AFTER a summer of warm weather here in the UK, now is the time to start thinking about planning a holiday abroad for next year.
And if you’re looking for an affordable getaway – either as a couple or with the whole family – then one of the Eurocamp locations could be for you.
Eurocamp has 145 campsites in 11 countries on mainland Europe, so there are many options to choose from.
Having grown up on the west coast of France, we chose Le Pin Parasol, a resort on the banks of Lac-du-Jaunay in the Vendee and just a short drive from the coast.
After a short drive to Portsmouth we took the night ferry to St Malo. Waking up fresh the next morning – and although neither of us had traveled abroad before – it was an easy three hour drive down to Le Pin Parasol.
We were greeted by temperatures of 39 degrees in France, so it was a relief to find three fans in our Azure XL cabin.
The cabin itself was spacious with a master bedroom and ensuite shower, two twin bedrooms with another shower and a kitchen/living area.
The kitchen was well equipped with a convection oven and hobs, dishwasher and plenty of storage space for after our trips to the shop.
Outside there is a patio area with chairs and tables under a canopy to allow you to make the most of the warm weather without worrying about getting burned, along with sun loungers and a gas BBQ which would definitely see plenty of use over the coming week.
After the temperature cooled down a bit, we set out to explore the grounds.
There’s a small on-site shop for essentials, as well as a snack bar offering a wide range of pizzas, among other things, and a bar by each pool at either end of the property.
The main pool is ideal for families, with a splash park area suitable for younger children, a main pool, and multiple slides in two dedicated splash zones.
The bar here has an outdoor terrace where you can sit and relax in the evenings, with a wide range of cocktails — including a cocktail of the day added to the menu by the bar staff — which it would have been rude to try.
There’s also a well-stocked games room where I quickly found I was pretty rusty at pool. Table tennis, table football and other slot machines also provided entertainment for visitors.
And the staff throughout the site were friendly and extremely helpful and patient with us and my not-so-perfect French.
However, the campsite is cash-free – with the exception of the games room – and you are encouraged to load money onto a wristband. But if you have a travel currency card, you can use that instead.
The Nature & Sens area at the other end of the park is part of the site’s leisure complex.
There are two pools open to everyone after noon – reserved in the morning for those staying in that area of the park – as well as a restaurant and bar area. Due to the off-season we couldn’t make it into the restaurant but after looking through the menu it’s definitely on our list for next time.
In the Nature & Sens area we spent most of our time by the pool, away from the noise and excitement of the main pool area. Does that make us boring? Maybe. But we were definitely happy about the cool water when the temperature exceeded 40 degrees on our second day.
There is also a gym – which I avoided because of the heat – and a wellness and spa area.
There is also a smaller fishing lake in this area of the park and if you continue through the park you will come to the activity area. There is a huge play area for children here, as well as mini golf, volleyball courts, a soccer field and even a BMX track.
There were plenty of activities for children even in the off-season – including swimming, mini-golf, pedal karting, crafts, quizzes and karaoke.
Located on the shore of the Lac-du-Jaunay, it offers a magnificent view over the lake, as well as the opportunity to go out on the water in pedal boats, and all keen anglers can try their luck at fishing.
The site itself is about 15-20 minutes from the town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie – where you’ll find your nearest beach and a selection of great shops – and of course that meant trying out different sweets, biscuits and chips that we don’t have in the UK.
We spent a day exploring Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, browsing the shops in the quieter part of town before heading across the river to the busy high street.
To relax after a hard day of shopping, we went for a walk on the beach. As you would expect from this area of France, it was a flat sandy beach that stretched for miles and would be perfect for a relaxing day out.
We decided to spend a day at the Puy du Fou, a historical theme park about an hour from our location.
The park explores different eras of French history with breathtaking live theater performances from each era. It’s the perfect day trip for any history nerd and great entertainment for families too.
As our week drew to a close there was still so much to do that we hadn’t already done with all the activities on offer for families.
Le Pin Parasol have safari tents from £330 per party or cabins for five from £358 per party for seven nights in June – at time of writing. As you might expect, the price goes up in July and August, the price goes up to around £1,200-1,500 for seven nights in July and August, but there are still cheaper options in early July and late August.
You can find out more about Eurocamp and what each site has to offer by visiting eurocamp.co.uk.