Are you considering a self-catering family break this summer?
Over the past few years, we’ve visited a bunch of campsites with companies like Al Fresco across France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I’m a NINJA OF KNOWLEDGE on this score.
Al Fresco holidays are perfect for families. Most of the parks we’ve visited have on-site pools, entertainment, kids clubs and more. Plus they’re a really affordable way to stay in some amazing locations. But choosing the right park for you can feel almost impossible – there’s so much choice!
Today, I’m teaming up with Al Fresco to share 5 Essential Questions to help you find your perfect summer holiday. Oh and there’s a sneak peek of our top pick, too! Ready?
Q1: How much travel will there be?
Flea’s always been great on long journeys, but I confess – as a Northerner and single Mum, 15 hours in the car isn’t my idea of a good time. When choosing a destination, I tend to look for places that are close to a ferry terminal or airport.
Q2: What sort of weather do you need?
We often travel at the start of the summer holidays or at Easter. In both cases, going further South gives us a better chance of warm weather. There’s also the bonus of it being less crowded. Taking the ferry to Santander or flying to La Rochelle opens up the Southern half of France and the Basque region, where the weather is much nicer! Also – San Sebastien has the world’s best tapas. FACT.
Q3: What activities do you love?
When Flea was small, a kick-ass swimming pool with slides was all she needed for a week’s entertainment. Now she’s older it’s more about surfing, water sports, zip lines – and a kick-ass swimming pool. Oh and I believe there may actually be some sort of human rights legislation that says you can’t remove an 11-year-old’s access to WiFi for more than 12 hours. So we always check that we’re going to be able to get online!
Q4: What kind of resort are you suited to?
Travelling with a child, I tend to avoid larger parks (there’s an indication of park size on the Al Fresco website). I also don’t go for resorts close to major tourism destinations. I’ve found these parks busier and noisier. They also tend to attract large groups of youngsters who are likely to up late at night, with all that involves! We go smaller and quieter, as it’s our preference.
Q5: What’s in the local area?
My favourite thing about an Al Fresco holiday is you have a perfect base to explore some of Europe’s most beautiful destinations.
When we visited Spain with Al Fresco, we took the bus into Barcelona. When we went to Lake Garda, we visited Venice and explored the canals, then took a cookery class. How cool is that? When we visited Acquitaine, we took a trip to the ancient city of San Sebastien, and in Paris, there was a day trip to Disneyland! Basically think about picking a park near an amazing destination and it’s like two holidays in one!
Our Top Al Fresco Picks for 2017
1. MARINA D’ERBA ROSSA, CORSICA
This summer, Flea and I both agreed we’re hoping to experience a bit of Mediterranean sunshine, so where better than the French island of Corsica? There are sparkling, turquoise waters, long sandy beaches and gorgeous hilltop villages.
The Al Fresco resort here is in Ghisonaccia, on the island’s Eastern coast. Having researched the island, it’s the perfect location for exploring.
We can head North to the busy town of Bastia, and drive the scenic coastal road known as the Cap Corse to Saint-Florent. Apparently if you time the journey right, you arrive in Saint-Florent in time to see the sun setting over the ocean, with awesome views from the clifftop.
From Ghisonaccia, we can also head South to Plage de Palombaggia, known as one of the most beautiful beaches on Corsica, and around an hour’s drive from the resort, making it perfect for a day trip.
The Marina D’Erba Rossa park is a fab destination for days when we don’t want to hit the road.
It’s not too big (500 pitches) but has a pretty swimming pool and has DIRECT BEACH ACCESS, people. No schlepping down to the beach carrying all my stuff and all Flea’s stuff (which she insists she completely needs and will obviously carry herself – for all of two minutes).
Within a few minutes of the resort, visitors can hire quad bikes, take water ski lessons and go windsurfing, which would keep my little adventure seeker happy, while there is also the opportunity to go scuba diving a short drive away.
2 ALTOMINCIO, LAKE GARDA
I’m going to heartily recommend a place that Flea and I visited with Al Fresco back in 2011. The Altomincio Family Park is close to the spectacularly beautiful Lake Garda, and just a short train ride away from Venice, with all its attractions. The park itself is an amazing base when you don’t want to travel, though, with a large, very small-child friendly pool, fabulous pizza restaurant and on-site gelato stand that serves a-ma-zing ices.
3. SYLVAMAR, BIARRITZ
My second Al Fresco recommendation is the fabulous La Sylvamar park in Acquitaine, France, which we visited in 2012. A little further South than the Vendee, the weather here is gorgeous and this park has possibly THE BEST swimming pool we’ve ever seen in France. There’s a spa, and a lovely on-site restaurant. But what you’ll REALLY love about this place if you have older kids is that it’s just down the road from Hossegor – Europe’s surf capital. There are cool stores, bars and the beaches are packed with surfers and skaters – Flea absolutely loved it here.
What are your plans for Summer 2017? Have you ever tried an Al Fresco holiday? I’d love to hear your recommendations or feel free to ask me about ours!