If you ask me one of my fondest holiday memories as a child, it was a trip to the South of France. I didn’t go abroad much when I was young (funny considering I have the worlds biggest travel obsession now), but I remember as clear as day piling us and all our belongings into my Dad’s car and heading to the South of France with my Grandparents. My Mum was heavily pregnant with my sister and I remember it feeling like the journey took forever, but once we were there we had the best time at the campsite we were at. I have the happiest memories of walking to get ‘crusty bread’, playing with the new friends I had made, and trips to the beach as well.
We are very lucky that we travel quite a bit as a family. But the one thing we hadn’t done is stay on a campsite. When I say campsite, I don’t mean traditional camping with a tent (although we are yet to try that either but it is not something I want to do while our baby boy is so little), but staying in a mobile home. I think sometimes when you think mobile home, you think of being cramped into a small caravan with no space and getting on top of each other. However we were soon to discover that this wasn’t the case. Al Fresco Holidays invited us to come and try one of their luxury mobile homes for a week and I couldn’t wait to see if we would have a family holiday like I remembered from my childhood.
We decided upon the La Brasilia campsite. We actually have had a few friends who have stayed in this park before and who go back year after year, so we knew that it was going to be lovely. With Spain just a few miles away, direct access to the beach, an incredible pool and loads of lovely little French towns nearby, we knew that we would all hopefully enjoy La Brasilia a lot. Al Fresco mobile homes are modern, well-equipped and comfortable with a light, fresh decor and plenty of space for everyone. We were staying in their Verdi Lounge home, which comfortably sleeps 6. And when I say comfortably, it really was. We were pleasantly surprised to find three separate bedrooms and even a travel cot ready on our arrival (you can upgrade and pay a little extra for both a linen (towels and sheets) and baby pack (cot, bath, highchair etc). We were greeted by some incredibly friendly reps and began settling in to our new home for the week.
We were really pleased with our mobile home. It was incredibly clean and had ample space for our family of 5. The duvets were soft and comfy and while the beds weren’t going to win any awards for comfort, for mobile home beds they were great. The girls loved it, with Mads exclaiming ‘this is way more exciting than a hotel!’
Our first afternoon we wasted no time in heading to La Brasilia’s pool, but first we spent a bit of time walking around and getting accustomed to our new surroundings. We were really impressed by La Brasilia’s facilities, there was a little supermarket, butchers, restaurant, take away pizza bar (which we used a LOT!), shop, ice cream bar, a gym, a little arcade, and two playgrounds amongst other things. We aren’t really entertainment people but there were also lots of activities and entertainment on at nights too. The thing that impressed us the most however was the pool. The pool really is something. There is a tropical pool complex which features 5 separate aqua zones. There’s a water sensations pool with waterfalls and Jacuzzis, the kids fun pool with splash games galore, a water slide area with plenty of spills and thrills, an adult swimming area with cascades, and a hydro massage area with water massage features. The girls (and indeed our baby boy) were in their element splashing about every day, although we did laugh on the first day as Jon and I weren’t aware of the French guidelines surrounding swimming shorts (you aren’t allowed shorts, only trunks!) and so we had to go and buy him a pair of budgie smugglers. 😉
We had already decided before arriving on holiday that we were going to treat this trip very much as a break. We love to rush around and see different sights, but after a busy few months with our house, we wanted this trip to be very much a get up and swim every day, chill out by the pool and eat dinner on our terrace kind of week. While we did do a couple of day trips, we very much stuck to this promise, and we had such a relaxing time. We got into a pattern of swimming most of the day, coming back for some lunch on our terrace (we hired a car so went to the bigger hypermarket nearby to stock up on supplies), before going back out again and then coming back, showering and popping out to get a take away pizza, or eating at home and then heading out for an ice cream and a play on the playground before bed.
There was enough at La Brasilia to keep us entertained for the week without even leaving the campsite, but we did go out on a few occasions. There is just something about this style of outdoor living that really made us switch off and relax. The girls just went up and down on their scooters down our little row of mobile homes and we felt safe letting them do that while we were out on the terrace relaxing with a book (or entertaining a baby more often than not). You could hire scooters from the La Brasilia office (they were quite expensive though so if you drive then it’s best to bring them with you- we flew!) and we are so glad we did as the girls loved going here, there and everywhere on them.
Another thing we were really impressed with was the service from Al Fresco. Obviously on a large campsite you have lots of different companies there, but we really felt like you got a very personal service with Al Fresco. The reps were always on hand to chat to and indeed they made the effort to come up and see you (the four reps at Al Fresco were two married couples and I really liked this aspect). The little office was open a lot and they had a great area that was full of goods that people had left behind that you could help yourself to- things like toilet rolls, cleaning products, ketchup, vinegar, that sort of thing. This definitely saved us some money and we made sure to put some of our things on the shelves so we could help guests after us too.
We did do a couple of day trips, we went lake swimming to a beautiful spot on two of the days because we liked it so much (I have a separate post coming about that!) and then we also went into the little town of Collioure which I can highly recommend. It was absolutely stunning, a little Mediterranean fishing village, a by the Spanish border, full of colourful houses, a little beach and a great spot to do some people watching. When we went there was some sort of festival on so it was heaving and it took us an hour to find a parking space (and even then it was about a 30 minute walk down the hill and then back up again). But the reps at Al Fresco did say it was hard to get a space at the best of times. It is definitely worth going to though.
We also took a morning trip into Argeles-Sur-Mer which again was a lovely little coastal town with a fantastic beach (that was very busy as you can see- apparently the French all take their holidays in August) which had a great Marina with a promenade where we walked along and sat down to have some lunch.
The girls loved going down to the beach in the evenings to have a play and jump off the sand dunes.
Look at this big girl sat in a tree, I can’t get over how grown up she is now. What is it about summer holidays and sunshine that make them grow like weeds?
Little sun kissed noses is a sure fire sign of a good time.
I think these last two photos really sum up our holiday. I had wanted a week away of just relaxation, where we weren’t worried about anything other than getting up and heading to the pool, and that is exactly what we got. There is something about these kind of holidays, these outdoor living type of holidays that just embody the essence of family time. It sounds a bit silly but I felt so connected to them on this holiday, we felt so close, and everywhere you looked there were other families just doing the same.
We loved our first experience of this kind of holiday and we really enjoyed the Al Fresco experience. We are actually already considering doing another one next summer, I have been eyeing up their sites in Croatia and Italy, two places I have never been but are on my bucket list.
Here is a little video of our best bits during our time in the South of France. (I also did a day in the life video while we were there as well when we went to the amazing Gorges de Gouleyrous)
NB: Al Fresco Holidays kindly invited us to stay in one of their mobile homes for the week. All opinions are entirely my own.