Rollercoaster Mum: Family Friendly Holidays with the Kids - Siblu Holiday Parcs

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Family Friendly Holidays with the Kids - Siblu Holiday Parcs

As you may have realised we have recently been on our family holiday and as inveterate travellers BC (before children) Rollercoaster Dad and I have had to change our expectations somewhat. No longer can we travel long haul, backpacking round exotic destinations or take the odd one (or several) cheeky long weekends to those European cities. The reality of life with kids is that we don't have the money or the energy  to do these things but we do still like our holidays and we have made it overseas every year except one since Little Miss Star was born (and even then we managed a boat to the Isle of Wight!) I have often meant to blog about our holidays and mostly never gotten around to it so I am planning to do a little series of posts on some of the holidays we have done.

First up is the most recent and the one we have done most often and that is hiring a caravan on a campsite or holiday village. We have done this five times now - once on the Isle of Wight and four times travelling with Siblu to France. This is so the sort of holiday that we would have sneered up once upon a time and now we love them! We discovered them through Tesco's on their Clubcard scheme and have gone nearly every year since. Why you may ask? A bunch of static caravans, organised entertainment and loads of kids - sounds like some people's idea of a nightmare! Well the answer is the kids love it and lets face it if the kids are happy so are we - there's nothing worse than trying to drag kids around a museum or a city or up a mountain if they don't want to do it.

on an aeroplane
Very excited to be on a 'plane!
This year we went to Siblu's Le Montourey village/parc in Frejus on the Cote d' Azur in France. This is further than we've been before as Rollercoaster Dad discovered some airmiles that needed using so we decided to fly to Nice (usually we take the car on the ferry and drive). The girls were very excited to be flying as they hadn't been on a 'plane for over two years and Little Miss Sunshine couldn't really remember it. She absolutely loved the flight. All went well although getting our hire car proved trickier than planned as we had to change terminals and queue for aaaages to get it but when we did it was very posh - a Lancia something that seemed huge to me (I was the one driving) and I didn't discover it had 6 gears until we had driven about 10 miles!

Siblu le Montourey
Chilling out at the caravan
We arrived at Le Montourey tired and a bit hot and although we were earlier than the official check-in this didn't prove too much of a problem and we only had to wait 15 minutes or so. The anticipation of what the caravan is going to be like is always quite exciting! They are all slightly different and are usually privately owned, although serviced by Siblu, so there are often some odd quirks in the decor. This one was no exception - it was a great new caravan with all mod-cons - heaters, air-con (we used both whilst we were there), fridge freezer, deck etc but it had a huge old TV in the living room (usually there is no televison) which worked but only had French TV, a standard lamp with no light fitting in it and some strange pottery vase thing on the deck. I think possibly due to it being the beginning of the season there was a fair few things missing from the inventory (like 2 duvets!) and the microwave didn't work. This however was promptly sorted by the lovely Melissa from reception. It would have been nice to have a deck with an awning, which we have had on all our other Siblu holidays, but they don't promise it and I guess we just got lucky before! Generally though the caravans are always large, comfortable and really well-equipped with plenty of space between them. We usually go for one of their top of the range ones so that we get a deck and a fridge-freezer but even the smaller ones look good.

The staff at all the Siblu parcs we have been to have all been incredibly helpful and there is always at least one on reception that speaks good English or in some cases is a native English speaker. Le Montourey, being a fairly small parc, did top them all in the friendliness stakes with all the staff recognising us and the kids after a couple of days. The bar staff in particular, who on this parc also ran the shop, as it was small, were super friendly (and rather easy on the eye!!) The kids club and entertainment staff are always great and speak in both French and English - in this case the lovely Tanya and Rick (later joined by Natasha from Newcastle) and led by Max the man (not Max the Mouse) did a great job on a  limited budget.

Siblu Le Montourey
Pirate, pirate, pirate! - What we made at Pirate Club!
The kids club is free and is on every day. If your kids are over 5 you can leave them for a couple of hours and have a break. They get to do painting, glueing, sports and treasure hunts and stuff. Little Miss Star wasn't too keen this time though as most of the kids were younger than her but that was probably due to the time of year. Little Miss Sunshine loved it and couldn't wait to get her sticker each time she went. They both loved the evening entertainment  - dancing and singing along to chocolaaatay and Max the Mouse. It is a bit cheesy but where else can you kick back with a glass of (reasonable and cheap) wine whilst someone else entertains your  kids! We all came home chanting Pirate, Pirate, Pirate.... go, go, go!

Max the Mouse
Enjoying the evening's entertainment with Max the Mouse!

mmmm yum! Fresh croissant and a sunny breakfast outside.
The parcs are really safe and great places to let the kids have a bit of freedom that they often don't get at home. Last time we went was two years ago and so Little Miss Star was only 6 but we let them go down to the little playground on their own for half an hour or so as it was only about 10 caravans away. This year as she is now 8 we let them loose to go down to the basketball pitch and the playground and even sent them off to the shop in the morning to buy the fresh croissants (well if they would insist on getting up so early!)

Splashing in the kids pool

Wheeeeeee! Love those slides!
The highlight of every Siblu holiday for the kids though is the pool and the water slides. My two would happily have spent every hour of every day there. Le Montourey has a new (heated) pool this year with a 'spa' area  with lots of bubbles which was fantastic. There is also the fun kids pool and a colder, deeper swimming pool. The pools and slides at all the Siblu parcs have been fantastic, clean and well supervised by the lifeguards and usually some fun quirk like a lazy river or waterfall or in this case the spa bubbles area. The   only thing is the water in some can be rather cold but there is usually at least one heated or covered pool.

We did manage to leave the parc a couple of times!
We did manage to tear them away from the pool a couple of times, venturing into the local town, Frejus where Little Miss Star was impressed by the Roman Amphitheatre, we admired the boats in the harbour and spent a bit of time on the beach (not much though as the pool was better!)  With the aid of ice-cream bribes we persuaded them into two longer trips too - a day in St Tropez which was actually much nicer than I though it would be and a day driving around the Gorge Du Verdon in the mountains which was stunning, so much so that even Little Miss Star appreciated it. They also got a pony ride and a trip round one of those aerial adventure/ zip-wire type things (like Go-Ape in the UK) where we discovered that Little Miss Sunshine appears to have developed a fear of heights (she wasn't a fan!) We had planned to visit Nice and Monaco but when it came down to it we just couldn't be bothered. Both Rollercoaster Dad and I have been before and the thought of dragging reluctant children around a city really didn't appeal, but they are both close enough to visit if you wanted to.

We did as usual have a fabulous holiday with Siblu and although Le Montourey doesn't have quite as many facilities as the bigger parcs, it made up for it in friendliness (and good weather!) I think as Little Miss Star will be 9 next year though that we would probably go to a bigger one as she missed the facilities, whereas Little Miss Sunshine at 5 was perfectly happy. If you do visit say Hi to Tanya, Rick and Natasha for us (and do join in with their sunshine dances by the pool) - oh and say Bonjour to the lovely barman for me too!

Max the Mouse
We miss you Max- but we will be back!
Disclosure - we got free bedlinen for our holiday (worth about £35) in return for doing a post that mentioned Siblu - all other parts of the holiday and all previous holidays with Siblu have been paid in full by ourselves. All words, comments and pictures are my own.

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