This is the first part of the review of our family holiday to Paris during spring 2012.
Why Eurocamp Paris International Caravan holiday?
Having visited Disneyland Paris with our children on several occasions. Most recently having a Christmas holiday at the Disneyland Paris Cheyenne Hotel, but the last time I took my daughter into Paris (before my son was born), was when she was very young (Travelling around Paris with a small baby). Last time we went to Disneyland we had planned to visit Paris as well, but due to poor weather we had not done so.
We had decided that for our next trip to Paris instead of staying at Disneyland Paris we would stay in or near Paris itself and would visit Disneyland for a day trip rather than the other way around.
I started our search for a holiday looking for reasonably priced hotel with a family room in central Paris. I was not able to find one that met our needs. I therefore decided to look at what Eurocamp had near to Paris as we had a good holiday last year with Eurocamp in Holland at Wassenaar and Beekse Bergen.
We found the Paris International Campsite. The site is located near to a train station with a direct train into Paris and then onwards to Disneyland Paris which sounded ideal. As this was outside of Paris we decided to drive which also kept the cost of the holiday down. The cost of our 5 night holiday including ferry was less then I believe it would have cost for flights alone if we had decided to fly, and only slightly more than we spent on entrance Tickets to Disneyland Paris.
Travelling to France (Dover to Calais) and driving to Paris International camp site
We booked the ferry crossing as part of the holiday booking with Eurocamp. There are lots of crossing during the day. We chose a fairly early crossing to Paris at 8.25am so as to arrive at the site during mid afternoon. As it is a quite a long drive from our house we travelled down the day before and had a day out in Dover visiting Dover Castle and staying at the Holiday Inn Express at Folkstone.
We did have an unfortunate incident where we took our car through a car wash, which pulled off a chunk off the rear of the car. Fortunately it was not enough to prevent us driving the car and so it didn't stop our holiday, although we were worried it may have done when it first happened. I've certainly learned a lesson from that and will not be using an automated car wash in future!
The instructions advised us to arrive at the Ferry crossing at least an hour before we were due to sail. We arrived about an hour and 20 minutes before which was just before they started loading the earlier ferry. There was spare capacity on that crossing and so when we checked-in at the ferry port we were asked if we would like to take the earlier crossing which we did. This was good as it meant we didn't have to sit and wait in the car at Dover waiting for the loading to commence.
We stopped a few times on the drive to the site for toilet and refreshments. There are two types of services on the France motorways, some are basic with just a toilet and picnic area, but the ones we stopped at were full service with fuel, shop and restaurants.There is a toll on the Motorway. A ticket is collected from the start of the toll area which is then handed in at the end and an appropriate charge made. I think the toll was about €25 or so.
Eurocamp Paris International camp site
We arrived at the site a little after 2.30 just before we could check-in at 3.00pm.
After a exploring the site and playing on the playground our courier arrived and showed us to the caravan. The caravan was nice and fairly well maintained. It didn't come across as being particularly new due to a few defects (eg. Windows that had been screwed shut because of broken locks), but was in reasonable condition and clean. It did include a decking area, but unfortunately this particular site did not permit BBQs, which was a shame.
As a return customer there was a complimentary bottle of wine waiting in the caravan which was a nice touch.
The site is next to the river Seine and very close to a RER train line into Paris. The brochure had warned about potential noise due to barges on the river and trains, but we hardly heard anything by our caravan. The trains may have been louder further up the site, but didn't cause us any problems. There is a take-a-way / restaurant on the site which is open in the evenings. We had takeaway pizza one evening. The on-site shop was very poorly stocked and expensive. We bought the essentials that we had to from there, but there is a better shop and supermarket in Maisons Laffitte which is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the site, where we tended to get most things on our way back from the train station.
There was little / no entertainment on the site, but there was a selection of indoor games and sports equipment that could be borrowed from the couriers. We even borrowed a couple of games from the friendly courier at Keycamp, located next door to the Eurocamp courier. As a base to explore Paris it is good, but there wasn't much to keep you occupied if spending a significant time of the holiday on-site.
For our holiday it turned out to be ideal and good value for money.
In the subsequent posts I'll be providing details of travelling into and around Paris by train and metro, and the train to Disneyland Paris.