European Holidays - Completely Confused!(26 Posts)
Firstly I apologise if this question has been asked 100 times before but I'm a newbie and really need some up-to-date info and opinions.
We've never been on holiday before but I've been squirreling away money from my student loan and have around £1000 so far to put towards a week away in August (we also need to budget for passports). Because we haven't been away before I'm anxious that the kids (8 and 14yrs) have a really good time in a place that will cater for both age groups.
I have looked at Eurocamp, Key Camp, Matthews, Canvas, French Freedom, Siblu, etc and they all look great until I read the reviews on Trip Advisor and find out that they're dirty or plagued with anti-social behaviour.
I'm not a snob (honest) but I don't want to be surrounded by oiks (my partner thinks this is something we will just have to endure on our budget), nor do I want any of us to feel uncomfortable because the accommodation has cooties, or is so tightly packed that I can hear next door snoring (or worse!). I can't do camping because of a stroppy bowel, but don't mind caravans, mobile homes, etc.
Sorry this is a bit long-winded, what I really want to ask is this; are there any nice parcs in France or should I scrape together some more money and just go for a package deal further afield?
Thanks for reading x
The link you posted up thread sent me through to a site in the ardeche in France.
ihatethecold - i don't think i mentioned a site - which one did you mean?
I have stayed at a fair few, but although they were all good, none of them particularly stand out.
Thank you lifeisonthteup re: travel times and Les penyrals recommendation (so lovely - will definitely get in early for next year!) ihatethecold and Portofino - for fab location suggestions which I hadn't previously looked at, and FellatioNels0n - you are so on my wave length! Also exexpat - I agree with you about people's unrealistic expectations, esp as we tend usually to speak up more when we're complaining rather than when we're praising. chippyminton, ta for the link and advice, I didn't realise that I needed a green card from my insurer so that's really good to know.
Not sure with this level of naivety whether I should be allowed out of the country to be honest! ; )
Chippyminton that site looks lovely. Have you stayed there
If you have? Was there much to do in the area.
We are looking for for peace and quiet interms of surroundings. Is there any food onsite?
I have been to Union Lido and Parc Albatross in Italy, La Carabasse, La Sirene and Lac des Reves in France. We had lovely holidays at all.
I've stayed at norcenni girosole a few years ago my kids loved it. We booked with vacanzesoliel as it was cheaper than the other main companies.
We got the train to Florence for the day very cheaply.
My kids would love to go back there.
Have also stayed at camping Eden in lake Garda. That's a small site with lovely views over the lake.
Have started at many others but they were the best.
Don't worry too much about a handful of bad reviews on Tripadvisor - I don't think even the best 5* hotels have 100% satisfaction rates, as people will always find something to complain about (and often have unrealistic expectations). Obviously if you read through and the majority of the reviews are full of dire warnings, then best stay away, but if negatives are outnumbered two or three to one by positives, then it's probably OK.
How old are your DCs? I would really recommend going just before or just after the school holidays, for better value for money and less traffic, more space around the pool etc.
Campsites I can thoroughly recommend are La Sirene in Argeles Sur Mer, France, Chateau Des Ormes in Dol-de-Bretagne, and Les Grottes Des Roffy in Sarlat. There are two lovely camps around Le Bugue and Limeuil in the Dordognes as well that I haven't stayed on but have visited and they look nice. In fact that area is so beautiful and the campsites generally of such a high standard that you can't go wrong really.
There is another lovely one in Tuscany called Norcenni Girasole (sp?) which is big, and busy but looks like fantastic fun and gets excellent reviews. Again, I haven't stayed there but I had a good nose around it when we were in the area and I would consider going there for sure.
In my experience undesirable oiks don't go to Tuscany or the Dorgogne.
I have been on several Eurocamp type holidays and I cannot recommend them highly enough. If i were on a limited budget I would far rather be on a nice Eurocamp site than in a crappy downmarket hotel with tired facilities and awful food any day.
As for anti-social behaviour on campsites I have never witnessed any, but I am aware that it can happen. The key to avoiding it is be careful were you go.
