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Holidays for a family of 7

24 replies

Cfr · 22/01/2002 14:56

Has anyone got any ideas for holidays with 5 children? We normally go self-catering in the UK (probably will this year too), but I really fancy going abroad, maybe France or Spain.

The problem I'm finding is that the cost of flying really pushes the prices up, and also much of the accommodation is limited to 6. I've just had a reply from Eurocamp that the only way we could be accommodated in a mobile home (tents are out as they only sleep 6) is for us to use the sofabed in the lounge - has anyone tried this? I'm not sure I like the idea of 2 weeks on a sofabed.

I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas for holidays.

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janh · 22/01/2002 15:24

Clr, maybe it's too late to book this but Eurocamp do junior tents - when we went we only had 3 kids but 2 of them slept in the junior tent all the time.
How old is your youngest? If he/she is still cot age they really ought to be able to stretch a point and let you have a tent, if that's what you'd rather have.
On the other hand, you get air conditioning and your own bathroom in a mobile home..if it was me and I could afford it I'd go for that like a shot!

ChanelNo5 · 22/01/2002 17:07

I was going to suggest Eurocamp too, as they have the junior tents. Not sure if the others do, but might be worth an enquiry. Hope you find something, Cfr, good luck, I'm finding it hard to find suitable holidays with 3 kids nevermind 5!

Cfr · 22/01/2002 17:11

Thanks janh. I think Keycamp state in their brochure that even with junior tents, maximum occupancy is still 6. I'll check with Eurocamp. Youngest are coming up to 6, so have outgrown their cots (only just though!).

I must say, having to share showers and toilets has never appealed, which is why we've never considered camping until the children were well out of nappies. It might have to be a mobile home.

Do you know anything about sites with apartments? Would we fit in an apartment? They seem pretty cheap compared with villas.

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janh · 22/01/2002 19:19

Cfr - (sorry about the l!) - we've never done an apartment holiday abroad - whereabouts are you thinking of? On package holidays apartments often seem to include a sofabed as part of the sleeping arrangements (I read the brochures wistfully when my daughters bring them home.)

We did a gite holiday once, in Normandy, that was OK although the arrangement of some of the rooms was a bit bizarre - it was part of a barn, converted, the living room had a staircase going nowhere, the kitchen only had a window onto a sort of garage, the bathroom had one of those sit-up tubs under the shower, and you had to go through one child's room to get to the other. I also used to get mini-shocks off the washing machine and the promised dishwasher didn't exist. (Apart from all that it was great!)

We have also done camping with our own kit - we have a 3 bedroom marquee plus a couple of smaller ones. It is a lot cheaper and more flexible but hard work setting up and taking down. (And even with a people-carrier you need a roof-box or a trailer to fit it all in.)

The sofas in the lounges of mobile homes are designed to be extra beds, I'm sure you would sleep on them as well as any other bed in a caravan - you couldn't go to bed until everybody else had but I don't suppose you would anyway! (How old is/are your eldest though? Not clubbing age yet???)

Cfr · 22/01/2002 20:38

My eldest is 10, so not clubbing age ... although I know of a friend's dd who wanted to start clubbing at the age of 11!!

I don't know where I want to go ... somewhere warm, but probably France or Spain. We used to go camping with our own stuff pre-kids, but I don't think I could face it now. We fill a roof box when we go to a cottage in Wales!

I think we'll look into the mobile home option. I quite fancy a gite actually, but the children love staying in places where there is a pool, and lots to do, and where they will make friends. We've found a few places in this country where there is a group of cottages, a pool, playarea etc and the children love it.

Incidentally ChanelNo5, did you know there is a Eurocamp site where each tent has its own mini shower block? A friend has booked there for Whit for 3 weeks. It's in the South of France too. Still only sleeps 6 though ...

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SueW · 22/01/2002 23:02

What about a villa or is that out of the price range?

Stayed in one pre-kids which was advertised as accommodating 4 people and when we got there there were 3 bedrooms: one double, two twins, plus a sofabed in the living room! Aaaargh....

We stayed in some pseudo mobile homes in Holland when DH was working there. They ranged from the basic model you'd get over here with a bedroom, tiny shower/toilet, kitchenette and sofabed to units that had been put together and made into a three bedroom home with full kitchen, dining room and huge lounge. Amazing. In Emmen. Can't remember the name of the site though (and it was very cold when I was there, even with the heating on - April - July. Bad summer.

janh · 22/01/2002 23:10

Cfr, you have 5 from 5 to 10? I salute you! (But they don't exactly NEED new friends on a camp-site or somewhere - they are a little gang by themselves!)

