Chateau and family-friendly don't often go together, but they do at Le Castel in Normandy.
Le Castel introduced all-inclusive holidays for families in 2011 and they have proved to be a huge success.
The idea is the mums and dads get luxury accommodation while kids just have fun in a relaxed environment - during summer we only take families, so there is no need to worry about upsetting other guests. There is also no more sitting in a hotel room from 6pm when you put the kids to bed - you can be downstairs enjoying an adults only dinner while the kids sleep safely in your TWO bedroomed suite.
We are now taking bookings for 2017 (see Pricing and Availability page in menu on the right) We take a lot of bookings over a year in advance.
All pricing for all inclusive holidys is in £ sterling as the vast majority of our guests are British. However, payment can be made in sterling or euro.
Le Castel is not a five star hotel but we offer a great standard of accommodation and the idea is that you should feel like you are staying with friends..with some child care thrown in! It is all meant to be very friendly and relaxed.
Our all inclusive holidays
Chateau all inclusive packages for families during the Easter, May half term and summer school holidays. Peak prices from £1,500 to £2,800 sterling for a family of three or four – includes accommodation for a week in a luxurious two bedroomed suite, evening meals each day except Thursday, drinks (soft beverages, wine and beer), organised play sessions on most days for children aged 3 to 12 (children are all different so often we will look after younger ones if they are happy being away from Mum). Additional children £175 for a week. Packages run from Saturday to Saturday in the chateau. Lunches are not included as most families go out exploring.
Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph and Co love us
Le Castel featured in the Sunday Times on February 6 when it was voted one of the best child friendly places in France.
The Guardian voted us one of the top 20 family friendly places in the world in October 2011. A review of Le Castel also appeared in The Guardian in Feb 2012
See our Press page for more details and other coverage.
The Daily Telegraph voted us one of the top familly friendly hotels in France in 2008.
The all-inclusive holidays offer:
*7 nights accommodation in a two bedroomed suite or cottage
*All evening meals (except Thursdays), including children’s meals at 5pm most days followed by adult only suppers or dinner later. Lunches are not included.
* Drinks, including wine by the glass, beer, soft beverages, juices, milk, water.
* Free ice cream and lollies. Fruit, fromage frais, and yoghurts are also available. Bread and pastries are usually on the kitchen table...unless you have eaten them all at breakfast!
*Children's organised play sessions on some days so parents can either have a lie in or simply read a book in peace. Parents must remain on the premises, but you can put your feet up and relax! Children must generally be 3, but we often make exceptions to this rule if younger children are happy to join in the sessions. Sessions are usually run by a qualified nursery nurse, who is also a mum of young kids.
Each family suite or cottage has a box of toys and children’s books. There is also a library in the chateau with UK telly, DVDs, books games.
Outside the children will find:
Swimming pool (summer only) - 5.5 metre above ground circular pool, 1.2 m deep. Now heated for July and August (but rarely gets to more than 23 degrees due to some new fangled aero thingy heating)
Camelot style play marquee (summer only) with learning toys and soft toys for nippers. Nearly 80 square metres of soft play area. There are loads of Fisher Price and Tomy toys for toddlers. There are also little tractors and scooters. Please bring your own helmets.
Small bouncy castel
Climbing frame with swings, slide, rock wall, tower etc
Swings dotted around the 3 acres of grounds
Woodland den with loads of planks, tree trunks and branches that can be rearranged as much as the kids like. One lad even turned it into a theatre.
Dauphin suite: This consists of two interconnecting ensuite rooms which take up all of the second floor – a massive 76 square metres of space. Mum and Dad’s room has a king-sized draped bed plus a claw foot bath set in the window with views over the grounds – perfect for a long soak. There are also a couple of easy chairs and an ensuite toilet.
The kids’ room has three single beds and a sofa that can be turned into a fourth bed. There is a large ensuite shower room plus a small area with a microwave and kettle to make drinks and snacks or warm baby food.
Emperor’s suite: Two luxurious rooms on the first floor with great views of the grounds from 3m high windows. Mum and Dad’s room is called Napoleon and has a draped double bed and sofa plus desk. The kids get the Josephine room with two single beds. The two rooms share a large shower room and we can put a baby bath in for you if required. There is also a kitchenette with a microwave and kettle to make drinks and snacks or warm baby food. The kitchenette has been designed so that it can become a third bedroom for a child on a fold up bed.
