It was a special holiday in so many ways. The first holiday away for longer than a fortnight. The first holiday where Frog swam without a swimming aid. The first holiday where the girls ate snails (yes, really).
Seriously though, this one isn’t one we’ll forget and, as a result, this post is likely to be full of many things – including far too many photos and a video. It wasn’t a review trip so I was under no obligation to write about it, take photos or film it. In fact, on some days I didn’t even get my camera out. I went days without going online which, as someone who earns a living being plugged into the internet what feels like 24/7, was pretty bloody lovely.
But of course old habits die hard and I couldn’t let the days pass without recording at least a few snapshots to carry with us through to old age. Also, we visited some pretty incredible places which I want to tell you about, in case you might be interested in planning your own epic adventure through France.
I’ve also made a video about our adventure, but because of the copyright restrictions on some of the songs you won’t be able to view it on a mobile and it might not be available to view in all countries. It’s more of a personal video for our own family treasure box than anything else, although of course you’re welcome to watch it (if you can!). Of all the videos I’ve ever made this one holds the most sentimental value of them all.
We planned our route around how far we could comfortably travel with two young kids, avoiding car journeys longer than five hours where possible. We live in Devon so by far the easiest option was to get the ferry and do the Plymouth to Roscoff crossing. For us, this is a really child-friendly way to travel. You don’t need to worry about baggage allowance or keeping your kids occupied on the journey, and the ferry trip itself becomes a real marker of the start of the holiday.
From Roscoff we drive around three and a half hours to the Loire region, to a beautiful spot near the little village of Coutures which sits on the southern side of the beautiful Loire river. Our nearest town was Brissac-Quince and this is where we did most of our grocery shopping (side note: why are French supermarkets SO MUCH BETTER THAN OURS?!).
The first ten days of our holiday were spent in a cabin in the woods, staying on the Yelloh! campsite at Parc de Montsabert. We were surrounded by fields of sunflowers gently blowing in the breeze and a grand chateaus overlooking the wide and meandering Loire river. It felt like stepping inside a Van Gogh painting.
Earlier this year I wrote about how we saved over £1,000 on our summer holiday and one of my tips – if you’re going to France – is to consider less touristy areas. This campsite was a lot cheaper than Yelloh’s other sites on the Vendee coastline but it was MASSIVELY child-friendly. (Big thank you to blogging buddy Eleanor at The Bristol Parent for the Yelloh! tip.)
I can’t recommend this place enough if you have young children. Our cabin had a little kitchen with two bedrooms, a bathroom and an indoor dining and living area, but we spent most of our time on the terrace and playing in the enclosed garden space around the cabin. You can hire baby equipment, barbecues and bikes on site too, if you don’t want to lug everything from the UK with you.
There was loads of grassy area around each cabin and the kids basically roamed free while the adults kicked back. The swimming pool – complete with big water slides for older children and a separate toddler pool with slide for the little ones – has a removable roof cover so it’s usable even on days that the weather may not be playing ball (we had lovely weather most days though with highs of around 28 degrees). There’s also a park, a bouncy castle, a trampoline area and a huge indoor soft play area, not to mention a little restaurant and takeaway and bar by the pool.
Every morning we’d pick up fresh bread, pain au chocolate and croissants from the shop (which we’d ordered the night before) and then plan our day over breakfast. The first week was mainly spent at the campsite really. We didn’t do much more than swim, play, nap and read. It was idyllic. Once we were in full “holiday mode” we ventured further than the local supermarket and hired bikes one day, cycling along the beautiful Loire and tootling around the local villages. It was so quiet and scenic it felt like we’d stumbled onto the set of a French film.
We also visited the nearby Chateau de Brissac at Brissac-Quince which was rather impressive (they have their own wine cellars where you can taste the wine they make there) and made for a good picnic spot. And we had a wander around the pretty city of Angers, with lunch at a creperie in the main square in the shadows of the stunning cathedral.
After ten nights at Parc de Montsabert we travelled four hours south to the Bordeaux region (ten minutes from Saint-Foy-la-Grande) where we stayed in a self-contained apartment on an English owned vineyard called La Tour De Chollet. The apartment has a family room and separate double bedroom, with it’s own well stocked kitchen, a dining room, living room and bathroom. You have shared use of the terrace area, garden and swimming pool, with the family (and their dogs) that live in and run the vineyard.
This is another properly beautiful region of France and was packed with things to do. We didn’t actually spend much time at the vineyard itself because we were so busy exploring the nearby swimming lakes, river and beautiful towns. Saint-Foy-la-Grande is a historic bastille town on the banks of the river Dordogne, with sandstone coloured, timber-clad buildings and an incredible evening market that runs weekly through the summer. This is well worth a visit for the people-watching just as much as the live music and the food.
We had six nights here and during that time we went to two different swimming lakes, swam in the swimming section of the river Dordogne at Saint-Foy-la-Grande, went to the wine capital of the world – Saint Emilion (BEAUTIFUL place) – and went to the evening market at Saint Foy. We could easily have spent another week there visiting loads more places and we’ve vowed to return to this part of France again at some point in the future.
From Bordeaux we headed up to Brittany where we had two nights in an Air B&B property I found in a the little seaside village of Batz-sur-Mer. Originally I booked this as a pit-stop on our way to Roscoff (it was already a five hour journey and would have been about eight hours if we’d have gone all the way to Roscoff), but it turned out to be a wonderful end to our holiday.
We spent the last day swimming in the sea, building sandcastles and then retreating from the heat at the beach for a wander around Le Poulliguen, a pretty harbour town about five minutes’ drive away. The following morning it was a straight run, around three hours up to Roscoffe. We got there early enough for a walk around the pretty port and a last ice cream, before catching the six hour ferry home again.
There are so many memories from this holiday and so much more I could write, but I’ve gone on long enough and I might break the internet if I share any more photos. I wanted to put it all in one post, but if you have any questions about our trip at all or any future recommendations of places to visit in France please do share. There are more pictures from our trip over on Instagram.
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