WHAT’S the most important thing to you when it comes to family holidays? Is it value for money? Guaranteed sunshine? Luxury accommodation? Or is it simply that it lingers on in the memories of your children for years to come.
For me it’s the latter — so when your three year old asks you every week for the past six months; “Mom, when are we going back to France?” then you know you are doing something right, in creating those magical memories.
It’s easy to understand why the trip left such a lasting effect, not on just her, but all the family. It was a holiday of many firsts… a first time as a family on a ferry, a first time as a family staying in a mobile home, a first time exploring northern France. And we would do it all again in a flash.
The excitement was palpable among the smallies, as the four of us, my husband and I and our then five and three year old, boarded Irish Ferries’ Oscar Wilde, at Rosslare, around 4pm, having travelled from Cork. As it was our first trip we didn’t know what to expect regarding boarding — but we were lucky to have a priority pass, which meant there was no waiting around (this is worth the extra few euro, when you have small, impatient travelling companions for sure, and we will be booking it next time around!).
Our cabin, a three star, four bed room, was a comfortable enough size to sleep in — but, keen to explore the ship, we didn’t hang out there too much.
A wonderful surprise was being invited to the bridge of the ship to meet the captain. The children’s eyes lit up when they entered, I on the other hand broke out in a cold sweat, trying to keep little hands away from all the buttons. But they got to sit in the captain’s chair before being sent on their way with a nice chocolaty treat.
After exploring a little more — the boat has a number of restaurants, a cinema, games arcade and children’s play area — we enjoyed dinner, then decided to check out the children’s entertainment on board, before heading off to bed with two very happy, but tired kids, who didn’t wake until morning, by which time we had almost arrived in France. We docked before 11am at Roscoff. There was a four hour drive to Domaine de Litteau ahead of us, it sounds a lot after a long ferry journey, but it isn’t really, as the roads in France are a dream to drive on. There’s also an option of getting a ferry to Cherbourg, which would shave even more time off the road journey.
We stayed in Domaine de Litteau, in Normady, one of the wonderful Siblu Villages — they own 17 villages across France in popular locations from Normandy, to the Cote d’Azur.
They certainly don’t make mobile homes nowadays like they did in my youth. The three-bed holiday home had all the mod cons, two bathrooms, large kitchen come living room, a lovely terrace overlooking the park. It really felt like home away from home.
The park is nestled between St Lo and Bayeux on the edge of the Cerisy Forest. It is kept in pristine condition, with wonderful old French farm buildings converted on their main campus, including a reception area, kiddies club, bar and restaurant and shop.
There are two fishing lakes, lots of green space, an adventure zone for kids with BMX jumps, zip wire, climbing pyramid and a smaller playground for younger children.
There is also a wonderful indoors/ covered pool, with slide and toddlers pool — which was our go-to every day. Given this was Normandy in June, the weather was unpredictable and a few days or rain were endured — not that it bothered us, really, or stopped us from having lots of fun. There is also a kiddies club and entertainment on site for all ages, at nighttime too.
The local forest can be explored on foot or by bike, or even by horseback. Also nearby is the historic towns of Bayeux and Caen and also the historic Normady beaches, which are well worth a visit, including Omaha beach and it’s numerous museums which we gladly spent a day exploring.
The beautiful town of Bayeux is definitely worth a visit, in particular their Cathedral, with incredible medieval architecture — you’ll also be spoiled here food-wise, with many restaurants, ice-cream parlours and boulangeries and pâtisseries, dotted in all the nearby towns. A drive to the nearby village every day to sample yet another chocolate or custard surprise, was a must!
When the weather took a turn for the worst, we pulled on the wellies and rain coats and paid a visit to Zoo Juries and Alligator Bay — for young children, these are great go-to places to whittle away a few hours.
I’m sure we would have done a lot more exploring had we a longer stay — our trip lasted six days, was it enough? A second week was definitely calling us, we’d easily have found fun-filled ways for another few days… but then again there’s always reason to go back.
For more about where to explore in the region, see normandie-tourisme.org
We stayed at Siblu’s Domaine de Litteau holiday village, where a seven-night stay from June 23,
starts from €616, based on a family of up to six sharing an Excellence holiday home, See
http://www.siblu.ie or call 01 5268658.
We travelled with Irish Ferries from Rosslare to Roscoff. Prices to France start from €99 based on a car plus driver.
This summer, Irish Ferries will launch W.B. Yeats — which will be the largest and most luxurious ferry to sail on the Irish Sea, doubling the number of summer sailings to France. Visit
https://www.irishferries.com call 0818 300400.
ABOUT IRISH FERRIES
Between Ireland and France, Irish Ferries offers more sailings than any other operator. Sailings from Rosslare to Cherbourg and Roscoff are operated by the cruise ferry Oscar Wilde in addition to the once-weekly return service from Dublin to Cherbourg operated by the vessel Epsilon.
The luxurious cruise ferry Oscar Wilde is equipped with a choice of 2, 3, 4 and 5-star cabins, coupled with a number of premium suites, a selection of restaurants and lounges, two cinemas, a Piano Bar and Café and promenade decks. Onboard entertainment includes free Wi-Fi internet access, a children’s play area, and Wilde Nights cabaret with a mix of hits from the musicals, Celtic classics, ballads and high energy dance numbers.