The Roi suite: This is our most elegant suite. It consists of the massive Marie Antoinette room for Mum and Dad plus the silk lined Louis room for the kids. Between the two rooms is a lounge area with a sofa. There is also a kitchen so you can make snacks whenever you want.
The Marie Antoinette room has a large draped double bed (with a footboard - so not great for those over 6ft 3in) , sofa, desk and an ensuite bathroom. The Louis room has twin beds plus a small sofa that can become a bed. There is an ensuite shower room.
The kitchen has a fridge, microwave, kettle and baby bottle steriliser.
Need even more space? Well the Roi and Emperor’s suite can be linked together to make a four bedroomed flat with a kitchen diner. The Napoleon room can be converted into a large lounge if required. Price depends on the number of guests.
The Comte suite - a much smaller suite for parents with just one child or an escape area for Granny and Grandpa. . It has a little lounge and a small double bedroom with ensuite bathroom. It is on the ground floor and is small but perfectly formed. It was designed for Granny and Grandpa but is also suitable for a family with one or two children.
The Comte suite costs £1,350 for Granny and Grandpa for a week all inclusive.
it costs £1,500 for a family with one child under 3 (no child care included)
The Comte suite costs £1,600 for a family with one child aged over 3.
The cottages: There are two self catering cottages which each have two bedrooms. They are more rustic than the chateau but very comfortable. There are exposed walls, old beams and wooden floors. They are 50 metres from the chateau. Some weeks they can be rented on an all inclusive basis at £1,800 for a family of four. Cottages rent Sunday to Sunday.
Other things you might like:
* Treat yourself to a lie in – send the kids (generally over 3s) down from 8.30am and we will amuse them until you come down for breakfast.
*Drop the kids (generally over 3s) back at 4pm and we will amuse them and feed them before returning them to you around 6pm so you can pop them into bed. Older children can use the play marquee. At least one parent must remain at Le Castel during child minding. No play sessions Wednesday afternoon as it is a combined family meal, no sessions morning or afternoonon on Thursdays or Saturdays.
*There is a communal laundry room with washer and dryer for those little emergency washes. It is not available on Saturdays, Sundays or Mondays (it is Jon's second home on those days!)
*Our all-inclusive family holidays are aimed at children aged up to 8, but we have everything you need for babies and older children are also very welcome.
*We have family friendly suggestions for seeing Mont St Michel, the Bayeux Tapestry and the D Day beaches. We can also send you on a food tour, which includes a snail farm, a bee place, fois gras farm, cheese factory (oh, and adult only apple juice!).
*Deserted beaches are 20 minutes away and we can pack a picnic for you (charges apply). Otherwise you can go to the Victorian seaside resort of Granville
*We can offer you a discount on crossings with Brittany Ferries to Caen or Cherbourg, which are both an hour from us.
How the week works:
Arrive from 3pm and have afternoon cuppa (or a glass of wine or a beer if you prefer!).
5.30pm Welcome evening with parents and kids, so everyone can get to know each other and swap travel stories. Tuck into slow roasted belly of pork, sausages etc. There will generally be four to six families at Le Castel. We always sell out in the main summer holidays but there may be fewer families at other times.
Breakfast 8am to 10am. Kids play session 4pm to 6pm followed by a family buffet meal with guests from the cottages joining in.
Monday and Tuesday:
Breakfast 8-10am. Send the kids down from 8.30am and we will look after them (not Thursday or Saturday), while Mum (and maybe Dad) have a lie in...or go back to bed!!
5pm – kids meals or drop them off at 4pm and we will amuse them and feed them until 6pm. There will be an array of activities in the play marquee or the kitchen - including finger painting , games, decorating cakes, making pizza etc.
8pm – two course supper for adults. Usually we do one table for the adults.
On Wednesday afternoon there is no organised play session, which means you can do a longer day trip.. if you are brave enough!
We do a combined kids and adult meal at 6.30pm - hopefully in the garden or on the terrace. Usually it is a curry and pasta buffet
We go on strike! Afraid we only offer breakfast today and no child care (we need a rest too!), but we can recommend family friendly restaurants.
Back to normal with breakfast and child care, but on Friday there is a lovely five course dinner for Mum and Dad.
No child care in the morning as check out is 10am. It's time for tears as the kids say goodbye to their new friends...there's often a few tears.
