Hmmm a Ferry and a mobile home? I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about that.
I have fond memories of staying in a caravan in the South of France at about 5yrs old and it being a crazy fun holiday, so we decided to take a chance and accepted the offer to go to Normandy to try out Domaine De Litteau, which is one of the Siblu mobile home holiday sites.
Last year we went on our first ever family summer holiday and were shocked at the prices, as I steadfastly refused to pay the ridiculous sums of money being requested.
At last we found something I thought was reasonably priced, but I met loads of people on holiday who had been really unfairly overcharged because they had more than 2 children (i.e. double the price because they had to buy TWO studio apartments when they only needed one).
So I was really interested as a more affordable holiday option for families; especially those with young children who want inter-connecting rooms or who have more than 2 children and don’t want their holiday prices doubled.
Verdict – 7.5/10
Value for money: Brilliant. These holidays are especially good for families who want their children near them when they are sleeping or have more than 2 kids. You would normally get penalised for interconnecting rooms or having more than 4 of you, but that’s not the case at Siblu.
Beaches: INCREDIBLE. I’ve never seen such amazing, empty, long, sandy beaches in my life. Nice and shallow for the kids to play/paddle in as well. Warm enough when the water comes back in to swim in, just. Apparently it doesn’t get too full when the french go on holiday in a few days time either. BUT the beaches are 30 mins away, which was tricky with our kids.
The best spot is if you head to Omaha Beach, just to the right of the big silver pointy statue/memorial, near the food shack and life guard station.
Veuille Sure Mer gets really cramped when the tide comes in, so only good when it goes back out again.
We went to Arramanche one day, but it’s much more commercial, so headed out to Courseilles Sur Mer, which is less tidy, but has fun sand dunes and lots of people sailing/wind surfing and a great food shack.
Swimming Pool: Brilliant and hardly ever too packed as it’s not really somewhere that people stay all day. It’s covered (the sides are removed when its hot), so usable whatever the weather and has a toddler area. The BEST BIT was the water slide which did NOT go into the pool (which terrifies me from a safety perspective). Instead, the slide is separate from the pool and I think therefore much safer.
Weather: perfect for young kids or active kids or people who like to go out and investigate without broiling i.e. it’s not massively hot and can be unreliable. In fact I met several families in the second week who had been further south at another park and felt a huge sense of relief to come to a cooler site.
Journey: It’s only 40 minutes from Caen, so great for us with Little Dimples who pukes on long car journeys.
Food: We ate at the bar a couple of times and it was really good value for money (7€ for a meal), good food, just could have done with salad or more green vegetables for me. They were rubbish at advertising what was available though.
Shop: The shop is small, but good for emergencies. There is a supermarket near by.
Dress Code: Very relaxed, even in the evening. Plus if you are worried about wearing a bikini, you really don’t need to; French women eat cake too; lots of it and their bikinis are atrocious!
Forest: We went for a couple of walks in the forest which was lovely (and cool) and they also do organised nature trails.
Meeting other people: I’ve discovered that I NEED chats with people, and I pretty much don’t care who with (although my best chat was with a young teenager about writing and what would the world be like if the Germans had won WW2). It’s easy in a hotel when you all go down for breakfast at the same time, and sit around the same pool. But it’s more tricky at Domaine De Litteau as all the facilities are at the entrance and the caravans spread out away from it up a hill. If like me you need people, then you’ll need to make an effort to go to the Pirate evenings and meet other parents. It will just take a bit longer.
Which mobile home: I would definitely recommend you go for one with a veranda as the weather in Normandy is unreliable (So an elegance or excellence van). I don’t think that air conditioning is really important as it cooled down by 11pm, so if money is tight don’t worry about that. If you would like to sit outside, or have napping toddlers or young kids who might want to play games, I would phone and request if possible a van with a good sized plot.
Noise: You can spookily hear people in the next van when the kids are running around and french babies seem to cry a lot. But it all settles down pretty early by 11pm and didn’t stop my kids from sleeping at all. We hardly heard anything in the second week. Domaine De Litteau is a very quiet site at the moment, I hope they maintain this as they grow and don’t add in the day long music I’ve heard is at the pool at one of the other sites.
: The kids club staff were great, maybe not as warm as the Cypriots from last year, but then they seemed to be only warm with kids and grumpy with the rest of the world (sorry for the generalisation!). Some staff seemed a bit dippy or relaxed, but Carol who was in charge of the cleaning was brilliant and a great help, and the life guards seemed very aware (there was a dodgy review on trip advisor about them from last year).
Kids Entertainment: Curly Headed Boy discovered the kids club a few days in for the Talent show and was hooked! He didn’t seem to mind that in the first week he was the only english boy at all (lots in second week). There are often Pirate shows in the evenings, less professional that the other sites, but still really fun, and a special Talent show evening once a week.
Growth in future: Over the next few years they will be adding more caravans up to 500 (It’s 250 now), increasing the size of the pool, adding a little supermarket, changing the entrance to a safer location, adding 2 more kids clubs, and a restaurant. Lots of those things will be great, and a little more organisation might be nice. But at the same time I hope they hold onto the laid back feel that they have now. I talked to someone who has owned a van for years, and they were really keen on the changes. It’s brilliantly maintained, and I’m sure that they will keep it beautifully.
In general: It’s a very relaxed, slightly disorganised, but charming site, perfect if you don’t want to drive too far, like visiting interesting sites, and don’t want to be too hot.
Curly Headed Boy’s Review
He didn’t want to be missed out, so he’s made you this little video to show you what it all looked like!
