This time last week we were still camping in France with Yelloh! I say “camping”, but I actually mean staying in a “cottage” (chalet to you and me) complete with modcons like a toilet, running water and kitchen. Yeah, we cheated – although we are looking at doing proper camping next year so don’t berate us yet. Anyway, we had such a fantastic time I wanted to tell you a bit more about this particular part of our holiday. Before I go on, I feel like I should say it wasn’t a review trip – we booked it, paid for it and organised it all ourselves. Not that it would make any difference to what I share here, but there you go.
Scroll down to watch a DITL video we filmed during a typical day here
Choosing the site
When we were planning our holiday back in February we knew we wanted to have a trip of two halves. The first half our trip was in a beautiful gite in the Dordogne region (we stayed here – watch a DITL video about our stay there if you want to know more) which was a chance to properly wind down, spend some quality time together as a family and switch off completely.
With this in mind the second part of our trip needed to be a bit more lively. We were after a site offering a fun pool complex, activities for the kids should they wish to do them, a decent play area and a bar and restaurant for us, if we fancied a change of scene during the evening. And so, we settled on Parc du Val de Loire, a Yelloh! village in the Loire region, in between the picturesque towns of Blois and Amboise.
Having been to this area the year before (read about our stay at the neighbouring Yelloh! village just up the road near Angers here) we already knew how beautiful the Loire area was, and that it was a manageable drive (around five hours) to Roscoff, where we were getting the ferry back to Plymouth at the end of our holiday. From our first place in the Dordogne it worked out at a drive of around four hours, so the distances added up and we were able to avoid any really awful ten hour type journeys.
What’s at the site
As hoped, the pool complex at this site was fantastic – even if it did get quite busy on the really hot days. It rivalled any five star hotel (it’s a five star campsite) and included an outdoor toddler pool with slides and fountains, two large water slides, a waterfall area in the outdoor pool, jacuzzi bubble area and fountains, plus a heated covered indoor pool with another toddler area and a separate garden sunbathing area with a bouncy castle. Even on really busy days we always managed to get a sun-lounger, and the girls really enjoyed swimming at the late night pool party one evening which included disco music and fun games.
As well as the impressive swimming area there are also two little parks – one with a couple of zip wires and climbing area, plus two sets of trampolines, two bouncy castles in the play area, along with mini golf, trike hire, bike hire and two kids’ clubs, as well as a baby club (for under 4’s parents need to be present – this is basically a mobile home kitted out as a mini soft play, useful it the weather isn’t so great).
For my girls – aged nearly three (SOB – HOW IS SHE THREE THIS OCTOBER?!!) and just seven, this was more than enough to keep them entertained for ten days. Frog enjoyed going to the kids’ club a couple of times, although after making a friend during her second session she basically just hung out with campsite friends doing her own thing.
The size of the site is ideal for families with young children because not only is there lots for them to do, but it’s also small enough for them to be fairly independent. This is one of the reasons I love campsites as opposed to hotels – kids have lots of independence to roam free in a safe setting, hang out with their friends outdoors and generally enjoy a bit of freedom that they might not get at home.
For the adults, there’s a wellness centre with spa and massage (I didn’t try this out), plus a decent bar offering entertainment in the evenings, restaurant, takeaway and games room. This set-up is typical of most Yelloh! sites as I understand, and it’s great because it means there’s something for kids and adults to do. And you can opt in or opt out – which is also great. Most evenings we tended to wander up to the bar after supper at the chalet, where the kids would go off and play on the trampolines or play area and we’d kick back with a glass of something cold. Ideal. We ate at the restaurant once for Moules Frites (mussels and chips) night, which was delicious, plus we had a couple of takeaway pizzas which were also very nice.
Also at the bar area there was a crepe and candy floss stand, which the girls rinsed most evenings (holiday rules, obviously).
Out and about
We had mixed weather while we were in the Loire, so on the cooler days we tended to head off site and do some sightseeing or have a bike ride. We took our own bikes and, if you’re following on Instagram, you’ll have seen my incessant banging on about this being the summer Frog learned to ride a bike. She’s hypermobile – not something I write about here much anymore but a subject definitely due an update post soon – and has been a bit delayed with lots of her physical milestones so the bike riding was a BIG DEAL. I’ll never forget the afternoon she learned to ride on her own at the site. She spent HOURS practising, falling off and getting back on again until it clicked.
We rode our bikes around vineyards right next to the site, along the river Loire (stopping for a picnic on a little beach near the picture-postcard village of Chaumont-sur-Loire) and everywhere around the site too. We also had a few day trips without the bikes to the nearby towns of Bloise, Amboise and the Leonardo da Vinci chateau at Amboise. I’ll cover these in a separate post as I took WAY too many photos to include here!