Your Life: Travel: Get the Kids a Mobile; .. NO, NOT A PHONE! A HOLIDAY CARAVAN IN SOUTH BRITTANY

The Mirror (London, England), July 9, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Your Life: Travel: Get the Kids a Mobile; .. NO, NOT A PHONE! A HOLIDAY CARAVAN IN SOUTH BRITTANY


Byline: BY NIC BROOK

WITHIN minutes of the start of his last Kids' Club meeting, Euan was back at our caravan, seething.

"The idiots!" he growled as only an eight-year-old can, slamming the door of his bedroom.

Despite setting off full of enthusiasm for the final rehearsal of that evening's campsite cabaret, it had been scuppered by an outbreak of stage-fright among his friends, leaving just his sister and the other Kids' Club girls to perform their number that night.

But such is the nature of children. Sure enough, five minutes later he'd calmed down and was cycling back to the club, declaring: "They're just scaredy-cats!"

The campsite cabaret came on the final evening of a two-week family holiday in southern Brittany, our first venture into camping.

Maybe "camping" is the wrong word as the kind of break offered by modern tour operator Canvas Holidays is light years away from the Carry On Camping hols of my childhood.

As far as our youngsters were concerned the holiday started some three weeks before departure. That was when we received a "goody bag" in the post. For Euan and his 10-year-old sister Sarah there was a rucksack each, containing all sorts of fun toys and games, while for my wife Lynne and me there was an information pack, containing maps and guides to our part of France.

Every day that followed was counted down with mounting excitement.

Friends had been insisting for years that we should give camping a go, but we'd always held back. The potential claustrophobia of a tent or caravan had always put us off, along with anxiety that the sites wouldn't be on a par with our usual hotel-based holidays for entertainment.

Our fears were soon allayed on both fronts. The mobile homes we stayed in were more than large enough for an average family and had an amazing Tardis-like quality. Even the spacious tents would have been

great had we had the nerve when we first booked.

You just marvel at the clever way they are styled, every nook and cranny serving a purpose, and the children were discovering and pointing out extra features well into the first week.

The "mobiles" (they're too big to really be called caravans, though you'd need a juggernaut to tow one) have every home comfort you could wish for. Microwave, gas cooker, fridge, and central heating seem pretty much standard, while some even boast a dishwasher.

Bunk beds are another option - always a favourite with children - while en-suite bathrooms figure among the luxuries on offer, so you're hardly roughing it. When I think of some of the dull apartment hotels we've stayed in...

The greatest benefit of staying on a campsite is the space and freedom afforded the kids. By the end of day one we'd hired bikes for them (e30/pounds 20 for the week) and Sarah and Euan spent the whole time exploring the vast children-friendly environment.

And there was loads to do. We stayed at two four-star campsites - a week at L'Atlantique site next to the beach at Fouesnant, and the following week down the coast at La Grande Metairie alongside the standing stones at Carnac.

And at each there was a wealth of onsite activities.

Aside from the daily five hours of Kids' Club offered by tour operator Canvas, the sites boasted swimming pools with some great slides, aerobics, football pitches, tennis and volleyball courts, playgrounds, pool and ping-pong tables, mini-golf, pony rides, and even a few lanes for boules.

The bars offered a variety of evening entertainment, lively enough for even the moodiest teenagers, with discos, karaoke, live bands and cabaret, while at Carnac there was even a travelling circus that pitched up one night.

The only things you have to worry about are what time the campsite shop opens, and what time the pool closes.

Away from the sites this part of Brittany is ideal for family holidays.

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