DESTINATIONS / EUROPE / FRANCE

Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

Interrailing review – we take our children on a train trip around Europe

The highs and lows of a family Interrail holiday using Global Passes

I get some strange looks as I edge down the corridor in my pyjamas.

I’ve already had to stand on a suitcase to get out of the room without waking the other three occupants.

It’s the smallest bedroom we have ever slept in and it’s moving at 100mph.

We are on our first overnight train and it’s certainly an experience we won’t forget in a hurry.

After boarding at nearly midnight, we have to make up the beds as the train rattles along.

There’s no room for us all to stand let alone store our two suitcases.

But it’s all part of the adventure. We have set ourselves a challenge to travel around five countries in 10 days by train.

And it’s made possible thanks to Interrail. We are trying out its Global Pass which allows us to travel on almost all trains around Europe.

This includes Eurostar and trains in our own country while on the outbound and inward journeys.

Frankfurt to Nuremberg train, Interrailing around Europe with children

Although the less said about our outward journey the better – signal problems saw our easy trip to London mutate into a four-train nightmare which left us wondering if we would even make it to the capital, let alone our Eurostar from St Pancras.

But we did. And it has been mostly plain sailing from there. Or plain railing, if that is even a word. And if it isn’t then it should be.

First stop Brussels. We visit Mini Europe with its miniature replicas of famous landmarks and indulge in Belgium’s famous waffles and frites (not together).

Most memorable is the famous Manneken Pis sculpture of a boy urinating in a fountain – he is everywhere we look – replicas are in shop windows, on socks and even made into mini chocolates.

The local trains we catch here are double decker delights to the joy of my daughter.

(Read our full guide to Brussels for more information).

On day three we depart for Germany, changing trains in Frankfurt to get to Nuremberg.

The trains feel so clean, modern and spacious. Plus, we are lucky enough to have the first class Interrail option – the price difference is relatively small and worth the extra if you can afford it.

After settling into a big apartment hotel (review here) and armed with a Nuremberg Card (which gives free access to attractions and free local transport), we start at the city’s pretty zoo where we spot polar bears and enjoy a dolphin show.

We get a glimpse of German culture, lederhosen and bratwurst at the twice annual fair Volkfest and explore the Old Town.

(If you are planning a trip of your own to Nuremberg, read our full guide).

Nuremberg
Nuremberg

Munich is our day five destination. Although it’s nearly 200 miles from the sea, we join crowds of spectators watching surfers take turns to ride the waves of the Eisbach River where it gushes out from under a bridge.

It then meanders through a huge park, the English Garden, where thousands are gathered enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed atmosphere.

We view the city from the top of St Peter’s Church and my son enjoys a visit to the home of Harry Kane and Bayern Munich – the Allianz Arena.

Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany
Allianz Arena

And you can’t visit Munich without stopping for a traditional Bavarian meal at world famous tavern The Hofbrauhaus, by far the biggest restaurant I have ever seen.

It’s nearly midnight when we take to our (not so comfortable) beds on the aforementioned overnight train, which is taking us from Munich to Venice in eight-and-a-half hours.

And the reason I am to be found early in the morning wandering around in my pyjamas? I’m in search of a toilet and my clothes are firmly inside the one suitcase we could fit under a bed. Our night has been disturbed by noisy passengers getting on and off and I’ll do anything to avoid waking the children.

Although I nearly turn back when I realise everyone else is fully dressed!

A couple of hours later, we arrive in Venice, not exactly refreshed from the journey.

But stepping out of the station is a feast for the eyes – the turquoise waters, fabulous architecture and gliding gondolas soon wake us up.

A canal in Venice
Venice

And the room back at our hotel later feels gloriously spacious after our cramped conditions the night before.

A travelling day beckons next. We take three trains from Venice to Paris with stops at Milan and Zurich. It’s our most stunning journey to date as we pass through the spectacular scenery of Switzerland.

We have three nights in Paris and manage a whistlestop tour of all the main attractions, without the help of trains, using the Tootbus hop-on hop-off buses.

A trip up the Eiffel Tower takes me back to the last time I looked over Paris from on top of it when my boyfriend asked if we could move it together.

Up the Eiffel Tower
Up the Eiffel Tower

So it is nice to return, now, married with children.

We can’t resist a trip to Disneyland for our last day where another train leaves an impression – but it’s just one of the rides, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Then it’s back on the Eurostar home.

We have been on 28 trains this holiday – so you would think I would know how to exit one.

But at our final top, our village station, I press the wrong button, only to sound an alarm that makes everyone jump.

What a way to announce our arrival home.

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train – The Family Holiday Guide

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

Related article: Brussels with children – family-friendly activities in this beautiful Belgium city

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children – the best family activities

*All views are, as ever, our own. To help us review the experience and areas travelled around, we were given complimentary Interrail passes, Tootbus passes, a Nürnberg Card and accommodation in Nuremberg.

Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

Everything you need to know before using an Interrail Pass

What is an Interrail Pass?

An Interrail Pass is a train pass that lets you travel as much as you want across most of Europe.

They are for European residents or citizens only, if you live outside Europe you need a Eurail Pass instead.

Different types of Passes

Location

Interrail Global Pass is valid in 33 European countries, perfect for if you are travelling across more than one country.

Interrail One Country Pass, is self-explanatory – it works across one country. It lets you explore all corners of one country to really get to know it.

Time

You can choose a pass which lasts for anything from four days to three months.

Class

You also have the option of first or second class passes and this depends on your budget.

Second-class is more affordable but the difference in price isn’t as much as you would think and the extra luxury when travelling can really be worth it. Also, meals are often included which you can take off the cost.

Mobile or paperless

Mobile Passes work on your phone if you have Apple devices iOS 13.0 and later and Android devices 6.0 and later. 

This means you can have access to your Interrail Pass straight away and should never leave it behind. It also doesn’t start until you travel.

Issues can occur if you are using the Interrail app and it crashes so keep your mobile pass code handy, it will be a six-digit PNR code.

Traditional paper passes can be ordered online or bought at railway stations. You have to state the start date which offers less flexibility.

What to take with you

Pack as lightly as you possibly can as you will be carrying your luggage around a lot. Backpacks are seen as a traditional option but many like us, opt for suitcases with wheels. We chose these ones from Amazon – the grey three-piece – really reasonably priced, attractive and sturdy, plus they hold a lot. We took the large one on our train trip and used packing bags inside it. We also took the small for spare items, rain coats and electronics.

While you need to limit what you take, don’t forget the essentials:

*Passports and European Health Insurance Cards.

*A steel water bottle that you can refill. This means there is no need to keep buying plastic bottles and everyone can see which is theirs.

*Travel adapters and multiple chargers. We took this European adapter for a British plug to use with my laptop and hair straighteners and this one with only USB sockets for phones and Kindles.

Make the most of sockets on trains and in stations to charge your devices.

*First aid kit – make sure you have painkillers, plasters and travel sickness tablets if needed, plus of course any medication you need and hand gel.