Please note that guests on the all inclusive deal in the cottage holiday from Sunday to Sunday, rather than Saturday to Saturday.
OK, what’s the kids’ food like?
Kids’ meals tend to be pretty simple and we have included a few less healthy options – we reckon they are on holiday and should have a few treats. However, please let us know if you want little Johnny and Tabitha to have healthier choices or vegetarian options.
All meals are served with salad, grated carrot, thinly sliced cucumber, cous cous, bread etc.
Typical dishes are:
Chicken, Pizza, Normandy sausage and mash.
Puddings will include ice cream (of course!) plus cakes and pastries that the kids may well have helped make themselves. Fruit will always be available.
We tried introducing some grown up type meals for the kids, but they failed miserably with most of the youngsters!
Please let us know of any birthdays and we will arrange cakes, balloons, sparklers etc
…and what about our food?
We will be serving suppers on five nights and a five course dinner on the Friday. The house white, red and rose wine will be flowing freely along with beers and local cider. A more extended wine list is available at additional cost...but no-one seems to bother.
All our meals are designed so that they do not spoil very much if you are having problems getting your children to bed. Suppers tend to be hearty rather than fine dining, but we up our game on Fridays with a 5 course dinner.
Suppers are two courses (but you can also add cheese if you wish). They include French favourites and a few international ones.
Beef bourguignon, veal parcels, confit of duck, slow roasted belly of pork..and an Indian curry buffet one night!
Some nights will include a starter while other nights it will be desert.
Can the kids eat with us?
Generally, 8pm onwards is adult only time at Le Castel. However, it is not a problem if bleary eyed or crying children come down during dinner.
Most parents love the adult only suppers and dinners, but some prefer to eat with their children. This is always possible if you are happy to eat around 5.15pm and have a meal similar to the kids. Also, if the other two or three families staying at Le Castel agree, then family meals can be offered at a time to suit you all and on as many or few nights as you wish.
Generally there will be three or four families staying inthe main house at Le Castel plus two in the cottages. However, there are no enforced communal experiences. Most of the time parents seem to enjoy eating together, but we are always happy to set up individual tables...but it has only happened twice in 12 years!!
You can hear children in the suites with or without a baby monitor. Please bring your own baby monitors.
The cottages - baby monitors don't always work between the cottages and the chateau, but an iphone baby monitor ap does work.
An 18 year old neighbour is often happy to baby sit in the cottages at additional charge. Or we can arrange professional baby minding if given notice. Older children can play in the marquee or watch a movie during dinners. The cottages are 50 metres from the main house.
The great thing about Normandy is that it is far enough away to be different but close enough to get here easily by car (with all the stuff the kids can't live without!)
Ask us for a code to get a discount of up to 15% on crossings with Brittany Ferries.
Brittany Ferries sail from Portsmouth and Poole to Caen and Cherbourg, which are both an hour from Le Castel. They offer a choice of fast crafts and slower cruises.
The fast crafts are obviously much quicker, but they don't have much in the way of facilities on board. With the cruise ferries you can get a day time cabin for around £20 that gives you a great base and means you can put kids to bed for a while. There is a play area and two cinemas on board plus a wide choice of dining - self service cafe or a proper restaurant serving very good food.
If you prefer driving then Eurotunnel is a great option. The crossing on the train is 35 minutes and is very easy to use. You then have around a four hour drive to Le Castel. However, the pretty port of Honfleur is exactly half way and is a great place for lunch or just an explore.
What is there to do in Normandy?
We are perfectly placed to do Normandy's top three sights - the stunning monastery at Mont St Michel (looks like it is out of a Harry Potter film), the D Day Beaches and the Bayeux Tapestry (they have special audio guides for kids).
Then there are other beautiful chateaux, ruined castles, great naturalistic zoos, theme parks, forests and beaches.
There is free wifi access in the chateau, cottage and grounds. Coverage can be affected by the metre thick walls in the chateau but there are plenty of places with a good signal. Mobiles also work here.
We have just about everything you need for young babies - high chairs, cots, baby baths, plastic cutlery, plastic bowls, microwave, blender, steriliser, bed guards etc. There are no charges but they are subject to availablitiy so please book in advance. We prefer it if you bring your own baby monitors, but you don't really need them in the main chateau. We do have a couple of spare monitors for emergencies. The iphone baby monitor ap works best between the cottages and the house.