Review: Self Catering in France with Owners DirectOctober 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Family Holidays, Reviews | 1 Comment
Tags: Family Holidays, gites in France, La Pernelle, Owners Direct, Self Catering in France
In July I set sail from Portsmouth for Cherbourg with my four year old son, a friend and her three year old daughter – our husbands both being in professions with ‘Olympic duties’ preventing them from taking a summer holiday. We decided we shouldn’t lose out – and the children deserved an adventure. So off we went
Why I’ve never taken the ferry to France before is beyond me – it is so fantastically quick, easy and reasonably priced. And with children, the freedom of being able to wander around a boat, sit in comfort and play games, visit the deck and cinema rooms was wonderful. They were utterly amazed that you could take a car on a boat and we were grateful of the boot space to take plenty of toys and games for entertainment – we were even more grateful on the way home for the space for cheese, wine and sweet treats from the hypermarket!
Three hours later we docked. We chose to stay in a stunning farmhouse just 20 minutes from Cherbourg in La Pernelle and navigated our way easily from the port – I only turned out of one junction from the wrong side of the road…I think. Despite forgetting some of the required paper work when you drive in France, I was however equipped with the mandatory breathalysers, warning triangle and high vis jacket! Our whole trip so far had been a doddle.
We had four glorious days to look forward to and we weren’t disappointed. We spent day one in the garden of our farmhouse, making obstacle courses for the children with the outdoor toys we’d packed, adding more from the plentiful supply in the garage. We enjoyed the sun, bowls of fruit salad made from fresh peaches and nectarines, ending the day with a home cooked meal of quiches, salads, potatoes and cold meats with a cold glass of rosé in the garden. Heaven.
On day two we headed over to a tiny island called Tatihou, a 10 minute boat ride from the port at St Vaast where we had the most amazing baguettes from a little boulangerie first. There we explored beautiful gardens, clambered on wooden boats and climbed the knight’s castle. It was a simple pleasure but the children found it totally magically and ran about nonstop for three hours. We didn’t need to eat in the barracks restaurant but it looked inviting, and we ran out of time to visit the bird sanctuary.
On day three we had crepes in a nearby village, putting our basic French skills to the test in what is a very non-tourist area – however very friendly. We spent the rest of the day on the beach burying each other, making patterns with shells and braving the slightly chilly waters.
On the final day of our trip we visited the sea life centre back at the port of Cherbourg because the weather had taken a turn for the worse. We were expecting the usual aquariums of fish but we were taken by surprise (in a good way) by the interactive ‘submarine mission’ included in the ticket price. The children were awestruck – you were invited to be the crew on a virtual training mission, visiting different parts of the ship to acclimatise yourself, learn emergency signals and watch short training videos. Once you were fully ‘trained’ a submarine (simulator, shhh) took you down to the depths of the ocean. On your arrival back to the surface the captain congratulated you on your incredible accomplishment and the media frenzy began. Little did you know you had been filmed throughout the experience for a show reel at the end. It was great.
We finished up the evening enjoying dinner at Le Panoramique, a restaurant just minutes from the farmhouse with, as you can imagine, spectacular views. We enjoyed fantastic seafood and the children tried all sorts including the beautiful fish soup. I indulged in mussels although couldn’t finish the huge terrine presented to me.
The next morning we shopped, packed up and headed for home after a wonderfully relaxing visit. Our evenings were lazy and peaceful with a backdrop looking over the fields out to the sea from our lounge. We slept like logs and woke to enjoy croissants as everyone should whilst on holiday in France.
We can’t wait to make another trip, and we’ll definitely be travelling by ferry again.