BEFORE having children, I was vaguely aware of the existence of Eurocamp, but didn’t really know much about it.

Now, however, the European self-catering specialist is a firm family favourite and highly likely to be the holiday of choice for the next few years.

With a five-year-old and a two-year-old in tow, I wanted to avoid the stress of airports this year. Looking at which Eurocamps were relatively easy to drive to, we settled on La Croix du Vieux Pont – just two and a half hours from Calais, in the Picardy region.

Yes, it’s a four-hour drive to the Channel Tunnel from Cheshire, but we set off at 4am in a bid to not only avoid the traffic but also ensure the kids slept in the back.

What I didn’t count on was how excited they’d be about getting up ‘in the middle of the night’ to go on holiday, so that part of the plan didn’t really come off. However, we travelled at the best part of the day and boarded the train in Kent in time for breakfast.

Situated in the Aisne Valley in Berny Riviere beside a gently flowing river, the parc has all the ingredients for a successful family holiday. Four swimming pools, indoor and outdoor, with slides, a toddler area, three lakes – ideal for fishing and boating (we hired a pedalo – hard work but fun) and a man-made lagoon with a lovely beach area.

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Eurocamp offer free swimming lessons to younger children (although you need to go in with them), but it gave us the chance to get in the water first thing in the morning before the pools are open to everyone else. It was a nice way to start the day and the kids even got certificates and badges at the end of the holiday, much to their delight.

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Camping holidays were my favourite as a child, yet we had opted for the really comfortable kind – in a two-bedroomed, self-catering mobile home. With a shower, toilet and even a gas barbecue all set up, we were hardly roughing it – quite the opposite in fact.

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I was slightly wistful about being so close to Champagne and not going on some kind of vineyard tour, but at least I was able to drink some in the evenings after the kids were in bed.

With an onsite shop and bakery, fresh croissants were a must for breakfast each day and by the end of the holiday, my eldest felt confident enough to ask for them in French – and very pleased with himself he was too.

Most evenings we barbecued and it was great to all sit on the veranda enjoying a meal together as a family – a simple pleasure that is often difficult at home due to the frantic pace of life. There are places to eat out at the parc too, as well as a takeaway, which we had on the first night when we were too tired to cook.

Being so close to Disneyland Paris meant we felt obliged to visit, though tickets aren’t cheap at around £50 each.

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I know there are loads of Disney fans out there, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them. Spending the day in one queue after another just isn’t my idea of fun, although admittedly my five-year-old loved ‘Thunder Mountain’ but our toddler soon got fed up.

Most of our days, however, were centred around the swimming pool complex, but there was plenty of other stuff to do. The soft play centre was great on the one day it rained, and there’s also a playground and separate leisure area that has a bouncy castle, quad bikes (no grown-ups allowed!) trampolines and a bungee trampoline if you happen to have daredevil children.

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There was no wifi in the holiday home, but it was available at the bar, although as I’ve said before, it doesn’t do me any harm to switch off completely every now and then.

There’s a bowling alley, bike hire and kids clubs too – but time flew and we probably only just scratched the surface. The journey back was long, but with the help of the iPad, was peaceful. Next year, I might brave the airport chaos and venture further afield, as I’m curious to see what Eurocamp is like in Spain or Italy.

It’s true what they say – if the kids are happy, then you’re happy too. The nice weather was a bonus and although there wasn’t any lying in the sunshine or relaxing with a book, it was definitely a fun-filled and very memorable trip.

 

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