Cheap as frites in France: A mobile home holiday offers buckets of fun and savings in spades
- Sarah Chalmers visited Siblu’s Les Charmettes Holiday Village with her family
- They stayed in a three-bed mobile home ‘as well equipped as any luxury villa’
- The site has a huge pool complex, mini golf, tennis, basketball and petanque
Charente-Maritime, on France’s Atlantic Coast, is famous for sandy beaches, a sherry-like drink called Pineau and mussels.
But what really excites me on a two-week holiday with my husband and three children is the air-conditioning, dishwasher and washing machine in our three-bedroom mobile home at Siblu’s Les Charmettes Holiday Village.
Returning to a cool room is pure bliss. And the washing machine means more time to enjoy the surrounding area.
Fancy a dip? Saint-Palais-Sur-Mer’s beach with its golden sand
We first visited Les Charmettes — 50 miles from La Rochelle airport, or a five-hour drive from the Channel ferry port at Caen — nine years ago when we had a three-year-old toddler and twins of 18-months in tow. My abiding memory is of the battle to keep our living space tidy.
This time, our little home is as well equipped as any luxury villa. Hairdryer? Check. Coffee maker? Check. En-suite shower? Check.
After a decade of visiting holiday villages, the other big change is the standard of entertainment.
When our children were tiny, there were quizzes and bingo nights with one cabaret a week. This time there are shows every evening, and with great singers and dancers, too.
Most seem to be students and graduates from drama schools and our children — 12-year-old Freddie and his ten-year-old siblings Bobby and Loulou — are in their thrall. Every day they can drop into the kids’ clubs for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to go on treasure hunts or rehearse for a talent show.
The rest of the time is spent at the site’s huge pool complex — five separate pools, a splash zone and two giant slides — along with mini golf, tennis, basketball and petanque.
We manage to drag them off site a few times, and a nearby zoo proves a big hit. The little village of La Palmyre, a 15-minute cycle ride away, has safe areas to swim and golden sand. On other days we visit a night market at Saint-Palais-Sur-Mer.
Family fun: Sarah (far right) with Loulou, 10, Bobby, 10, and Freddie, 12
August is festive season in La Charente and most of the towns have some entertainment — from puppet shows to food markets. In nearby La Tremblade we stumble upon a party night with live music in the streets and busy food shacks.
La Tremblade is famous for its oysters and mussels, and the local speciality is to eat them eclade — cooked with burning pine needles.
If you want somewhere more lively, the seaside town of Royan is 20 minutes by car, and the Charente capital of Rochelle about an hour away. But most days we’re happy just to return to our air-conditioned bubble.