Showing posts with label Holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holiday. Show all posts

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

CarGoSeat - The 2-in-1 Booster Seat and Travel Suitcase - A Review

As frequent travellers, it is fair to say that we have tried numerous products over the years to try and make our journeys as easy and as comfortable as possible for our children. Compact suitcases, an extensive collection of travel games and numerous pillows with blankets have all been tried and tested in our aim for stress-free family adventures. However, there is one particular comfort and safety aspect that has always bothered me - Booster Seats!

My two eldest children no longer require a booster seat, however my 7 year old still does and this has presented numerous problems on our journeys. Firstly, we sometimes get a minibus to the airport in the UK, especially if this works out cheaper than parking, however our usual taxi company does not provide booster seats and so you are left with the choice of travelling with no booster seat (a no go from me) or using our own seat and then either having to leave it with the taxi company or hauling it around the airport with us and on holiday.


Secondly, when we then book our transfers overseas we are often faced with an additional charge for the use of their booster seat. An example of this was on our trip to Italy last year, where we were charged an additional 20 euros each way, for a booster seat that looked so grim and tatty. However, faced with no other option, we choose to pay it, to ensure that Riley had a safe journey.

You can therefore imagine just how happy I was to hear about a brand new and innovative product called the CarGoSeat, which addresses all of the issues I have faced previously. Not only does the CarGoSeat offer a safe and sturdy booster seat for travel, but it can also be used as a 10 litre travel suitcase, offering a 2 in 1 product that is perfect for mini travellers.


The CarGoSeat is suitable for children within the weight range of 22kg to 36kg, who are also at a height of 125cm or taller. It comes in a lovely selection of colours which are Purple, Green, Pink and Blue. Riley chose to review the Blue one and I must admit that it is a really nice bright and vibrant colour which looks great.

The outer packaging of the product is minimal and can either be retained for future reference as suggested on the rear, or when you are ready to dispose it can simply be popped in the cardboard recycling bin. This is also another element of the product that appealed to me, as once you have finished using your product to the point that it is no longer required, there is an address on the back of the packaging that you can send it to, for the CarGoSeat to be recycled.


Obviously with any booster seat, the most important features are the safety aspects. This was therefore the first thing that I looked into once it arrived and I was reassured to see that it meets ECE R44/04 Regulation Standards, as well as noting that it has been rigorously crash tested. It also comes with a 12 month warranty.

Once I had removed the packaging, Riley had a good look at his new CarGoSeat and started wheeling it around the house. We tested the wheels on a variety of surfaces such as the carpet, kitchen floor, grass and the pavement and experienced no problems with movement. I am therefore confident that Riley will be able to manouvere this comfortably when we next go to the airport.


Riley was also keen to see just how many of his toys, clothing and other belongings he could fit inside, so he spent some time learning how to open the clasp safely and how to lock it into place, before filling it with items. With there being 10 litres of space, this is an ample size for some travel toys, snacks and a few pieces of clothing.


When it came to placing the CarGoSeat in our vehicle, we found this to be really simple and it literally took seconds to get it into place. It has to be used with a diagonal 3 point lap belt and it is not suitable for use with a lap belt, so this is an important fact to remember to ensure its safe use. When you are ready to use it, you simply place it on your chosen seat and lift up the arms which are located either side by pressing in the yellow button located within the wheel on each side. You then need to ensure that the red clip is placed at shoulder height for your child and then attach this to the seatbelt and ensure that the belt is safely secured across the seat. There are pictured instructions located on the side of the CarGoSeat should you ever need a reminder.


Another aspect that I really liked about this product is how easy it is to clean. The seat pad is easily removable and washable and the fully plastic body makes it very simple to wipe over after each use, ensuring that it doesn't retain any crumbs or get too grubby.

Overall we are really impressed with the CarGoSeat and we will definitely get plenty of use out of it on our travels. I love the innovative design and the colour range that the product is available in. It is very lightweight, making it easy to carry and I found that the wheels moved well on a variety of different surfaces. Riley was able to fit plenty of his items inside for safe keeping and he found it a real novelty that he was putting toys and clothes inside a booster seat. Both my husband and I found it very easy to fit in the car and I can't wait to use this on our future travels. With an RRP of £49.99 I think that it offers really good value for money and would happily recommend it to others.

If you would like to find out more about the CarGoSeat, then you can find their website and social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.cargoseat.com
Facebook - facebook.com/CarGoSeat
Twitter - twitter.com/cargoseat
Instagram - instagram.com/cargoseat

There is also a fabulous Twitter Party planned for July 16th 2020 between 4pm and 5pm, so why not pop over and join in with the fun.


*Disclaimer - We were gifted a CarGo Seat for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated. 

Monday, 5 August 2019

Planning Our Trip to Brittany with Al Fresco Holidays - Preview

If you are a regular visitor to the blog, then you will know of our love for family holidays. For the past few years we have teamed up with Al Fresco Holidays to check out some of their fantastic holiday parks across Europe, creating many special memories along the way. So far we have visited Sanguli in Spain, La Croix du Vieux Pont in France and Portofelice in Italy, experiencing a wonderful fun-filled time at each destination.

