We were halfway through day three of our week in France and I was practically down on my knees begging my children to sit down and watch TV.
But – and I never thought I’d say this – they were having none of it. I offered them Peter Pan, Nanny McPhee and countless episodes of Peppa Pig, but my desperate pleas for down time fell on deaf ears. My youngest was demanding to go swimming, my middle son was throwing a tennis ball at me and my eldest had his cycling helmet on his head and an impatient look upon his face. TV was the furthest thing from their minds.
The problem was there was too much to do at La Croix Du Vieux Pont. When we booked our trip with Canvas Holidays, I expected the venue in northern France to live up to certain low-level expectations. The name Canvas coupled with the term ‘campsite’ conjured up images of wellington boots and boggy fields. Admittedly this was northern France and the wellies did come in handy, but the reality was a lot closer to a fun-filled resort than any campsite I have ever visited.
Canvas Holidays offers a choice of 90 sites across Europe. We could have opted for the sunny climes of Spain, Italy or Croatia, but instead we preferred to stay closer to home. Our booking included the crossing to Calais, from where the motorway took us virtually all the way. As a parent of small children, the prospect of driving rather than flying filled me with happy thoughts. With a roofbox and oodles of space, we managed to pack our all-seasons wardrobe, tennis raquets, footballs, ice box, DVDs and everything we needed to stave off endless repetitions of ‘are we there yet?’
Our main reason for choosing this site was its proximity to Disneyland Paris – just one hour’s drive away. We had never taken the kids there and the 20th Anniversary seemed like the perfect opportunity to go. But while we did enjoy two fabulous days at the world famous attraction, there was so much more to our holiday than Mickey Mouse and pals.
The Canvas reps were friendly and amenable and ran the brilliant free kids’ club. Besides the three swimming pools (two inside, one out), the boys had a fabulous time on the go-karts, playing football and riding their bikes. We hired a pedalo and a canoe, and they had a blast tunnelling their way across the small lakeside beach. Unfortunately, our time ran out before they’d even had a chance to try the archery, mini golf or trampolining.
When it comes to accommodation, there’s more to Canvas than just canvas (though they do have pre-erected tents, complete with proper beds and even a fridge). The majority of guests stay in spacious mobile homes and there are also some lovely wooden lodges – one of which we stayed in. Overlooking a lake, our pine chalet was large and airy and packed with mod-cons, including two TVs, a dishwasher, fridge freezer and a huge gas barbecue.
We spent most evenings dining al fresco over a bottle of French wine, while the kids expended their limitless energy. But if you’re feeling lazy there are three eateries on-site, as a well as a bakery and mini-market.
There is so much to do on-site, that you need almost never leave. We made a short trip to a nearby castle where the BBC series Merlin is filmed. And while it was nice to see the real France, the kids spent most of the morning asking to go back and play table tennis.
A week-long stay from July 28 in a classic two-bed mobile home, including ferry crossings, was £1096.00 now £668.80. For other deals and more information visit www.canvasholidays.co.uk or call 0845 268 0853.