*Credit card/cash – We took some cash for emergencies, around 100 euros, but used specialist cards with no foreign exchange fees. Our preferred one is Halifax Clarity but there are others available. Take a spare card in case one doesn’t work. And always pay in euros never pounds, if you have the option.

*No matter how nice the scenery, nobody and especially children, will want to spend hours and hours on trains just looking out of the window, so make sure you take things to occupy you such as a Kindle or other e-reader (you don’t want to be lugging books around), tablets, card games, activity books, cards or travel games which won’t take up too much precious room. Download any books, podcasts, films or shows before you go, there is often WiFi but it can be sporadic.

*Headphones – the whole train doesn’t want to hear Peppa Pig.

*Comfortable clothes and shoes, this isn’t the time for worrying too much about what you look like and being fashionable.

*A random one, but if you like an uncommon tea, take a few bags with you, I take peppermint tea bags with me then can always ask for a hot water to put my tea bag in if they don’t have any.

Seat reservations

So the beauty of an Interrail pass is being able to hop on and off trains as much as you like. However it’s definitely worth booking seats on busy routes.

Some trains have compulsory booking including Eurostar, other high speed trains, night trains and many in France, Italy and Spain, so make sure to check first.

It also means you are guaranteed a seat, usually have access to a charging point and can sit with any friends or family you are travelling with, especially important when you are with children of course.

The price of seat reservations is sadly not included in the Interrail Pass and the cost can build up.

You can avoid paying seat reservation fees entirely by taking smaller regional trains but this will make the journey a lot slower. We preferred paying for speedier trips between locations but if you’ve got lots of time, it’s an option.

Interrail App

Download Interrail’s Rail Planner app to keep track of your journeys, book seat reservations and access your Mobile Pass.

It should also give you the latest information on train timetables although this relies on you keeping it up-to-date. Some people have also reported issues with the data being wrong in places like Poland.

Alternative sites for timetable data include DB Reiseauskunft.

There’s also a fantastic website which explains everything about European trains and tips and ideas for Interrail newbies called The Man in Seat 61 – we used it to plan a lot of our trip, especially reserving seats and looking at route options.

Accommodation

Book your accommodation in advance. If you are travelling with children you need to know you have a safe, welcoming space where you can all relax and recharge.

It also makes sense to book breakfast in the hotel if you’ve got a long journey that day so the children can fill up on food they like rather than relying on the train menu, which isn’t really designed for youngsters.

Night Trains

If you have a long journey and there is a sleeper train available, go for it! It is such a novelty for children and the cost is similar to a hotel.

However, don’t expect to want to do it again!

We took a night train from Munich to Venice. Boarding wasn’t until nearly midnight, then we had to make our own beds up in a very tiny compartment with a toilet down the corridor.

The beds were hard, the pillows very thin and the passengers getting on and off at the various stops, so noisy, it sounded like they were in a compartment with us!

Am I glad we did it though? Absolutely. It’s a night we won’t forget in a hurry.

When things go wrong

No matter how carefully you plan, something is likely to go wrong.

You can’t prepare for train delays or cancellations, except to try to allocate more time and vow to keep calm when plans change.

Our first day of travelling on our Interrail trip went very wrong before we had even left the UK – full diary here.

There were multiple train cancellations due to signal problems on the line and we struggled to even get to London in order to leave the country and get on the Eurostar. Thankfully, all went smoothly once we had boarded.

Try not to let children pick up on your stress, you don’t want to spoil the trip for them.

Let them know in advance that things might go wrong but that it is all an adventure.

Above all, make the most of this amazing opportunity to explore new places. And of course, have fun.

Now read our INTERRAIL DIARY: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

*This article contains affiliate links to products we genuinely bought for our trip and recommend. We may make a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of them.

*We had complimentary passes for our Interrail trip to enable us to review a holiday like this, all views, as ever, are our own.

We would love to hear any other tips you have, have we missed anything? Please comment!

Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

The highs and lows of our Interrail trip including a very memorable overnight train

We are off on a 2,000-mile train adventure around Europe, only it hasn’t started off quite as planned..

Day 1: Disaster

Route: Cheshire to Brussels. 

Our day starts on a high with a plan to catch three trains.

But fate will soon intervene. 

Carrying as little luggage as possible, we catch our local train to Crewe, a big hub for the north west and here is where our problems start. 

Our train to London Euston is cancelled with talks of a signal problem on the line. 

We find another train but it has to terminate at Birmingham due to the same issue between Milton Keynes and Watford. 

Panic around us is rising as are passenger numbers as people from multiple trains cram on to a platform at New Street awaiting another one. 

We make it on and breathe a sigh of relief. We even find seats. 

But catastrophe rears its head again. After a 20-minute wait at Rugby, the screens aboard ominously declare that the train is not stopping at stops including our destination of Euston. 

Eventually the train driver confirms this to be true and the entire train has to get off at Northampton. The issue means that the platform already resembles a cattle grid and we join the tense throng. 

We have been creeping further south train by train but it seems we may not get any further. Will we even make it to London today let alone Brussels? We start to look at buses and coaches, our journey by train apparently foiled at the first hurdle. 

Suddenly an announcement that a train to London is leaving from platform one and everyone – now waiting upstairs in the concourse – surges down the stairs and back on to the platform, staff urging caution.

To make it worse, we then get separated, three of us packed into one carriage like sardines, my husband in another one with the luggage. We get off and reunite and I’m amazed to see how much clearer this furthest away carriage is. Lesson learned. 

Might we still make it to Euston and then St Pancras in time for our Eurostar to Brussels? 

Train one!

Day 1, part 2 

After a challenging journey and four trains, we are thrilled and relieved to finally arrive at London Euston. 

A hurried walk to St Pancras and we are miraculously still on time for the Eurostar and we sail through security and two passport checks (UK and French).

We have been given Interrail Global Passes to try out for this review – train tickets that allow us to travel on almost all trains in Europe. 

This includes Eurostar and trains in our own country while travelling on the outbound and inbound journeys. 

We are lucky enough to have the first class option, which actually doesn’t cost too much more and is well worth it. 

Our Eurostar carriage feels plush and quiet and we have a meal included. 

It only stops once, in Lille and we arrive in Brussels, Belgium in just two hours. 

Our sixth and final train of the day delights us all. It’s a sleek double decker and we make sure to sit upstairs despite the short journey from one part of Brussels to another.

We walk to our hotel near the main square. 

The city is bustling, it’s fabulous and there are more frites and waffles than you can shake a stick at. 

Waffles in Brussels

Day 2: Brussels

We wake in Brussels. It’s a bustling, thriving, fabulous city whose most famous resident is a boy urinating in a fountain. 

If you’re on a European rail trip then this, the capital of Europe and home of the EU, is a great place to start.

And Mini-Europe is the place to learn more about the continent.

Travelling there is our only train ride of the day. 

It’s got miniature 1/25 scale replicas, made by hand, of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Mount Vesuvius and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

We also visit a chocolate factory – Choco Story Brussels and a fun, famous sculpture. 