This year we have already returned to Portofelice twice in both May and July after falling in love with the park last year, but we shall shortly be visiting somewhere new and travelling on an overnight ferry to stay at Domaine Des Ormes, located in Brittany. This will be a new adventure for all of us, having never travelled on an overnight ferry previously, so although we are a little nervous about what the cabins will be like, we are also really excited to be trying something a little out of our comfort zone in terms of transport.

One of my favourite things to do when visiting somewhere new, is to plan and research. I love finding out about the area, the must-see places to visit and finding affordable family restaurants. I like to be prepared as much as possible, so I will also try and find out the prices of any nearby activities so that we can also set a realistic budget for our holiday.

Image kindly provided by Al Fresco Holidays
Getting to Domaine Des Ormes is going to take us approximately one full day so we need to ensure that we have everything sorted for our journey. We are planning on setting off from our home at 5am to make the 4.5 hour journey to Portsmouth, planning to reach there for approximately 11am allowing for some rest breaks along the way. Our ferry crossing isn't until later that evening, so we are planning on visiting some tourist attractions throughout the day (though we are currently undecided on which ones) in order to tire us all out so that we can sleep on the boat.

Our overnight journey will then see us travel onboard an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo, arriving early at around 6am, with disembarkation commencing at 8am. It is our plan at the moment to drive straight to the site which is approximately 40 minutes away from the port, so that we can get our bearings and make use of the on-site facilities for our first day, before being able to check in to our accommodation at 4pm.

We are taking our own vehicle, so we need to ensure that we have everything that we need to comply with French regulations, this includes both documents and kit so I have began to get everything together. In terms of paperwork it is compulsory to have your driving licence, V5 document and vehicle insurance. Whilst breakdown cover isn't essential, I would never leave home without it especially when travelling abroad, so I have double checked that our existing policy covers us in France and would always recommend taking this out before starting your journey as it could save you a lot of hassle (and money) should you be unfortunate enough to break down.

There are other items of kit which are also compulsory and these include a GB sticker, warning triangle, reflective jacket (enough for all passengers in the vehicle), headlamp adjustment stickers and a breathalyser.

The site of Domaine Des Ormes looks absolutely incredible. They have recently released a new app called Les Ormes which provides so much information on all the activities available, along with a handy map, restaurant menus and entertainment times. I love handy tools like this as it really helps with the planning, especially when it comes to budgeting for activities.

Image kindly provided by Al Fresco Holidays
My children have already had a good look through the choices available and each of them have made a small list which details which activities they would like to try. Emma is really keen to have a go at wakeboarding, as well as a try on the zipline, whilst Riley is looking forward to having a pony ride and enjoying the kids disco. Ben has said that he would like to try the Escape game and archery, in addition to having some fun on the slip and slide. It certainly seems like there is going to be plenty to keep them occupied and it is great that they have already began to get excited about trying new things.

We also joined a facebook group which is packed full of handy tips and advice from previous guests. There have been numerous recommendations for the late evening sound and light show, which takes place on the Chateau of the Domaine. There is also a family fireworks show on selected dates, so we are hoping that one will be taking place during our visit.

One thing that the facebook group has been particularly useful for, is finding out more about places to visit in the area and family friendly attractions. It has been great to read about other people's experiences and learn more about the must-see sights in the area. We have been told that St Malo itself is a beautiful place, along with Mont St Michael which looks stunning in some of the photographs we have seen.

One of our favourite activities to do whilst on holiday is enjoy some swimming, so we were delighted to follow the progress of a new Dome which has been built over the existing swimming complex. We have watched this develop on the Domaine Des Ormes facebook page over the past few months and I will be honest when I say it looks absolutely incredible! As well as swimming pools, there is a wave pool, lazy river ride and water slides, so we are guaranteed to have an action-packed week of fun.

Image kindly provided by Al Fresco Holidays
In terms of accommodation, we will be staying in one of the Al Fresco Holidays Vivaldi Lounge Mobile Homes. These are three bedroomed mobile homes, which means that there will be plenty of space for all of us. They also have a nice decking area and outdoor seating, so we will be able to make the most of the Al Fresco experience. We have always found the Al Fresco mobile homes very clean, tidy and well equipped with everything we need for our stay, which is just what you need after a long journey.

Overall we are now beginning to get really excited for our upcoming holiday and we cannot wait to share our review of our Al Fresco Holiday to Domaine Des Ormes in a few weeks. Please be sure to follow us on our social media pages, as we will be posting plenty of images during our stay (wifi permitting). Our social media can be found on the following channels:

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/itsafamilyadventure/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/itsafamilyblog

You can also learn more about Al Fresco Holidays by visiting their website or social media pages which can be found on the following channels:

Website - https://www.alfresco-holidays.com/ where you can find some superb deals on family holidays.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/AlFrescoHols
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/alfrescoholidays
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/alfresco_hols/

Image kindly provided by Al Fresco Holidays
*Disclaimer - We will be visiting Domaine Des Ormes on a press trip, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the park and our experience. This means that our accommodation and transport has been arranged for us, however all food, attractions and activities will be paid for by ourselves.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

John Fowler Holidays - Sandy Meadows Lodge Park Review

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of spending a lovely few days at Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, located in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. Sandy Meadows is owned by John Fowler Holidays, who have been established for over 60 years. Their aim is to provide families with a wonderful UK holiday that includes comfortable accommodation, an action packed entertainment programme and on-site facilities.

