So how do you go on holiday to France then?

 

holidaying in France
Outdoor pool at Siblu’s Domain de Kerlann village

In a few weeks’ time we’re going on a holiday with a difference. It’s a blogging review trip arranged via Tots100 so that we can try out holidaying in France and the Siblu Holiday Village experience and report back.

We’re not hugely well travelled and haven’t been abroad as a family for years.

So when it comes to holidaying in France, I haven’t a baldy notion. I’ve checked that our passports are valid and downloaded a French language app but that’s about it.

Can you help me out here? Have you been holidaying in France? This is what I’m wondering:

  • How light can we travel?
    We drive a Mini, which most of the time is great for nipping around the city. The only time it’s less than ideal is when all four of us plus luggage are jammed in for a long journey. So we need to pack light. What do you think is essential and what would you pick up on site?
  • What do we need for the car?
    I’ve heard mumblings about stickers for the headlights, a high visibility jacket for the boot, what’s all that gubbins about?
  • Please tell me the weather will be good
    I had assumed that summer in France would be sunny rather than soggy but given that I’m sat here shivering in July it doesn’t look like we can assume anything about the weather this year. We’re going to the Domain de Kerlann resort in Pont-Aven, Brittany – what do you think? Is that far enough south to be sunny? (Please lie if you think it’s not).
  • The Speedo question
    This dilemma is troubling the gentlemen of our party. I’ve established that Speedos are The Law in French swimming pools and that big wafty swimshorts are Not Allowed. But does that apply on holiday parks like the one we’re going to? Do we need to pack some emergency budgie smugglers? The fellers say they won’t wear them, but will they have a choice?
  • European health card thingy
    How do I get one of those? Do we really need one, if we promise to stay healthy for a week? Or is it sod’s law that when you don’t have one, that’s when you need it?
  • Budget
    What would you budget for a family of four for a week in France? Is it likely to be more or less expensive than the UK?
  • Can you be vegetarian in France?
    I mean, is it even allowed?

So basically, we’re pretty clueless. Though we do have passports. And tickets. Apart from that, what else do we need?

 

PS Did I mention, we’ve got passports? I think. Better just go and double check…

  • Twins tiaras & tantrums

    Hi there

    I went to Domain De Kerlann last year with my toddler twins and my mum. We had a fab time you will love it. !st thing is your ferry will no doubt drop you early morning in france. Dont get caught out, they dont check in till after 4pm which no one told us. This was our only hicup. Its a lovely place with great beaches within a 20 min drive. Site is pretty secluded with nothing around but Pont Aven is lovely. I was going to do a write up about it on my blog when I get home from this holiday.

    Yes you need all manor of stickers, high vis, fire extinguisher, first aid kit etc, but best look up whole list on google!
    If you have kids there is nothing you can do about traveling heavy!!! This is not a problem as no weight restrictions, so cram your car full is my advice!
    The weather was fantastic last september, in fact it was the brownest my mum and I have ever been, although you cant say 100% anywhere these days.
    Speedos are common but not obligitory.
    We went with just our normal holiday insurance although best get your car covered for europe!
    You can be a vegetarian anywhere?!?!
    BUDGET!!!!!! Beware this place is bloody extortionate! Mum and I spent £1200 spending in 12 days. That was eating BBQ in the eve and picnics at night. We didn’t do anything fancy and no trips etc. But our money was eaten up easily.
    Hope this helps, any other questions just ask. It will be nice to compare our reviews… Sorry about spelling/grammer mistakes I’m rushing. Enjoy, Im really jealous!
    Lisa

  • oh wow, thank you so much Lisa, it’s really terrific to hear from someone who’s been where we’re going. And good news about the Speedos!

  • Thank you DG. So sorry to hear you had a miscarriage on holiday. I will apply for the EHIC card today.

    And good news about veggie-ism being a bit more accepted. Though I don’t mind a week of cheese sandwiches, as long as it’s washed down with wine.

  • oh yes that is a good point about the phone YMR. Apparently there is free wifi on site but I have read lots of stories about people coming back from holiday to enormous phone bills so I’ll call up O2 and find out what I have to do. Cos they are TOTALLY reliable.

    Yes you can come if you don’t mind clinging on to the roof of the Mini. It’s about the only space we’ve got.

  • You need headlamp stickers and a GB sticker (you can get magnetic ones). We put our high vis vests in the glove box because DH read about someone being fined by the French for not having his easily to hand. YOu also need to take breathalyser kits with you: like LIsa said, google it all 😀

    YOu can apply for a free EHIC card- the details are somewhere on the NHS website. You need one for each family member. It basically gives you reciprocal health care (because we have the NHS here) and was a godsend when I had a miscarriage on holiday in France a few years ago.

    Speedos are optional and vegetarianism is not as frowned upon as it was years ago: plus they eat LOTS of cheese in France. It was harder for the French to understand of someone being allergic to cheese than it was to comprehend vegetarianism when we were there….

  • Ehic cards are really easy to get. If memory serves its a quick online form & they arrive really fast.

    We bought speedos in a panic for a holiday in the Loire Valley. Didn’t need them, so left the tags on and took back to shop on our return.