Manneken Pis, a bronze statue of a little boy and a fountain, was designed by Jerome Duquesnoy in 1619, and has become a familiar symbol of the city.

You can’t miss him, there are replicas all over the place!

And yes we tried the waffles, they’re delicious. And more frites. 

Only one train today. But three tomorrow, we are off to Germany. Next stop Nuremberg. 

Manneken Pis in Brussels

Day 3: Back on the rails 

Route: Brussels to Nuremberg 

After breakfast, we pack up and catch a train back to the main station in Brussels.

Comfortably settled on our next train to Germany, we are happy everything is going to plan.

‘Please get off the train. There is a technical problem. Please get off the train’.

We are good at this now and obligingly gather up all our stuff and exit, hoping this isn’t a repeat of day one in England. It’s not. 

Twenty minutes later, we are back on and moving. The train is so, so nice. So much nicer than any I’ve used back home in the UK. The glass doors between carriages automatically slide open as you approach. 

The seats are fabulously comfortable – recliners with foot stands. 

There are tempting, private little booths for four behind glass screens available to book. 

These trains just feel so clean, fresh and spacious. And yes we are lucky enough to have complimentary first class passes with Interrail but all the spaces feel more luxurious.

The children are engrossed in their tablets and I read a book (via the Kindle app on my phone in honour of the first Interrailing rule to travel light) and properly relax for the first time in a long while. 

The gentle swaying, the views – trains are my favourite way to travel when things go to plan. And with me they often don’t.*

A car is never an altogether relaxing experience, even when you’re not the driver, planes feel so cramped and your ears pop. 

The station at Frankfurt is a further revelation, it’s bright, airy and welcoming.

We board our final train of the day for Nuremberg. 

Boarding at Frankfurt for Nuremberg

*Just ask my friends about the time last month when I was meant to be meeting them for a long-awaited catch-up in Birmingham and accidentally ended up on a non-stop train to London Euston.

Day 4: Nuremberg

I wasn’t expecting to see polar bears in Germany. Or a dolphin show.

But both are highlights of our trip to Nuremberg Zoo, a pretty site and an unexpected workout (it’s very hilly). 

Travelling around this city is easy as it has both a tram service and underground trains.

And the tram drops you directly outside the zoo.

Paying for attractions and transport is a doddle* too as it is all free if you buy a Nürnberg Card.**

Worth it for the convenience as well as the cost – zoo entry alone would be over half the price of the card.

We are lucky enough to be here for the twice yearly fair Volksfest.

There are lederhosen, bratwurst, a great family atmosphere and lots of funfair rides. A real glimpse of German culture – and the weather helps as it’s an unseasonably warm and sunny 25 degrees. Shame I forgot to pack our sunglasses while ‘travelling light’. 

We are staying at The Living Hotel in the suburb of Gostenhof on the outskirts of the city.

It’s nice to be able to spread out as our roomy apartment has two floors, plus the bonus of a small kitchen and two bedrooms.

The Old Town is just a 20-minute walk away.

We have more exploring to do here tomorrow before we leave for Munich.

And I must buy some sunglasses. 

Nuremberg Zoo

*I pledge to drop this expression into conversations more regularly, it’s not used enough! 

Day 5: Munich 

Surfing and flirting 

Munich may be nearly 200 miles from the sea but it doesn’t stop professional surfers from flocking here.

They come to enjoy some of the best river surfing in the world and it’s a spectacle to behold as they take it in turns to ride waves that surge from under a bridge.

Crowds of spectators watch to see how long they last before plunging into the water and being whipped downstream. 

It happens on the edge of a park, the English Garden. The Eisbach river continues to flow through the park, creating a lazy river effect.

Today in 25C temperatures, dozens are using it to cool off.

There are thousands of mainly younger people enjoying the warm weather in this huge open space. There’s an amazing vibe and it’s fascinating to walk among them as they dance, play volleyball, sunbathe and flirt. It takes me back a few years. Or possibly decades. 

Games continue in another beautiful nearby park – Hofgarten – with groups of people playing boules.

There’s an almost film set feel about the place that I can’t quite put my finger on not least because of the appearance of some of the buildings. 

Loads get around by bicycle, but transport options are plenty, you can use trams, underground trains and electric scooters. 

It feels like a salubrious university city, which it is. This the country’s third biggest city is also one of its wealthiest. 

It took just an hour to get here from Nuremberg where we started the day wandering the historic streets around the Imperial Castle.

We’ve got another full day to enjoy here tomorrow before our very exciting overnight train to Venice. 

Surfing on Eisbach river in Munich

Day 6: Munich 

Workouts and lederhosen

I have an unexpected workout today. Three hundred and six steps to climb St Peter’s Tower in order to tremble on a narrow ledge with great views over Munich. 

We also look around the Viktualinen market which has opened every day (other than Sundays and public holidays) since 1807. And then wait with a crowd, phones all around pointed in the air, to watch the 11am Marienplatz clock tower show. It’s a mechanical clock which re-enacts scenes from Munich’s history on the grand New City Hall. 

Meanwhile my son is keen to see the home of Harry Kane – and Bayern Munich – the Allianz Arena. 

Inside you can do a tour of the stadium and visit the Bayern Munich museum and club shop. The museum’s very well done, with displays in German and English.

Next we take a flight through 7,000 years of Bavarian history (Munich is the capital of Bavaria) with VR technology at TimeRide Munich. 

There’s plenty of history in our dinner choice.

The Hofbräuhaus has been serving beer, sausages and more since the 1500s.

It’s absolutely huge, full of atmosphere, music and filling German food. 

Sat at tables around us are some of the regulars, often in lederhosen, drinking out of their own beer jugs – kept under lock and key for them. 

No time for trying too much beer though for any of us – we’ve got a night train to Venice to catch.

Next stop Italy.

At the top of St Peter’s Tower in Munich

Day 7: The reality of an overnight train and tears for Venice 

So I don’t get much sleep. 

As it turns out, overnight trains are rather noisy and the beds do not feel like fluffy clouds.

I’m a two-pillow kind of girl but I may as well be lying horizontal, they are so thin. 

Our compartment is obviously tiny. With four of us and two suitcases plus a ladder to get to the top two bunks taking up valuable floor space, attempting to make up the beds when we get inside at nearly midnight on a moving train, is a bit of a challenge. 

The passengers laughing, shouting and  chatting as they get on and off at the various stops, sound like they are in the room with us as we try to sleep. 

Plus a loud ‘Get off the train, get off the train,’ by a guard at one point to a man who presumably has wandered on when he shouldn’t have, is slightly alarming. 

I’m also not sure of the sleep train/pyjama etiquette. There is no en-suite to our cabin and I have to pop to the loo early in the morning while the other three are sleeping.

My clothes are shut in our smaller case which eventually had fitted under a bed (no such luck with the bigger one which I have to clamber over to get out of the room). So I am forced to shuffle self-consciously along the corridor in my PJs. 

EVERYBODY else I see is fully clothed. Is this an embarrassing faux pas? Should I have slept in my clothes? 

