For our summer holiday this year we headed to the south of France for the first time as we wanted to try something a little different.
We booked flights with Jet2 and accommodation directly through Pierre et Vacances. Flights cost us £681 for a family of 4 and the accommodation came to €2,032 for 7 days in mid-August. I thought I might save money booking separately but this one came in a little higher than I would have liked.
Pierre et Vacances I guess is a little bit like a French Center Parcs. I can’t remember exactly how we stumbled upon it but we liked the look of the location and there seemed to be some good activities for the kids.
Driving In France
Upon arriving at Nice airport, we picked up a Fiat500XL and headed to the accommodation. The Fiat had a satnav on board and although it was all in French, it got us where we needed to be without too much fuss.
As a person that struggles with heights, I found the driving on the south coast quite tough. You’re either very close to a significant drop, or there are rocks sticking out into the road which without the familiarity of the size of the car made it a challenge. Still, we made it and checked in.
First impressions of the general area were pretty good. There was a central pool surrounded by restaurants and small shops, the whole resort seemed huge with plenty to do.
No Air Con
Upon locating our accommodation we were a little disappointed. It was very small, basic and looked a little dated. Not the kind of place we like to relax in. And the worst part? No aircon. This shocked me, I didn’t think you needed to check for things like aircon in 2017, and let me tell you it gets pretty hot in the South of France in the summer.
The main pool was crazy busy but we found a second pool deeper into the resort which never got busy. There were a couple of slides for the kids and there was a really relaxed atmosphere, throughout the week we spent a lot of time at this pool. It helped that there was a small café close by to buy lunch and drinks from at reasonable prices.
A Little Kayaking
One of the reasons we went to France was to experience something a little different and one way we did this was by hiring some kayaks at a centre around 30 minutes from our accommodation.
We had a brilliant time kayaking up the river and the kids loved jumping into the water to cool off when the sun got a little too much. Eventually we arrived at a clearing that lead to a very green looking lake. Surrounding the lake were an awful lot of frogs. I went into the lake and found that it was very warm. It was fun to swim in but as the water wasn’t clear I was never sure what my arms and legs were hitting as I swam.
Before we jumped into the kayak and headed back Ren spotted a snake in the river which was a bit of a shocker as the kids were in the water in their flip flops. We saw a further 2 more snakes before we jumped back in the kayaks and headed back to our initial set off point.
On the journey back to the accommodation we stopped off at a park that we’d seen when we drove out. As we ventured into the park we stumbled on something rather good. On the lake in the park was a huge inflatable obstacle course (if you’ve seen total wipeout you’ll get the idea). We paid to go on and off we went. The obstacle course was a little tough for Max at 6 years old but Ben (12 at the time) loved it and it was the first time we’d seen anything like it that wasn’t on TV.
Lack Of Good Beaches
One thing I thought the south of France would offer was stunning beaches. We couldn’t find any. The beach close to the hotel was a shingle beach and the sea was quite dark. After quizzing a few locals we were told to head to La Baumettte which was ok, but not the kind of white sand, blue sky you imagine when you think the south of France.
Crazy Restaurant Prices
The other area that France disappointed in was food. Firstly, the prices were crazy. A burger in most restaurants on the coast was in the region of €20+ and to be honest, none of the restaurants we found looked that great either. Generally we stayed close to the resort to eat where the prices were a little more reasonable and the food was fine.
The overall cost was in the region of £2,800 factoring in accommodation, flights and car hire for a week at Pierre et Vacances, Cap Esterel flying with Jet2.
In recent years this was definitely one of our favourite holidays. Despite the overpriced restaurants and the lack of good beaches, we loved the pool at Cap Esterel and getting out and about particularly in the kayaks was great fun. We always felt like there was something to do and never got bored. I still feel it was slightly expensive considering the basic accommodation but ultimately it didn’t matter. We had a great time.