Q Do you have any ideas for an adventurous two-week family summer break, on a budget of £1,500, travelling with children aged seven and 12?
Sarah Barrell, associate editor, National Geographic Traveller: How about southwest France? Driving there’s the hardy holidaymaker’s option, but direct rail services from London to Avignon or Montpellier allow the whole family to be passengers, and put you in dashing distance of adventurous summer holiday terrain from just £121 return per adult, £108 per child (via loco2.com; or book now to avoid paying over the odds for no-frills flights). Stay at Château de Boisson, a serviced campsite not far inland set around a 15th-century castle, complete with swimming pools, reasonably-priced shops and restaurants, kids’ activities and little cottages to rent, from around £400 per week in August (plus much cheaper camping pitches if you carry your own kit; possible on the train with no baggage restrictions). yellohvillage.co.uk
Or, from Montpellier railway station, hire a car (from around £10 a day with various operators), and drive a couple of hours inland to Trébas-les-Bains in the Tarn Valley. Kayak, swim in mountaintop lakes and sunbathe around the beaches of this deep river gorge. Stay at the basic but stunningly set Résidence La Marquisié, where chalets sleeping four cost from £159 per week. madamevacances.co.uk
The Tarn Valley is famed for its milk, cheese, beef and veal, and local restaurants feature these superlative products in hearty menus. Returning to Montpelier, you could explore the beautiful beaches just south of the city before hopping on the train home.
Rhonda Carrier, regular contributor, National Geographic Traveller – Family: Your children are the ideal age for a family activity holiday — a great chance to bond and for you all to learn new things together in the great outdoors.
Check out Real Family Holidays, which runs holidays for those with children aged 3–16 years in UK locations ranging from the Devon coast to a Scottish island. At Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire, for instance, organised activities include crabbing, map skills, campfire socials, night walks and team challenges. A week in August 2018 for a family of four costs £840 including accommodation, all meals and one activity per day.
Going abroad is more of a challenge on this budget, but if you take your own tent to France, Eurocamp Independent offers a choice of campsites with pitches from around just £550 for two full weeks. You also get advantageous rates on ferry crossings, leaving you plenty of spare change for petrol, food and activities. real-family-holidays.org coastalstay.co.uk
Published in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)