I also miss the nearest toilet and have to get into the next compartment along a wobbly connector. Then do the walk of shame all the way back!

Hoping for a final hour of sleep, the guard then brings around four breakfast trays which I balance on the bed around me, until they wake up. Then he is back again to collect all the bed sheets and pillows that they are still sleeping in.

It’s not all bad though. Although I won’t be hurrying to try out an overnight train again, I’m very glad we did it. 

What an experience to travel in a bed and wake up (if I’d slept) in another country for the cost of a hotel room. 

And what a country it is. We love Italy and the children have never been to Venice before. 

We’ve only had one weekend here pre-children and I feel emotional as we leave the station and our eyes feast upon the turquoise waters backed by picturesque architecture. 

My favourite part is standing on the little bridges watching and photographing as the gondolas pass underneath.

We make the most of our day in Italy to dine on divine pasta and pizza.

And I have never appreciated a hotel room as much as the one we are in now, its spaciousness is heaven-sent.

The view from the famous Rialto Bridge 

Day 8

Location: All over the place

We are having a travelling day, working our way across Europe from Venice to Paris with stops in Milan and Zurich. 

The route through Switzerland is slow through the mountains but scenic and I wish we had time to stop for a night here to take in the views some more. 

I also wish for the first time that I’d taken a travel sickness tablet as it is rather winding! 

The children have done well with journeys of two, four and four hours. 

Our last train is a double decker and we sit upstairs although much of the journey is through darkness as night falls. 

I sleep on and off despite the interior automatic doors sounding like the drum sequence used after a joke’s punchline on opening and firmly shutting on everyone on closing, even trapping my handbag in its clutches at one point. 

Other sounds come from our fellow passengers. We aren’t in first class for this leg. Despite our first class Interrail Global Passes (kindly gifted for our review) some trains require seat reservation costs and the charge for the better seats was much higher for this particular train. 

The family next to us make their presence known and break many unofficial train travelling rules throughout the hours. Starting with a loud FaceTime call to a toddler, continuing while watching music videos without headphones and ending with a series of loud, unapologetic burps from the dad! 

The seats are still lovely and comfortable with plenty of leg room. 

We set off at 8.30am and are due to arrive in Paris at 10.30pm. 

Day 9: Paris

I love the Eiffel Tower. Standing on it looking over Paris many years ago, my then boyfriend asked if we could move in together. 

So to return today, not only living together but married with two children, feels special. 

Although this time he says he wants to ask me to move out instead. He jokes. I think. 

Not only do I go back up it, I also photograph and film it from all different angles. 

Including from the top of a hop-on hop-off Tootbus. 

It’s a fabulous vantage point for lots of key Paris landmarks including the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées.

There’s an audio guide on board and place to charge your phones. 

And it stops at all the best tourist spots so we can explore around the Louvre and enjoy a crêpe in the Tuileries Garden.

Notre-Dame is still impressive despite being under reconstruction following the fire nearly five years ago while a violinist gets even more attention than the cathedral itself as she shimmies about while playing beneath it. 

We finally alight back outside the Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889 and now surrounded by men trying to sell miniature sparkly models. 

My daughter, having started off the day excitedly spotting the Eiffel Tower, ends the day clutching a rose pink replica to take home. 

And I have another crêpe. 

Day 10: Paris

We hurtle along at an alarming rate, thrown from side to side while people scream all around us. 

This train is not the relaxing, comfortable experience we have come to expect over our mammoth railway journey. 

Thankfully it’s not part of our Interrail experience. 

It’s a coal train – the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride to be exact. 

We have decided to spend our last day before we travel home at Disneyland Paris. 

And it’s another sunny, warm day to end our Easter Holidays European adventure. 

We enjoy lots of rides and a fabulous Disney show under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. 

Meanwhile we are getting our beauty sleep in a hotel for the last time. Tomorrow we are homeward bound.  

Disneyland Paris

Day 11: The journey back

After nearly 30 trains in 11 days you would think I would know how to exit one. 

But typically, it seems I don’t and have to bring attention to our arrival home. 

I confidently press the green button to open the door at our village station and a loud alarm sounds. 

I have inadvertently pushed the SOS button, scaring passengers and driver alike. 

It’s the end of another travelling day and the end of our Interrail adventure. 

Arriving in England on Eurostar I’m pleasantly surprised at how grand and welcoming St Pancras station is after being impressed with its European counterparts like Frankfurt. 

And impressed with the speed of the journey – six hours from Paris to our home in Cheshire. 

We have travelled over 2,000 miles on this trip.

If you include every journey, long and short, we have been on 28 trains, six trams, five hop-on hop-off buses and one water taxi. 

Plus of course, there’s been a lot of walking.

What an experience but now I’m glad to be at our final stop. 

We are home. 

Catching Eurostar home from Paris

All views are, as ever, our own. To help us review the experience and areas travelled around, we were given complimentary Interrail passes, Tootbus passes, a Nürnberg Card and accommodation in Nuremberg.

Review: A family holiday to beautiful Corsica at May half-term with Eurocamp

Review: A family holiday to beautiful Corsica at May half-term with Eurocamp

Magnificent mountains and beautiful beaches – we take our children to Corsica and stay at Eurocamp’s two sites on this Mediterranean island

We have just arrived on a gorgeous, sunny beach, framed at each corner by pink and orange rocks.

I lay out a towel, get out the bucket and spades and our children squeal with delight as they take to the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Minutes later we are scurrying to our car as a thick, black cloud descends down from the improbably steep mountains towards us and the heavens open.

This is Corsica: a land of extremes. Bright sunshine then brutal showers. Shallow bays and steep mountain passes. French-owned with an Italian influence.

An abstract concept which, for a family, boils down to croissants for breakfast and pizza for dinner.

And our week is a tale of two very different Eurocamp holiday parks (read our full comparison here).

Marina D’Erba Rossa holiday park, Ghisonaccia (full review here)

Marina D’Erba Rossa is our first stop. On the east coast, near the town of Ghisonaccia, an hour’s drive from Bastia Airport.

Swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

Marina D’Erba Rossa swimming pool

“Mummy, an ostrich woke me up and now I’ve spotted a llama”.

We are next to the small animal park on this large site. Bulls, kangaroos and chickens alongside the holidaymakers who have arrived here from across Europe.

The holiday park is a little tired in places and our mobile home isn’t the newest but we can overlook that as there is so much for children to do.

The exterior of our Eurocamp mobile home at The swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa in Corsica

Our Eurocamp mobile home

For a start, it’s on a big beach with inviting waves. There’s a great pool, next to the beach.

Then there’s a new playground/play area, mini golf, trampoline and zip wire enclosure, gym, ice cream parlour, tennis courts, crazy golf, pool tables – the list goes on.

Play area with slides at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

A small shop on the site sells essentials including fresh croissants and baguettes in the morning and at night you can tuck into very tasty pizza at the on-site restaurant.

