Happy children: that’s the Key

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TWO weeks, two different parts of France and two ecstatically happy children - our memories of another family holiday with Keycamp.

Opting against the hassle and stress of flying with our children we chose to drive to France and a couple of DVDs later we were on the ferry half way there with two excited little ’uns enjoying the novelty of being at sea, waving goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover and looking forward to their holiday adventure.

Just three hours after docking we arrived at our first parc and the kids were in their swimwear and in the pools before we could say ‘Bonjour!’.

La Vallee in Houlgate is the perfect place to break up a journey if your final destination is further south.

With three pools and two slides on offer the parc is ideal for holidaymakers who want a continental break but do not want to venture too far from home.

Located just one mile away from the beautiful and classy Edwardian town of Houlgate, crammed with perfectly preserved period buildings, we could easily have spent our entire holiday here.

Set in the grounds of a former Norman manor house, the Keycamp accommodation on offer at this parc - modern mobile homes - are all set on spacious grassy plots making them the perfect safe base for children to run around.

Ours was a fully equipped mini home from home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms - and contained everything we could have possibly needed - including a barbecue and corkscrew for those lazy balmy nights sitting outside when the children are asleep.

With an on-site shop, restaurant and takeaway you can be stocked up with the essentials - bread, milk, croissants, beer and wine - within minutes of arriving and start your holiday the way you mean to go on.

A visit to the historic D-Day landing beaches is a must if you choose to stay in this region, as is a trip to the famous 11th century tapestry at Bayeux, which depicts the Norman conquest.

But as well as soaking up all the history this region offers, we visited the sophisticated nearby resort of Deauville, with its yachting marina and casino, and the neighbouring resort of Trouville with its beautiful vast sandy beach.

The second part of our holiday was spent in southern Brittany - a five hour car journey from Houlgate but a region well worth the trip.

Our site, Ty Nadan, was nestled away from it all deep in the countryside and next to a river...with no other word for it but idyllic.

After a hectic year we wanted our holiday to be just that - the chance to unwind and spend time as a family away from it all... and we were not disappointed.

Away from the hustle and bustle of traditional holiday resorts our parc was quiet but still had enough facilities and amenities to keep us entertained when we weren’t sunbathing, swimming or spending time on our decking enjoying alfresco dining and sampling the local wines.

With free canoe hire available for Keycamp customers what better way to relax can there be than messing about on the river?

Once we had mastered canoeing in a straight line, rather than round in circles, we used to enjoy taking the kids out on the water to explore their surroundings - it was a great way to break up our days and spend time together as a family.

Bikes are also available to hire but because we drove to France we were able to take our own and we used them every day to get around the parc and to keep the children busy.

Not only was it worth it because our son learned to ride his bike without stabilisers on this holiday but pedalling everyday counterbalanced all the pain au chocolate and wine I consumed!

The parc proved to be the perfect place for our children to meet new friends and, as all mums and dads know, happy children mean happy parents.

They had fun splashing around and swimming in the pools, hurling themselves down the slides and chutes and playing on the free bouncy castle which was put up every day.

And although our site was off the beaten track and perfect for a quiet holiday there was still plenty for teenagers to do, with quad biking, horse riding, kayaking, tennis, badminton, archery and rock climbing all available.

And for adrenaline junkies there is also an activity course running alongside the river.

Having discovered that our friends were holidaying on another Keycamp site an hour down the coast - near the popular seaside resort of Carnac - we arranged to spend a night at their site and got to check out one of Keycamp’s top parcs.

La Grande Metairie, which is opposite the French version of Stonehenge, was the largest of all the parcs we stayed on and simply top class.

Its impressive water complex proved an immediate hit with or children, especially the lazy river. It also boasts an array of activities, including zip wires as well as a small on-site farm.

We could have spent two weeks on any of the three parcs and would not have been disappointed.

If a package holiday to a hotel is your idea of hell and you want a fun family holiday with the freedom to do what you want when you want try Keycamp - we have never been disappointed. Now we have given it a go we are hooked.