We couldn't wait for our holiday to begin and a few days prior to our arrival, we received a welcome email that also provided our check in time. We had booked to stay in a 4 bedroom luxury hot tub lodge on the Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, which is adjacent to Sandy Glade. The facilities here are shared, so although the lodge park has a separate name, you are free to enjoy the entertainment and facilities on offer at the adjoining site. This includes the swimming pool, park, shop, on-site cafe, bar and evening entertainment. There is also an activities programme that is run by the 'Stripeys' that children from both sites are welcome to participate in.

Our Arrival

We live approximately three and a half hours away from Burnham-on-Sea and didn't fancy travelling in heavy traffic, so we set off at around 6am. With a stop on the way, this meant we reached the site by 10am. I visited reception to make them aware that we had arrived early and although we were unable to check in until 2pm, they said that we were more than welcome to enjoy the facilities available whilst we waited. The lady at the desk was very friendly and helpful and also told us to check back in a couple of hours, just in case our lodge was ready slightly earlier. We rummaged through the boot of the car to find all our swimwear and towels and made our way over to the swimming pool.

After a relaxing hour long swim and a short play on the park, I popped back to reception on the off chance that our lodge was ready. I was delighted to find that it was and so the receptionist handed me the key, an entertainment booklet, passcode for the swimming pool and the entry code for the Sandy Meadows gates, as well as providing me with directions to our lodge. This was neatly presented in a John Fowler Holidays envelope which gave me a safe and secure place to store all the information I had been given.

From the main reception on Sandy Glade to the lodge park on Sandy Meadows it takes approximately 10 minutes to walk, or just a couple of minutes in the car. We drove over excitedly, ready to explore our accommodation and unpack.

Accommodation

The accommodation was absolutely stunning and featured everything we could have hoped for. As soon as we arrived on the park, we could tell this was going to be luxurious, with both the lodges and their surroundings well cared for and maintained.


Our lodge looked huge from the outside and had a lovely large decking area that overlooked the fields in front. In addition to this, there was a nice modern hot tub, that had privacy screening all around it. The maintenance man on site saw us arrive and informed us that we would be unable to use the hot tub until at least 5pm as it had just been cleaned and refilled, so it would take a while to heat up. This was fine with us, as by the time we had unpacked and had a look around, it would probably be early evening before we had the chance to use it anyway.


We stayed in a 4 bedroom lodge, which featured 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin rooms. This was of ample size for our party of 7 and there was plenty of space for all of us. As we entered the lodge we walked into a small cloakroom area which led into the open plan lounge, dining and kitchen area.




It was immediately apparent how luxurious and comfortable the lodge was. The children excitedly ran from room to room to explore what was going to be their home for the week. We were all shocked at how big the bedrooms were and all the storage that was available. There were two shower rooms, which both had two doors, meaning that it could be used as a en-suite from the bedroom, or alternatively, they could be accessed from the hallway. This worked out really well for us as it meant that my parents could have one bathroom to themselves, whilst the kids and I had the other.



The kitchen had everything that you could think of, including a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave and oven. Plates, cups, glasses and utensils were also provided. We did notice that there were only 4 tumbler style glasses and we also couldn't find any placemats for the dining table. I therefore simply made a note of this and alerted reception when we went over to Dunes in the evening. By the time we had got back from bingo on our first evening, these had been placed in the lodge ready for our return. Excellent service!



Facilities

There were plenty of on-site facilities, to help ensure that all guests have everything they need. Chef's Corner provided tasty takeaway and sit down cafe meals, that were all of a reasonable price. There was a nice selection of comfort food available, which is always a nice treat when you are on holiday. The service was very friendly and quick and although it certainly isn't a five star fine dining restaurant, it does offer you a relaxing place to go, for when you just don't fancy cooking yourself, which is always a great option to have.

Located next door to Chef's Corner, was a well stocked shop, that had all the daily essentials that you would need, as well as a selection of toys for the children. We had already done a big shop prior to our arrival, but it was useful for us to pop to this shop to get a couple of small things we had forgotten.


Another facility that was popular with my children was the NextGen arcade, that was located to the right hand side of the Dunes Bar. My children enjoyed playing on the 2p machines and would spend £1 each night trying to win some little prizes, whilst we waited for the bingo games to start. Riley really enjoyed another game too, where you had to steer a wheel that was connected to a basket and catch the eggs that dropped from above. This was a really fun game and at 50p a go, it didn't break the bank either.


The Dunes bar was a lovely place to go in the evening, with modern decor and comfortable seating throughout. We enjoyed spending our evenings in here and felt that there were plenty of tables and seating options for groups & families of all sizes.


