Tag Archives: Holiday

5 Family Fun days in France

Something for everyone, from inflatable fun by the River Loire for younger children, swinging through the forest for all ages in Saumur to an amazing theme park with a trip through the ages for the whole family.

1.     Saumur Forest Adventures

A 5 hectare park where you can follow different games, climb from tree to tree, climb a rope ladder, swing on a pendulum to name just a few. Paintball and Laser games in the forest available too. The routes are graded according to age and there is a special area for the very young climbers.  Perfect for families for a whole day’s entertainment in their parkland.

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Saumur Forest Adventures

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Re-opens for 2017 on April 1st.

2.     Lulu Parc

Lulu Parc is by the River Loire and aimed at younger children, inflatables, bouncy castles, zip wires and rides. The rides and inflatables are graded by height of the children. Next to the park is a ‘ginguette’, the name for an open-air eating place by water, which usually has evening entertainment.

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Lulu Parc

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Quai de la Loire, 37210 Rochecorbon

3.     Lac Rille

The trains at Lac Rille delight young children and parents alike as they run along by the lake. The steam and diesel trains have been beautifully renovated by a team of volunteers. By the lake is also a collection of climbing frames and dens made from natural wood forms, including a chance to make music out of wood.  The café which forms part of the campsite is open to the public and serves excellent ice-cream as well as drinks and snacks.

The area is a stopping off point for migrating birds and on the far side of the lake is a marked nature walk, bird hide and information board.

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 A walk around Lac de Rillé

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4.     Puy de Fou

Something for all ages at Puy de Fou. It was voted the best theme park in the world, but ironically not as well known as some of the bigger names. A tremendous visit  which is bound to catch the imagination of the whole family. It is essential to book in advance. Each event is a huge extravaganza with special effects,  well researched historical content and a dash of artistic licence to complete the performance.

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Puy de Fou Spectacles

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5. Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life at Clos Lucé, Amboise, which now houses models of many of his designs. In the grounds are working models of his designs displaying his amazing ingenuity.  It is well worth a visit and, being inter-active is great for children. A video of these amazing machines taken during one of our visits is available here

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Chateau de Clos Lucé

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Just 5 of family fun days out enjoyed by guests at www.frenchholiday.co.uk

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Phone Apps for Saumur and the Loire Valley

1 telephoneHow quickly things have changed. The slow dial up connection when we first arrived here 15 years ago, now that seems more like a caveman chipping  at his tablet of stone.  People still live in caves, but with modern comforts,  in this part of the Loire Valley, but things have moved on fast for everyone.

We live in an exciting world, where we can fly over our house with Google maps, visit the chateaux from our sofa and plan a walk around Saumur whilst sitting in the garden on an iPod touch, phone or tablet.

At Les Mortiers there is a wireless connection to all our properties, ipod docks and phone signals and wifi that works all around.

Previously, we wished for a high speed internet connection like the sophisticated folk who lived in the towns and it took a while before it finally arrived at Parcay Les Pins. Guests ran around waving mobile phones in the air to get a signal.  The meaning of ‘mobile’ meant being mobile, climbing steps, venturing on to the raised filter bed or even driving to an area where there was half reasonable reception.

So here are just a few applications I’ve found which you might like to try when preparing for your holiday – or just enjoy a virtual holiday to brighten the day.

Saumur Touristic’Tour

In French, but some planned walks around Saumur which are easy to follow. It is mainly written in English and packed with local information and history, maps and photographs. It seems to have lots of potential to be a very useful app. when more is added to it.

iTunes Search:  Saumur Touristic’Tour

Chateaux de la Loire

Mainly in French, but a list of 66 chateaux and the distance to each from your location with links to the websites for most of the chateaux. Fun to use.

iTunes Search – Vallée des Rois Tour

Fontevraud Abbey

Henry II king of England and count of Anjou, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine along with their son King Richard the Lionheart were buried at Fontevraud Abbey although it is rumoured the remains were removed during the French Revolution. Fontevraud Abbey is the largest collection of monastic buildings in France. This app. gives a tour of the Abbaye and a rather complicated Agenda (Events List) which is best skipped. Do not be put off by the French text as there are three good videos.

iTunes Search:  Fontevraud

and they are all free!

Finally a Cellar is a ‘must have’ for visitors to France

We have found the  app. Cellar is invaluable for cataloguing our wine and a very useful reference to look at stocks when we are tempted to overbuy – it even gives statistics and a total value of your collection! There’s a wish list, a cellar with creaky doors and the good reason for not putting the car in  the garage!

iTunes Search – Cellar – manage your wine collection in style at a pocket money price of 4.49 euros

ITunes Search:  Cellar Manage your wine

What is driving like in France – update

Driving in France is changing. None of the plus points in my previous post have changed, but regulations to ensure public safety are coming into force this year.

Here is a brief summary of the points which holidaymakers should be aware.

Control of speed.

Radar detectors have been illegal for some time, but now radar warnings on satnav equipment are also illegal. New systems will not include this facility, but it will be necessary to update existing ones systems so this information is no longer available.  The non-technologically inclined driver may find difficult to disengage this function although the website for our own Garmin was very helpful.

For the police, enforcing the new law will not be an easy task particularly as many vehicles now come with embedded software systems.

Nonetheless, the penalty for the new offence is steep – a fine of up to 1500 € and the loss of up to 6 points on a driver’s licence.

Using a mobile phone whilst driving.

