“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
With these words on repeat in my brain I clicked the purchase button for this years family holiday. I did so unwittingly as who knew last Autumn (when I booked it) that by July 4th 2015 as we set sail from Ringaskiddy that I would indeed have an extra passenger on-board, albeit an as-yet still cooking, stowaway! Much anticipated & already loved though, I may add.
Weighing more than the average truck, we boarded, roof box and trailer in tow. That’s the thing about space….. You just kinda fill it & bring more stuff that, let’s face it, you don’t need …… But I harboured the excuse (killing it with the puns today, eh?) that on the way home it would leave us more space for wine. So effectively I was doing a good thing & saving us money!
And so Le Clarys Plage Campsite Ahoy! We arrived en-force but weren’t they ready for us!! Truth be told we had been to Le Clarys Plage in 2014 with Eurocamp also – you can see the site here. So we knew what to expect.
Morning walk to beach via patisserie – in other words….we wrestled him out of the mobile at crack of dawn everyday with military precision before he woke the girls…..and collected the bread on the way back from killing an hour messing in the sand.
The reasons we picked this site are the same as many many other Irish families with kids under 12 do. Happy children make happy parents. There are so many age appropriate activities both on-site & locally here that there is rarely a dull moment.
This is our criteria (complied with much debate & discussion with friends):
- A manageable drive – Le Clarys is 4hrs 15 mins from Roscoff & with such early disembarking from the ferry it allows a leisurely drive south towards St Jean-de-Monts. One breakfast stop & you are there for lunch!
- Further south than Brittany for best chance of sunshine – this is in the North Vendeè. But it’s rarely too hot.
- Bikes – the bike trails here are fantastic. I had not been on a bike in years but we hired some & cycled to different local villages each morning to sample their coffee & pastries – some days all 5 of us and some days just 3rd born in the bike trailer as 1st & 2nd born were busy for 2 hours at kids club.
- Pools – with 9 water slides, a large wet area with a deserted dragon ship, and toddler plus grown up pools and an obligatory lazy river there really was something for all. And the main pool is heated. Fabulous.
- Beach – the enormous beach was about 700m from the site. Great for normal beach activity & for running on in the mornings when the tide was out.
- Kids Clubs – as I mentioned we traveled with Eurocamp. They have fantastic kids clubs on-site which catered for children up to the ages of 13 in their 4 tents. Our girls loved it……but not as much as hubster & I did! Tuesday was a highlight….. 10am – 2pm session and off they used to scoot with their lunch bags, leaving hubster & I looking slightly bewildered & utterly delighted at the prospect of only having to police Octopus child for this lengthy spell. Wednesday night pizza party from 5-7pm came a very close 2nd as for the additional €5 charge, they were fed & watered, leaving us again to grab an early dinner with the small squire.
- Activities locally – with St Jean-de-Monts & St Gilles Croix de Vie on your doorstep their are plenty of restaurants & shops to seek out. There is an endless list of family fun too, such as mini golf, pony riding, karting, absailing, amusement parks & a supermarket right next door.
It wasn’t all plain sailing! 3rd born did nearly break us. Literally every family in our row knew his name, most likely due to our continual searching for him but maybe also due to his penchant for climbing out over the decking gate in various states of undress & belting it away from our mobile as fast as his 18 month old legs would allow. Usually starkers naked as he learned to undo his nappy (and climb out of his cot – oh joy! Rapture! Thrilled with silly o’clock visits from 1 and a half foot high would be assailant).
Did you know the literal translation of Candy Floss from the French “Barbe à papa” means Daddy’s beard. Hhhhhhmmmmmm, just not sure how I feel about that.
So did I become a better, more knowledgable parent on holiday this year? No, certainly not…..but I learned a few valuable lessons. Such as Relax and go with it – forget normal routines, don’t worry about what other families do & do what’s right for you and yours at that time. Kids are flexible & accept that once home, then home rules apply again. (side note: There could quite possibly be a Nutella deficiency in France currently. 1st born ate it all. But I am most certainly responsible for the butter deficiency)
To give balance I would say there were a few shortfallings. But my view is that nowhere is perfect. Here are what I would change if I could regarding our Eurocamp experience:
- Storage – we took the new Avant Mobile home & were so excited as it has a dishwasher. It was great but there is nowhere near enough storage space in them, most specifically with regards to cupboards, hooks, shelves & wardrobes. So if you take one, bring less stuff!
- Breakages – the new furniture outside the mobile is very flimsy. We were left a broken chair which collapsed under me (6 months pregnant – not fun!) & on complaint we discovered that it was a common occurrence this year. Some of our light switches also broke so had to be disabled. And our BBQ broke 3 times so we were without for a week.
But Eurocamp did remedy the situations that arose – in time!
But on balance, was it worth it? A resounding Yes! But it is better with wine. Maybe next year, eh?
First proper cycle on the bike track to St J-d-M! Lured & rewarded with ice-cream. Mega growing up done over summer holliers.
Which brings me nicely to this. At the end of our holiday we had the same conversation as many of our friends did – would we return again next year? We hummed & hawed…..easy life versus exploring new found land. I can tell you now that I know 5 families that were there with us who have actually booked a 3rd return visit there for 2016 already. If it ain’t broken…..well, don’t fix it. Well not until the kids are able to entertain themselves, eh?
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer whatever your plans are. I’m always looking for inspiration & would love if you would share kiddie friendly places on my FaceBook page which you can visit here.
Yours, quite literally unable to see over the MOUNTAIN of washing,