Last Autumn, I spent a 4 day half term break with my family with Eurocamp at the holiday parc of La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny-Rivière, in northern France quite close to Paris – read on for my account of our holiday and review of the parc.
As a child, our family summer holidays were spent camping in different European countries each year. Like many families of that generation, camping enabled my parents to have an affordable budget holiday while enjoying some sunshine and exploring Europe. We would squeeze our tent and everything else into the car, pack as few clothes as possible and cook all our own food on a single gas burner. Our big treat was to have an ice cream every day.
Move on 30 years and how things have changed! The family campsites that we stayed in as children have transformed themselves into holiday parcs, offering every entertainment under the sun. The average family now wants the tent put up for them or to walk into a mobile home where they can expect all the conveniences they enjoy at home. Companies like Eurocamp have set up bases in these parcs throughout Europe, with couriers on site to greet their guests, and now offer tents, mobile homes, chalets and even apartments in certain resorts. Now you can have the outdoor life and family fun without having to rough it in the slightest.
When our children were younger we stayed on a number of these parcs either with our own tent, or renting chalets on site and had found them ideal as a base for a family holiday. Our children could roam freely around the parc without us worrying about them going too far astray and they would quickly make friends with other children of their own age. We would choose a parc in a region or close to a city we wanted to visit and then divide our time between seeing the sites and swimming and relaxing at the parc. We managed to see the sites of the Dordogne, Barcelona, Granada and Venice in this way, with manageable amounts of sightseeing and the promise of the pool or the beach in the afternoon.
This autumn we had the opportunity to try something a bit different from the summer holidays of the past; an Autumn break near Paris with our two teenagers at La Croix du Vieux Pont near Berny-Rivière in the Aisne region of France. Our 4 day break was to be in one of the Eurocamp Superior Mobile Homes, which were as nicely fitted out as any holiday apartment that I’d stayed in. The parc of La Croix du Vieux Pont is well established and our mobile home was neatly laid out next to others, along a road with dividing hedges, a parking space and an area of lawn.
Inside we found a sitting area with cushions and an expandable table, with an adjoining kitchen which had everything that you might expect at home such as a proper oven, microwave and plenty of kitchen equipment. Outside was a deck with chairs and sun loungers, a BBQ and sun umbrella, although as it was the end of October, it would have been a bit keen to start firing up the barbie.
The master bedroom had a double bed with plenty of cupboard space, a desk and even a wired-in hair dryer. There were also 2 smaller cabin bedrooms suitable for children, one with 2 single beds and the other with a bunk bed, both with wardrobe space. The bathroom with sink, shower and toilet was next to the master bedroom and there was even a CD player with i-pod dock and a gas fire to keep the place cosy. The only concern we had was that at the end of October the nights were chilly and once the small gas fire was turned off turned off, the temperature dropped rapidly – some electric heating would have been welcome for low season visitors.
The parc at La Croix du Vieux Pont is well established and organised with a very wide range of amenities and entertainments on site. There is a shop with everything you might need, a bar with upstairs games room and internet area that was a popular haunt for older children, and a traditional French restaurant, as well as a take-away pizzeria. There was an indoor family pool with water slides that was open when we were there, as well as several other outdoor pools that are open in the summer season. The other great attraction of the parc is the large lake with fishing, canoes and pedalos to hire and a smaller lake with a sandy ‘beach’ surround with a cafe next to it. There are also plenty of sports facilities, cycle hire, a beauty spa and many different childrens’ activities organised by age group. While we were there at October half term, there were plenty of activities such as climbing and abseiling available to entice our teenagers.
You could definitely have a great Eurocamp holiday without ever leaving the parc at La Croix du Vieux Pont, but being more adventurous travellers we used the parc as a base from which to explore the surrounding region of northern France and the attractions of Paris and Disneyland. Here’s how we spent our 4 days at the parc;
On the first day, after driving down from Calais the day before, we just wanted to relax and explore the parc. We wandered around the lake and had a look around the village of Vic-sur-Aisne with it’s pretty Chateau and military cemetery. There were several small shops, a couple of boulangerie and a few bars and restaurants that we eyed up for a future visit.
On the second day, we drove to Disneyland Paris – there is also an organised coach trip from the parc but it was not going on the day we wanted to visit and we knew that there would be plenty of parking at Disneyland resort. The children were really excited as we had never been to Disneyland and we had a supercalifragilistic day trying out as many rides as we could fit in, exploring all the different Disney lands and watching the parade at the end of the day.
The next day, we drove north towards Arras and Cambrai, where my husband, who is a former tank commander, was keen to show us some of the battlefields of this area that was hard fought over during the First World War. We had a driving tour of the battle of Cambrai, visited the small but beautifully maintained graveyard near Arras where my husband’s great-uncle is buried after being killed in action in 1917, and took a tour of the Canadian war memorial at Vimy Ridge, with one of the student guides.
On the final day, we took advantage of the coach trip that is organised from La Croix du Vieux Pont to visit Paris, and were very pleased we hadn’t attempted to take the car. As the children hadn’t visited Paris before, our first stop was to climb the Eiffel tower and then we walked along the banks of the Seine and spent the afternoon at Musee d’Orsay enjoying the impressionist paintings.
We crossed over the river and walked through the Tuilerie gardens, catching some late afternoon sun on the deckchairs by the boating lake before returning to our coach, and a welcome nap on the drive back to the parc.
I’d highly recommend this kind of holiday with Eurocamp for families with children of all ages and thought that La Croix du Vieux Pont was particularly suitable for those with school age and teenage children, with plenty of activities to keep everyone happy. It’s also a great way to explore the sites of the region, while being based in beautiful rural surroundings, yet having plenty of amenities on your doorstep. In spring and autumn, these parcs are also great for those without children who enjoy the outdoor camping lifestyle, but can stay in the comfort of a mobile home. They also make a great stop off for a few days for those who like to tour around from region to region, as Eurocamp also offers the flexibility of short breaks.
Information and resources for visitors
We stayed at La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny-Riviere as guests of Eurocamp, but a 5 night family break like ours, staying in October half term in a 3-bed Superior Mobile Home would typically cost around £450 including linen, towels, welcome pack and the Dover-Calais ferry crossing.
La Croix du Vieux Pont is around 250km from Calais, and takes approximately 3 hrs to drive.
The parc is around 1hr 30 mins drive to Disneyland Paris and around 1hr 45 min drive to Paris, although you don’t have to drive as regular day trips by coach to both locations operate from the parc. Visits to the battlefields around Arras and Cambrai, such as the Canadian memorial at Vimy are around 1hr 45 mins drive from the parc but are an ideal stop on the route to or from Calais.
Holidays at La Croix du Vieux Pont may be booked through Eurocamp, where you can find more details of all the parc facilities and entertainments on offer.
Read about what we enjoyed on this holiday
Postcard from the military cemetary at Vic-sur-Aisne
Our supercalifragilistic day at the magical kingdom of Disneyland, Paris
The Eiffel tower – icon of Paris or tourist trap?
Visiting our great uncle’s grave at Arras – thoughts for Armistice day
Visiting the Canadian War memorial at Vimy Ridge
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