I have a confession to make: despite having a child, in the main, I don’t love children. In my experience, most children are noisy and a bit annoying. Genetics means that I find these traits adorable in my own child, of course. But other children? Hmm. Not so much.
So taking a ‘family friendly’ holiday is always a bit of a risk because while I want Flea to have a good time and be entertained, I don’t want to have to spend too much time dealing with other people’s children, or taking part in ‘organised fun’. Honestly, there’s not much I hate more in life than organised fun.
I know. I am a terrible, terrible person.
Still, on the bright side, Keycamp is pretty much my perfect holiday.
We reviewed a Keycamp holiday last summer so I know they’re a fantastic option if you’re looking for family-friendly locations, brilliant pools, and lots of activities to stop children getting bored (and therefore annoying).
This summer, Keycamp invited us to choose any location we wanted for our holiday and we opted for Le Littoral, in the South Vendee. We flew to the Vendee last summer but this year, on the advice of the Keycamp staff, we drove, taking the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen.
With hindsight, I’d have flown – as a single parent, a 5-hour drive to Portsmouth followed by a 6 hour ferry crossing then a 6 hour drive from Caen to the parc isn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, to say the least. Even if I hadn’t lost the car. In fact, we ended up cutting the holiday short by a day and booking a hotel in Caen to break the journey on the way home.
However, Le Littoral was perfect – a medium-sized parc with less than 500 pitches, it’s lively without being too hectic – especially at the tail-end of the season. Looking at the website, I can see the pool, restaurant and playground have all been upgraded for 2011, and they really are brilliant.
The pool – where we spent around half of our week – was absolutely perfect with a range of water slides, a ‘proper’ swimming pool, a toddlers water play area and an indoor pool, all right next to the on-site bar and restaurant, making it a perfect place to spend a day, mostly pondering why it is that French swimming pools have rules that insist men must wear Speedos – does anyone know?
French resorts also have a genius approach to ‘family friendly entertainment’ – my personal highlight was the circus entertainer who rigged up a swing from the ceiling of the poolside bar and did acrobatics to the soundtrack of ‘Smack my Bitch Up’. It’s not something you see EVERY day.
Anyway, next to the pool (where Flea learned to swim!) there’s a games area for older kids to play football and basketball, and a large sandy playground with great climbing frames, slides and even a giant bouncy castle. You can also hire cycles and borrow a range of games like skittles and footballs from the Keycamp reps on site, who couldn’t have been more helpful in making our holiday as good as it could be.
I will be eternally grateful to Kim, the rep who tipped me off that for 20 Euros you can buy a WiFi code that gives you unlimited Internet access across the whole site – meaning that once Flea was in bed, I could keep up with urgent emails and, erm, watch TV online. Well, I was on holiday…
There’s a rocky beach on site, or you can drive or use the free shuttle bus to travel the mile to the nearest sandy beach at Bourgenay, or a couple of miles in the other direction to Les Sables D’Olonne. Both are absolutely beautiful, long sandy beaches with shallow water perfect for paddling and – at Les Sables D’Olonne – waves that are perfect for body boarding and surfing. At Les Sables D’Olonne there’s also a long promenade lined with cafes, and a castle and zoo, both of which are worth a visit.
There’s a supermarket and take-away on site, along with a bakery that makes fresh baguettes and croissants pretty much all day (result!) but it’s only a 6 minute drive to Talmont St Hilaire, where there are 2 large supermarkets.
We stayed in a Villanova mobile home, which had 2 bedrooms, bathroom with shower and an open plan kitchen/lounge area. There was patio furniture and a gas barbecue for outdoor eating, which we made use of. Everything was clean and in perfect condition, and we were provided with linens and welcome packs, which provided a few handy extras. The only comment I’d make is that if I was travelling as a family of four, I’d certainly pay the nominal extra charge for the larger mobile home with a deck – having that nice outdoor eating area would be a bonus, I think.
All in all, a fabulous site, and a really relaxing, fun family holiday. I’d whole-heartedly recommend checking out Keycamp for family holidays in France. If you'd like to see more pictures, I've popped some on the blog Facebook page.
Disclosure: Keycamp provided a week’s holiday for free for the purposes of this review. A week’s stay for a family of four in a two-bedroom mobile home at Le Littoral costs from £750, including return ferry crossings.