Keep the kids entertained for less on a weekend at a Eurocamp in northern France – The Sun

CAMPING at this time of year? In northern Europe? You must think we are mad.

But major investment in sites across Europe means seasons are being extended into November and March.

With modern indoor leisure complexes springing up, you can laze around in balmy temperatures while the weather does its worst outside.

Eurocamp prices for a week are less than half the cost of weekends in the UK, so these up-and-coming holiday parks are ready to mount a challenge to established favourites such as Center Parcs.

With all that in mind, my hardy brood headed to northern France for wind-swept beach walks, stews, seafood and cider.

Our site was a 20-minute drive from walled citadel St-Malo, so the natural choice for a Channel crossing was from Portsmouth.

Brittany Ferries’ excellent, 11-hour overnight service was a great excuse to keep the kids up late for dinner on the rolling October seas (the return is during the day with cinemas, soft plays and other entertainment).

Our site, the family-run Domaine des Ormes, is set in the grounds of a chateau, with an 18-hole golf-course and thick woodland.

It mixes the basics with the modern — and lots of fun.

As well as a well-stocked park, full-sized astroturf with footie schools in high season, it has three outdoor pools (closed in low season).

There is also tennis, high ropes, bike hire, water skiing, archery, crazy golf, pedalo hire, a large riding school and miles of safe cycling tracks.

Grown-ups can enjoy a a wine bar, restaurant and golf club with cafe.

A kids’ club operates into low season and gives you the option to leave children aged three and over for two hours each morning and again in the afternoon.

The biggest hit for us was the vast Center Parcs-like tropical dome, unveiled at the campsite last year.


It has indoor and outdoor pools, slides, lazy rivers and a wave-machine lagoon all under cover at 30C.

Our son, six, and daughter, two, loved the pirate theme’s attention to detail, with models of cannons and sea dogs with missing legs.

Wave machines are quite rare in France and at des Ormes they are not afraid to turn theirs right up.

Evenings were well spent at the English-style pub, with open fire, discos, entertainment and live sport. A games room next door kept the children amused.

Our Eurocamp accommodation was a three-bed mobile home. OK, we weren’t in a tent in the dead of winter but were still happy to class it has camping. In truth, we spent little time there with so much exploring to do.

Unesco world heritage site Mont-Saint- Michel, the tidal island, is a 30-minute drive away.

Beaches around St-Malo and Dinard range from the kiss-me-quick type to chic.

St-Malo’s aquarium is a perfect contingency for rainy days, while Dinan has spectacular river views and twisty, Harry Potter-esque streets to explore.

Closer to the campsite, the town of Dol-de-Bretagne has supermarkets and a decent centre for clothes and souvenir shopping, as well as a string of restaurants, bars and an Irish pub.

After packing all this into a week, my wife and I were stunned to discover we had spent less than we usually would entertaining the children during a half-term in the UK.

Suddenly, the madness of camping at this time of year seemed a lot less crazy.

Such holidays in chilly conditions are not for everyone. It can get muddy, you wake up with a cold nose and use the emergency supply of teabags much quicker than you would in summer.

But would we recommend winter/early spring camping in mainland Europe?

Absolutely. We’ve already booked to go back. As Del Boy would say: “It’s not goodbye . . . just bonjour”.

GO: BRITTANY

GETTING THERE: Brittany Ferry crossings from Portsmouth to St Malo with a car and a cabin for four start from £400. Pricier en suite cabins start from £600. See brittanyferries.co.uk. Or Calais is a five-hour drive from the site, with ferry crossings from £50 return. See poferries.com.

STAYING THERE: A family of four can enjoy a week self-catering in a three-bed Azure mobile home at Domaines des Ormes from £313 with Eurocamp, which discounts if you have already booked with it in the same calendar year. See eurocamp.co.uk or call 01606 787125.

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