Ghisonaccia is a fairly non-descript Corsican town but has all the facilities you need. Nearby Aleria has some of the island’s history on display at its museum.

The fact that Marina D’Erba Rossa is on a lovely beach was the biggest draw for us. But this island, birthplace of Napoleon, is much more than just a beach holiday.

You have to head inland. Onwards and upwards into the mountains.

Sampolo Lake and mountains in Corsica

Sampolo Lake

The routes immediately become steep and twisty, rocks hang over the edge of the road, ears pop, civilisation becomes more sporadic.

And it’s at the start of one of these roads we find our second campsite, Sole di Sari. Keep reading for all the details.

Sole di Sara campsite, Solenzara (full review here)

Outside the town of Solenzara, the small site Sole di Sara campsite is fresh and modern.

Eurocamp Sole di Diri mobile home exterior

Our mobile home at Sole di Sari

The mobile home is nearly new, nestled into the hillside overlooking a stunning backdrop of mountain peaks and a gentle river.

A girl sits beside the river at Sole di Sari

The river at Sole di Sari

And the river isn’t just for looking at, it’s for swimming in too. The water is even colder than the site’s clean but small pool but is well worth exploring.

Sole di Sari swimming pool complex

Sole di Sari swimming pool

There’s also a play area with swings and slides, a modern bar and restaurant, boules, table tennis and a basketball court.

Sole di Sari play area

Sole di Sari play area

From Sole di Sari, you can get to the nearest beach by car in five minutes or head up the mountain road that the park sits on.

Just watch out for the wild bulls! One comes charging down the road and then chases us on our way up the snaking route to the Col de Bavella.

A 20-minute slow drive rewards with astonishing views across the mountainous valley. We stop about two-thirds of the way up after losing the bull, where there is a short but spectacular walk.

The vew at Col de Bavella mountains in Corsica

Col de Bavella

Adventurous families with older children can go canyoning and hiking to hidden waterfalls.

There is also a zip wire and treetop rope courses including one for youngsters (but check for opening times, they are closed when we go).

Children will also enjoy the rocky streams and turquoise coves lower down the mountain road.

Back at sea level we sample an abundance of colourful beaches on this stretch of coastline. Highlights near Solenzara are Scaffa Rossa, Fautea and Canella.

Palombaggia Beach in Corsica

Palombaggia Beach

Further afield we combine a visit to the wealthy walled town of Porto Vecchio and its yacht-filled marina, with a trip to Corsica’s most famous beach Palombaggia.

Shallow waters, soft sand and a wonderful view along the coast draws thousands to this beach, which means sharing the sand with plenty of other people, something we haven’t had to do elsewhere.

Peaceful, picturesque places aren’t hard to find whether you choose the mountains or the beaches on this island of contrasts.

Corsica facts

Where is Corsica?

Corsica is a French island in the Mediterranean, north of Sardinia. It is west of Italy and southeast of France.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes. And families in Corsca can combine a beach holiday with adventure in the mountains and rivers further inland.

English isn’t widely spoken everywhere so you do need to be a bit more adventurous than, say, heading to Spain but that’s all part of the fun.

Is it easy to get to Corsica?

It’s short two-hour flight from the UK to Bastia in the north and Figari in the south.

When is the best time to travel?

Between April and October. We went at May half-term which was nice and quiet.

Have you been to Corsica? Where did you stay?

Eurocamp

Eurocamp has a choice of camping holidays in more than 175 parks across France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere in Europe.



Marina d’Erba Rossa vs Sole di Sari – we compare Corsica’s two Eurocamp sites to see which is best for a family holiday

Marina d’Erba Rossa vs Sole di Sari – we compare Corsica’s two Eurocamp sites to see which is best for a family holiday

Which Eurocamp holiday park in Corsica is best for you and your children – we review and compare them for you

If you want to stay in Corsica with Eurocamp, there are two options – Marina d’Erba Rossa Campsite (full review here) in Ghisonaccia and Sole di Sari Campsite in Solenzara (full review here).

Both are on the eastern coast of this French island. But which is best for you and your family? We stayed at both with our two children over May half-term and compare them here to help you decide.

Mobile homes

Our Eurocamp chalet at Marina d’Erba Rossa had three bedrooms but was small and basic.

The exterior of our Eurocamp mobile home at The swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa in Corsica

Our Eurocamp mobile home at Marina d’Erba Rossa

The one at Sole di Sara was newer, more modern and a bit roomier, which made quite a difference. However this is a smaller site so book early to get your preferred type of mobile home. There were no three-bedroom versions available when we booked.

Eurocamp Sole di Diri mobile home exterior

Our mobile home at Sole di Sari

Setting

Marina d’Erba Rossa is located on a lovely beach with access to the Med from next to the swimming pool. It also has an animal park within its spacious grounds. It is a bit tired looking in places.

The beach at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

The beach at Marina d’Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

Sole di Sari is more attractive and feels more salubrious, with its mountainous backdrop. Instead of the sea, this site has direct access to a river, which you can swim and paddle in.

Sole di Sari play area

Sole di Sari play area

Nearby

The area surrounding Marina d’Erba Rossa, is the rather nondescript town of Ghisonaccia. There’s a nice drive into the mountains on the D344. Nearby beaches include Plage Pinia with a large pine forest beyond the sands.

The town of Solenzara is slightly nicer and has a marina. Sole di Sari is on the road to the mountain pass Col De Bavella. A winding (note for those who get travel sick) route with wonderful views. We met a rampaging wild bull on our way up! Nearby beaches include Scaffa Rossa, a five-minute drive away as well as Canella and Fautea just down the coast.

Facilities

Marina d’Erba Rossa has a great selection of outdoor activities for children – a fabulous, big swimming pool, a nice playground/play park (climbing and slides, no swings), a raised enclosed netted play area with zip wire and trampolines, basketball court, tennis courts, crazy golf, outdoor gym, pool tables, table football, table tennis and a volleyball net on the beach. It also has an indoor gym and a children’s club.

Pool tables at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park, Corsica

Sole di Sari has a lovely playground, with a good variety of swings, fireman’s pole, seesaw etc. In the same area you can try French boules, basketball (bring your own ball) or table tennis (take your own bats and ball). There’s a river you can swim in, small swimming pool area and a seasonal children’s club.

The river at Sole di Sari in Corsica

Restaurants

We ate in the restaurants at both sites and really enjoyed the food. The menus were mainly pizza-based (Corsica is French but with Italian influence), but our children love pizzas, plus they were delicious. Prices were similar at both sites and each had indoor and outdoor areas to sit. The interior of Marina d’Erba Rossa was particularly nice. The exterior of Sole di Sari was peaceful with lovely views.
Both sites had a bar. The bar was open all day at Marina d’Erba Rossa.

Swimming pools

Marina d’Erba Rossa’s swimming pool was much bigger and slightly warmer and well-suited for all ages.

The swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa

The swimming pool at Marina d’Erba Rossa

The pool at Sole di Sari was small and there were also smaller pools and whirlpools around it.