I think you would do fine in a mobile home. Some of them are designed to sleep 8 so should be plenty big enough for your tribe - if you can avoid the school holidays they are really reasonable too. (June is hot plus you get the lovely long days.)

A couple of years ago we thought, in March, about doing Eurocamp in Italy, but when I rang up the only thing they had - literlly - was one basic mobile home on one site in Florence - the chap on the phone said people book on their mobiles from their cars as they drive home from this year's holiday for the next. I don't know if Spain is the same but get in as soon as you can - good luck!

jasper · 23/01/2002 01:10

Cfr if you have five children there is only one thing that qualifies as a holiday - leave them all at home and go away on your own... )

keziah · 23/01/2002 15:29

Hi Cfr - we went to France a couple of years ago and booked a house through Chez Nous - they have a website as well as a brochure. It's just a book of privately owned and rented out houses. We had this fantastic house with about 6 bedrooms - a bit threadbare (so felt right at home!) and it was only about £350 for the week. That was in June so summer holidays may be more but I think it only went up to £600ish at the most expensive time. They have a massive range of houses so may be worth a look. I only have three children and they are all under 4 so your needs may well be different. Hope you find something good!

Rhiannon · 23/01/2002 16:20

Center Parcs do 4 bed and 2 bath villas too. No outside pools though but perhaps nice for an out of season break. R

JacquiKD · 23/01/2002 17:10

Cfr, Haven Europe cater for families your size. We went to the South of France when we only had one child (now have 3!) and had a 7 sleeper caravan. We went with my husband's family who had 4 children at the time - they had one of the larger caravans - Super 8 I think it was called. You have three bedrooms - one with a double bed, two with two single beds and the settee in the lounge also converts into a double bed.

My daughter was only 9 months when we went, but my sister-in-law's children were 3, 7 and 11 and they had a wonderful time - she hardly ever saw them as they were mostly in the kiddies clubs.

I am thinking of going this year as I have just had a third child (3 months ago). We normally go to Greece or Spain for two weeks and stay in a hotel on a half board basis. Not many hotels cater for families with three children and one of the options I was thinking of was going to the South of France as I know the elder two would have a wonderful time and, because we would drive (it is not as bad as it sounds) there would be no problem in taking all the things we needed for the baby, i.e. pram, cot, highchair, steriliser, etc.

Cfr · 24/01/2002 14:44

Thanks for all the suggestions. Our latest plan is a mobile home in Brittany. Having looked at the mobile homes with various companies, the larger ones look as though we could manage even without the sofabed, and even have 2 bathrooms and a dishwasher! Not exactly 'roughing it'. From what you say janh, we may be looking at 2003!

Villa is definitely out of the price range (but look the most inviting option).

keziah, I have sent off for the Cheznous brochure, so may yet consider that. Unfortunately, the children have seen pictures of waterslides, so that is now on their list of essential holiday items (my list consists of a corkscrew and somewhere to keep the wine cool! - the only way to holiday with 5, since leaving them is not an option. Unless mumsnetters fancy offering, of course... no, thought not).

Have also sent off for Haven Europe and Center Parcs ... at this rate we'll be on holiday more than we're at home!

Thanks for the help. It's interesting to hear from others with larger families. Brochure prices seem to assume you will only have one child.

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Cfr · 24/01/2002 15:05

One more question - the campsite we are considering La Grande Metairie) is one which is used by all the major companies (Eurocamp, Keycamp etc). How does this work? Does each company have a separate section of the site? Are children's clubs shared? And are these sites too big to let the children loose?

You can tell I was a Girl Guide ... I always like to be prepared.

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Faith · 24/01/2002 17:56

Cfr, We went to a site at Fouesnant and one in the Vendee last summer. They were very different...the one in Brittany was excellent, the other pretty grotty. Each operator tends to have their tents/ mobile homes in the same area, tho' they may have several points around the site. Dd's were only 4 so we didn't let them loose, but friends with a 5 and 7 yr old let them go off to the playground/ shop for short periods. The kids clubs were organised by the individual companies. We had a great time, and would highly recommend it on the basis of the first campsite.

Cfr · 24/01/2002 18:15

Thanks for that Faith. Who did you go with?

