First proper European holiday with the family - where to go?(21 Posts)
This is the basic situation: we find ourselves in the unique position of being able to go abroad this summer, we being me, dh, and 4 children who will be aged between 17 and 10. Our preferences are for one of the following:
France, Italy, Germany. Dh and I went to Rome for a weekend once and always promised to take the children back there, and they would very much like to go, but I am having second thoughts now as this may be our one and only chance to go abroad altogether (before eldest leaves home) and I would like to go somewhere new to all of us, and somewhere where our money might last a bit longer.
So, France (thinking maybe Brittany or further south?) Italy? or Germany (thinking maybe south east?)
Advice, please, from anyone who has been to any or all of these regions. We are really at the very beginning of this whole idea, so any information would be great. Where to stay? (I think hotels will be too expensive but dh would need persuasion to try camping) Where to go? What to see? It would really help also to know how much things cost (total novice here).
What's your budget? What type of holiday are you after? Beach/pool? Lots of activities for the Kids? Food and culture?
I'd avoid hotels and moving around too much with that many of you. How about a villa with a pool somewhere in Italy or the south of France, where you can alternate lazy days of messing around by the pool and day trips to interesting places or the beach. We've had a couple of holidays like that - one in a villa on the Tuscan/Umbrian border (so day-trippable to Florence, Sienna etc), one in Agde (south of France, good beaches, lots of interesting places nearby, we even did a day trip over the border to Spain). Owners Direct is good for villas.
we had lots of hols in brittany when the kids were younger - weather in south brittany is better than north - but no guarantees - lovely beaches, old towns, food. we did mobile homes as liked the facilities onsite - lots of things for kids to do.
you need to tell us your budget as this will make a lot of difference and how many weeks its for. where are you in the uk as that will determine your travel arrangements.
i now try and book accommodation which has facilities within walking distance. that way the teenagers have some independance and don't have to tag along with us all the time. i have struggled in some countries to find such places on owners direct - eg france and italy - they tend to be rural places for the price we can pay.
have you considered spain or portugal as they are both good value at the moment and a villa for 6 people in school hols is going to be at least 1.5k a week. a mobile home hol in france is going to be £3k ish for 2 weeks
Thanks for replies!
I am not sure of budget. At the moment, we have £2400 saved, but maybe could find more if need be. Also, don't necessarily want to spend all that if we don't have to. I really have no idea what holidays cost! As for how long, well that is what I am trying to determine. A week minimum, 2 weeks maximum. We live in the south west. I know flights or ferries would be the easiest option, but I prefer the Channel Tunnel for France or Germany certainly.
We don't like holidays where you sit on the beach or in the campsite all day although a day or 2 on a beach would be fun. We like history and countryside most, a bit of food and culture never goes amiss, by which I mean, we would eat the local food, but not looking for gourmet eating. Take France, (and bear in mind, I have no idea where these places are ) I would like to see Avignon, Carcasonne, places like that. Ideally, I suppose I was thinking of maybe staying in 2 or 3 places and doing day trips. We are leaning more towards France and Germany now, partly because these are the languages our children are learning so it would be nice for them to try them out.
I have looked up OwnersDirect, and see some places are available for individual nights but it seems to be more of a weekly hire basis which would not suit us. Are there still places where you can camp and all the facilities are provided for you, including tents and equipment? Sorry if I am being so vague. I really am clueless as to how to go about this and what is on offer as holidays abroad are not something we have previously been able to afford since having children (though they have been to Paris for a weekend so don't want to take them there) and they have been to Australia to see relatives.
What about a Canal Boat? We have done 2 on the Canal du Midi. Fantastic holidays. The scenery changes every day but you don't have to keep unpacking.
Yes, there are campsites around France and Germany where you can rent pre-pitched tents or mobile homes, and they sometimes let you stay just for a few nights (though some have one-week minimums in the summer holidays). I'm not sure about tents, but the mobile homes are pretty well-equipped - you just need to take bed linen and towels etc.
But £2,400 sounds like a very tight budget for six of you if you are hoping to go for a couple of weeks and if it has to include everything - ferries (assuming you're driving? Flying and hiring a car is even more expensive), accommodation, meals out, entry fees etc. A couple of years ago I booked a deal with Brittany Ferries for return crossing for car plus all occupants, and one week in a mobile home in a campsite in Brittany (as used by Eurocamp etc) which could sleep six (though there were only four of us), and that came to over £1,500 before we even started on fuel, meals etc. I would guess booking places for a few nights at a time would work out more expensive than a one-week package.
A one way cruise through the camargue comes up at about 2000 euros for a week in July - so about £1800
Will ask family what they think of a canal boat. We know a family who did that last year. The thing would be whether we could get one that visits enough places of interest.
When I said £2400, I meant that is how much we have saved so far so that is the minimum spend we have. I guess - unforeseen circumstances aside - we could save more than that between now and the summer... I was hoping to avoid ferries and use the channel tunnel. Is that any cheaper than a ferry? I suspect not. Oh dear, this family holiday is looking harder and harder to achieve.
Ok, so if travelling from place to place is too expensive, is there one area anyone could recommend where we could stay the whole time? With places to visit within say a 90 minute drive max (preferably 60 mins). I have just thought of another field of interest for some of us. My dh and 2 oldest boys like military stuff, so beaches of Normandy, that sort of thing.
Normandy is an ideal location for you. Have a look at the Gites de France website for some good deals. We've stayed in a couple of places in Normandy, I'll dig out the details for you.
We went from St Gilles through the Camargue, Aigues Mortes, Grau de Roi, Palavas, Setes, Marseillan, Vias. So a bit of countryside, bit of beach. And a side trip to Montpellier. Hardly any locks.