Our favourite facility though, had to be the one that was back at our lodge, The Hot Tub! We loved being able to relax in here everyday and we were also very impressed with how well maintained they are. During our stay a maintenance worker, would come and check the chemical levels of it twice a day which we thought was really good. We have stayed in lodges with hot tubs, owned by other holiday parks in the past and the hot tubs haven't been checked once during our stay, so we felt that this showed excellent customer care by John Fowler Holidays.



Activities

Activities were scheduled for each day, which were ran by the Stripeys or leisure staff. During the week that we stayed there was football, water walking zorbs, pool kayaking & games. We had hoped that there would be some Halloween activities planned, but I was told that these had taken place the week before, as that had been the local half term and they were busier then. Whilst I can understand this, it would have been nice if there had been something on the 31st at least for all the children on site. The activities seemed well run and organised and there were certainly many happy participants, especially at the football!

The swimming pool offered a fun place to go for a swim and it didn't feel too crowded at any point. There were a couple of changing cubicles, showers and toilets located around the outside of the pool, as well as some seating and tables for anyone wanting to supervise their children. The water temperature was just right, a little cool on entry but absolutely perfect once you are in and have started swimming. There was also a lifeguard on duty, which I always find very reassuring.

Evening Entertainment

Evening entertainment is held on the sister park of Sandy Glade in the Dunes Bar. This would begin at 6pm with kids club, which involved some games, dancing and the chance to have a meet and greet with one of the on site mascots. My children took part in this every night and loved the games, especially Hide & Seek and Shuffle Bum!


The Dunes Bar was very clean and tidy, with nice and modern decor throughout. There was plenty of seating, however I can imagine that it probably gets extremely busy during the peak season. Television screens were displayed in several areas, that provided details on entertainment or activities that were taking place throughout the week and there were also some larger screens near the main bar, that showed the sports channels for anyone wanting to catch up on the football. The bar service was friendly and the drinks were reasonably priced.


Once kids club was over then it was time to purchase your bingo tickets, with kids being able to buy theirs from the Foxy Shop for £1 and adults could buy theirs at the bar. Each bingo booklet contains five games and both the kids and adults bingo are played at the same time, which seems to work really well. The first four games are for a line only, with the final game being for a full house. Prizes are calculated based on ticket sales, so the value of these changed each night, dependent on how many booklets were sold. Children's prizes were for toys to a certain value from the Foxy Shop, whilst adults played for a cash prize. My husband won £15 on our first night which paid for a nice round of drinks for us all.

Once the bingo games were finished, then there would be further entertainment that continued on til late. This varied from quizzes to live cabaret acts, however we always chose to leave after the Bingo games as Riley would start to get tired. There was certainly a nice selection of acts available throughout the week though, so we felt that there was something for everyone in terms of evening entertainment.

Nearby

There is a huge amount to do in the local area, ranging from museums & fairgrounds to beaches and beauty spots, such as Cheddar Gorge and Wells. Popular attractions include Brean Leisure Park, Wookey Hole, Cheddar Gorge, Weston-Super-Mare Pier, Puxton Park, The World's Largest Helicopter Museum, Animal Park and Bristol Zoo to name a few. There are also many others that are within driving distance of the holiday park.

During our stay we visited Bristol Zoo, Puxton Park and Brean Leisure Park, which all offered fantastic family fun days out.

There were several supermarkets nearby including Tesco & Lidl, so if you didn't fancy taking food with you, there is no worry about doing a big shop once you get there. A well stocked co-op store is also only a couple of minutes down the road.

Overall

Overall, we had an absolutely wonderful time at Sandy Meadows Lodge Park. The site was well cared for, clean and tidy, which made the park a pleasure to be on. The staff were all very friendly and worked extremely hard to try and ensure that the guests have a wonderful holiday.


Our lodge was a comfortable and luxurious place to stay and it was lovely to be able to sit out on the verandah in the afternoon and enjoy a glass of wine, whilst just watching the clouds float by. The outdoor seating was also really good quality so again the feeling of luxury continued outdoors too.


The view was very peaceful and despite visiting at the end of October and beginning of November, we were fortunate to have lovely weather for that time of year, which improved our stay even further.
From the tranquility of the lodge park, to the music and atmosphere in the bar, everything was just perfect for our stay. If you are looking for a lovely UK family break, with plenty to do both onsite and nearby, then I highly recommend Sandy Meadows by John Fowler Holidays.


Further Information

If you would like to obtain further information on Sandy Meadows, or learn more about their other parks located in the South West of England, then you can find more information on their website, or social media channels which can be found here:

Website: John Fowler Holidays
Facebook: John Fowler Holiday Parks
Twitter: @JohnFowlerHols
Instagram: @johnfowlerholidays
YouTube: John Fowler Holidays

There are also some fantastic savings to be made on 2018 holidays at the moment, which makes it a great time to book your holiday for next year!


