with Les Mills fitness programmes and, in high season, French Athletics Federation coaches on hand.
There’s a comprehensive programme of evening entertainment, plus surfing classes so kids over the age of eight can make the most of the Atlantic breaks.
Book it: Belambra offers seven nights’ half-board starting August 23 for a family of four staying in a two-bed apartment from £1,584.
LES FERMES DE EMIGUY
France isn’t just about beaches – the Alps can form a reliable family favourite for active types. Lagrange Holidays recommends Les Fermes de Emiguy self-catering apartments and chalets near the centre of Les Gets, a charming Alpine village nestled between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc. There are heated indoor and outdoor pools, but most of the time clients will want to be out enjoying the mountain scenery.
Nearby trails for hiking and mountain biking can suit a range of fitness levels, and alongside more sedate pursuits such as horse riding or exploring pretty Alpine villages, those with white-knuckle aspirations can try rafting, paragliding and climbing.
Book it: Lagrange Holidays offers seven nights on July 26 in a one-bed alcove apartment sleeping up to six people from £478. Self-drive and rail packages are available.
Corsica may not be the first place you think of, but there’s a lot to be said for this laid-back island for a low-key family holiday. It’s not somewhere you’ll find oodles of facilities and kids’ clubs, but a short flight, sandy, gently shelving beaches and a child-inclusive attitude at restaurants makes it a genuine alternative for families who enjoy making their own fun in beautiful surroundings.
Corsican Places recommends Villa U Granu, a three-bedroom property that sits just below the pretty village of Lumio, with views over the sea and Calvi Citadel.
Sheltered Arinella beach is a five-minute drive away, and the villa’s grounds are spacious and stunning, with jasmine, oleander and bougainvillea surrounding the private pool.
Book it: Corsican Places offers seven nights in August for a family of four from £4,740 including flights, car hire and a welcome hamper.
Families looking for fun with Mickey and Minnie will be glad of Disney’s European outpost. Find fairytale adventures in the Disneyland Parc area, and movie magic at Walt Disney Studios – both with a range of rides and experiences for different ages.
New attraction Ratatouille: The Adventure is set to open on July 10, slated to be a trackless ride with lots of 3D projections, and until the end of July, Walt Disney Studios will have extended opening hours until 9pm, while Disneyland Parc stays open up until 11pm. Book clients into a Disney hotel on site so they can make the most of the evening openings and tumble straight into bed.
Book it: Jet2holidays offers a free half-board upgrade at Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, with seven nights for a family of four (children aged three to six) starting from £1,778, departing Manchester on July 21.
NEWS FROM FRANCE
CroisiEurope has added three 12-cabin hotel barges operating on four new routes through Burgundy, Provence and Champagne, and along the Canal Saint-Martin through Paris. Anne-Marie and Madeleine are already in operation, and Raymonde comes into service later this year. The French river cruise company is also launching six and eight-day itineraries along the Loire from next April on board the 48-cabin Loire Princesse.
Simply Luxury by Travel 2 has introduced the French Riviera for this summer as part of its new short-haul programme, with a small selection of beach hotels in Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo and Eze.
Attraction World is offering a free child ticket with every adult ticket to Parc Asterix, a theme park 22 miles north of Paris, meaning an adult and a child under seven can go for £44.
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