Family holiday review: Pierre & Vacances, Cote d’Azure

A family holiday village near Nice offers on-site entertainment with a flavour of the South of France

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Tested by: Justine Holman, 43 and her husband, Stuart, 44, with their two daughters, Freya, 10 and Scarlett, 7

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Holiday: 3-night activity holiday in the Cap Esterel Holiday Village, South of France

In a nutshell: Easy and relaxing break with everything you need on-site, from food to activities

What Justine and family thought

Think of the Cote d’Azur and it’s likely to conjure up images of glamorous Cannes and unaffordable Nice. Not the perfect place to take young children who won’t be wowed by the sights nor behave particularly well in a chic bar.

So could a Pierre & Vacances holiday village offer a compromise; activities for the kids and nice views and Moules for the adults? Based at Cap Esterel, an hour’s drive along the coast from Nice, first impressions are promising.

Set within 518 acres and offering spectacular views of Agay Bay, the village boasts self-catering apartments, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, a golf course and some 40 activities.

Our second floor apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an all-in-one kitchen/dining/living room. It’s basic, well-equipped and obviously geared towards guests not spending too much time indoors.

Swimming pools

The biggest draw for our girls is the huge swimming pool. It has a water slide, an hourly wave machine and a diving board. A nearby playground and small village train however could keep younger kids entertained once they’ve tired of swimming.

Restaurants

The restaurants are grouped above the pool area and serve everything from French classics to Mexican food. There are the obligatory pastas for the kids and we discover that some restaurants do take-away pizza. On the first night this was a perfect meal option. After a very early flight, the thought of cooking or waiting for the restaurants to open at 7pm, didn’t appeal to any of us.

Supermarket

If you don’t mind cooking there is an on-site supermarket.  It’s well-stocked but avoid our mistake, check weekend opening times – early closing on Sunday caught us by surprise (and without milk for breakfast).

Kids Club

There is great Kids Club provision if you’d like a bit of time off, although you obviously pay extra for all the childcare options. Children aged from 3 months to 17 years can be catered for. There’s even a Secret Agent Club, DJ Lessons and a Magic Club run during specific holidays. At peak times it is recommended that you book all in advance.

Our children picked horse-riding and circus skills as their extra activities, which ultimately prove to be the highlights of the trip. You’ll need a car to drive to the pony club (Poney-Club de I’Esterel which is situated in a nearby forest. The girls trot, gallop and jump for 90-minutes before declaring they’ve had a ball.

The circus skills are a triumph too. With a specialist area set up to look over the bay, they spend two hours hanging upside down on a trapeze, learning the art of tight-rope walking and balancing on various balls and each other. It’s serious fun.

Final thoughts

At the end of the trip, we realise it’s been an easy, relaxing holiday. We left the resort just a couple of times to grab an ice-cream from nearby Agay but for the most part the girls were happily entertained for hours. I’ve even read a book. A sign of things to come? I’m hoping so.

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