Thursday, 9 August 2012

Family Holiday - Review of Siblu Les Pierres Couchees

We have been back in the UK for a few days now, and I wanted to write up our memories of our first ever siblu holiday to Les Pierres Couchees in the Loire Atlantique area of France before the memories fade along with the suntan!  I briefly blogged about our first few days onsite, but it deserves a proper review now we are back on British soil.

This was our first ever driving holiday and we were chuckling to ourselves as we saw car after car driving by with roof racks and bike racks - we felt very unprepared!  We were sailing from Portsmouth and I can't priase Brittany Ferries enough - it was certainly more relaxed than flying, and having our own cabin was a wonderful start and it meant we had privacy and a place to use as a base.  We arrived in Caen at around 9:30pm and after an uneventful drive (empty roads!) arrived in Les Pierres Couchees around 4 hours later.  We then spent nearly an hour actually trying to find our mobile home once onsite as the map was useless and nobody was around to help us.

We awoke to blue skies and had a good look around before going to the supermarket and stocking up.

The site was big but felt intimate as is was set in woodland with giant pine trees.  There is a well stocked shop (we forgot armbands) that sells fresh baguettes and store cupboard staples a bar, restaurant and pizza cafe.   The facilities are superb with a warm, centrally located pool with flumes, swing park, tennis courts, football pitch and of course, the obligatory boules area.   

There is a full programme of activities across the week as well as three kids clubs - Bubbles for the Under 5's, Pirates for the 5-11s and Barrcudas for 11+ who have sessions every day in the morning and the afternoon.  

Evenings are focused around the ampitheatre where the reps put on a number of shows from the Michael Jackson Spectacular to the kids talent show.   Everything was very well prepared and planned.

So what did we think?

Firstly, the mobile home was spotless.  It was owned privately and rented by siblu  and it had everything you could possibly want for a self catering holiday.  It had 3 bedrooms - a small double with ensuite and two small rooms, both with single beds.  It was perfect for us (2 adults and 3 children) but I wouldn't recommend taking grandparents as it would mean adults sleeping in very small beds!

The main living area had comfy sofas, a table that seated six and an incredibly well equipped kitchen.   The outside decked area was spacious with two tables and numerous chairs - but lacked a BBQ.  Although you can access BBQ's in shared areas, it would be ideal if you had your own. It seemed ludicrous to us that on a self catering holiday in the sun, that a BBQ wasn't standard!! As it was, the kitchen was so well equipped we were cooking lobster and mussels without any problems, but your own BBQ would have been the icing on the cake. * see response from siblu below*

We soon settled into a routine of pool in the morning and exploring in the afternoon (separate blog post coming soon!) before heading home for some al fresco dining from produce bought in the day in local markets and drinks in the evening.  We only went to the organised entertainment twice over the week period as it is not really our thing but I have to say, the nights we did go (Kids Gala and Michael Jackson) I was pleasantly surprised.



The kids were in Nirvana.  Living in London they quite simply don't roam the streets or go to the park on their own.  I'd love LOVE to let them do this, but it doesn't feel quite right at the moment at the age of 8, 6 and 3.  They are ferried from club to school, and although I am far from a "helicopter parent", I don't feel secure enough to let them go on their own.  At siblu, they were like free range children - popping to the shops for a baguette, playing in the park ON THEIR OWN (even wee Pixie at 3 was taken by her elder brothers) and it felt safe and right.  

The swing park came into its own about 6pm at night - as parents cooked, the children played.  Ours were the only English ones but the international language of play transcended all barriers and fun was the objective irrespective of what language was your native tongue.

As HAW was on cooking duty, I quite often went and watched the kids and in the end, I was a bit like the pied piper and was teaching all the kids games such as "stuck in the mud" and "40/40".  It helped that I speak French and I revelled in the fact that the kids were immersed in a culture so different to our own at home.

The beach is a 15 minute walk away and is beautiful.  The sea was calm and warm and the beach wasn't busy.  There are no facilities though, so please take plenty of supplies!   There is a large hypermarket nearby and the market in town on a Sunday was fabulous with lots of well priced, local produce.

We can't recommend siblu enough - the kids had an absolute ball and although they only went into the kids club twice, they really enjoyed themselves.  I have to say, that the end of the week, HAW and I were happy to be moving on (ile de Re) NOT because it was bad, but we were ready for a change of scenery. 
The kids however, could have quite happily stayed for another week!


Positives

  • Kids had freedom to roam - In London they are "battery" kids but
  • Kids clubs were multi lingual and it was a joy to see the international language of play
  • Clean, well-equipped mobile homes with excellent equipment
  • Lifeguards in attendance - it's quite scary having three children of various swimming abilities running around various pools but the lifeguards were incredibly vigilant and this gave us a great sense of security
  • Shop on site that sold all the "basics" handy for when you run out of milk!
  • Close to a beautiful beach and lots to do further afield if you have a car
  • Reps on site for any queries and support
  • Superb value for money



Negatives

  • If arriving in the dark, you really need someone to guide you to your mobile home.  We spent nearly 40 minutes trying to navigate the one way system and poor map.
  • No BBQ 
  • "Bubbles" kid club needs an adult (ie YOU) in attendance.  This was a real negative as we were looking forward to an hour of total relaxation whilst the kids were in kids club.  As it was, we took it in turns but it would have been nice for HAW and I to relax together.


I've got a video review from Beansy coming up shortly, as well as a look around the area but if you want anymore information, then please do get in touch with me.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Disclaimer: We were fortunate enough to have our first week provided free of charge by siblu for the purposes of this review.  However, as always, this does not affect or influence my opinions which are all our own.

*Siblu's PR agency have let me know the following: "The restriction on BBQs at Pierres Couchees is down to local regulations, rather than our park rules. At most siblu villages BBQs are included with mobile homes, unfortunately we can't do this at Pierres Couchees"

19 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a lovely time. As a child, we spent all our summer holidays in France on campsites and, for us, the freedom to roam was a huge part of the reason we loved it. Growing up in the middle the city meant we didn't get the same type of freedom at home, but my mum and dad knew we were safe to explore with our friends within the confines of the campsite. It also meant they could relax outside the tent with a glass of wine, knowing we were having fun!

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  2. Thanks for commenting Molly - it was AWESOME and I love the fact the kids could roam free!!!!

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  3. Great info..... To the point and not full of waffle! What are you reviewing next?????

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  4. I've stayed with Siblu before in St Jean De Monts (Le Bois Masson) and we had our own BBQ there but to be honest we only used it 3-4 times over the fortnight (mainly due to the atrocious weather!). We'll be in Les Pierres Couchees in 3 weeks and I can't wait. It's the week the kids all go back to school, so perfect for a couple with no kids!

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  5. how wonderful Aoife - I'll be blogging on things to do in the area shortly so watch this space (secret, amazing beach for example ;-)

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  6. Well done - great review! How did you manage to get a week free - did you contact Siblu?

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