 The fine has been increased for using a telephone whilst driving to 135 € and the loss of 3 points on your licence.  (The French systems deducts points rather than adds them!)

Straying on to the hard shoulder

The principal cause of drivers staring on to the hard shoulder is driver fatigue and up till now, straying temporarily into the emergency lane on autoroutes in France was not an offence. Under pressure from autoroute companies anxious for the safety of their workforces, the French government has introduced a new offence, effectively  clipping the hard shoulder, for which the penalty will be 135 €. Also, the existing fine for driving on the hard shoulder on French autoroutes increases from 35 € to 135 €.

Motorcyclists – high viz clothing and number plate requirements

Motorcyclists riding a motor-bike with an engine capacity exceeding 125 c.c. must wear a reflective garment. The French Department of Transport has still to define the criteria for reflective garments and the measure compelling motor-cyclists on French roads to wear something hi-viz will not come into effect before 1st January 2013. In the case of non-compliance, the offender would be liable to a fine of 68 € with a 2 point licence deduction.

There is also an alteration to the law concerning non-conforming number plates which applies to all road-users but especially bikers. The penalty for driving with a non-conforming plate increases from 68 € to 135 €. The Ministry of Transport will also introduce a new regulation concerning the size of registration plates carried by motor-bikes with the aim of making motor bikes more identifiable, especially if flashed by a speed camera.

In-car breathalysers

Local authorities have already begun to introduce on-board driver’s breath testing equipment on French school buses and such equipment will become mandatory in all vehicles in July 2012. Breathalysers will be for sale in supermarkets.

Subsequently to writing this article, The Daily Mail has published a very useful article summarising what you should be aware of.

Let’s have a cake, we’re on holiday!


I have a weakness of cakes, once likened to have a mouth like a CD drawer which accepts pain au raisin with ease!  I love to try local cakes. It tells me about the local produce and often includes learning a little more about the region.  But that’s an excuse, a piece of local patisserie is my treat, it lifts my spirits, gives me a sense of being spoiled.

So here are five cakes from our autumn trip.

So I started with a ‘Pastis de Quercy’

Something like filo pastry, with either apple or prunes, honey and pastis.  This one I bought at the market of Praysac, held on a Friday.  I ate it at the view point of Ballaye, overlooking stunning views of the River Lot.  We met a group of local walkers there who said we must go to Montcuq market on a Sunday  (one to save for next time)

Recipe

Next came the ‘Tarte de Lascaux’

A confection of walnut in a pastry case.  I have since seen Huw Fearnley Whittingstall make something similar on his River Cottage programme..  This came from Montignac, only a stone’s throw from the famous caves of Lascaux.  It is here especially for Karen McKenry Heller to see as my last FB post from Montignac was just the empty paper bag!

Recipe

And then a ‘Kugelhof’

In Sarlat Le Caneda I was tempted by the kugelhof, more typical of the Alsace regions, but would include raisins or fruit. This one was made with Beurre de Charente AOC and melted in the mouth.  Similar to a brioche, but lighter and far superior.

Recipe

Followed by ‘Travers au Chocolat’

This one was bought in Sarlat from the gorgeous cafe/chocolatier Lemoine. A confection of walnut and dark chocolate.  There is also one with hazelnut and milk chocolate.

The window is a feast of macarons, Le canelé  and nougat.

A beautiful shop and cafe.

And finally a ‘Lascaux’

A creation of a boulanger near Lascaux, which was a soft textured meringue tasting of almonds and filled with cream.

This boulanger still makes bread on a wood fire and we asked if there was a French loaf which would actually keep for a few days! We bought this tourte  – and it kept too!

A cautionary note:

I lost a filling at the end of the holiday – too many cakes?

10 tips for questions you might not think to ask when booking a holiday with young children.

 

You’ve found the holiday property which looks just perfect for your family. The photos are drop dead gorgeous, the sun seems to shine every day, the rural idyll you are looking for. That’s it, that’s the one for the perfect family holiday, perhaps the first time you have been away since the children were born.

But hang on a minute, it is so easy to get carried away and when you arrive find that the holiday you thought would soothe away all the stresses and strains is going to involve some compromises, some extra expense you had not thought about or worse still, driving miles with young children just to find somewhere for the perfect meal in a local bistro that existed only in your dreams.

Here are 10 questions you might not think to ask when booking a holiday with young children.

  1. Is there information provided on child friendly places to visit and places to eat which welcome young children.
  2. Is there equipment for young children eg high chair, cots, potties, bottle sterilisers, safety gates, and are there any supplementary charges these.
  3. Is the pool warm enough for children to use every day during their stay.
  4. Are there any neighbours and would a crying baby upset them?  Settling a child to new surroundings can be stressful enough, but coping with complaints the next morning only adds to the stress.
  5. Are the cleaning materials used eco-friendly, eg no dangerous chemicals left within reach or used for cleaning the property.
  6. Is there a Doctor’s surgery close by, with someone to help with translation.
  7. Is the property owner resident and familiar with local emergency services and the local hospital.
  8. Is the property pushchair friendly in order to walk to the local boulangerie or buy fresh food locally
  9. Is there any traffic noise and how far in the property from the road.
  10. What are the memorable things about the property that children will remember and take home with them, eg collecting eggs from the chickens, patting a donkey, learning about how vegetables grow or the names of wild flowers.

These tips are based on personal experience and comments from guests who have stayed in holiday properties with young children.

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