I’ve been sitting here for twenty minutes trying to come up with the best way to start this post. Trying to sum up how much this holiday meant to us as a family, how perfect it was, why it was worth the effort of going abroad with a baby… I’m not sure how to start so I’m just going to dive straight in with one of my favourite photos from our holiday to Siblu’s Le Bois Dormant in St Jean de Monts, the Vendee, France.
This photo captures the biggest reason why our holiday to France was such a memorable one: seeing my two girls share the excitement of a new place together, the ferry, the food, the places, the swimming, the beach, the bikes. And because of this shared adventure I genuinely believe they’re closer than ever before. Siblu provided us with the ideal place to relax as a family, away from the stresses of everyday life. No chores, no work deadlines, just fun and togetherness – not something we always get back in the UK.
This was the first time we’d ever been abroad as a family of four, so it was a bit of a milestone holiday. To be honest, I was a bit nervous before we left. I don’t speak French and the NLM has never driven in France before. Would we be able to negotiate the roads? What if we got lost? Would the expectation and excitement of our first big holiday be far removed from the reality? Would two weeks in a mobile home together prove too long?
I needn’t have worried. The reality turned out to meet the expectation, and then some. Although it’s been years since I spent any time in France the whole place felt incredibly familiar, because of my holidays there throughout childhood right up to the age of 16. The journey there was easy and stress-free and the roads turned out to be better maintained and easier to navigate than the ones back home.
Our holiday destination, Le Bois Dormant in the Vendee, on the west coast of France, couldn’t have been more perfect for us as a family. A four hour drive from the ferry port at Caen, it was really easy to find. As soon as we arrived we knew we were going to love it.
At the entrance to the mobile home site you’re met with a gently running waterfall, a riot of colourful flowers and huge smiles from the friendly staff. Many of the mobile homes on the site are owned privately, and you can tell some owners stay here all summer long, creating perfectly maintained gardens and really taking pride in their home-from-home. I didn’t see one piece of litter anywhere on the site, although I did regularly see caretakers sweeping up leaves, checking play equipment and unobtrusively keeping the grounds clean, ordered and immaculate.
For a family with young children, staying in a self-catering mobile home is the stress-free way to holiday. We didn’t need to worry about baby bedtimes or over-tired children in a restaurant (although we did eat out at the neighbouring Le Bois Masson a couple of times and both evenings were a big success), we could just fire up the barbecue and cook up delicious food while sipping wine from the comfort of our terrace. Children played outdoors, parents sat and watched the world go by and, everywhere, there was a laid-back “this is the good life” vibe.
The site provided an ideal base to explore the beautiful coastline of the Vendee – more on that in another post – but it also gave us a backdrop for many fun family days without venturing far from the mobile home.
Le Bois Dormant is the quieter of the two sites, situated opposite each other on the edge of the pretty seaside town of St Jean de Monts. Guests can use the facilities at both sites though, which meant we were able to go to the restaurant, visit the bar, swim in the pool and even (me, anyway) have a massage in the spa at Le Bois Masson. For days when we didn’t even feel like walking across the road, we had two immaculate play areas, three swimming pools complete with water slides and hot tub, tennis courts, a bar, games room and takeaway, all at Le Bois Dormant. In fact, there was so much there we could easily have never left the site!
There’s a more laid-back vibe at Dormant compared to Masson – the bar is smaller, less crowded, the site feels low key and less busy than it’s neighbour across the road. I also noticed more young families seemed to be holidaying at Dormant, whereas Masson was lively with older children and teens, who hung out at the bar watching the entertainment or playing table tennis with each other by the park. For us, we were more than content to while away the evenings on the terrace of our mobile home, while the girls slept inside after a busy day playing, swimming and exploring.
Every day that passed left us a little more relaxed, as we felt Le Bois Dormant work its magic, making us feel looked after, safe, happy and content. After a couple of days we slipped into an easy routine which would see either me or the NLM wander down to the site’s shop in the early morning to pick up fresh (and still warm!) pain au chocolate and croissants for breakfast. Then we’d eat our pastries and drink hot tea and coffee on the terrace as the rest of the site gradually woke up. This was often my favourite time of the day, as it felt like each new day was full of promise – even on the couple of mornings that we awoke to overcast skies and light drizzle.
Over breakfast we’d chat about our plans for the day, what we’d eat for tea that night, if we’d go to the beach or the pool or venture further afield, what we’d do for lunch etc. We’d plan the day and look forward to each meal in a way that we never have time for at home. So much of our time is spent rushing from one activity to the next, whereas on holiday we really slowed down and savoured the little things that pass us by in “real life”.
I have so many photos from fantastic days out and more (oh so much more!) on all that delicious food, so for now I’ll leave you with a video of the first part of our family holiday to France. Hope you like it – it’s by no means technically perfect but it captures some of what I’ve waffled on about here.
Pin it for later!