We have gone to various parts of France without any problems whatsoever, but the one time we went to Spain there was a marked difference in the 'type' of clientele. I'll say no more than that - you can fill in the blanks.
In my experience if you pick a huge camp on the coast in Spain, Italy and parts of France the accommodation can sometimes be a bit shabby and packed together like rows of sardine cans, on dusty pitches, and the atmosphere can be a bit Butlins-like. However if you pick slightly smaller sites, and go a bit more inland or countryside locations they are spacious, clean, beautiful and civilized.
We have always done the journey in one hit from Calais, the motorways are good and generally quiet. Takes us about 7 hours to get to the Dordogne.
Thanks for all your responses, some really good leads for me to follow up on.
The money I have saved so far was just to go towards paying for the accommodation now and then saving more for expenses and spending money in the run up to it. It would have been my preference to go the last week of August but alas my other half was beaten to the punch for those dates so it will be the 17th. Really good to hear that none of you have had negative experiences with these parcs, I was actually starting to feel a bit despondent after trawling through Trip Advisor!
Can I also just ask; for those of you who have driven to central France, did you do the journey in one hit or did you stop over somewhere? We can share the driving but would it be a mammoth journey from Calais?
We went through Eurocamp, so have no experience of booking direct. I really like the eurocamp mobile homes and you can do linen and towel hire through them too.
Thanks..sorry another question.. did u book direct with site or go through Eurocamp. whats better do u think?.xx
Apart from I think 2007 when the weather was awful across France it's been lovely. Last year we went the last week in August/1st week in September and it was 25 degrees most days. It had been 30 degrees earlier in August.
It goes look ideal..Has weather generally been gd?
They don't to us either Ruthie but this one is very civilised and seems to be good for all ages.
There's lots to do in the area as well, mine loved the canoeing.
Thanks so much for replying Lifeisontheup... I had not come across it before.. I have bookmarked it for next year. We have really enjoyed small gite complexes in last few years but I think as the boys get older this larger (but not massive) site will be great. Huge mobile homes site do not appeal to me.
Loads of English children there in August, ours made friends each time they went when they were younger. We started going there 6/7 years ago. Really can't recommend it highly enough. We went last year with 16, 18 and 20 year olds and they still enjoyed it.
Lifeisontheup... Peneyrals looks fab... are there many other English children there in August for DCs to play with?
I have never come across anti-social behaviour on any of my mobile home holidays. £1000 is not going to go very far in August though - as others have said, especially as others have said, by the time you have factored in travel costs, tolls, insurance etc.
With the exception of Siblu, all the companies you mention have their own mobile homes on campsites run by others. Siblu, which is part of Haven, I think, run their own parks, which, IME have a more 'British' flavour.
When looking at sites, look out for those run by Yelloh or Castels et Camping, which tend to be well-run. In terms of quality of accomodation, I would rank Keycamp as the best quality, then Eurocamp, Canvas, Thomson Al Fresco. You will pay more for these though. If you don't want kids clubs, stick with the companies/sites that don't provide them, to save money.
There are plenty of lovely sites, but as Fluffy says, you need to budget for fuel, tolls, Green Card, breakdown cover, travel insurance, linen hire possibly etc on top of the holiday cost. Also the ferry crossing is the basic midweek Dover-Calais and any upgrade on this will cost more.
Keycamp have some good offers on the Dordogne site today, I notice. The other thing is to play with dates - the last week of August tends to be cheaper.
If you can afford to go to the dordogne then try Les penyrals, they have their own website where you can get cheaper chalets and Eurocamp and canvas do mobile homes there. We've been there 5 times in August and never heard of any antisocial behaviour or dirty mobile homes.
I think if you head for the smaller sites it is better generally. Les Penyrals has four fantastic clean pools including an indoor one with a separate slide pool. The restaurant is lovely and the staff friendly and helpful. The owner, Benoit, is always on call, in fact I don't think he sleeps during high season!
Does your budget include travel, petrol, tolls etc, food and activities or is it just for the accommodation?
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