Hannah left behind a UK career in corporate event management and moved to France in 2000 to run a boat charter business with her husband Phill. In 2008, as boat charters proved a bit susceptible to the credit crunch doldrums, they spotted an increasing demand for motorhome hire and felt there might be a gap in the market for a business serving English-speaking visitors. After selling the charter boat business they bought two motorhomes and created a website. The business grew quickly and since then they have relocated from a small property in Loiret to their dream location in Yonne, Burgundy and now have a fleet of 25 motorhomes and campervans for hire as well as a successful sales division. Hannah has written an exclusive post for MumAbroad Life about the benefits of a campervan holiday with children.
You might think being restricted to a campervan – or motorhome (the campervan’s bigger brother or sister) – with your children for the duration of your annual holiday is the idea of the perfect nightmare. But how wrong you’d be!
OK, I admit I’m a bit biased, I’m a Francophile and I own a motorhome rental company in France, but I can assure you that over the years I’ve seen lots of families who just love the whole campervan experience. I think children especially love campervans and motorhomes because they are like playhouses. One child once told me that his motorhome was like a snail, with everything in it that he wanted and needed all the time, and he loved snails so he felt very happy!
Here are 8 great benefits of a family campervan or motorhome holiday in France.
If the weather looks like it’s going to be unsettled for a few days, drive on to another region, it’s bound to be better. No need to sit it out, as you would have to in a villa or on a camping trip. You can park pretty much anywhere in France without being moved on.
With an onboard bathroom, kitchen, fridge/freezer and water/waste tanks, you and your family can remain self-contained and self-sufficient for days at a time. You can have a night in a beautiful secluded spot, miles from anywhere, then the next in a resort-style campsite with waterslides and crazy golf; then head for the lakes or mountains to wild camp or have a cultural fix and visit museums or historical buildings and park up in a city campsite. You can visit a theme park one day (without the extra expense of a theme park hotel) then hit the beach and make sandcastles the following day. Really, whatever the age of your children, you can plan the trip so that everyone’s interests are covered. And remember, wherever you go, you’ll have your own private shower and toilet…there’s no traipsing to a public loo in the middle of the night with your child or holding them up behind a bush (while they invariably wee on your foot!).
One of the best things for families travelling in France is the France Passion scheme, where you can stay on working farms, vineyards and all sorts of other interesting places for free (membership is included with all our rentals). Farm owners often invite our campervan families to get involved on the farms – one family even got invited to a family wedding. With a bit of planning, you could go from one farm animal-wine tasting experience to another!
Every campervan and motorhome is fully equipped with everything that’s needed to prepare and cook meals, which is a huge benefit with young children in tow. It means you can cook a healthy meal for the kids knowing they’ll eat it, and then, when they are either in bed or playing outside, have your own meal of grown-up food, perhaps bought from the local delicatessen or charcuterie. Eat inside, eat al fresco, eat by a river, eat in a city…every day is a different restaurant!
While you’re on the move, the children will be sat at a table where they can watch DVDs (which can be plugged into the 12v outlets while you drive along), play games, eat – the only thing they can’t do while on the move is walk around. If everyone needs a break, that’s easy too, as the French road system has thousands of well-kept aires – rest areas – where you can pull over and have everything on hand to provide a snack or meal. And because France has such an amazing road network, it’s very unusual to get stuck in a long traffic jam (but do avoid the big north-to-south migration at the beginning of August).
Forget any thoughts of cramped, dingy campervans without room to ‘swing a cat’; modern motorhomes are light, comfortable and spacious with lots of storage for toys and other essentials. Everyone can have their own space and you can zone separate sleeping areas so that you end up with far more privacy than you might at first think. (Our larger Euro Voyager vehicles have bunk beds at the rear of the vehicle and a very private double bed over the cab at the front.)
Yep, even chores can be fun! Daily life on the road in a motorhome does come with a few chores such as refilling the water tank and emptying the waste tanks, but even the chores are easy in France as there are so many great facilities all over the country and everyone can feel like they are helping to keep the show on the road.
If you’ve got friends and family in France who you’d love to visit but they don’t have much room, a visit in a motorhome is the perfect answer. You get your own bed and space without infringing too much on theirs.
Finally, if you’re thinking of moving to France (which quite a few of our customers plan to do) and are coming to try an area on for size, house hunt or just explore, a motorhome is a great way to do that too. You can bring the whole family and alternate serious house viewings with play days and even stay overnight in shortlisted villages to getting a little ‘under the skin’ and see how you feel about them.