Child-friendly villas for large family gatherings – last minute offers and last minute availability

If you still haven’t found your family holiday accommodation for 2014 and you are looking for  a holiday suitable for a large family, more than one family sharing or with room for grandparents, look no further! Here are some special offers and last minute deals all perfect for a large family holiday especially suitable if you have babies and toddlers!

France
Brittany

child-friendly cottage, Brittany

child-friendly cottage, Brittany

Sleeps 12 – last few weeks up to 5th July now reduced to 990€ week – beautiful converted farm is situated in the heart of the Brecon countryside. 21 acres of grounds for children to explore, enclosed child-friendly swimming pool 20 miles to Carnac beach – there are other properties within the grounds so there should also be plenty of other children to play with – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Brittany/Brittany-310.html

Gironde

Toddler toys and spa!

Toddler toys and spa!

Sleeps 14 –  w/c 28th June and 5th July £500 off plus a case of Bordeaux châteaux wine – This luxury private child-friendly villa has everything you could wish for including its very own spa. , if you are looking for a luxury retreat this could be it! Fenced heated swimming pool, lots of toys inside and out, acres of private grounds including fenced gardens, set among the Bordeaux vineyars with wine tastings at a near by chateau – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Aquitaine/Gironde-207.html

Dordogne

Located in a small hamlet with lots of toddler toys!

Located in a small hamlet with lots of toddler toys!

Sleeps 8 – £200 discount on all stays in September plus kids eat free – this charming child-friendly holiday cottage has four bedrooms and is located within a small hamlet offering fabulous facilities for babies, toddler and young children including fully enclosed heated swimming pool, 52 acres, bar, tennis, five different play areas for children, indoor play barn and more – further afield are no less than 7 award winning villages – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Aquitaine/Dordogne-187.html

Dordogne

Beautiful garden to enjoy a family gathering!

Beautiful garden to enjoy a family gathering!

Sleeps 12 – remaining weeks in June and July 20% discount –This beautiful house has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a lounge with big fireplace, a pool table room, a library, a huge covered barn a fenced garden with lots of interesting corners. Situated in a quet village it also is just 100m away from the owners own house and their 5 holiday cottages, families have full use of the faciltieis and swimming pool should you want it – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Aquitaine/Dordogne-182.html

Charente

Toddlers will love the selection of ride on toys!

Toddlers will love the selection of ride on toys!

Sleeps 8 – 20% discount on all remaining dates in July – abundance of activities for all the family, two under cover play areas, great selection of local restaurants and walking distance to lake beach and within half hour of other lovely lake beaches – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Poitou-charentes/Charente-58.html

Haut Vienne

Stairgates even on the garden stone steps

Stairgates even on the garden stone steps

Sleeps 10 – 10% discount on all available weeks in July and September – Just a short stroll from the local restaurants in the lovely town of Rochechouart is this super child-friendly town house with large lawns, enclosed raised swimming pool and two very friendly dogs to meet -http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Poitou-charentes/Haut-Vienne-243.html

Languedoc- Roussillon

Lazy days in the garden...

Lazy days in the garden…

Sleeps 13 – last week available 23rd august reduced to €2150 for the week – This lovely large bright village holiday house has a private swimming pool in a large secluded garden. There is a childrens playbarn, with lots of baby and toddler toys available. You can also have the choice of self-catering, full or half board and massages to book too – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Languedoc-roussillon/Languedoc-roussillon-183.html

UK
Cornwall

Sea views and 300m walk to beach

Sea views and 300m walk to beach

Sleeps 10 – 25% discount on bookings confirmed by end of June – This luxury family holiday home is detached and offers lovely sea views. It is located in the small town of Downderry and just 300m from Downderry beach. There is an enclosed garden and patio area and restaurants, including Nick Barclay’s Blueplate, bars and shops are all within walking distance. Downderry itself has a community and so never closes – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Cornwall/Downderry,-Cornwall-312.html

Spain
Costa del Sol

View from rooftop

View from rooftop

Sleeps 10 – last couple of summer weeks reduced 28th June – 5th July was £1900 now £1650 – Surprisingly this beautiful family-friendly villa has a couple of weeks available this summer. It is bright and spacious with an annex to the fourth bedroom with its own front door. 1800m from the beach at Atalaya, enclosed garden and roof terraces, shared swimming pool, Apple TV and 600m from a handful of restaurants, supermarket and bakery – http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/toddler-and-baby-friendly/Spain/Costa-Del-Sol-269.html

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Owners interview – Living the family life in the Lot region France while running a child-friendly holiday business…

507px-Lot-Position.svgOne of the most beautiful regions in France is the Lot, it is still relatively undiscovered and enjoys a micro climate of hot dry sunny summer days and cold dry winters. The landscape is made up of fields, forests, vineyards, farmland, historic hill-top towns, dramatic gorges and slow moving rivers. Here Marion talks about her life here with her family and her wonderful three child-friendly holiday gites.