Sadly our trip was marred by Little Dimples being sick for the majority of it. I was exhausted before we even got there, and then hurt my back really badly. There was a short remission after a trip to the doctor half way through and then she seemed to get sick again and the big hairy northern one hurt his back too.
It meant that I was stuck to the caravan for lots of the trip and unfortunately although we had one with a veranda we had one of the few that had very little out door space. I should have asked for us to be moved, but I was too tired and didn’t think of it.
I wasn’t comfortable sitting outside the van because the space was so squashed, so I got a bit bored and stir-crazy. To be fair, the majority of the pitches I looked at had loads of outdoor space, we were just unlucky.
Curly Headed Boy LOVED kids club and the pool, but it did cause a logistical nightmare though, trying to fit in visits to other places, beach trips and Little Dimples’ naps. Next year it would be much easier.
Kids LOVE caravans, so it’s pretty much an immediate winner for them; although being ill Little Dimples did ask to go home regularly *sad face* (and is now asking to go back; typical!).
The 3/4 days that we did get to the beach I loved. Kids just seem to play so naturally on a beach and I relax loads more.
I also went for aqua-aerobics a couple of times just to get some time to myself and discovered a new found respect for this much scoffed at exercise.
We also went to see the American cemetery at Omaha Beach which was really amazing. The museum was great too, although not a long trip.
There was tonnes more to get out and see like the Bayeaux Tapestry, but sadly we didn’t make it. We tried to see the english cemetery at Bayeaux, but it’s very different from the American one, with no parking nearby (you park at the museum that we had already driven past). It was about to p*ss it down and the kids were grumpy, so I compromised with just looking as we drove past.
Extras to Buy
Linen pack: let them provide the bedding, rather than fill your car to the brim!
Towel pack: You’ll get towels for the pool and shower.
Verandah: if you can afford it, very worthwhile.
Air conditioning: Probably not necessary, but maybe if you really hate any possibility of being hot.
What To Bring
Two fleeces each: one can get sandy that way! I brought just one and regretted it.
Tracksuit bottoms: great for after the beach when it’s chilly.
Pair of shorts: great for going to the beach or pool.
Two swimming costumes: so you don’t have to wear a wet one.
Proper PJ’s: It gets cool at night.
Jeans for cooler days and trips out.
Evening: casual, jeans, nothing very dressy, no heals.
Crocs: My peep toe crocs that were given to me with my ‘Inspire’ Britmums award were AMAZING!!! I hated crocs before, but they are fab and the normal ones are great for the kids on the beach.
Food: You could go without. But it’ll save you shopping time if you bring a few essentials: Tomatoe Ketchup, Washing Up Liquid, Washing powder, Bleach for loos, Loo Roll, Soap, Pesto, Pasta, Tea, sugar, and anything your kids insist on having.
Wind break and beach tent: Really useful, especially with Little Dimples needing a mid-afternoon nap. We also brought the Radio Flyer wagon for the beach and walking to and from the caravan.
Toys: iPads for journeys and incase the kids get sick, colouring stuff and pens (we made loo roll people one afternoon), Bananagrams, Duplo, Snap. Buy Boules and sand castle stuff at the supermarket there (no shops on the beach). There are plenty of plug sockets if you are geeks too and need to bring gadgets.
These are not comprehensive, but I was wondering how the prices match up. I did some research between Siblu and Key Camp etc beforehand and apparently they are very similar. So I checked what 2 adults, 3 children aged 2,6 and 13 would cost at a couple of different locations over 7 nights from Sat Aug 11th 2012.
Siblu – Domaine De Litteau – £616 + Ferry (with Cabin) £610 = Total £1216 (Remember to add petrol driving to Portsmouth and 60mins from Caen, and you could do a cheaper ferry trip)
Center Parcs – Elveden Forest – £1858 (monday-monday)
Butlins – Bognor Regis – Self catering apartment – £1658
Would I Go Again?
I would definitely do a caravan holiday again.
I definitely loved the peace and quiet and space of Normandy; I’m friendly, but not that friendly and don’t really want your towel next to mine, sorry! I’d love to see more of the sites there as well, as they seemed to have real significance to life.
I was worried about Siblu being ‘cheap’, but there’s nothing tacky, nasty, dirty, or horrid there, which I was worried about. It’s clean, pretty organised and beautifully maintained.
But I would like a beach nearer and a bit more sun.
I gave it 7.5/10 because I took off a point for the beach being so far away, a point for the lack of grass around my van, and half a point for slight disorganisation; it could definitely be an 8.5/10.
I’d also like them to add the option to pay extra to not have to clean the caravan at the end. I know they don’t expect a full clean, and I wasn’t planning on leaving it like a mess, but it would take a bit of stress out of leaving. Oh and rent one of the vans out to someone offering massage and reflexology next year please!
So I reckon I would compromise and go to one of the other further southern locations for a week, where my friends kids spent the whole time in the water park, or where you could cycle to the beach. Then I would come up to Normandy and Domaine De Litteau for the last week, more of a chill, swimming, kids clubs and visits to interesting places.
If you would love a holiday, would really like to go to France, don’t want it terribly hot, would like amazing beaches, kids clubs and great places to visit then I can highly recommend Domaine De litteau. For more heat and more facilities go for a bigger Siblu site further south.
If you have young kids or can flex on dates, then avoid July-August, maybe even go in June for the D Day landings. The prices drop are more than 50% off and you pretty much get the same holiday, maybe with more jeans, less shorts and even more chilling.
Disclosure: I was given a return ferry trip by Brittany Ferries and week at the Domaine De Litteau site from Siblu holidays for the family. We added an extra week ourselves. This didn’t affect my review and my opinions are my own.