With the summer holidays coming to an end and thoughts maybe stirring about where to book next year, why not think about a holiday in France with the kids? Let me share our holiday experience at Emerald Coast Gites, near to the beautiful Brittany Coast.
Why did we decide to book Emerald Coast Gites?
It was less expensive than booking like for like in Cornwall due to the exchange rate being favourable. Emerald Coast Gites had recently added the Safari tents to their collection of cottages and we felt it would be good to try family glamping without the hassle of taking all our camping stuff. The beaches and roads of Northern France are far less crowded even in peak season. We happily discovered that even at the popular beaches you do not get hit by excessive car-parking charges with many being free. Because there are so many beautiful beaches in Brittany your unlikely to have someone encroaching on your personal space on a beach. We hoped we might get better weather than England even though it may only have been a few degrees warmer. We also wanted the kids to experience a country that spoke a different language to English as all my kids had learnt some French in school and had hoped they could put it into practice.
Our journey by Ferry
Our ferry crossing was from Portsmouth to Cherbourg where we stopped off for a night’s break in Hotel Accord. It was very reasonable and the décor was very pleasing. Although our ferry crossing coming across did feel like it was a strange initiation test as it was a bit rough and people with a weak constitution were struggling with the 3 hour crossing. Afterwards we found out that the quick rapide crossing is affectionately named the vomit comet. So you may decide when planning your travels across the Channel that speed is not essential.
It was just sods law that as soon as we hit the first highway in France our car engine warning light came on. Luckily we managed to arrive safely to our holiday destination although our stress levels had kicked in. The holiday owner Lesley was quick to assure us that it could be sorted and was fluent enough in French to book us in to a local garage on the Monday. Together with my husbands love of technology (he found an app translator) and with a re-condition thermostat installed any thoughts of a nightmare journey home vanished and we could now enjoy and explore this beautiful part of France.
The Safari Lodges
We stayed a week in la Ruche, one of three safari lodges available. Positioned to the rear of the complex and overlooking the covered swimming pool, it was a fabulous space for our family of five. Luckily we arrived to a welcome basket stocked with rosé wine, fresh juice, milk, eggs, ham and bread which was very useful since we unwittingly brought with us pizzas to cook. We had not realized you don’t get ovens in tents. Although what we did have was a gas hob, microwave and a fabulous "all singing, all dancing" gas BBQ outside, which happily got used most nights. Together with the two bedrooms there was the popular bunkbeds in the lounge area, which via nightly musical bed hopping, everyone managed to have a turn. The outside decking area gave you more space to chill out and relax with the latest page turner and if you had forgot to pack your own read there was a varied choice of books to borrow in the bar area.
I have a quiet 8 yr old boy, a confident 12 yr old girl and a sulky 14 yr old teenager and I was extremely pleased that they all spent a very happy carefree time on the complex. We hardly ever saw them as they were busy socialising with the many other children on the complex and using all the fantastic facilities. The trampoline area was the place for them to meet and on most nights you could find a handful of kids challenging each other on the Wii or watching a movie.
Evening meals were available for parents to pre-book almost every night and ranged from cheese and wine night to fruits de la mer. It also gave parents the chance to relax and mingle with the other guests safe in the knowledge that the kids were thoroughly occupied with their own holiday chums.
Next time we may take up the option to book our kids on a “learn to surf “course at the nearby local beach. But with only a weeks holiday booked, we felt that it was too much of a commitment to our holiday, as we had never visited Brittany before. You are also restricted to the times of the tide. However it did look great fun and all the kids that were on it had an amazing time and learnt a new skill.
Beaches and things to do In Brittany
The beaches in this area really are stunning with our favourite ones being only 15 minutes drive from Emerald Coast Gites. A trip to the beach is an essential part of any child friendly holiday to Brittany, France. Here are some of our favourite family days out …
Pléneuf-Val-André - 15 min. A sweeping long bay that stretches 2.5km boasting golden sands. with a coastal walk around its rocky headland towards the west takes you to a small marina. For families with youngsters this is where you can hire a mini ferry boat for 20 minutes around a pond.
Sabled’Or les Pins - 15 mins a beautiful large beach, with a very gentle slope suitable for all. You can hire bikes, get lunch, ice cream, go on the bouncy castles or just relax!
Parc Indian Forest Morieux - 20 min. This was one of our highlights of our child friendly holiday as all our kids were able to go on the high ropes challenge. The black routes were the most challenging with a height restriction. However there were many routes for different abilities and ages, which kept us all happy for the full three hours booked. It was good value for money costing the five of us €81.20 that’s just £60. You can climb, sing, sway and zip-wire through the forests and across meadows to your hearts content. You have to book and we found the best time to go was first thing in the morning. Ok it was an early start but we weren’t held up with queues. Once your on a stage there is no easy way to quit.
Dinard 45 min is an upmarket town with lots of art and boutique shops. It has a number of beautiful sandy beaches and coves. We quite happily spent a full sunny day on the beach with a lunch pit stop.
Saint Malo - 1 hr is a walled citadel with a sea lido. Very busy and popular and it’s the one place all week that we had to queue to park the car. The cobbled streets are bustling with bars, hotels, shops and restaurants. It is one of the most visited cities in Brittany with its thriving ferry port. It is possible to walk around the cities ramparts with breath-taking views, however this will tire out little legs especially if the sun is beating down on you. There is also a beautiful sandy beach with sea-water lido. It is the one place I was tempted to buy hubby a traditional frenchmans attire - a navy and white breton striped t-shirt with a fisherman’s cap, finished off with a silk scarf. I’m glad I refrained.
Dinan - 30 min inland is one of the most historic, attractive and best preserved towns in the whole of France. It is has amazing, ancient half timbered houses, a cathedral, 3km long ramparts, and sits above its gorgeous port on the Rance. It has a great many bars, cafes and restaurants, art galleries and craft shops. We walked down the hill to go on a boat ride up the canal but it was the only thing on holiday we did that wasn't a big thumbs up. It was expensive for a start because they charge children over the aged of 12 adult prices. The trip lasted an hour and as you are down the bottom of a hill in lots of trees and greenery there was not a lot else to see. You come across a monks cathedral before the boat gets turned around again back the way you came. You may or may not like being serenaded traditional French ditis to. It just wasn't our cup of tea.
Mont Saint Michel – We stopped off here on our way back to get the ferry at Cherbourgh. Be careful if you decide to do this as we didn’t fully appreciate the time you needed to comfortably get round this place, especially when there is a jam trying to exit the car park. You have to park up and catch a shuttle bus to the island. This is all included in the car park fee of around €20. The hike to the top winds around the mount with a narrow steep cobbled path and around 200 steps. You cannot rush this as there are too many people in a small area and it can get slippery when wet. We paid another €9 per person to go right to the top of the historical 11th century abbey, which took another hour to do the full tour and yet more steps. The views were amazing and you can’t believe the feat of engineering in those days but I do think it was lost on the kids. All they wanted to do was spend their last Euros on tacky tourist souvenirs.
See our excellent selection of French child friendly holiday accommodation here http://www.awaywiththekids.co.uk/family-holidays/france and I hope you will be inspired to book your next family holiday to France