Marion, Ray and Katie

Marion, Ray and Katie

We are a family of three – myself Marion a goldsmith by trade and originally from Germany, my husband Ray who was a Project Manager in London but is now a lumberjack, roofer, painter, pool attendant, etc and our seven year old daughter Katie who loves piano, ballet and Cbeebies (Katie Morag is her favourite programme at the moment)……….plus Milly, the cat. We lived in Teddington near London before we decided to move to the Lot region in France in November 2011.

The three child-friendly holiday cottages

The three child-friendly holiday cottages

 Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business

For seven years we holidayed in the southern regions of France and we always thought it would be great to be able to experience the French way of life permanently while running and developing a family oriented business.  When Katie came along I had to stop running my jewellery gallery in London, and with my husband working abroad during the week and only being at home at weekends, we thought this is the time to make the move. I started looking for a house with gîtes for sale, and I came across these and we decided to make the big step.

What was the toughest part about setting it up

The gîtes were already set up for families with babies and young children, so the business was already up and running although there were a number of improvements that we wanted to make. Everybody who has moved to France will confirm that the toughest part of setting up a business here is the “red tape”. The French authorities do not make things easy! Things are explained on a need- to-know basis and it is not up to you to decide what you need to know. I once read that “In France, information is like a truffle. You have to go rooting around for it, hoping you strike lucky.”

The swimming pool is fenced and salt water - ideal for young children

The swimming pool is fenced and salt water – ideal for young children

 And what was the most memorable/enjoyable

We moved into the house at the end of January 2012, during one of the coldest winters the region had experienced for many decades, but when spring finally arrived it was so amazing to see all our trees (and we have a lot of them around us) coming back to life.  We have also had some fantastic families staying with us in our first two seasons, and seeing them relaxed and enjoying “La Dolce” really brings a smile to my face.

 What couldn’t you live without and why

I love the space and openness the Lot region offers. It is so unspoilt and for me one of the most beautiful areas in France……….the vast fields of sunflowers, the soft rolling country side, the Lot valley with its stunning medieval villages, the wild life we have around us (great for the children to discover), the local wine and fantastic food,……….I could go on and on.

The Lot River

Le Lot Cahors

What does your average working day involve

We have of course the same normal family life as we did in the UK (household, school, activities outside school), I (Marion) am also an active member of the Parent Association of Katie’s primary school (e.g. organising events).  We are also working through our improvement programme for the gites – last winter we updated all the bathrooms and the games room and this winter we are renovating the roofs . We were just awarded three stars in 2013 by “Atout France”, the official French body for hotel, gîte and chambre d’hôte classification.

I am also updating the information folder for our guests with new restaurants we have discovered, with new places to go and things to do, dates for the medieval festivals, evening summer markets and other summer events. We have just had our website newly designed, so we have been busy with this as well.

In the season we are busy maintaining the grounds and of course looking after our guests. Changeover days are normally extremely hectic, as I am very particular when it comes to the cleanliness of the gites.

 What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special

I think it is the beautiful and tranquil setting which makes our place so special. We are on 2.25ha of grounds, with the gites and our house in the middle, separated by a vast meadow and surrounded by trees. There is no traffic noise, all our guests will hear is the laughter of happy children during the day……and maybe the hooting owl at night.

The Wendy house within the grounds

The Wendy house within the grounds

 If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be

Difficult to decide…………but I would say firstly Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac (The Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac), one of the world’s most magnificent landscapes. These stunningly sculptured gardens wrap around a 17th century château that sits perched above the picturesque Dordogne valley, offering fantastic views. There is a maze for children and in summer they offer a lot of activities for little ones. The second place would be Château Bonaguil. This is our nearest castle and very much worth a visit. It is considered by the French to be the most beautiful fortified castle in France; and it was the last one to be built. Great for little ones to explore and a fantastic site for the medieval festival in summer!

Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac

Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac

 

marqueyssac

marqueyssac

Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you

Staying with us means parents can really travel light – no need for baby equipment and toys in the luggage. Domaine de la Dolce is a safe holiday haven, where the children will find new friends to play with while Mum and Dad relax and have a well-earned holiday.

In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live

Wonderful scenery, friendly people, a lot of sunshine, great food and Cahors wine – what else does one need?

You can find these lovely todder-friendly holiday cottages on Holiday Tots here: http://www.holidaytots.co.uk/owners-properties-75.html 

Costa Calida our family holiday. Best bits…

If you have read our previous blogs on our family holiday to Murcia and the Costa Calida region of Spain then you have already heard about the child friendly holiday villa we stayed in and a little about our initial journey. We spent a week in October in this lovely region of Spain with the family who range in age from 4 to 48, the weather was fabulous and so was the company.