Sole di Sari swimming pools

Sole di Sari swimming pool

Shops and bakeries

There is a small shop at Marina d’Erba Rossa, selling essentials. There is also a Spar, 200 yards from the entrance of the camp and a larger supermarket three miles away.

There is no shop at Sole di Sari, the nearest bigger shop (a Spar) is the other end of the town, around two miles away.

Both holiday parks have a bakery service. Marina d’Erba Rossa’s was open 730am to 930am when we were there and sold just-cooked baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat. Sole di Sari’s bakery was 8am to 9am and the food was not cooked on site.

On-site support

There were two friendly Eurocamp representatives at each site. We received a text the day before each check-in from them, to welcome us and ask our arrival time. You can contact them during your stay via this number for help, extra pillows, queries etc, which is really handy.

There was a separate Eurocamp reception at both parks, they are not manned all the time and official check-in was not until 3pm so do let them know when you will be arriving.

Conclusion

We had a wonderful time at both holiday parks – they may only be half an hour apart but they are very different.

Marina d’Erba Rossa is very suited to active, older children. It benefits from the much larger pool and having the beach on its doorstep.

Sole di Sari feels much more peaceful and luxurious. The mobile home we stayed in was much nicer. It’s a hilly, attractive site with stunning mountain backdrops. The river is a lovely natural activity and the playground is great. But there is less for children, especially older children, to do and you have to drive to the beach.

So decide what your family’s priorities are or do what we did and visit both!

When to go

We visited at May and it was lovely and quiet. The weather was a good temperature, warm but not too hot although it rained twice.

Our Eurocamp Corsica tips

*Learn how to use the heating straight away. Though hot in the day, when we went the temperature really dropped at night and it was cold.

*You need to buy your own washing up liquid, washing up brush/sponge/cloth, toilet/kitchen rolls and all food and drink. Consider bringing small items you need in your suitcase.

*The mobile homes have kettles which can be boiled on the hob. Bring a travel kettle if you want a quicker morning cuppa.

*Bedding and towels need to be booked in advance if you want them and cost extra.

*You will need a hire car.

*Take your own balls, bats and rackets for basketball, table tennis and tennis.

Our videos of both sites

Read our our full reviews of each site – Marina d’Erba Rossa and Sole di Sari.

Have you any more tips? Share them below!



A Corsican holiday park with a view – we stay at Sole di Sari in Solenzara with Eurocamp

A Corsican holiday park with a view – we stay at Sole di Sari in Solenzara with Eurocamp

Surrounded by mountains and with a river to swim in, Sole di Sari proves a beautiful spot for a family holiday

Name

Sole di Sari Campsite

Where is it?

In the small town of Solenzara, two thirds of the way down the east coast of Corsica on the Côte des Nacres (Coast of Pearls).

What is it?

Sole di Sari is a small, eco-friendly holiday park with a stunning, mountainous backdrop. This hilly site opened in 2012 and has nearly 140 mobile homes – 22 of them run by Eurocamp when we stayed (May half-term 2019).

Sole di Sari campsite in Corsica

Is it family friendly?

This is a peaceful, quiet site. There is less for children to do here than the other Eurocamp site in Corsica (Marina D-Erba Rossa, read our review of that here)but it is more modern and beautiful.

Sole di Sari play area

There’s an outdoor play area, with climbing frames and swings, a basketball court, boules court and swimming pool. Plus there’s the added excitement of having a real river to paddle and swim in. And lots of nearby beaches to enjoy.

The holiday homes

The Eurocamp holiday homes here are modern and equipped with a hob (no oven), microwave and fridge freezer.

Eurocamp Sole di Diri mobile home exterior

The Vista 3 bedroom sleeps eight (maximum six adults).

The Vista 2 Bedroom, which we stayed in, has a double room and a twin room and sleeps up to six.

Eurocamp Sole di Sari double bedroom

There is an open plan kitchen/diner area. There are no televisions, no toaster or dishwasher. The kettle is heated on the hob. There is a microwave and plates, cutlery, saucepans etc.

Eurocamp Sole di Sari kitchen diner

It is more salubrious than the lodge we had at Marina D’Erba Rosa – although that site has plenty going for it.

Sole di Sari Eurocamp mobile home kitchen

Food and drink

As well as the self-catering option, there is a bar and restaurant on site. Pizza, pasta and salads are included on the menu and we enjoyed two meals there, one outside, enjoying the view over the swimming pool. You can also order takeaway.

Sole di Sari restaurant terrace

There’s a bakery on site from 8 to 9am, but no shop. The nearest supermarket, a Spar, is five minutes drive away.

There is an ice cream parlour over the peak summer period.

Nearby

The Alta Rocca mountains are a short drive away.

There are several beaches nearby. We tried Canella beach (five miles south). We really liked this beach although we got rained on after about 20 minutes!

Children on Canella Beach

Canella Beach

Our children also enjoyed Scaffa Rossa beach, about a mile away, which had bigger, rougher waves and rocks on one side.

Scaffa Rossa Beach in Solenzara, Corsica

Scaffa Rossa Beach

We also went to Palombaggia (an hour’s drive), after visiting the town of Porto Vecchio. This is a popular beach and was the busiest we tried. It was a bit of a walk from the car park but nice with beautiful turquoise water.

Palombaggia Beach in Corsica

Palombaggia Beach

Our highlights

*The modern holiday home/lodge/chalet.

*The stunning location. Even swinging on a swing seems more special when you are looking at mountains.

Sole di Sari swimming pools

*The pool area has beautiful views – the main pool is small so may not be enough for older children and although meant to be heated, it was cold when we were there. It never got too busy though.

The river at Sole di Sari in Corsica

*The site is on a river, which you can swim and paddle in. The river bank is a rocky sun trap with sun beds tastefully placed here and there. (You can’t see the river from the sun beds).

Sole di Sari river sun beds

*The lovely outdoor playground, basketball court and French boules area below the swimming pool.

More information

*The site runs its own kids’ clubs during most of July and August.

*You have to pay for WiFi.

*There is no oven (just a hob and microwave), no dishwasher, no washing up liquid/brush/cloth, soap or tea towels provided.

*You hire bed linen and towels. The beds are not made up ready for you but are quick to do – just two sheets and a pillowcase.

*The nearest airport Bastia is 89km away.

*The nearest beach, Scaffa Rossa, is 1.5km away.

Address

Sole di Sari Campsite, Route de Bavella – RD 268, Lieu dit Pianu, 20145, Solenzara, Corsica.

Visit the website here.

*For a comparison of Corsica’s two Eurocamp sites click here.

*To read our full review of our week in Corsica, click here.


Corsica with Eurocamp review: Marina D’Erba Rossa beachfront holiday park

Corsica with Eurocamp review: Marina D’Erba Rossa beachfront holiday park

We stay with our children in a Eurocamp mobile home at Marina D’Erba Rossa campsite on the east coast of Corsica

Name

Marina D’Erba Rossa, Ghisonaccia, Eurocamp

Where is it?

