Helen Lindsay discovers that vacations don’t have to be homemaking abroad for a week...
Holidays with kids. A contradiction in terms?
As a mother, I gave up on the notion of a ‘holiday’ about three months after checking in my dignity with the reception of hotel Sharoe Green and giving birth.
A family holiday to Greece confirmed for me that a metal tube at 35,000 feet is positively no place for a small child!
But after hearing stories of children being taught how to swim or ride a bike whilst mum and dad relax by a pool, I and Significant Other thought we would give a holiday parc a try.
In an attempt to keep costs low we opted to drive to our destination, but to keep sanities intact we didn’t want it to be too long a journey. Northern France, we decided, would therefore be our best bet and we booked a week in a mobile home at La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere in the Picardy region through Keycamp Holidays.
Around a two-and-a-half hour drive from Calais, we were greeted at the parc with a friendly welcome and shown to our mobile home. Small but perfectly formed, this was no static caravan of yesteryear.
We had all the mod-cons you could need including a microwave, full sized fridge freezer and oven, central heating, CD player and an outdoor decking area.
At first glance all seemed pretty impressive for a mobile home but, settling in, we found the accommodation could have done with a really good deep clean – you never stop being a mum!
We were also missing an adventure tent which we ordered at the time booking – when you’re a mother who manages to organise everything from packed lunches to ballet lesson runs you expect nothing less than clip-board perfection.
The parc couriers were nearby however, and immediately offered to have someone come and have another clean up. We also got a free ‘upgrade’ to a junior tent which they came and put up for us.
Fully settled in, we went for an explore around the site. Promised ‘a meandering river’ and ‘attractively landscaped parkland’ in the brochure, we weren’t disappointed.
The extensive parc is set in beautifully kept grounds with lakes, pathways and plenty of trees providing welcome shady areas.
There are also two lakes, a large one for fishing, pedalos and canoeing, and a smaller one for swimming with a man-made beach perfect for little ones and some serious sandcastle building.
Speaking of little ones, this parc could not be better equipped to keep them happy.
Activities on offer cover all age groups and abilities from swimming lessons for the tiny tots to challenges on the zip wire and climbing wall for the older children.
There are also weekly discos, a soft play area, bouncy castles, 10-pin bowling and, not forgetting the grown-ups, a gym and spa.
But it was the pools that were the biggest hit with my particular six-year-old.
There are three to choose from, plus, my particular favourite, a water squirter area.
Here, you really can let the kids run off some steam without having to worry about them. Surrounded by seven foot flowers, ladybirds and rainbows all constantly jetting water at them, it’s splash heaven. And with plenty of sun loungers right nearby, the adults can sit back, relax and just watch.
Along with two of the other pools, this area has a retractable roof and proved to be indispensible when there was a rainstorm. The rest of the week was blazing hot and the roof also kept the direct sun off the children too.
With all these facilities and shops, you could easily spend an entire, lazy holiday never having to leave the parc. And if you don’t even fancy doing the washing up, there are two restaurants on site or you could treat the kids to a burger or pizza – you are supposed to be on holiday after all!
But if you do like to get out and about there are coach trips to Disneyland Resort Paris and Paris itself, both bookable through reception.
Also not too far away is Parc Asterix, whilst the surrounding area offers walking, pony trekking and plenty of cycle routes (bikes can also be hired on site).
The parc is so large it never felt crowded and we came across something new nearly every day.
Our only complaint was that none of the activities opened until at least midday and, as I am sure every parent can testify, the little devils don’t seem to get the concept of a lie-in even when on holiday. Thank goodness for the ‘beach’!
But having made the most of the fun on offer, by the end of our week at La Croix du Vieux Pont, I felt like I had actually achieved something. As the kids (Significant Other included there) splashed and played, I had a holiday. I sat by a pool and read a book. Every parent should do it some time.