This is a blatant big-up for my friends Rosie and Simon, who have a VERY child-friendly holiday gite on their smallholding in Normandy. Go and stay with them. They're fab!
This time last year we were getting ready for our Excursion To France. We used to travel in France regularly BC*; but since the arrival of the kids we have been too scared to branch out from Blighty.
Rosie and Simon own and run Eco-Gites de Lenault, on their smallholding in Normandy. They live there with their two almost-teenage sons and they have converted their barn in to a lovely holiday cottage. I met Rosie quite a few years ago now via the downsizer website - an online community of yoghurt-knitters like ourselves. We have become real-life friends on her visits to her family who live near us in the UK and we felt sufficiently confident in her to give Abroad a try again with the kids. The gite is set up for children and that was a big draw for us, particularly given all the extra kit that comes with a disabled child.
One of the other big draws for us was Rosie's willingness to provide home-cooked meals for families that stay with them. I loved the fact that we could have someone else cook for us but not have to take the children out in the car to do so; we took our motability car, with all the children's clobber and Nenna's wheelchair. We spent a lot of time sat on the little patio outside the gite, watching Leo race around like a maniac on the playground, with bikes, trikes, balls, a castle and a trampoline. The children were also able to go and help with the animals - because they don't get enough of that at home! - and because we were the only ones there, they really got to engage with what was going on.
So much child-stuff is supplied free of charge and Rosie, Simon and the boys were so friendly and keen to make sure we had the best holiday we could possibly have had. I was a bit worried that we would all feel obliged to be friendly, because they were next door; but it was very much on our terms. They clearly had their lives to get on with and I didn't feel they were looking over my shoulder in case I broke the crockery. Which I did, actually. And wasn't made to feel like an evil clutz!
All in all it was an excellent choice for a first-time abroad trip with two young children. The accommodation is lovely and the setting is beautiful, with lots of rural countryside and market towns to explore.
We will definitely be going back.