So we made it back to Blighty after our French road trip and what a trip it was.
I have to say I’m a complete Eurocamp convert – having never done this kind of holiday before.
We’ve driven to France before and always find it fairly easy. Well, I find it easy because hubster does 98.3% of the driving. For some reason my head really can’t cope with being overtaken from the ‘wrong’ side or people joining a motorway from the right. That said, French motorways are great. Most of them are tolls so rarely get busy, but they also have service stations or rest stops every 20-30km. This is a God-send when travelling with a potty training toddler.
Anyway, after a 4 hour drive from Calais, we stopped off in Orleans for the night. Then up the next morning for a 3-4 hour drive to the Dordogne region and the little town of St Avit de Vialard.
The campsite, St Avit Loisirs, was hidden behind a few windy, hilly roads, but there was plenty of life on arrival!
As you know, there’s a big gap between my boys so it can be difficult to find entertainment for both. Swimming can also be a challenge as Boy1 is undoubtedly the best swimmer in the house and Boy2 still needs to be covered in inflatables (yet his confidence in the water would make you think otherwise). But this site had it all: deep pools, shallow pools, splash area, slides, rapids, indoor pool. Something for everyone.
There are also plenty of loungers dotted around. Admittedly, we weren’t there for peak half term, so can’t guarantee how busy it can get. But for us, it was perfect.
A little hilly, but still a good activity for passing away some time when you don’t want to swim or wander off site. More importantly, it’s FREE!! Simply pay a small deposit for the balls and clubs, which you’ll get back on return.
There are a few shaded spots too, so Boy2 was able to nap whilst Boy1 practiced his swing.
As we booked through Eurocamp*, we had access to the selection of kids clubs. Having picked up his ‘passport’ on day one Boy1 was able to walk off each morning to do a session for an hour and a half. Anything from multi-sports, to bridge building. There was also a second session in the afternoon.
As long as an adult stays on site, this is a good way to get some child-free time, from over 4’s at least.
Boy2 was able to attend some of the stay & play sessions. He loved the balance bikes and enjoyed a bit of water play.
I have to say the staff (couriers) were fantastic. All so friendly, helpful and patient, even when surrounded by grumpy, hot kids. I could not fault them! 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿
From tennis, to bikes for hire, a play park, mini disco and table tennis, there were plenty of things to keep kids entertained. Nothing too exhausting or scary, but enough to keep our campers happy.
Having never done this kind of holiday before, we opted for a mid range (price) cabin. The Espirit 2 bedrooms with A/C. It was fairly basic but served its purpose.
The boys loved the bunk beds and the near daily BBQs (every home comes with a coal BBQ at least).
The kitchen/living area was very small but equipped with fridge-freezer, gas cooked and oven. There’s also plenty of crockery, a few pots, pans, a kettle and cutlery.
Whilst we didn’t spend masses of time indoors, I would probably opt for a higher spec cabin next time, just for the space. Oh and the bed. Ours was quite uncomfortable – like a folded camp bed. Not bad for one or two nights, but after 5, we were glad to see the back of it.
Out and about
The nearest town to the site is Le Bugue (‘Le who?’I hear you ask!). Yes it’s a small town, but lovely nonetheless.
I wouldn’t dismiss going for a little walk around Le Bugue just to get your bearings and see the beauty of the Dordogne.
Whilst out, we visited the Aquarium de Perigord Noir. A great morning out and you get a free ‘VIP’ experience through the campsite.
So, the VIP experience didn’t quite suite me, as it involved getting up close and personal to feed some hungry myocastors (like beavers, or big rats…). Boy1 and hubster jumped at the chance. I jumped right behind the barrier with Boy2 and observed from a distance 😬.
We also took a 40 min drive over to Chateau Castelnaud. If your clutch or handbrake are dodgy, might be best to opt for a bus trip as it is a very hilly and windy route.
But it sits on top of a hill in an old medieval town. We didn’t actually get to see inside because Boy2 fell asleep and Boy1 got travel sick (obvs), but it was a nice wander nonetheless.
The important bit! As I mentioned, we BBQ’d pretty much every day. Rather than shopping at the onsite store, we went into Le Bugue town to the main Hypermarche (there are a few to choose from) and stocked up on plenty of meat, bread and veg.
You really could do a proper ‘big shop’ so fussy eaters can still be catered for. I somehow got into the habit of having a baguette a day to go with the copious amounts of cheese I purchased – don’t judge me…
And don’t get me started on the wine….
The campsite does have a restaurant and burger place. We only ate at the latter once, but everyone seemed happy with the pizzas and burgers and the prices weren’t crazy. But choice was limited, so I’d definitely recommend heading out of you can.
If you don’t want to do your own cooking, there are a few cafes and restaurants in Le Bugue and plenty looked child-friendly.
All in all I have to say we had a fab time. I’d definitely recommend a Eurocamp style holiday if you want to go abroad and don’t want to fork out loads of money for a hotel or resort. It’s a bit more effort than an all inclusive, but the beauty of it is that it encourages you to get out and about. Plus it was an absolute BARGAIN!
We paid £350 for our 5 night stay at St Avit Loisirs, including ferry crossing from Dover to Calais. The low price was secured through an offer on KidsPass. They often have trial deals for £1 for 3 months.
*my understanding is that clubs aren’t always available to all residents as they might be provided by specific companies. Some sites do provide their own entertainment