Have you made any summer holiday plans yet? We’re excited, because we’ve just arranged to stay at Domaine des Ormes, in Brittany, France with Canvas Holidays. It sounds like a super family holiday destination. Michelin awarded the leafy holiday park five Red Tents. That’s the highest accolade available to campsites. And Domaine des Ormes is close to a rail station, at Dol de Bretagne. So we’ve decided to leave our car at home, and travel by train. We’ve always enjoyed rail travel – it’s easy with kids, if you plan in advance. And, of course, if you go by train it’s better for the planet than flying, or driving in a petrol-fuelled car. So we’re happy that we’ll be able to get there in a more eco-friendly way.
Disclosure: Canvas Holidays offered us a one-week stay at Domaine des Ormes. All views are my own, and we will be covering our own rail travel costs.
We’ve stayed in a lot of European holiday parks over the years, but this is the first time we’ve gone without a car. So I’m looking forward to finding out what it’s like to stay at a campsite without our own vehicle. I have a hunch it will feel liberating not to have the car. And with everything Domaine des Ormes has to offer, I suspect we won’t miss it. Here are some of the reasons why we’re looking forward to our stay.
Where is Domaine des Ormes campsite?
Domaine des Ormes is on the eastern side of Brittany, in northern France. It’s four miles from the medieval town of Dol-de-Bretagne. St Malo ferry port is 15 miles away.
Picturesque, historic site
Domaine des Ormes is set in the grounds of a 16th century château. Like La Garangeoire, a campsite in the Vendée which we adored (and where you can also stay with Canvas Holidays), it’s part of the Castels Camping group. So the Brittany campsite comes with a fine history. Its site is made up of 600 acres of green parkland, with 400 acres of woodland, and wildflower meadows. A lively entertainment hub is encircled by trees. Domaine des Ormes is a large campsite, with 700 pitches, but judging by the pictures I’ve seen, it still looks spacious and tranquil.
In summer 2019 Domaine des Ormes opened its brand-new aquatic Dôme, a covered pool complex with waterslides, and a lazy river which coasts gently around the Dôme. Including its outdoor pools, Domaine des Ormes has five pools, with sun loungers and a jacuzzi or sauna for people who just want to kick back and relax.
Golf course, horse riding and boating lake
Our family would probably be happy to splash in the pools every day, but there are tons of other things to do at Domaine des Ormes, like golf on an 18-hole course, horse riding, or pedalling on the boating lake. The lake’s water-ski cable means people can enjoy wakeboarding and knee-boarding. I’ve never tried either, so I’m looking forward to giving those a go.
Family entertainment and amenities at Domaine des Ormes
In high season, Canvas Holidays offer their FamilyExtra entertainment programme at Domaine des Ormes. Run by professionals, the programme lets the whole family join together in fun activities. Our children will be eight and ten, and for their age group, typical activities include Spy Missions, Aeroball (a mixture of volleyball and trampolining), and body zorbing.
Domaine des Ormes has all the activities you would expect from a lively holiday park in Europe, including aqua gym, evening shows and a kids’ disco. With a restaurant, takeaway, club house bar, creperie and pizzeria, we won’t be short of dining options. We’ll be investigating how easy it is to shop for groceries without a car (in the past we’ve just loaded up our boot at the nearest hypermarché), but I was reassured to note that there’s an on-site shop at Domaine des Ormes.
Things to do near Domaine des Ormes
It sounds as though there’s plenty to keep us occupied on-site. But if we did decide to venture out, the nearby medieval town of Dol-de-Bretagne has restaurants, bars and a few shops. The Normandy attraction of Mont St Michel is 22 miles away. We’ll let you know whether it’s possible to get there and back on a day trip, without the help of a car. And the pretty beaches of twin seaside resorts Dinan and Dinard are close by. We’ll investigate reaching them by public transport, too.
Some other Canvas holidays holiday parks in Europe where you can travel by train
As well as Domaine des Ormes, there are plenty of other Canvas Holidays options in Europe if you wanted to travel by train from the UK.
Last year we stayed at Duinrell, a fantastic holiday park near Leiden in Holland. You can read about our week at Duinrell here. Duinrell is a Dutch theme park, with the biggest indoor water park complex in Benelux. The beach is an easy 5km cycle ride away. We stayed in a peaceful part of the holiday park, and we found the site had everything we needed to keep us happy for the week. We went by car that time, but Duinrell’s an easy train journey from the UK, and can take just five hours, if you go via Rotterdam on the Eurostar, and then by bus to the closest town of Wassenaar, which is within walking distance.
Lots of Canvas Holidays campsites in France are easy to get to by train. Here are a few of our top picks. Some of them require a taxi ride from the closest station:
Atlantic Club Montalivet, on the west coast of France, is 12 miles from Lesparre station.
Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont, close to EuroDisney and Paris, is 10 miles from Station Soissons.
Camping La Pinède, on the west coast of France, is about ten hours from London, via train to Les Mathes and then a half-hour bus journey to the site.
Camping la Sirène, on the south-east coast of France, is a popular lively campsite. A tourist train travels between the campsite and Argelès-sur-Mer at regular intervals throughout the season, and in high season Canvas Holidays customers have free use of the campsite bus to the wide north beach. Cerbère, Perpignan and Port-Bou stations are all 11 or 12 miles away.
Soleil Plage is right on the banks of the Dordogne River. Brive-la-Gaillarde and Cahors stations are both 27/28 miles away.
If you wanted a Canvas Holidays option in Switzerland, Camping Manor Farm has breathtaking views of the mountains and sits on the shores of the Thuner See, two miles outside Interlaken. You can get to Interlaken by train from London in nine hours.
Have you travelled to any European campsites by train from the UK? Do you have any recommendations – whether that’s specific campsites, or general tips?