Marina D’Erba Rossa is on a beach on the quiet eastern coast of Corsica, halfway down the island, five minutes from the town of Ghisonaccia.

The beach at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park, Corsica

The beach at Marina d’Erba Rossa

What is it?

A fairly big holiday park with mobile homes and camping pitches.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, family holidays are the key market here. There is a good new playground, nice swimming pool, table tennis, mini golf and pool tables (for an extra charge). It is on a lovely big beach, which has a volleyball net. There is even a small animal ‘zoo’ with ostriches and llamas.

Pool tables at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park, Corsica

There’s also a children’s club and other entertainment.

The mobile homes

Our Esprit mobile home was compact and a little dated but really well positioned in the corner of the park next to the animals.

The exterior of our Eurocamp mobile home at The swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa in Corsica

Our Eurocamp mobile home

It had three bedrooms (one double, two twins) which was great for our family of four, having six people in here would have been a squeeze.

Double bedroom at three bedroo Eurocamp mobile home at Marina d-Erba Rossa

The kitchen had a hob, microwave, fridge-freezer, plates, cutlery etc. There was no oven or dishwasher.

The kitchen of our Eurocamp mobile home in Corsica

There’s a shower room and separate toilet, no television, decking and a gas barbecue outside.

Food and drink

As well as the self-catering option, this site has a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating too. The menu is dominated by pizzas, luckily they were delicious. There’s also a takeaway option.

There is a shop selling essentials and a bakery, which was open from 7.30am to 9.30am, selling freshly cooked baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat.

Nearby

Ghisonaccia is a quiet town a few miles from the site but has all the shops you need including a large supermarket. There is also a Spar store near to the site.

There are beaches along the coast including one with a huge pine forest.

It is an hour’s drove to the bigger cities of Bastia and Porto Vecchio.

The historic roman site of Aleria is a 20-minute drive.

Our highlights

*The swimming pool – not too cold and big enough to have plenty of fun.

Swimming pool at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

*The beach and its location, accessed from next to the pool. It is a big, sandy beach.

The beach at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

*The outdoor play park/playground has new equipment which our two loved.

Play area with slides at Marina d'Erba Rossa holiday park in Corsica

*There’s a raised netted area in another part of the park with trampolines and a zip wire.

*There is an indoor games/arcade room and gym.

*The restaurant is lovely, although didn’t open until 7pm.

*Having a small animal park/zoo on site was a nice touch although the peacock was a bit noisy, waking us up in the morning!

Address

Marina D’Erba Rossa, Route de la Mer, 20240 Ghisonaccia, France

Book here.

*We also spent a few days at Eurocamp’s other Corsica site, Sole di Sari, for a review of that click here or for a comparison of the two read here.

*Read about our entire Corsica adventure here.



 

We review Port du Crouesty holiday village in south west Brittany with our children

We review Port du Crouesty holiday village in south west Brittany with our children

Is Port du Crouesty holiday village, in France, family friendly?

Where is it?

Port du Crouesty holiday village is in a quiet location in south west Brittany – about two hours drive from St Malo. It is sandwiched between a busy marina and a sandy beach at the end of the Rhuys Peninsula.

Port du Crouesty holiday village run by Pierre et Vacances and the marina

What is it?

It’s a large holiday village with apartments set between a port and a beach. The resort has hundreds of apartments, two swimming pools, playgrounds, a shop and restaurant. It is run by Pierre & Vacances.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, the resort is geared around family holidays. Our room overlooked the harbour and had a grassy area outside for playing games. There is plenty of space, a lovely beach with sailing facilities, bike hire and a children’s club. It is a very French area so English is not widely spoken.

The rooms

Our family room was on the small side but it was nicely furnished in a dark blue nautical theme.

We had a double bedroom and two sofa beds in the lounge/kitchen area, which was fairly well equipped.

The apartment had a nice balcony with dining table for four. French rooms tend to be smaller than English so consider moving up a grade in your accommodation to get extra space.

Food and drink

There is a cafe open in high season in the centre of the resort and the marina area has at least a dozen options ranging from fancy restaurants to bakeries and takeaway pizza stalls.

Nearby

The beach and marina are the two nearest attractions but it is a 20-minute drive to Vannes, a beautiful walled town with a bustling market. There are lots of beaches to explore within a short drive, and you can catch ferries to nearby islands too.

Our highlights

*Beach. The lovely sandy beach, Plage du Fogeo, borders the holiday village with a bustling sailing club. It boasts golden sands and relatively shallow waters, ideal for family time.

Two children play with buckets and spades on the beach at Port du Crouesty

Playing on the beach at our resort

*Harbour. The busy harbour is good for a stroll and has plenty of cafes and restaurants. There are stalls selling crepes and Breton biscuits too. Our favourite restaurant of the bunch was Le Cap Horn on the quayside.

*The balcony. Our apartment had a great view over the marina in the evening and was a lovely spot to eat.

*The space. This is a large holiday village with plenty of green space, two small playgrounds and two pools.

*Walks. A short walk away is the Carin Petit Mont ancient site which was some lovely walks around the headland, a good fun way to burn off a big dinner.

Address

Pierre & Vacances Port du Crouesty, 56640, Arzon, France.

How to book

For more information visit the Pierre & Vacances website.

RELATED CONTENT: Read the whole review of our trip to Brittany here.

RELATED CONTENT: We travelled with Brittany Ferries, read our review of our cross-Channel jouney here.

(We stayed as guests, all views are our own. This article contains affiliate links).

 

Britain to Brittany with two children and lots of delicious treats

Britain to Brittany with two children and lots of delicious treats

We review a family holiday to St Malo in Brittany and try out Brittany Ferries for the first time

I can’t spell it. I can’t even pronounce it, but the Breton delicacy Kouign Amann may just be the best thing I have ever eaten – it’s buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth heaven.

I buy a whole cake, warm from the oven and it quickly diminishes as I sit on the harbour-side in Port du Crouesty – on the southern tip of Brittany.

Ferry

Getting to this lesser visited area of the region was part of our adventure as we crossed the Channel by ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo.

The Brittany Ferries ship feels huge, with lots to see and do. Once you’ve stood on deck and waved goodbye to England, there are children’s discos and shows, a small soft play area, games room, restaurants and even a cinema.

It’s like a mini-cruise and we make the most of everything on our way back but the outward journey was overnight. So after a magic show we were all excited to get to our cabin and sleep onboard.

Children dance at the Brittany Ferries' disco

The disco onboard

The nine-hour crossing soon passed and we woke up ready for Brittany. (For a detailed review of our crossing with Brittany Ferries click here).

Brittany

Many people know and love this most westerly corner of France, returning year after year.

We were stopping on the Rhuys peninsular between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Morbihan. This is French holiday country – there’s barely an English accent.

And not many speak much English so I was glad my husband’s French is better than mine.

Port du Crouesty is a modern harbour development. We stayed at Pierre & Vacances resort, which is in a winning location.

Sandwiched between a busy marina and pretty beach, there are two outdoor swimming pools and plenty of good restaurants at the harbour, all within walking distance of our apartment.

