Camping with les enfants
The fun factor, if not the sun factor, was sky high on a family camping holiday in Brittany
A few days in to our first camping holiday in France last summer, we looked across from our mobile home where some new neighbours were moving in to their accommodation. Encouraging our twin daughters to wave a welcoming “bonjour!” to people we assumed would be complete strangers, we found ourselves instead saying “howiya!” to some acquaintances from Dublin.
It was our first big lesson in holidaying camping-style in northern Brittany: You might be in France but what with the weather (it can rain a lot) and your fellow travellers (mostly Irish and British) it often feels much closer to home.
This is not a complaint. If you asked our children what they loved most about the holiday, after they’d stopped telling you about the morning croissants and the donkey rides, they’d say Sarah and Fiona. They were two Irish and Scottish teenagers who worked with Keycamp – now Eurocamp – the organisation that provides a daily schedule of children’s entertainment at a dizzying array of camping parks across France.
But we had to get there first and another thing the children would tell you is that the journey was as much fun as the destination.We travelled to Roscoff with Brittany Ferries from Ringaskiddy in Cork. The ship was, in the words of the children “ginormously big” and that’s a pretty accurate description of the Pont-Aven. If you wanted, you could go swimming in the pool, check out a live magic show, see a cabaret, catch a film, go shopping, get a facial or, if you were so inclined, go for a run up on deck.
We got to the port early which was a good move because it meant that when we left the car and dumped our gear for the overnight journey in the cabin, we could head to the restaurant before the crowds. They have children’s meals sussed in the restaurant we chose, including an impressive toy in the box of above-average chicken nuggets. Apart from a bit of the magic show and a go on the jungle gym, we made our own entertainment on board. The roomy cabin had a large window onto the rolling sea that was declared “better than television”.
Arriving in Roscoff, we’d been worried about finding our destination, Dol-de-Bretagne, just over 200km away. But the GPS function on our phone made it easy and added a bit of surreality to the two and a half hour car journey – the woman with the South Co Dublin accent reading out the directions had worse French pronunciation than Del Boy.
It had been tricky to choose a park from the hundreds available on the eurocamp.ie website. In the end, we were swayed by the 400 acres of parkland around Domaine des Ormes in Dol-de-Bretagne and the fact that visitor reports on Tripadvisor seemed consistently positive. There was also talk of an on site circus which swung it, although in the end we never visited the impressive big top.