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Long car journey through France with a 4-year-old - places to stop?

(7 Posts)
cloudjumper Mon 01-Jun-15 12:58:30

We will be travelling to France by car, going to a place, which is close to Poitiers. Going via Eurotunnel, and from Calais, we will be heading south via Rouen, Le Mans and Tours.

Can anyone recommend (a) good place(s) to stop for a break along the way? We will be going with our DS who has just turned 4, and ideally, we would like to have a break where he can run around and let off steam (he is very active). We'll travel along the A16/A28/A10 motorways, and although we don't mind going a little bit off route, if it's a good place for a stop, it should ideally be close (as we don't want to lose too much time).

Any recommendations are appreciated! Good playgrounds, parks, stretches of forest, any activities (within reason), even a chateau with a nice park to stretch our legs...
According to the map, we will be driving through the Parc Naturel Regional de Normandie-Maine, has anyone been there maybe?

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 01-Jun-15 13:02:11

We've regularly been driving to the south coast of France since our DDs were tiny - they are now mid teens.

Look at the signs advertising each service station - they are some way in advance of the turn off. They will tell you what each one has to offer. Some are quite basic - just petrol and snacks, but most have big grassy areas where kids can run around, and many have proper play areas too.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 01-Jun-15 13:03:03

BTW - we often used to do a large part of our journey well into the night, when DDs were asleep.

iwantgin Tue 02-Jun-15 14:24:16

Our DC are older, so not so much need for running around.

Are you doing the drive in one day, or stopping off overnight ?

My favourite service station is the one at Baie de Somme. So only an hour or so from the Tunnel, but by then I' m ready for a coffee and a toilet. It's quite nice to have a walk around there - small play area iirc.

Sorry, I can't offer any more than that. You could ask on Trip Advisor forums for some advice. The France section is generally quite active.
Enjoy France!

cloudjumper Tue 02-Jun-15 14:45:25

Thank you MrsL and iwant for your replies. We will be driving during the day, as we have booked the Tunnel for 9am-ish (and we can't get to the place before 3pm anyway, as we wouldn't be able to get into the cottage before then).

I will certainly check out the Baie de Somme service station, as this is pretty much the time we would need/want a stop!

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Sun 07-Jun-15 21:25:02

Agree about the service stations - we usually pack a football near the front of the boot and let them have a good run around. Some even have climbing frames!

fredabear Sun 07-Jun-15 21:33:28

Baie de Somme is a lovely service area, definitely worth waiting for it. We have been travelling through France since DTs were 8 months and the smaller 'aires' are lovely, often less busy than the proper service stations. I also found my 'sac magique' came in handy for the in between bits - stocking filler type toys and games to pull out as and when needed. Around the Loire it is worth coming off the motorway for lunch in a proper town. We tend to stay in Novotels for the family rooms and ease. Bon voyage!

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