A mobile home holiday with Al Fresco at Domaine des Ormes in Brittany!
I’ve always wanted to visit Brittany. It’s so convenient – especially from southwest England. You can take an overnight ferry and wake up in France – within reach of a cafe creme and fresh baguette! I also secretly love camping. Not real camping, per se, but high-end mobile home camping – where you have your own gas, electrics and hot water!
Mobile home holidays are also an economical way to have a break. A family of six can stay for a week starting at £260, making it an attractive option. And if you pick a holiday park near the seaside and small quaint towns – rain doesn’t really matter (I did say Brittany is close to the UK). On rainy days – visit towns and markets. When the sun comes out enjoy the beaches or make use of the campsite swimming pools and facilities. It’s a very appealing concept with not too much travel.
We visited recently Brittany as guests of Al Fresco Holidays. We picked Domaine des Ormes, a campsite/mobile home park near the St-Malo seaport known for its extensive water park and leisure facilities.
Mobile homes are on the high-end of camping – and if you keep this in mind you’ll be very pleased. Don’t try to equate a mobile home with a cottage. There’s just not the space in a mobile home. Small and compact, everything is cleverly packed in and storage is a premium (we kept a few things in the car).
Our Vivaldi mobile home had two twin bedrooms, and one double. The rooms were small, but cute and cosy (especially compared to a tent!). The living area had all sorts of clever storage areas, and fold out tables and chairs. The kitchen was well laid out and fully functional. I made pasta with bacon, fresh tomatoes, parsley and cream and veal scaloppini! Outside there’s a wooden deck with white plastic chairs, and two matching lounge chairs with side table. There’s a small grassy area. It’s a campsite, so others are close by. Our area looked very uniform, with rows of white and blue Al Fresco mobile homes. There are a few things I just couldn’t work out on my own – like how to operate the microwave. The Al Fresco reps stop by often and they sorted this out for me (I just needed to plug it in!). They also kindly brought me an extra bin liner.
If you are curious about what a mobile home really looks like inside, here’s a little tour:
Mobile home walls are thin, so you will be susceptible to the elements. We had a small heater, but that mainly heated the living area – not the bedrooms. It can still be cold in late Spring, and we asked for extra blankets, which did the trick and kept us cosy.
The Al Fresco staff is very friendly – many are young British adults on a gap year and eager to please. They stay very fit going between the check in office and the campsite on bike, delivering extra blankets, missing items and generally spreading good cheer in a familiar British accent.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I saw any French people in our section of the campsite. Our neighbours to the left drove an Audi with a british license plate and had small children. Behind us was an Irish family (there’s a direct ferry to Brittany from Ireland). In front of us was a family with strong Yorkshire accents (I said the walls were thin). Everyone was friendly, but it could be a disaster if you got unlucky with loud neighbours. For the most part, families seemed to be grouped together, making it easy for kids to make friends. The girls kept saying they forgot they were in France because everyone sounded English!
The Domaine des Ormes 5-star camp/mobile home site is a child’s dream! It has the largest aqua park in Brittany – with a lagoon style swimming complex with waterfalls and slides and a separate indoor water park and wave pool! This was really a highlight of the trip for the girls.
The park also has 3 tennis courts, bike hire, a multi sports pitch, fitness room, an 18-hold golf course, driving range, paddle boats, horse and pony riding, crazy golf, paintball, high ropes and zip wire – all on site. There are 3 restaurants, a bar, and well-stocked Spar that sells freshly baked baguettes and croissants each morning. Sometimes they are still warm – just out of the oven. You can get a (very expensive) English paper as well. Bliss.
The park has organised activities include children’s entertainment, sports competitions (football, volleyball and Ping-Pong) and evening entertainment with bands to cabaret shows to karaoke (it wouldn’t be camping without karaoke). The girls had a blast in the kids disco. On top of this, all the holiday operators also offer their own kids activities and kids clubs.
I love baguettes and the ones that were at Les Ormes were really, really good! I loved walking down and getting the baguettes each morning, but I couldn’t bear to hold them because they smelled so good and I longed to take a bite!
There were loads of swimming pools, 2 of which were outdoors and 1 indoors. The indoor one is really lovely and warm. There are water slides going into it and it has a lazy river. The first outdoor one is really fun. It has 6 water slides, four of them are racing slides and there is a blue one and a black one. It’s really exciting because it has rocks and plants around it and has little bridges. The second outdoor swimming pool is next to the indoor one and it sometimes has waves, which is great for bodysurfing. When the waves go on you can also hold on to the ropes on the sides and go up and down. All of the pools are very, very fun. Tip: The outdoor pools may be cold, but it’s easy to get used to them. Just jump in without thinking and start swimming till you get used to it!
IF YOU GO:
Al Fresco Holidays/Château des Ormes Dol-De-Bretagne, North Brittany, France www.alfresco-holidays.com/chateaudesormes +44 8436 362586 5-star camping with extensive leisure facilities, with 6 swimming pools – including a tropical indoor pool with lazy river, a wave pool with 1 metre swell, and tropical pool with waterslides and waterfalls. You can do just about everything here: horse riding, golf, mini golf, cycling, pony trekking, high ropes. It’s a great base to tour the charming French countryside and seaside towns. Prices range from £260 for 6 people staying in a Rossini mobile home off-peak to £539 for six people sharing a Vivaldi mobile home during peak.
Mont-Saint Michel 50170 Le Mont-Saint-Michel 02 33 60 14 30 www.ot-montsaintmichel.com. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont St Michel is an island commune that was once a destination for pilgrims because of its connection with Archangel Michael. It’s now a major tourist destination with hotel, restaurants, cafes shops and an abbey. In low tide, this island commune is accessible by foot!
St-Malo Saint-Malo is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel, known for its seafood. Traditionally with an independent streak, Saint-Malo was once a pirate capital! Now it has cool shops, cafes and creperies, and a rampart with fab views. Also has a very civilised car park.
Dinard Discovered in the 1850s after an American millionaire built a mansion here – inspiring others. It was a popular destination for Victorian aristocracy. It still retains its Victorian charm with rows of stripey beach tents and straw-hatted bouled players.
Dinar A medieval town set on a hillside, you can meander through the cobble stone streets from creperie to café. Don’t miss the 12th century St Saveur church.
Auberge de la Cour Verte Route de Rennes, Dol-de-Bretagne, France +33 2 99 48 41 41 www.restaurant-lacourteverte.com Top rated on Trip Advisor. French steakhouse and creperie in a converted farmhouse. We ended up here by accident, and fell in love with the place. Friendly staff and the menu is translated into English! A real find.
Le Dol’Mene aux Saveurs 2, rue Perrons, 35120 Dol-de-Bretagne, France +33 (0)2 99 48 00 20 A million kinds of galettes and crepes, plus local cider served in large bowls. Cool.
A word on the crossing. I was slightly apprehensive about the crossing after hearing horror stories of whole families suffering seasickness. We crossed from Plymouth to Roscoff – at the widest part of the channel. Sailing time was 9 hours. We checked in a little after 20.30 and sailed at 22.00. We stayed in an outside 4-berth and an inside 2-berth (see video below for a little tour). It was a small room with 4 fold-down bunk beds with fresh linens, and an en-suite bathroom with a shower. Apart from a few tannoy announcements at strategic times (right as I was getting drowsy!) I was pleasantly surprised by how much sleep I got. The girls thought it was a big adventure. They wake you at 6 am/ 7 am local time with very loud harp music. It’s all very civilised. If you have ever wondered what the inside of a cabin on an overnight ferry looks like – watch this video!
Note: Our accommodation was provided by Al Fresco Holiday for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.