We booked last minute and so our holiday details were sent to us straight away. We were out when the details were sent and had to go around our local postal sorting office to collect the booking pack. I was pleasantly surprised at how big the packages were. Each car was provided with a canvas folder containing information about driving in Europe, as well as maps of Europe and the local area near the site. The packs even included a pack of playing cards. Our baby daughter also received a baseball cap and a window shade, although she was a little young for the hat the pack was designed for children up-to 2 years old.
The drive was expected to take about 3 hours in the UK and about the same in France, with a 1hour 45minute break for the ferry journey. We were a little concerned about how long our baby would be in the car seat and looked at the alternatives. We did not have a carry cot as we'd already purchased a Graco travel system before deciding upon the trip. We did look at the possibility of buying a carry cot, but it would have cost about £150, would not be used much after the one trip, and would have added even more to the amount of luggage required for the baby.
In the end we just used the car seat from the travel system, but we had regular breaks during which we took the baby completely out of the car seat until we were ready to leave again.
The drive to Dover was uneventful (apart from the usual busy Monday morning traffic), but the ferry to Calais was delayed due to a damaged berth in Calais. We sailed with P&O Ferries from Dover to Calais. We had planned to have lunch on the ferry and went to the canteen style food area, where we fed the baby and ate ourselves. The hot food available was, Fish and Chips, a Mild Chicken Curry, or a meat pie (I do not remember what the vegetarian option was). The food was not particularly nice, but was reasonably priced (we decided against eating on the ferry on the way back). There was an alternative restaurant on the ferry, but there was a big price jump and we did not want to pay for an expensive restaurant meal at lunchtime.
Driving through France went OK, although by the time we arrived at the site it was getting dark. We drove past the site once as we were expecting to see a Keycamp sign, rather than a generic camping sign. This is the first time that I've stayed at a site that had several different companies in the same location.
I use a GPS when travelling (see: Software Review: ViaMichelin Europe - GPS Software for Palm / Pocket PC), and would therefore find it useful if GPS co-ordinates were included in directions. For the La Croix du Vieux Pon Site (near Berny-Riviere, Paris), the entrance is at:
4°24.389' N 3°7.7117' E
We met up with a keycamp rep and was shown to our caravan. We had no problem parking two cars at the caravan, despite vague information on the website. I'm not sure if this would have been different during peak season, but there was space to park two cars with one slightly over the grass. The caravan overlooked the lake (the other side of an internal roadway), and was enclosed on 3 sides by hedges, which made it feel private, much better than row after row of caravans with no privacy.
The caravan was quite nice. It was clean and had the facilities that you would expect, although there was no TV. We did have one problem with the caravan that never got resolved whilst we were at the site, despite it being reported to the keycamp rep. The caravan's power supply was fed through a 6 amp circuit breaker outside the caravan. This was completely inadequate and tripped a large number of times whilst we were there, particularly when the microwave oven was being used. The first time occurred during our first night in the caravan, fortunately I carry a small torch on my keyring and have a large torch in the car, and after some searching we were able to find the circuit breaker and restore the power. We needed the microwave a lot as we used it to sterilise our babies bottles. Almost everytime we used the microwave the circuit tripped. Sometimes it needed to be reset twice during the sterilising of a set of bottles.
The maintenance person acknowledged that the circuit breaker was underpowered, it had obviously tripped before, but was not optimistic about getting it upgraded. Whilst it may be the site owners responsibility to fit the circuit breaker Keycamp should have put more pressure on them to get this fixed.
- Part 1: Travelling with a Baby: Before the holiday
- Part 2: Travelling with a Baby: Travelling by Car and staying in a Caravan
- Part 3: Travelling with a Baby: Travelling around paris by RER, the Metro and Push chair
- Part 4: Travelling with a Baby: Disneyland Paris