Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Our Summer...

When I think back to this summer I realise how quickly it flew and how much we didn't do!

Nothing ever seems to go to plan, but we have also had some amazing times in the beautiful weather that we had.

Most of our summer was spent at home, the paddling pool has been out to the point that it is now wrecked, punctured beyond repair.  The boys have each spent some time at the beach house with their grandparents but I have only been over there a handful of times this year and have only stayed there once. The reason being that my parents moved out of their house in February and lived with my Nan until July but spent as much time as they could at the beach house. Then from the beginning of July it was all go, getting them into their new house.

However in August, the moors family did what we do best. We packed our bags up and headed off Camping in France for two whole weeks.  We booked through our website Go Camp France, and went with the same company that we always travel with, Canvas.  In the past we have only really ventured to Brittany due to having very young children, but this year with Worm, our youngest now 3, we decided to travel further south and so this year we headed for the Vendee, and stayed at Le Clarys Plage in St Jean de Monts.  The reasons I chose this campsite were; great pool complex, (always high on our agenda), swimming pool, lazy river, slides, indoor pool and splash park; a great play area for the children and near to a beautiful beach.

We took the overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. We had anticipated that the boys would be in their pjs and would fall asleep on our half hour drive to Plymouth ferry port arriving there at 10:15pm. How wrong we were, all 3 wide awake with excitement!  Boarding the ferry was quick and we were soon in our cabin. (We also had to book a reclining chair as there are 5 of us but the little two topped and tailed in the bottom bunk!) After the announcements had finished, (an hour) we finally settled down and all the boys slept really well to be woken at 5am by the ferry's alarm system. The crossing was good (and I really don't travel well) and we will definitely be doing the night crossing again.  When we reached Roscoff we set off on our journey to the Vendee.  We knew it was a good 4-5 hour drive but when we hit Nantes we weren't expecting the amount of traffic we encountered.  We later found out that the weekend we travelled was the French bank holiday and so everyone was on the road!
We knew the direction we were heading and with the help of a map of France we made our way down to St Jean de Mont.  We drove along the esplanade and were amazed by the size of the beach here. Many campsites were sign posted from here but we couldn't see ours.  At this point we got to try out our own app, having been telling everyone how great it is, it was now time to test it for ourselves.  We had to use 3G as we were in the car but the app located us really quickly on the map and then as we drove we followed the blue dot (us) moving on the map until we reached the campsite.  It took us 4 and a half hours in total to drive down, and we arrived before the check in time, but our reps were ready for us and showed us straight to our caravan.

Camping Holidays in France

The site isn't actually in St Jean de Mont but just outside, it is classed as a medium sized campsite and is split by a road. We were grateful that we were on the side with all the amenities, pools restaurant, bar etc. The pitch size was smaller than the one we had at Les Mouettes, where we had been before, but this time we had a deck which took up most of the room but the pitch was small enough that the car was practically parked in the hedge and there was no room for the boys to have a kick about!.  The rest of the camp site was brilliant.

The swimming pool was busy, every day, and it was a case of get there early if you want a seat or lounger but to be fair we spent most of our time in the water with the boys! The boys all did the slides even Worm who went down all of them with moors-daddy! The pool is split into two, a section for the little ones with their own slides and then the big pool with bigger slides. The lazy river was separate and the splash park was amazing. Dragons squirting water from all directions, hopscotch with water spouting up through the numbers, water canons being aimed at you as you walked past! The boys loved it.
Le Clarys Plage campsite in the Vendee

And on top of that, the beach is a 500m walk down the road, but to be honest we never walked it! Why? Because the French do some things so much better than us Brits! The short drive to the bottom of the road leads to a car park at the top of the beach. A free car park, as all car parks are along the coast in this part of France, and with the amount of stuff you take with you to the beach, you may as well drive! The beach was beautiful, golden sand, stretching for miles.  The part we were at was also lifeguarded which was great, though having said that the sea was flat every day we were there. It seemed like a very safe beach, the sea shallow for quite some way out, people on inflatables, swimming, surfing and bodyboarding. I loved this beach, it's the kind of beach you wish you had on your doorstep at home, one you can pop to after a day at work!

We spent most of our holiday in the pool or on the beach.

We ventured to the local supermarket (on the other side of a gate leading from the campsite), the local hypermarket (used the app to find it!) as well as taking a trip further south to Bretignolles Sur Mer to the market (couldn't park anywhere) so carried on and found a great rock pooling beach!

We took a day trip to Noirmoutier de Ile, and had a walk around the chateaux.

On all our French holidays there is something that we notice and that is the children's play areas are so much better than what we have here in Devon.  This campsite was no exception. The play area was fantastic and the boys loved it - we went every evening after dinner and before our drink in the bar!

 The range of equipment is amazing, at Le Clarys Plage there were two sections one for the under 5's and one for 4 -14 year olds.  Worm (3) needed help at first getting up onto the bigger equipment but after a few days had mastered how to get himself onto the steps and was off and gone down the massive slide!  (I'm in white to the left of it!!)

 He also mastered the climbing wall quickly much to the annoyance of his older brothers!

We had an amazing two weeks there, the drive was definitely worth it, the weather fantastic for all but two afternoons. What I also liked about this part of France and one of the reasons we will be returning at some point in the future was how flat it was and how the area was made for cyclists. The Vendee, unknown to us, has over 1000km of cycle paths, from outside the campsite you can get on your bike and pedal for miles, though forests, along the coast, wherever you fancy.  I wish the little two could ride, they need to learn and we will be back, with our bikes in tow!

On our last day we had to be out of the caravan at 10am, with our ferry leaving Roscoff at 11pm, we had a day to kill! So instead of taking the main roads back, we drove up along the coast into Brittany and around the coast of Brittany, stopping off at Carnac to see the standing stones (an amazing site and so much bigger than you think -fields of them!)

Our return ferry crossing wasn't as good, as the one who gets sea sick, I did struggle to sleep because of the ferry rolling but managed to remain in bed for the duration of the crossing.  The boys slept through it! It was by far our best French holiday to date and next time we are thinking of going even further and possibly doing a split break, one week in the Dordogne and another in Brittany or the Vendee!

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