*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post & we received a discounted media rate stay for our visit. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Our Family Adventure at La Croix du Vieux Pont with Al Fresco Holidays

Last week we spent a wonderful few days at La Croix du Vieux Pont with Al Fresco Holidays and we are already missing our relaxing evenings sat out on the decking by our accommodation. Whether you are looking for a base to explore Paris & the local area, somewhere within easy reach of Disneyland Paris, or simply a destination that has so many activities on offer, that you need never leave the site, then La Croix du Vieux Pont ticks all the boxes for the perfect family holiday.

We travel around so much, but have never self driven to France before, usually opting for the fun of flying instead. It has been something that we have wanted to try for a while though and after spotting a great deal on Dover to Calais ferry crossings, we started to look at our options for an end of summer trip to France.

With Riley only being 4, he is still at the beautiful age of believing in magic and has a love for Disney Characters such as Mickey Mouse and the Lion King. Therefore I wanted to find a holiday park that was in an easy driving distance to Disneyland Paris. My husband and I also wanted to find somewhere that offered plenty of activities on site to keep the children busy, as well as somewhere that had a kids club, so that us parents could have the opportunity to relax too. As we had decided on a location near to Paris, we had a look at three Al Fresco parks that were all within a 2 hour drive to the city. When we came across La Croix du Vieux Pont, it was an easy decision to make and so we excitedly booked our stay.


About Al Fresco Holidays

Al Fresco Holidays specialise in family mobile home holidays throughout Europe, with some fantastic family friendly holiday parks on offer.  There is a wide range of different parks on their website, that offer some wonderful facilities, in a great choice of locations.

Al Fresco Holidays have recognised that everyone looks for something different in their holidays and therefore they offer a selection of different sized parks such as large and lively, small and friendly, authentic and value, as well as midsize and sociable. This means that you can be sure of finding a holiday park that suits your needs and requirements. 

They offer a variety of mobile home options, which are all well equipped, comfortable and modern. The mobile homes are a great idea for larger families as some of the mobile homes can accommodate up to 8 people, making them extremely cost effective. They offer more space than just an individual hotel room and some of the holiday homes also offer decking, outdoor seating and a barbecue, which helps you to make the most of the sunshine too!

The website makes it easy to find a destination or park that suits you, by using the search function and then refining the results to suit your particular needs and requirements.  You can make selections such as budget, being near to the beach, kids club facilities and dining choices to name a few. There are also a variety of options as to how you wish to travel with flights, self drive, the ferry or Eurotunnel all being something to consider. If you cannot decide which option would be best for you, then Al Fresco representatives are always happy to assist and provide their recommendations and help.

The Al Fresco Holidays Website

I find the Al Fresco website really easy to use and navigate. I think it is well organised and it is easy to search for holiday parks based on location. You can also search for the best deals and offers on their whole range of parks, as well as view comprehensive information on the choice of holiday homes available. The design of the website is sleek and modern, with no over complicated graphics. It's simple design makes it easy to see everything clearly, without the need to search through endless lists or contents pages. 

My favourite thing about the website, is the amount of information it provides about each park. There are images, videos and reviews to help you obtain a thorough understanding of each park, which helps you to make an informed choice.

The booking process is very simple and literally takes a few minutes to get your family holiday booked. You can pay a low deposit, which allows you to pay your holiday off at your own convenience, so there is no need to worry about having to pay for everything all in one go. Once you have selected your chosen holiday park, there are a range of optional extras that you can also add to your booking such as air conditioning, linen packs, baby packs & toddler packs. These packs are a great idea and can cut down the amount of luggage that you need to take with you, which is very handy if you are restricted to a particular suitcase weight on airlines. 

For example the baby pack contains a travel cot, high chair, baby bath, socket covers and a baby gate, making your holiday home, not only comfortable, but safe too! During the booking process you can also add an equipment damage waiver, which covers you should there be any accidental damage during your stay. As anyone with children knows, accidents can happen at anytime, so I personally always take this out, so that I know we are covered in the event of any mishaps. The charge usually equates to just £2 a day, however if you choose not to take out the equipment damage waiver, then you will be required to leave a deposit of £200 on arrival. 

The Journey to La Croix du Vieux Pont

There isn't much public transport available in the area where the park is based and it is approximately one hour and twenty minutes away from Paris. It is nestled within the french countryside, in the lovely village of Vic-Sur-Aisne. You could fly into one of the Paris airports and hire a car or get a taxi, but I believe that both of these would be expensive options, so my personal opinion would be to catch the ferry or go via the Eurotunnel to France in your own vehicle and drive.

There are a few options for this as you could travel from Hull to Zeebrugge, Dover to Dunkirk, or Dover to Calais. The latter two are short ferry crossings which take around 90 minutes, with the Hull ferry likely to be more expensive due to being an overnight sailing. The Eurotunnel option is the quickest route with crossing times of roughly half an hour. We chose to drive from North Wales to Dover through the night and then got an early ferry crossing from Dover to Calais with DFDS. We chose this option so that we had a nice break between the drive and that it would give us a good amount of time to stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh sea air and grab a bite to eat and a drink onboard. 