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Faith · 24/01/2002 21:58

We went with Canvas Holidays (they were the most highly rated camping company in the Observer/Guardian holiday poll for the last couple of years. They were also cheaper than some of the others. We didn't use the kids club at all the first week, but we had several rainy days in the second week, and dd's went and had a great time...playing games, painting pebbles, making jewellery etc. If you're staying near Carnac, we had an excellent meal at a restaurant called La Cote, very close to the standing stones. Quite a smart retaurant, but no objections to our less than pristine garb (we stopped for lunch en route from Fouesnant to the Vendee), and no fuss when dd knocked her orange juice all over the table!

Faith · 24/01/2002 22:01

Thought of another tip, we had to supply our own bedding so took an old duvet and ancient pillows, with the intention of throwing them away at the end (to make more room for wine!). In fact the couriers were v. grateful to receive them!

Cfr · 25/01/2002 10:55

Faith, thanks for the info. I was actually looking at Canvas Holidays, as they do a huge mobile home (well, the same size as our living room, actually, but I'm trying not to think of it like that!).

Also, this may sound like a stupid question, but what constitutes a grotty campsite?

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modaddy · 25/01/2002 13:37

i havent read all the responses and so may just be repeating whats been said, but in terms of getting there i saw you were concerned about flight costs. i have just booked onto euro tunnel for half term break we have a vehicle that seats 7 and a box on top and for a return ticket it was 149.50........much cheaper for all of us than any flights and we can take more rubbish with us!!

Cfr · 26/01/2002 14:34

Hurrah! I've just booked our holiday - didn't get the site or crossings we wanted, as everything seems to be booking fast (even while I was on the phone!), but we have to go in high season.

Anyway, we've booked with Keycamp in their largest 3-bed, 2-bath mobile home at a site in Baden, Brittany called Le Mane Guernehue (hope we don't have to ask for directions - I'll never pronounce it!). It's the first time Keycamp have used this site. We're crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff one way and St Malo Portsmouth coming back as everything else was full. It's not cheap either - £2000, but would have been infinitely cheaper if we'd gone out of season. Still cheaper than villas and fly-drives.

The children are excited (5-yr old twins thought we were packing the car this morning!!), but now have to wait 7 months. I'll let you know how we cope.

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Faith · 27/01/2002 15:28

By grotty,,partly I think it may have been the contrast with the first one, where e.g. the loos were cleaned twice a day, and were spotless. At the second one, we arrived on fri, and the loos were not cleaned until mon....they were GROSS..shit and vomit everywhere,and a real health hazard. Also they did not have seats, which dd's absolutely hated, and was pretty unpleasant. The rubbish bins were right outside the loo/shower block, and not emptied very frequently, they were smelly, and we had to negociate broken glass en route to the loo. the playground was very uneven, and strewn with rubbish..dd's had asked to go to the playground most days at the first campsite, but once was enough at the second. he pitches were very small. again, at the first site they were quite spacious, with lots of trees and hedges affording a reasonable amount of privacy. the layout at the first was well-planned, with tents up little side roads which were cul-de-sacs, but on the second this was not the case, so there was much more to-ing and fro-ing of vehicles. The gates were not closed at night, so there were cars driving around right thro' the night. However the most stressful thing was that we were at the end of the row of tents, and then there were pitches for independent campers. We were fast asleep at 2 am when several cars full of noisy youths arrived, plaing music, and generally having a good time...all fine, but not the ideal neighbours for families with small children!! Most of them slept in their cars, when not asleep the following day they were exuberant and although they were not unpleasant (just pissed most of the time!) it was not relaxing for us. The second night they didn't get back until 3, nad were then up drinking and making lots of noise until 5..which meant we were wide awake too, separated only by a bit of canvas! The problem wasn't them...I've been there (a looong time ago...)..but the positioning of the tents. there were lots of other things we didn't like, but generally the hygiene and noise were the main issues. antway, I'm sure this was not typical!! I am sure you'll have a brilliant time...I'm shocked by the cost! I thought camping was meant to be cheap!!

Faith · 27/01/2002 15:33

Sorry, that sounds such a rant! and lots of typos! and I sound so middle-aged and boring!! I'm turning into my mother!

Cfr · 31/01/2002 10:36

Faith, thanks for your reply. I hope our campsite is better than that! The cost is so high because we have gone for a 3-bedroom mobile home, and also we're using the longer ferry crossings direct to Brittany, but mainly because we're stuck with high season (August) which is the most expensive time. It's still much much cheaper than villas or package holidays.

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Faith · 31/01/2002 21:11

Cfr, Have a fab holiday. We are going to try a gite at easter....too early for camping!

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