    Have you checked your mobile roaming options? If you want inernet whilst away it can be expensive.

    Also, try and get food at local markets. It’s cheaper. You can find out which ones in what day online.

    Have fun!

    Ps Can I come?

  • Thanks so much Babaduck, those are fantastic tips, especially about the vacuum pack bags. It’s just great to hear about it from people with experience. Do you have any problems with security if you’re carrying a corkscrew and knife? Do they check for stuff like that on the ferries.

  • Hi Joanne,

    We’re French holiday veterans. Basics are a high-vis vest, a warning triangle & a breathalyser (you can buy this on the ferry), notify your motor insurance co & bring a copy of your policy & your licence. You need a GB sticker if your number plate doesn’t have one on it.

    We never bring cases – we use the vacuum pack bags for all our clothes to save space & borrow the hoover from reception on our last day when we’re packing. I always bring my own corkscrew & kitchen knife because they get the most use!

    This year we’re also renting the bedlinen & towels to save space.

    Roaming, especially for internet will bankrupt you. Buy the wifi package on site, much cheaper.

    If you have private health insurance, bring your details. Apply for your EHIC card now – it’s free so don’t trust any site that charges.

    We tend to eat out every second night so we don’t spend a fortune on restaurants. Head to the local markets or hypermarket for food. French loo rolls are a bit rubbish (we bring our own) and they don’t believe in bags of ice so we bring icebags.

    You can never rely on French weather so bring books and do a contingency plan for wet days. You’re in a fab area so can drive to Quimper, the zoo at Pont Scorff, Lorient, Vannes, the amazing aquarium in Brest called Oceanopolis…

    Just have fun!
    Aoife

  • Jane

    You’ve got a lot of good advice here, so I’ll just top-up the vegetarian info. Whilst vegetarianism is not against the law in France, it is frowned upon and every attempt will be made to sprinkle lardons on your salad / pizza or sneak tuna into your sandwich (!).

    Only partly joking – vegetarianism is obviously not nearly as widespread in France as in the UK, but we’ve seen a lot of change in the last 10 years and it is getting easier. If you eat eggs and cheese, you’re part way there, but more and more we are finding veggie options in the fridge sections and on the shelves – generally presented as “healthy eating” / organic choices. Sojasun is a manufacturer of products widely available – they do vege-burger style steaks with sauces which are ok – provencale flavour, a l’indienne, etc. Also soya milk / desserts available in large supermarkets.

    Of course plenty of fresh fruit, veg, grains, beans available in all the markets, but we also usually take some of the dried sosmix, burgermix type stuff for variety and in case we get desperate. We find Asda’s meat-free packet mixes convenient and easy to pack.

    One other thing – it is still uncommon for supermarkets / shops to be open on Sunday. If they are, it will be for a limited time, so take this into account if you are arriving late on Saturday. I usually pack a bag of pasta and a jar of sauce so we’ve got an evening meal and you should be able to pick up fresh bread / croissants on site in the morning.

    I hope you have a brilliant trip. We’ll be there most of August – can’t wait!

  • Joanne, once you’re not carrying illegals or Class A drugs in your car, customs couldn’t give a toss! They regularly marvel at the sheer quantity of wine I can jam into a Kia Ceed!

    Oh, definitely Sunday opening doesn’t happen apart from high season in the busier holiday resorts and it’s only from 9-12 so make provisions!

    Also don’t buy petrol on the motorways – the cheapest spot is any hypermarket petrol station.

    All organic stuff is called “bio” but as I’m a rampant carnivore, I’m hopeless for veggie advice!

  • Melissa

    How light can we travel?

    If your happy to wash your clothes there then you can travel fairly light. We camp in france now after doing a static caravan for our 1st trip so we have LOTS to take with us. For clothes we pack everyone’s clothes in a supermarket ‘bag for life’ as these can be squashed in the boot/ in the footwell under the kids feet. Towels and bedding take a lot of room so if you can afford it then hire those from the site.

    What do we need for the car?
    Hi Viz for everyone, warning triangle, breathalyzer test, beam benders for headlights and a GB sticker. Sort out European breakdown cover too.

    Please tell me the weather will be good
    One can only hope! We went to Domain De Kerlann in August 2009 and weather was a mixed bag. Some days were sunny and hot, other days it rained all day. Think of the weather you get in Cornwall during the summer and that’s the same kind of weather Brittany gets too.

    The Speedo question
    My husband has never had an issue and we’ve gone to several french camp sites since 2009.

    European health card thingy
    I’d get one, we got our in 2008 and they are still valid. Easy to apply for and then it’s done and you can forget about it.

    What would you budget for a family of four for a week in France? Is it likely to be more or less expensive than the UK?
    Really the only cheaper thing is beer and wine. Everything else was similar to UK prices. Of course the pound is doing quite well against the euro at the moment so your money will go a little further. Diesel is cheaper out there, but petrol is about 1.45-1.50€ so maybe a few pence cheaper than here currently depending on how much you pay. I think Diesel works out about 1.25€ per litre.