We found the check in and boarding process at the port really simple and with no delays, we set off on time across the English Channel. On arrival in Calais, the disembarkation process was just as easy and we simply drove straight off the boat and out of the Calais Port onto the French motorway.

The Sat Nav had given us a journey time of approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, however I had done some research beforehand and read reviews from previous guests, who had recommended staying on the A26 until either junction 10 or 11. The Sat Nav kept trying to pull us off the motorway so we ended up ignoring this until we exited at junction 11. There are a few important things to remember when planning your road trip in France and it is important to consider such things as tolls, speed limits (remember these are in kmph not mph), the compulsory car safety kit and of course remembering to drive on the RIGHT hand side of the road. 

I initially thought that this would be quite confusing being on the opposite side of the road from what we are used to, however it was actually really easy. The roads had barely any traffic on them and we didn't come across a single traffic jam. Everywhere is well signposted and there were plenty of rest stops and petrol stations on our journey. We made a couple of quick stops on the way, firstly to top up with fuel and secondly just to stretch our legs. We were on the motorway for over 100 miles making it a really easy straight route. The last half an hour of our journey was a little busier and involved numerous roundabouts, but again it was all relatively simple.

Our Arrival at La Croix du Vieux Pont

The campsite is well signposted from the road and it would be hard to miss the turning. We went to the main reception firstly who advised us that as we were early, we could park in the main car park and enjoy the facilities prior to checking in at 4pm. They provided us with directions to the Al Fresco reception and also told us briefly where we could go for a drink or a swim.


We had taken the children's scooters with us, so we parked up, got the scooters out and went for a quick exploration of the park. It immediately became apparent just how large the park was, there was so much to see and do, so it wasn't long before the kids were excited about what we could do during our stay. We had a quick look around all the facilities and took a walk up to the lakeside beach, where we stopped to enjoy a drink.


When it was time for our Al Fresco experience to begin, my daughter and I went to the Al Fresco reception, where we were greeted by Nich, a lovely young gentleman who made us feel very welcome. He gave me some information about the Al Fresco Holidays kids clubs, activities to do in the area and invited me to ask any questions that I had regarding our stay. I provided him with a cheque for £50 to cover our housekeeping deposit, which is returned to you at the end of your stay providing that you have left the accommodation as you found it. A cheque is the best way to do this and is Al Fresco's preferred method too, as this does not affect your available funds by having to leave cash. Once I had signed the housekeeping deposit form, we made our way over to our Vivaldi accommodation. We had only had a brief look around the mobile home at this point as the sun was shining brightly and the kids wanted to have a swim, so we quickly unloaded the car, before heading back over to the lakeside beach where we spent a good couple of hours sunbathing and swimming in the sunshine.

Our first impressions of our Al Fresco holiday were great and we couldn't wait to enjoy everything that was on offer.


Accommodation

We stayed in a Vivaldi 3 bedroomed mobile home, which was very spacious and clean. It had one double room and two twin rooms meaning that we all had our own space. The main living area was open plan and consisted of the lounge, dining room and kitchen. There was plenty of room for all of us and we never felt too crammed in. 

The space continued outside too, where there was a lovely large decking area that had an outdoor table, a parasol, six chairs & two recliners, which was perfect for some Al Fresco dining. It was a lovely space to relax outside whilst the children played. There was also a nice grassed area, along with a space to park the car right outside.


The kitchen contained everything we needed for our self catering break, with a kettle, pots & pans, utensils, microwave & dinnerware. There was also a large fridge freezer that had plenty of room for all our food and the all important ice creams and lollies for the kids.

There was a separate bathroom and toilet, which I always prefer as being a large family it can cause problems in the morning if someone is in the shower whilst someone else needs the loo. The shower was a nice size and there was a large sink area and cupboard next to it, so there was plenty of space to store your belongings. There was also a shelving area opposite the sink, so there was enough storage for all our toiletries.

The bedrooms were very comfortable. The double room had a sliding wardrobe, bedside units, a mirror with shelf, along with plenty of lighting. The twin bedrooms also had wardrobe units and the mattresses in all of the rooms were comfy and offered a good nights sleep.

The dining table was ideal to enjoy our breakfast together in the mornings. There were only 4 seats set at the table, however we found that there were also two spare chairs in one of the cupboards which meant that there was enough seating for all of us.

Overall we were very pleased with our accommodation. It was comfortable, spacious and gave us everything we needed for our stay, so we were more than happy with it. There were also newer models located opposite the beach which looked beautiful in their own little plot and a higher quality of outdoor furniture. Although we were very pleased with our Vivaldi accommodation, we would definitely consider one of the new lounge models as an alternative in the future.


La Croix du Vieux Pont Holiday Park

Well there is certainly no chance of your children getting bored at this holiday park. There is so much to see and do, that we didn't manage to even do half of it during our stay. From swimming pools to bouncy castles, mini golf to kids clubs, parks to fishing, this site literally has it all!


