Family holiday review: self-catering in the Loire Valley, France

If you prefer doing things in your own time, in your own way, then a self-catering holiday could be just right for you and your little ones

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Samuel loved going ‘fishing’ on l’Anglin river

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The house was set among fields of sunflowers

“The Brenne regional park in the Loire Valley region of France was the perfect rural setting for a self-catering family holiday with my partner, Nicky, 36, and our son Samuel, 2½.

“After a six-hour drive from Boulogne we were met at the beautiful restored farmhouse by the caretakers Linda and Sami, a friendly couple who handed over the keys and showed us how everything worked. The property sleeps eight adults, with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, downstairs toilet, three reception rooms and a huge kitchen/dining room.

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“There’s also a cot and a high chair for younger children. Mod cons include central heating, a range cooker, two fridge-freezers, washer/dryer, and even a satellite TV system with UK channels.

“The biggest bonus was the pool set in the huge garden. It’s not heated but with the temperature reaching 26˚C (in September!) it was perfect. Linda told us it had reached a frightening 36˚C in August – worth bearing in mind if you have small children.

So what to do in the area with a toddler in tow? Well, plenty as it turned out. Four miles east was the picturesque village of St. Gaultier with restaurants and plenty of shops, and a Carrefour supermarket for the essentials. Ten miles the other way is Le Blanc, a much busier old town, but our best days were spent in the wild.

“Just north of Le Blanc is the Réserve da la Haute-Touche, a vast wildlife park set in a forest, with 130 species of animals. The first part is drive-through and for the second part we hired bikes for €3 an hour, with a carrier seat and helmet for Samuel. Then there was the L’ile aux Serpents in La Trimouille, south of Le Blanc, with 60 species of reptile and water mammal. Samuel loved both of them.”

Holiday highlight

“At the pretty town of Bélâbre, again just south of Le Blanc, we hired a rowing boat and spent a peaceful afternoon on the l’Anglin river, with Samuel ‘fishing’ and shouting instructions. The sun was hot, the river was mirror flat and we had a quick picnic before heading back to base. Samuel spent all night telling us about it so we did it again the next day, this time in a kayak. Boat hire costs €3 an hour.”

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Essential info

The prices for Ferme de Campagne start at £1210 per week and go up to £1830 in peak season. There’s also a £600 credit card damage deposit. Quality Villas offers a range of properties throughout France. Visit www.qualityvillas.com for more information or call 01442 870055.

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