We have also come from the other direction and stopped at Castelnaudry, Carcassone etc - lots more locks, lovely scenery.
We have stayed here en.gites-de-france.com/vacation-rentals-calvados-mandeville-en-bessin-gite,gites14_b2013.1.1665.G.html which has August availability, the adjacent gite en.gites-de-france.com/vacation-rentals-calvados-mandeville-en-bessin-gite,gites14_b2013.1.1664.G.html adjacent has full availability in Jul & Aug. A great location a short drive to Omaha beach and well located for WW2 stuff.
I think Eurotunnel can be quite cheap - less than £150 return? As can some of the Calais ferry crossings as there is quite a lot of competition and it's a short crossing. The Brittany ferries are more expensive because they are longer crossings, but they are handy for my end of the country (SW) and they do save you the motorway tolls if you are driving a long way across France.
I justed looked at a Eurocamp-style place in Germany (on Lake Constance) - a tent sleeping 6 would cost 860 euros for a week in July/August, a mobile home in a similar site (2 bedrooms for 6 people, so a bit cramped) would be at least 1,300 euros for a week.
what about a week in normandy and then one in south brittany? This would maximise your site seeing potential in the nearby area. south brittany you have beautiful old towns like auray and vannes and the standing stones. if you stayed on a eurocamp type site then you would have lots of sporting activities.
BUT when we did this holiday last it was about 4 years ago and it cost us 3k - admittedly it was the largest mobile and most expensive ferry crossing. if there are 6 of you then largest mobile is essential though.
why did you want to avoid ferries? the st malo/portsmouth crossing was the start of our hol - entertainment, bar etc. you need an overnight cabin though. i think there are faster crossings from portsmouth/poole to normandy. this would save you loads of driving both ends - compared to tunnel
Flights for 6 will be prohibitively expensive on your budget as all the cheap seats go early after release. Eurotunnel best trade off convenience/price for driving. Eurocamp, keycamp very expensive. Use them to find a site you like and then look at booking direct or with one of the cheaper operators like Venue Holidays or Selectcamp/Roan/rentatent/tentsetters (use Google translate if needed). If you can go end Aug it will be much cheaper. Have you considered Holland? Cheap to get to and lots to do. Could combine with Belgium and Germany. Or Spain? Costs more to get there - but not much more than S of France - but cheaper once you're there. For France, have a look at Flower campings. Depending on when you can go, you should have a few options in budget. We're doing 4 to Italy by air with car hire, 3 locations for a total of 17 nights for 1800 in school hols so anything is possible!
cheerup - (sorry OP to hijack your original thread) - could you tell where you are going in Italy and how you have managed to do it at that price in summer hols - might want to go with you
OP - Hope you find something - sounds like it will be good fun wherever you go and half the fun is in the planning.
I'd suggest Normandy too. It's the first place abroad we went with our dcs, and they still talk about the stuff they saw, now. Rent a cottage (gite) and you can explore all sorts. Weather not guarenteed (bit like home really), and when we went, we saw so much because the weather was so wet, but some nice beaches still if you are lucky eough to get sun, but plenty to see - that your dc will have heard of / study or have studied - in and around the area.
You'll struggle to book a package to anywhere for the whole family for that money, in the school holidays I'm afraid - flights are too expensive.
Suziewaitingforsnow - We're going to Tuscany at the end of August (arrive back at Gatwick at 9pm the night before the kids go back to school). Flying BA - flights booked in October for £450. Car hire with hertz from 18/8 to 2/9 - £220. Two nights in small apartment just outside Lucca city walls - £150. 7 nights in a mobile home at Le Pianacce Le Pianacce booked direct for 700 euro (£592 at todays exchange). 8 nights in a Venue tent at Park Albatros booked in November for £255. Total = £1667. Less than I thought although obviously doesn't include spending money. I spend a long time looking at holidays and trying to get a bargain - it's a hobby that sees me through the long winter months .
OP - if you post where you want to go, the type of accommodation you'll consider and when, I'd love to see what I can do with my amateur travel agenting!
Hello everyone, sorry I wasn't around yesterday.
Well, the goalposts have now been changed rendering everything everyone has said here redundant Sorry about that, but defnitely not my fault!
The thing is, I initiated a conversation with dh about this which started with him saying his number one choice was a long weekend in Rome (because about a decade ago we promised our children we would take them there one day but then our financial situation collapsed but they have never forgotten the promise) and I said my number one choice was a fortnight in Ireland, but that had been vetoed by the kids who want sunshine guaranteed, so dh was just going to have to suck it up as he and I have been to Rome before and I wanted to go somewhere we have never been before.
That was the start of the conversation... we then ran through some suggestions here, were nearly decided on a week in a Eurocamp in Brittany, when, suddenly, it was right back to Rome again where it is now pretty much agreed we will go. Not sure how that happened!
Anyway, that's where we are looking at now. Will probably be 4 days, either staying in a city apartment (self catering cheap apartments which we know from a weekend with the kids in Paris) or back to the hotel dh and I stayed in when we were last there which doesn't seem too expensive. But cheerup, if you want to do some travel agency work for us and can find a good deal, be my guest!
Husbands, eh? I don't know where I would be without mine - probably enjoying a lovely fortnight in Brittany
Thanks to everyone who responded with ideas. It wasn't entirely useless. I hope we can use these ideas next year when I also hope to get my way.
There are some fab campsites near Rome so you could go r a amity holiday with sightseeing days into Rome. Friend of mine stayed in I Pini but there are others. Look at Canvas, Selectcamp, Keycamp etc etc.
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