    As for the campsite, I added a review to tripadvisor which I have copied below

    The site itself was fine, clean, tidy and well laid out. We had a static that was off the main road, and a big boulder was placed on the street to make it a cul de sac which meant the only cars were from our neighbours.

    Our van was a 3 bed top range one. It had a bunk in one room, twins in the other and double. Nice kitchen with gas oven, microwave and full size fridge with a biggest freezer – none of the normal fridge with small ice compartment you seem to get on holiday. We had a table with 6 chairs and ample living space. We didn’t have a TV, which was a disappointment, but I had read it would be hit or miss. We took the laptop and lots of dvds for the kids. The outside was nice, we had decking off the livingroom doors, which had a covered area, as well as patio table and chairs. As well as two sunloungers at the front of the van.
    There were about 4 playgrounds dotted around the park, so always one nearby I would imagine.

    There was a mini golf, which was pretty basic, but my two (5 and 2) enjoyed it, Also a running track which was good to scoot around on.

    Didn’t think much of the resturant – not much on the menu and quite pricey. Didn’t use the take away apart from getting some chips.

    Shop sold basics and closed early – it was basically an intermarche chain.

    The swimming pools were good. Outside was cold, but my two were fine once they were in. I did put a wetsuit on my LO which helped.

    The splash zone was fun, but was also cold so something I thought would be used by my 2 alot turned out to be a bit of a none goer.

    The slides were slow, but for my 2 were perfect. My 2yo wasn’t quite tall enough so went with daddy, but as they were slow we let her go it alone towards the end.

    The inside pool was cooler than we would have liked, but if you had been outside 1st it was like a bath! The toddler pool inside was nice. We never had any issues finding a lounger to put our towels on, and the few changing rooms were very large.

    Out and about we did a beach trip to trevignon, which was lovely, huge beach area with lots of smaller bay area.

    We did a day at an adventure play park nr Quimper (Odet Loisirs – google it) which was good fun, but we picked the hottest day to do this. I’d recommend going there on a warm, but not sunny day as lots of hills – oh and use some bug spray as I got bitten.

    Pont-Aven is a nice little town and def worth a visit and a quiet stroll round.

    We also went to the zoo at Pont Scroff, this is soo worth a visit. Its hilly, but once you reach the top it gives you excellent views of the animals and allows you to feel quite close.

    For shopping there is an intermarche in Nevez, the next village along, turn right from the siblu site and its about a 5 min drive away. They sell everything you’ll likely to need. There is also a Carrefour in Quimper.

    For petrol you’re better off going to the intermarche in Nevez, rather than Pont-Aven as that one only takes credit cards whereas in one in Nevez takes cash.

    There is a chinese take away nr pont-aven. Easy to miss as its on the roundabout before you turn right for P-A

  • Wow you’ve got some great comments here lovely! That tip about sunday is really useful as I’m arriving late on saturday night and husband is off to watch the last day of the tour de france – so I’m adding a packet of pasta & jar of pesto.
    There are a pile of us going this weekend, so watch the #siblu hashtag and you should get loads of tips from us!
    Now my packing list is big – but you could remove at least 50% of it. We’ve got little oval bags that fit all the stuff/clothes the kids need & would easily fit in the mini footwell (I’ve got one too, but we’re going in the estate!).
    It’s still a country with shops, so if you run out of anything I bet you can buy it there!
    I’m going to stream pictures to my twitter, fb page and blog sidebar with instagram if you fancy checking in every now and again – I’m going to Domaine De Litteau.
    Have fun!
    oooh btw if you have a hard top mini you can get a top box for it. You can even get trailers if you start to panic ;o)

  • @Jane – thanks so much for the veggie info. I had visions of us being poked with sticks every time we tried to eat out but it sounds like it’s not so bad.

    @Melissa – thanks for your comment, it’s really really helpful. I had already looked at the Trip Advisor reviews for Domaine de Kerlann and on the whole they’re very good, which is a great sign.

    @Mummywhisperer – good news, I’ll look out for your posts and the #siblu hashtag. Basically I’m doing this the lazy/modern way and crowdsourcing my holiday advice. WRT packing I’m tempted to just pack 7 pairs of pants each and work it out from there. Hey, it’s a plan!

  • Wow – great comments 🙂 I’m in France now and the weather is wonderful especially after so much rain in the UK..

    Re the car stuff – it can all be sorted on the ferry – though you may pay a little surplus.

    Brittany is a great place to be for vegetarians as you can eat their lovely pancakes with a wide variety of veggie fillings..

    And a point about opening times – the franch are fairly rigid about eating times 12pm-2pm and 7pm-9pm(ish)are their norm – if you try to eat out at different hours you’ll find very little available.

    We are super light travellers – each person incl. kids has a small suitcase for clothes etc one “car” bag for books/toys.. a change of shoes, bag of food, water bottles, a football and off we go! The less you take the less stressful it is in my experience..

    Have a great holiday 🙂

  • Emma, thanks so much for taking the time to post from France and for your great advice. Our trip is getting closer now and I’m getting really excited about it. One thing to tick off the list – I ordered the European health cards from the NHS website as advised and they arrived withing about 3 days.

  • Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and
    I am waiting for your further post thank you once again.