In light of Ireland's first Center Parcs opening in Longford this week I'm going to give you all the low down on life at Center Parcs. Firstly, they are all very similar. This review will focus on Centre Parcs du bois aux daims in France. As a child I stayed in Centre Parcs across the UK and to say they are a step up from the mobile home park experience is an understatement. They are also a lot more expensive.
We recently took our kids to Du Bois aux Daims. Situated in Poitiers, France it's about a 4hr Drive from the Ferry. We have never been put off by ferry journeys and I actually find it comforting to be able to bring the children's car seats blankies and tedddies all thrown in on the back seat and not having to trail through an airport with toddlers can be a relief. On board there is always kids entertainment and small soft play areas. We tend to go on late afternoon sailings so it's nearly time for bed after dinner and the entertainment and nearly time to disembark after breakfast the following morning. And what child doesn't love a bunk bed...
Accommodation at the park comes in many forms. two bed to four bed Lodges including tree top houses. Some with saunas, hot tubs and even games rooms. If you have a pony lover you can even get a lodge with your own pony for the whole stay.
The outdoor furniture was high quality as was the lodge itself with whirlpool bath, coffee machine, comfy couches etc. We had deer visiting behind our lodge every morning as we sat out to breakfast (you may have to eat breakfast indoors a bit more in Longford).
All Ceter Parcs resorts (except for the one outside Disney in Paris) are very remote. The idea is you do (and spend) everything within the resort. Cars are left at central car parks and the forests are car free zones. Bikes are the main means of transport and can be rented on site including trailers and baby carriers. We stayed for two weeks in France and the bikes were nearly €300. At least if you go to Longford, it's easier to bring your own and save on the ferry trip. The parks are large so you do really need a bike to get around.
Centre Parcs really do provide indoor and outdoor activities. The sub tropical swimming pools, play grounds and indoor softplay are the free activities. Everything else incurs costs.
Multiple playgrounds are dotted all around their forest parks so you do need the bikes if you want to do a playground safari!
The indoor softplay was a massive hit and good shelter from sun or rain. There are quite a few paid for attractions there too like the electric cars and the trampoline even comes at a cost. There is enough to do without paying but it's hard to say no to happy faces!
As I mentioned, These resorts are strategically placed so there isn't much else in the vicinity. As a result you are likely to eat on site for every meal. Dinners were reasonably priced and there was an italian, pancake house, grill, buffet and take aways. I have never had a beautiful meal in any of the Center Parcs restaurants but the food is fine... Think Chain style restaurant quality.
If you have any questions about Center Parcs in Longford or abroad, just ask me!