Firstly, there are several swimming pools, which are both indoor and outdoors. The site has a long season and the weather can be very similar to British weather, in that it can be glorious sunshine one day, then cold and rainy the next. Therefore having the choice of both indoor and outdoor pools, means that there is always swimming available whatever the weather. The swimming complex features a lazy river ride, water slides, a children's splash zone, separate children's pool and jacuzzis. The clever aspect of the indoor pools are that if the sunshine comes out in abundance, then the roof can also be retracted. There were plenty of sun loungers available and we had no issue in securing a couple near the children's pool on each day of our stay.


My children's favourite swimming pool though, was the artificial lake, that was surrounded by a beautiful sandy beach, which Riley absolutely loved. There was plenty of space and Riley was really happy sitting on the beach building sand castles, mountains and digging holes.



You were allowed inflatables in this pool and so the kids really enjoyed being able to play and relax on their inflatable crocodiles and rubber rings! The grass area next to lake provided a lovely place to lay your towels and sunbathe, whilst still being able to supervise from the shores. The lake side beach bar also meant that there was somewhere close by to grab some refreshments, though on most days we took our own food and drink with us in a cooler bag, which seemed to be a popular idea with a lot of guests. 

Next to the swimming lake, was also a large children's park, a beach volleyball court and a mini golf course. The mini golf carries a small charge to play as well as needing a deposit to use the clubs and balls. This is minimal though and we found all the activities to be very reasonably priced.



Adjacent to the swimming lake, were two fishing lakes on either side. The first one was also used for watersports which included paddle boarding, kayaking and pedalos. Fishing seemed to be a popular activity and every day during our stay there were numerous anglers trying their best to catch some fish. My son Ben became quite fascinated by this and enjoyed making friends on the lake side whilst watching the fish being reeled in. Some of them were absolutely huge, which Ben was amazed by. You do need to purchase a licence to fish in the lake and the costs vary dependent on the duration of your licence & whether you are a child or adult. We found that this lake seemed to be more popular for fishing that the other lake which was located towards to the top end of the site. I found this surprising, as I thought that the water activities would disturb the fish, but there seemed to be no problems catching a bite on the line.

The kids club was a great facility to have, with numerous activities taking place for different age groups each day. We only used the kids club once, despite initially planning to use it every day, purely because there was just so much to do on site, so we ended up doing a lot of family activities together instead. 

Next to the pool complex, was also a laser quest, bowling alley and an indoor soft play area, which again provided plenty of opportunities for indoor fun should the weather be poor. In addition to the indoor activities, there is also bouncy castles, trampolines, bungee trampolines, pedalos, kayaks and go karts outdoors, therefore providing plenty of entertainment to see you through the day. All of these carried an additional charge, however you can purchase a leisure card that can be used for some of the activities on site. These are great value and offer some fabulous savings. For example you can buy a leisure card for 40 euros which gives you 70 euros to spend on activities.



All the staff we came across on the site, were really lovely. The Al Fresco team are an absolute credit to the company and we were so impressed with their friendly hardworking attitude. Nothing seemed too much trouble, and the same can be said about the La Croix du Vieux Pont staff who were always walking round with a smile. On one occasion the manager of the site was driving around throwing prizes to the kids and Ben bagged himself a brand new bright green rubber ring. This retailed at 12 euros in the shop, so Ben was very pleased with his bonus gift! 

For convenience there is a shop on site, as well as a bakery. We purchased fresh croissants and baguettes from here every morning and the queue was always out the door. It was worth the short wait each morning though as everything we purchased from the bakery was delicious. The prices were slightly higher than the supermarket in the village, however they tasted much nicer and it was ideal to not have to drive down the road and just simply walk to the bakery on site. The site shop offered a good selection of food products and drinks and the prices were reasonable, though some things such as snacks & chocolate bars etc, were a little on the expensive side.



Near the swimming pool and sports complex there was also a gift shop where you could purchase your inflatables, toys or gifts to take home with you. Riley bought a large plastic boat for 6 euros which he played with every day of our stay in the swimming lake.



Towards the far end of the site, there was an outdoor adventure company called Tower Pursuits who ran activities on a daily basis that included a climbing wall, abseiling, trapeze & zip wire. The sessions get booked up quite quickly, so it is a good idea to pop over on arrival day and get booked in for any activities you want to try.

In the evening we enjoyed taking a stroll around the whole site. It was a lovely walk in the evening just as the sun set and the lake lit up beautifully.


Dining and Drinks

As we had planned ahead for self catering in our accommodation, we had no need to dine out during our stay, however there were plenty of options available had we wanted to.

Berny Burger offers an evening takeaway service where there is a wide range of fast food choices available for purchase. The takeaway looked very clean and well presented and there were also some tables and chairs outside, should you wish to dine out instead of returning back to your accommodation with the food.


For a more formal dining experience, the Brasserie Macao was a very popular choice. This appeared to be fully booked on most nights, with people often queuing outside waiting for a table. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from other guests regarding this restaurant and the dining area looked absolutely lovely. The menu was very extensive and had something to suit all tastes. Whenever I walked past, it seemed such a lovely atmosphere and you could always see the staff working hard throughout the restaurant. The smell of the food was absolutely divine and the few meals that I saw being carried out, looked extremely appetising.


