When I told people we’d been invited by Eurocamp to spend a week at La Garangeoire, a five-star holiday parc in the Vendée, France, a surprising number seemed to know about the place.
A good friend vividly remembered having first kiss there, from a family holiday in the 90s, when she was a teenager. A handful of people on Twitter told me La Garangeoire had been the best French holiday parc they’d been to. At La Garangeoire itself we met people who’d gone back three or four years in a row – and one woman who’d notched up an impressive 22 consecutive years at the medium-sized parc close to the village of Saint-Julien des Landes.
I’ve posted here about what I think makes La Garangeoire stand out: what brings people back over and over again to the camping and mobile home estate, set in the grounds of a 19th-Century manor house. One of the reasons is that La Garangeoire is particularly well-suited to family breaks. I’ve already posted about the Eurocamp’s kids’ club; and here are some of the activities families can enjoy together outside of the clubs.
Swimming pools and lagoon
La Garangeoire’s four swimming pools (five if you count the tiny toddler splash area) are all nestled together, next to the poolside bar. As well as luxury ice creams in zingy flavours like salted caramel, café au lait and cassis (see the picture at the top of this post) you can buy sandwiches and light meals there. Your food and drinks are accompanied by the sounds of swimming, splashing and shrieks as children hurtle down the slides, dip their heads under the cascades, or risk being scolded by older folk enforcing the adults-only rule in the covered pool. But by resort standards the pool area was a tranquil area, except on ‘pool party’ night when it went into Eurodisco mode, with flashing lights, a DJ and raucous swimming until 10pm.
La Garangeoire’s freshwater lagoon is a new feature. Set the edge of the holiday park, it’s a man-made lake with hand-filtered water and sand. Inflatables are forbidden in the pools; but if you want to float around on a lilo, the lagoon’s the place to do it.
Go-karting costs €5, and all the carts are pedal operated. The track doesn’t have any steep hills, but karting around can become a bit of a thigh-trembler towards the end of the 30 minute time slot – especially if you have a younger child riding tandem on one of the two-person carts.
Play area and trampolines
The play area was next to the Eurocamp kids’ clubs area; handy when the children wanted to carry on the fun with new friends, after club had ended. The trampolines were staffed and only open at specific times. Although we missed out on trampolines sometimes (opening times were advertised at the welcome centre, but were rather confusingly different each day), having the staff there did mean that children had a fair amount of bouncing time each.
Lakes and countryside
La Garangeoire’s estate covers 200 hectares of land, and there are marked walking trails, ranging in distance from three to five kilometres. The Vendée’s terrain is flat, with plenty of woodland. One morning D and I rambled through dappled tree tunnels, hopped across shallow brooks and spotted frogs, shrews, wild rabbits and even a rare cormorant. The mixture of deciduous and conifer trees meant that the scent of pine hung in the air even while we were crunching through acorns (they fall early in France).
There are four lakes near La Garangeoire. Fishing enthusiasts can get a permit from reception, and novices can take part in one of the taster sessions. It’s all strictly regulated, with a no-kill policy and fishing forbidden at night. La Garangeoire Lake, surrounded by trees and where herons frequently compete with the fishermen, has a small jetty with canoes and pedaloes are available free to residents.
Cycling and horse riding
Evenings at La Garangeoire saw groups of youngsters, roaming round the estate on bikes. We didn’t hire any this time – there was just so much to keep us occupied anyway, and our two were just a little too young to cycle round on their own. The country roads outside the estate didn’t have cycle paths, and cars whizzed along at whiplash speed, but the on-site cycling looked like a good way for tweens to have some independence in a safe environment. Fans of horse-riding could book a ride on one of the equestrian centre’s ponies, with children as young as three being led through the trees on a hack.
Mini golf and table tennis
The mini-golf area was set in a shady nook opposite the pool area; except when a tournament was being staged, it was usually quiet. Clubs were free to loan at the reception bar, and you could either buy golf balls from reception, or borrow one from the Eurocamp welcome cabin (on the left in the picture below). The cabin also had bats and balls for table tennis, which you could play in one of the two court areas, or in the teen’s hangout (which I poked my nose into, and emerged quickly with the distinct impression it was a teens-only space….)
The holiday parc is close to several of the Vendée’s renowned beaches, including Les Sables d’Olonne. The nearest are at Bretignolles sur Mer (12 km away), a small town where you can choose between rocky beaches with surfer-friendly waves, or fine sandy stretches where families can learn to sail, cycle along the dunes, or just build sandcastles and snooze.
Other nearby attractions included Le Grand Defi, treetop trails in Saint Julien Des Landes; O’Gliss, a newly opened six-hectare water park which another La Garangeoire guest highly recommended; and Puy du Fou, a theme park with no rides, only shows. I’ve posted about our day at Puy du Fou here.
Here’s a video of our week at La Garangeoire. Do hit ‘like’ if you enjoy it.
What activities do you look for when choosing a family holiday?
Like many others, we would go back to La Garangeoire. Thanks to Eurocamp for hosting our trip.
You might also like to read our other posts on this trip to the Vendée:
Pin for later:
Linking up with Monday Escapes, which this fortnight is hosted by Tin Box Traveller.