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Here are a few places we visited while we were on holiday.

L’Airemar restaurant

If you are staying at the El Valle golf resort there is a fabulous restaurant, L’Airemar, within a few minutes drive. Don’t be put off by its exterior (it has a motorway cafe resemblance) as inside it offers the most amazing Spanish food! It is a shop/restaurant combined and offers tasty fresh meat, vegetables and cheeses to eat in the restaurant or buy and cook on the BBQ and is a must!

chhese meat

Murcia

Murcia itself is a wonderful town with so much history. The cathedral is beautiful, when we were there the locals were marching through the street accompanied by some dramatic drummers we think they were celebrating St Mary of Murcia, the buildings really amplified the sound. We finished in the lovely Plaza de Las Flores where we had Tapas and watched the world go by…

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Cartagena

We had a lovely day out in the historical town of Cartagena. There are lots of things to do here, shop, visit the Roman theatre, take an open top bus tour or boat ride around the coast. We hopped on the ‘Ole’ a Catamaran trip that was perfect for our four year old. It lasted just 45 minutes around the coastline he loved it! Under 5s go free too!

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Catamaran boat trip

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Statue at the port in Cartegena

Lo Pagan/San Pedro Del Pinatar

There are plenty of great beaches in the region and we visited Lo Pagan/San Pedro Del Pinatar. This beach is located in the Mar Menor (Little Sea) the largest salt water lagoon in Europe. Here the waters are beautifully clear and shallow, and the sand perfect for sand castles so ideal for toddlers and young children. We were told that there were mud baths, walkways to the sea and Flamingos. We actually didn’t see any but think we may have been in the wrong place!

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Cabo De Palos

If you are looking for a traditional Spanish Sunday market visit Cabo De Palos. Here you will be able to pick up some fresh fruit, veg and local fish as well as lots of clothes, toys and general market products. Locals and tourists travel from far and wide to this market which is held on Sunday mornings and there is also a lovely marina to have a spot of lunch after shopping.

Carroscoy Nature reserve

Just 15 minutes from the El Valle is the Carroscoy Nature reserve. Take a walk through the beautiful mountain paths, visit the museum of light or animal sanctuary or just sit and have a coffee while the kids play in the park. If you fancy a spot of lunch why not join the local families cooking up a feast on one of the concrete BBQs.

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For more ideas of what to do in the Costa Calida with the family on holiday take a look at our family friendly guide to the Costa Calida.

Child-friendly holiday accommodation

There are some lovely places to stay in the Costa Calida region here are two we have seen.

El Valle

If staying in a villa at the El Valle, the clubhouse, gold course and swimming pools are great for all ages. Our four year old loved riding the golf buggies! The villa we stayed in has a private pool which is fully fenced so you van really relax with toddlers and crawlers!

Mar Menor

While there I also visited a two bedroom villa in the Mar Menor golf resort. The villa is perfect for a small family, it has two bedrooms, en-suite and second bathroom, a fully enclosed lawned garden and only a couple of minutes walk from the swimming pools and restaurants.

A family holiday in Murcia, Costa Calida, Spain – on our way…

So it is October and we are jetting off to the El Valle Golf resort in Spain for a last minute bit of sunshine and to see what this region has to offer. The Costa Calida is easy to get to with airports such as Alicante and San Javier(El Valle is located about an hour from the former and 20 minutes from the latter).

Both airports are serviced by budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair and also British Airways if you prefer. I regularly use Skyscanner as my first port of call to get a guide to times and cost. All of the airlines, at the time of writing this, will let you take a car seat for the hold and pushchairs if your destination doesn’t have one.

This time we flew from Luton, my least preferred airport 😦 but actually it was a breeze, well kind of… First the security team thought there was a bomb in our hand luggage putting my 23 year old daughter into a mild panic, then I lost my phone, found by the kind man at Pret, then we had to identify our bags on the tarmac as the systems had crashed and finally my 20 year old son misplaced his passport on the plane before take off! Well actually he had given it to me and I had put it in our food bag, thankfully spotted by an eagle eyed fellow passenger. Oops.

Landing in Alicante was fairly unadventurous with absolutely no queue at customs and a quick luggage turn around.

We were met by my oldest son who had arrived a little earlier and we headed off in the direction of Murcia in glorious sunshine hurrah!

It took us just under an hour to arrive at El Valle and we were greeted by the villa manager Tina who showed us around before we started our family holiday of sunshine and fun!

So was our villa truly family friendly? See our next entry…