Another option was the La Plage Beach Bar which offered a more refined menu, as well as a vast choice of drinks and cocktails. The setting of the La Plage Beach Bar was very idyllic and overlooked the lake and beach.

If you fancied venturing off site for something to eat, then the local restaurant Chez Micheline comes highly recommended. Again this can get booked up extremely quickly and quite far in advance in peak season. It is within walking distance from the campsite, so I would recommend either calling to book a table or taking a walk down on the first day of your stay to make a reservation.

Evening entertainment

Bar Summer located near the main pool complex was a bustling place in the evening, with plenty of tables both inside and out for guests. Entertainment was provided in the evening and this varied on a nightly basis. Some evenings it was a children's disco and others there would be live entertainment such as a band. The entertainment for each day would be displayed on a board outside the bar, so it was easy to check what was on during your stay. Entertainment is of course seasonal and so could be quite limited if you visit in off peak times.

Our favourite place to visit in the evening after our walk, would be the La Plage Beach Bar. This was in a lovely setting and entertainment during our stay included a karaoke night and a fire dance show. The fire dance show took place on what was a beautiful sunny evening and so with the lake still being warm, we all watched the show from our inflatables in the pool.



Local Area & Places to Visit

If you did decide to leave the site to explore, then there is plenty to do in the area. The local village of Vic-Sur-Aisne is very picturesque and holds a regular market day which during our visit was on a Wednesday. There are also numerous other markets that take place on different weekdays in neighbouring towns such as Soissons and Chauny. 

The stunning Chateau de Pierrefonds is less than a 30 minute drive away and at only 8 euros admission (under 26s FREE) it makes it the perfect low cost family day out. It is a stunning architectural design and well worth the short journey to visit. There is plenty of free parking available in the village and then it is just a short walk to the entrance to the Chateau.

If you want to travel slightly further afield, then the theme parks of Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix are both less than 90 minutes away. We drove to Disneyland Paris on one day of our stay and found it to be a really easy drive. Just remember to take some change for the tolls and don't forget to top up your fuel, as petrol stations seemed quite far apart once we had left the main motorway. The site also has a double decker bus that runs trips to Disneyland Paris, though travel days vary throughout the season. This is a great option to have if you don't want the worry of driving and at the time of our stay it cost 17 euros per adult and 14 euros for a child aged 2 to 11. An infant between 0-2 years cost 10 euros to travel. We felt that this was a good price for a small family, but it worked out more cost effective for us to drive.


Paris itself is about 1 hour 20 minutes away, though the traffic can be pretty hectic. One alternative we looked at was getting the train from one of the nearby towns to the Gare du Nord station in Paris. This seemed like quite a cost effective way of travelling into the city centre, but due to being so busy participating in on site activities, we just didn't get the chance to give it a go. Just like the Disneyland Paris trips, the site also runs a bus service a couple of days a week, which takes you into Paris and costs 23 euros per adult, 17 euros a child and 11 euros for an infant.

Our Al Fresco Experience

We have stayed with Al Fresco Holidays on four occasions now and have never been disappointed. Everything from the moment we booked, til the moment we checked out, was absolutely perfect and I cannot thank Al Fresco enough, for yet another wonderful family experience. We received plenty of information prior to our stay, which helped us to feel excited and prepared for our holiday.


I had a couple of questions prior to our stay and made use of the Al Fresco Holidays online chat service that is available on their website. The customer advisor was extremely helpful and although they did not know the answer to one of my questions, they offered to contact one of their representatives on the park and emailed me a couple of hours later with the answer. What fantastic customer service!

The on site representatives were amazing and Al Fresco Holidays should be extremely proud of what a great team they have. On the last night of our stay, one of the representatives came to check us out and return our housekeeping deposit as we were setting off very early in the morning for the return journey home. We ended up having an hour long chat with the gentleman who was one of the loveliest people you could wish to meet. We weren't made to feel like customers, but instead we were made to feel as if we were staying with friends, which I think is a wonderful attribute to have. Unfortunately I cannot remember this gentlemans name, but his wife Diane also worked on site, who was equally as lovely.

The Al Fresco reception was also a welcoming place, with plenty of information on what to see, where to go and opening times of the facilities on the park. There was a selection of board games that you could sign out and borrow as well as some books and beach toys. I thought that this was a great idea as it is nice to have a family board game to play in the evening.

Overall we had yet another fantastic experience with Al Fresco Holidays and will definitely be using them again in 2018!


For further information you can visit the Al Fresco Holidays website which can be found here: www.alfresco-holidays.com

Alternatively you can follow them on social media, via their channels which are:

Twitter - @AlFrescoHols
Facebook - Al Fresco Holidays
Instagram - @alfresco_hols



Disclaimer: We were provided with a discounted media rate for our accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review of the Al Fresco experience and the La Croix du Vieux Pont Campsite. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless otherwise stated. This post contains affiliate links.