I am seriously considering UCPA or FarWest Enfants for my 9 year-old next summer. He has an extremely basic knowledge of French, which I hope would be improved if he went, but really wants to go to one of these.
How would I go about booking one of these, and could you make recommendations as to one most suitable for an Englander? I'd like something in the north of France so that I can visit from London, but am otherwise open to suggestion.
www.chatbotte.be does holidays in French but in de Haan on the Belgian coast, 90 minutes drive from Calais. Prices from 310 euro for 7 days. They even do French courses for non French speakers, either just language tuition or language tuition combined with multi-sports, or just multi-sports without formal teaching - so this group is going to be mainly Dutch speaking Belgian children plus speakers of other languages looking to learn French.
www.vacancesvivantes.be has a bigger programme in more locations throughout Belgium, including beautiful little St Idersbald on the Belgian coast which is only 40 minutes drive from Calais, prices from 345 euro for 7 days.
Just look on UCPA's website www.ucpa.fr for what is available, at the moment it only lists up to May 2011, think the nearest locations of camps are in the Ile-de-France area surrounding Paris, at a guess at 120 minute drive from Calais. Prices just a tiny bit more expensive than above, from around 50 euro per day, lengths of camps vary.
There are without doubt more camps than these available, just these ones I know of, as our children get discount at them through the Belgian equivalent of the NHS.
I would think the idea a great one to do a camp like this, but perhaps it might be good idea to take a friend or sibling at a young age.
www.fermesdubonheur.be/stages_activites_fr.php Just remembered about this farm/horse based holiday centre, it's where the 4-6 year olds go from our school. It does holiday courses for 235 euro for 5 days. I know a 6 year old who loved it so much when she went with school this year that her mum let her go back there during the Summer holidays.
There are loads and loads of places like this all over France and Belgium, as children go on residential holidays from the age of 4 as part of their schooling and during the holidays the centres are usually open for commerical stays. Let's hope someone has details of more of them, in northern France perhaps.
I have no idea about the colonie de vacances you mention but I wouldn't necessarily restrict yourself to northern France. Eurostar obviously go to Lille and Paris but also Avignon in the summer...then if necessary you can hire a car there/take a train in the IDF area.
Gosh. UCPA is a huge organisation that is quite mass market. My DSS2 has been on a colonie with UCPA and loved it, but then, he is French and has been formatted into French expectations of behaviour etc. I would hesitate to send an English-speaking child to UCPA without a bilingual cousin or close friend to lean on (and even then...).
I suggest you look into Pré Fleuri which is where my DD's French-English bilingual school in Paris recommends we send our DCs - it is supposed to be fabulous. I will send DD when she is a little older.
Not sure I'm much use, though, as my kids are far too young to go on this kind of holiday.
I'd second Frakkinup, though: you can get cheap travel to anywhere in France in summer, so I'd not restrict myself to the North (where the weather might not be as reliable as further south). You can fly to Lyon, Bordeaux, Avignon, Nice, Nîmes, Toulouse, etc. with low-cost firms.
And I'd agree that if you have a contact in France with a kid who could accompany him it would help smooth out the cultural transition.
Will see if I can ask around locally for recommendations.
Merci à toutes! Thanks Bonsoir, Frakkinup & AuldAlliance.
Driving is out of the question for me, but taking trains and planes is not. So I can and will look further south.
His sister is quite likely to accompany him, but I don't have any French contacts whose children could accompany them. That said, they did attend a week of French class with Accord, so perhaps that should help with expectations of behaviour?
Do you really want to send him away or just want him to be have a chance to practise his French?
It might be more gentle to go on a family holiday with a kids club, but one that is only marketed to French speakers. That way he would be doing activities with French children and French 'animateurs' in the day time and seeing you in the evenings.
Othersideofthechannel's idea is a great one, was thinking of it myself this afternoon whilst wandering on to Club Med's French website - their holidays may be just a bit expensive though. I see a colonie de vacances as far more a case of immersion totale than a holiday setting full of French speakers with French children's club attached.
There are several campsites in France where the majority of holidaymakers are French and where there are holiday activities for the children during the day time. We went to a fantastic campsite called "Le Fayolan" at Clairveaux-les-lacs on the way home from Switzerland this Summer, it was 90% French speaking on the campsite with a children's club open 6 days a week. It's part of the Yelloh! chain of campsites.
Alternatively, send your 9 year old over to Brussels and he can chat to our petits loups and go on camps in the area!!!