Two children play with buckets and spades on the beach at Port du Crouesty

Playing on the beach at our resort

If you are feeling active, you can hire bikes and there is also a sailing club.

Depending on when you stay, there’s also a children’s club and activities.

Our one-bedroom apartment had two comfortable sofa beds in the lounge. It was on the small side for the four of us but the view over the marina from the balcony made up for it.

Inside the apartment at Pierre & Vacances resort at Port du Crouesty

The apartment overlooked the marina

Other rooms look over a great grassy area and lovely playground. For a more detailed review of Port du Crouesty, click here.

Early booking winter -20%

Surrounding area

If the weather is good you don’t need to go far but we made the most of our wheels to explore the area.

We drove 20 miles to the historic walled town of Vannes. After getting stuck into its bustling market – and more French food – we headed for Vannes Aquarium.

The highlights were some of the biggest turtles we’ve ever seen and a crocodile which seemed to have been found after it ended up in the Paris sewer system.

More four-legged creatures delighted Josh and Jess on another day out, to Branféré Animal park.

This is more of a lovely parkland stroll with added wildlife than a traditional zoo. Wallabies wander freely around, giraffes and rhinos enjoy huge enclosures and birds of all shapes and sizes fly overhead.

In the middle of it all was a series of amazing nets placed among the treetops to run across. A high-level walkway with more than 17,000 square metres of netting. Great fun all round. If you don’t look down.

Children play along the Parcabout high-level walkway in the trees

The Parcabout high-level walkway in the trees

Beaches

The Rhuys peninsular is blessed with beaches. We visited four in all.

Our favourite was one we had all to ourselves – Plage du Goh Velin was a five-minute drive from our apartment.

Armed with nets and buckets, we looked for crabs, collected shells, climbed rocks and even found a cave.

Children play with nets at Plage du Goh Velin

A day at Plage du Goh Velin

In conclusion

And every day we sampled more of the area’s amazing food – delicious sweet and savoury crêpes, baguettes, cheeses, pastries and seafood.

Our trip was during half-term but outside French holidays, which really made a difference, everywhere was quiet.

As we left St Malo in glorious sunshine on the aptly named ship Bretagne, we were lucky there was plenty of fun on the ferry to keep the holiday spirit going.

The Britany Ferries ferry Bretagne sails across the sea

The ferry Bretagne leaving St Malo

And there was one more surprise to remind us of the region. The chunk of Kouign Amann that I’d sneaked home.

The icing on the cake of our trip to beautiful Brittany.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests of Pierre & Vacances resort in Port du Crouesty, Brittany, France for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own. For a more detailed review of the accommodation click here.

Travel: We travelled courtesy of Brittany Ferries. See our detailed review of Brittany Ferries here.

(This article contains affiliate links).

Is an overnight cross-Channel ferry with small children a good idea? We review Brittany Ferries

Is an overnight cross-Channel ferry with small children a good idea? We review Brittany Ferries

Read our report on a Brittany Ferries trip to France

A ferry can be a great way to travel with children – it breaks up a long journey, is (fairly) relaxing, you get to keep your own car on holiday plus you can pack loads into it.

The four of us have used ferries to cross the Channel for holidays to France and Denmark.

Here we review a crossing with Brittany Ferries, which operates between the UK and France, the UK and Spain and Ireland and France. We travelled between Portsmouth and St Malo.

Boarding

Boarding was smooth and quick at both ports. Yes there are a lot of cars on board – our ship, the Bretagne holds 2,000 passengers and 580 cars – but it didn’t take more than 20 minutes to disembark in a well drilled operation.

One word or warning, there can be a lot of steps to climb up from the car park to the higher decks if you have small children.

a cabin on a Brittany Ferry with four single beds

A four-berth cabin on board Brittany Ferries

The cabins

We booked a four-berth club cabin and our children loved it, it was a real adventure for them.

There were bunk beds on either side (the top one folds back when not in use to give more space), a small television on the wall and an en-suite with shower and toilet.

We found it cosy and very well soundproofed and both children slept well.

Cabins are not just for night times though, it is also worth booking a cabin for a day trip if you have small children. It is good to have a base and somewhere to relax (for parents as well if you have been chasing them around the ferry). Plus they are great if your child still naps.

The food

There was plenty of choice for all budgets. There is an à la carte restaurant, self-service restaurant, cafe, and a bar.

We ate at the self-service La Baule – breakfast on the outward leg and a dinner coming home to England.

The price is reasonable and drinks at the bar aren’t bad value either.

a pantomime on board a Brittany Ferries ship

The ferry has children’s entertainment

Children’s entertainment

Early evening shows for children kept ours entertained. There was a children’s entertainer with a good line in balloon animals, a mini disco and in high season they put on a panto.

There are also two cinema screens showing  family films. The screens aren’t full size but it’s a nice way to while away a couple of hours.

There is also a video games room and soft play area.

The feeling

We were fortunate to enjoy good weather in both directions and it was fantastic to go out on the sundeck and watch Portsmouth harbour disappearing into the distance.

Our children loved seeing the wake caused by the huge engines, spotting the Channel Islands as we motored past and walking around the outside of the ferry.

The whole trip felt like an adventure for them and a memorable part of the holiday.

RELATED CONTENT: Britain to Brittany with two children and lots of delicious treats

RELATED CONTENTRevie: Port du Crouesty holiday village in Brittany

We travelled as guests of Brittany Ferries for the purpose of this review. For more information and bookings visit their website.

Fly, drive or take the train – we assess the best way to get to places like Disneyland Paris, France, Belgium and Holland

Fly, drive or take the train – we assess the best way to get to places like Disneyland Paris, France, Belgium and Holland

We compare the time and cost of ways to get to northern Europe to help you decide whether to go by train, plane or car

If you are heading to Disneyland Paris or  elsewhere in France, Belgium or Holland – how will you get there?

What is the fastest and cheapest mode of transport – plane, train or car and ferry or channel tunnel?

We have done the maths for you.

Starting in the Midlands at 5am with a destination of Disneyland Paris, here is what we discovered:

  Method Time Cost Total
Plane Plane then train  4 hours 30 minutes (assuming 2 hours at airport, flight and train 1 hour 15 mins each) £130 per person £520
Train Virgin Trains then Eurostar 5 hours 22 minutes £150 per person £600
Car and tunnel Eurotunnel 6 hours 44 minutes Fuel £120, tunnel £130, tolls £25 £280
Car and ferry DFDS 7 hours 24 minutes Fuel £120, ferry £100, tolls £25 £245

 

a plane taking off

Going by plane is the fastest option

In conclusion

Obviously the time and cost does vary from day to day but you can say three things with some certainty.

Driving will usually be the cheapest for a family of four.

Flying will most likely be the fastest.

The train will probably be the most relaxing, stress-free way to travel.

You could always mix and match by driving to a Eurostar stop such as Ebbsfleet in Kent and then catching the train to Disneyland. We found it a good option which you can read about here.