Family Holidays

 

Some comments from Mums and Dads who have stayed at Le Castel:

 

 

Sheer joy all the way through. Merci beaucoup. Beautiful house, wonderful fellow guests. Perfect weather - hurray



The perfect family holiday

 

A relaxing way to holiday with children. Everyone had a good time. The boys loved the play tent and just generally charging around. For the adults the ability to put our feet up and consume copious amounts of good food and wine!

 

Another great stay. Luxurious and relaxing. Thanks for all your hard work.

 

The children had a ball.

 

I’ve loved Le Castel throughout all the 3 years I have been here. Thank you.

 

Absolutely fabulous. We’ll be back.

 

Thank you for giving us the perfect family holiday in the sun.

 

Thanks for a great holiday - a home from home.



Brilliant time. Great food, good company, everything we had hoped for.



Fantastic - August 2013

What a lovely week in the Comte Suite at Le Castel, helped no doubt by the stunning weather we had 13th to the 20th July and the lovely families we had the pleasure of meeting. Jon Barnsley and his team are great hosts and looked after us fantastically. It's all very relaxed.

Food was good and plentiful. The five courses on the last night were a highlight. Wine and beer were plentiful (although we did drink him dry of red!)

  The Chateau itself is stunning. The grounds are lovely with toys in every corner. The kids loved it.

 

Few tips - we went eurotunnel and with a couple of short stops took us 5.5 hours to get to Le Castel with no traffic - we would ferry next time. Also hit Mont St Michel very early or late afternoon as it gets hideously busy. Also moules frites at Le Cale beach restaurant in blanville are superb.

 

Great value holiday in gorgeous chateau

 

We stayed last summer in the Dauphin suite. Unlike one of the other reviewers we really liked it. It was spacious and eclectic. Christine was fantastic and Jon was a great laugh with loads of local knowledge. Again for a family holiday it is amazing value for money and it really is a beautiful environment. We particularly enjoyed the family evenings and BBQ's. it was also lovely having a nanny there at breakfast so that if you wanted to have a sit down you knew the children were entertained. We would definitely return, a great value all inclusive holiday. The only possible improvement we could think of would be less frozen food and a bit more salas/ veg but that's our own personal taste. All the families were like minded and it worked really well. The grounds were gorgeous and there is loads to do and see if you want a wander. A great trip, will go again. I really can't see what the other reviewer is moaning about re Dauphin, it was great.

 

Wonderfully relaxed holiday - June 2013

 

We stayed in the The Emperor's suite in the main building during the first week of June.

I can honestly say this was our most relaxed family holiday to date. We would normally self cater, and I did wonder whether being catered for would work for our picky 3 year old but Jon and Christine made us feel welcome from the first moment we arrived and catered for our every need. Nothing was too much trouble, and we felt totally at home. Our son enjoyed the trampoline and the toy tent and we enjoyed the tranquility of the surroundings, in particular the local beaches.

Jon was very knowledgeable about the local area, and gave us lots of advice about where to visit. The house is beautifully furnished which would normally strike fear into the heart of parents of a lively toddler, but nothing seemed to faze Jon.

The ferry crossing from the UK was easy, and the drive from Cherbourg was very straightforward despite a few wrong side of the road moments. We compared this holiday to previous flights abroad with kids and decided that loading everything in the car and getting on a boat was by far the easiest way to travel.

 

Some comments from 2012 season

Thanks Jon for being a wonderful host. We loved the food, the room, the house and your company. Thanks for looking after us so well and we look forward to coming back next year with the new baby.

Stayed in Roi in September 2012 with their new born baby.

 

A rare place

Le Castel is rare, a place of comfort and fun. Great for the kids to mingle with new friends by day. At night Jon comes into his own - the friend of your best friends. You will happilly sit up to the small hours and beyond! Jon and the house are a marvellous, dangerous and unique combination. En guarde!

Stayed with two lads in the Comte suite, Sept 2012

 

Excessive

How can I summarise two weeks at Le Castel in a few sentences? Excess food, excess wine and great fun for adults and children. Jon you are a great host with a fabulous team of special helpers. See you next year.

Stayed in Emperor suite with three children, Sept 2012

 

Thanks for a fabulous week. We've loved it all. Seen lots, eaten lots, drunk lots. 

Stayed in Roi suite with two children, Sept 2012

Jon is a legend!

What a wonderful week. Jon creates the environment to have the break you really need with your whole family if you are sensible enough to sign up for a holiday that breaks all the stereotypes - no norms here! Bring your family and bring your personality. What an outstanding week. Jon is a legend and he did a great job of carrying my inebriated cadavar back to my room after a particularly long and spirited drinking session.

Stayed Sept 2012 with two kids

New friends

I enjoyed it as much as I did last year, making new friends and playing

Ten year old Liam who stayed in Voici cottage with his parents, Aug 2012

 

I loved the swings and the play tent

Grace, 7, who stayed with her parents Ag 2012

 

Fantastic holiday. The children made some great friends and we were able to truly relax

Stayed Aug 2012

Unique

Fantastic week. Thank you all for such a restful unique holiday experience. Thanks for coping with the Angry Birds invasion

Stayed in dauphin suite with their son and a whole army of cuddly Angry Bird toys, Aug 2012

 

I love the chateau. I love the play tent and the trampoline

A happy child, Aug 2012

Sorry for ruining your liver

Thanks Jon for a lovely stay. it ins't often one can say one has had a relaxing time with a 4 and 2 year old, but this is such an occassion. Lovely room and grounds. Lovely food. Lovely host. Thanks also to Christine and Marie for all their hard work. Only one thing Jon - I am sorry about the effect I have had on the largest gland in your body! Perhaps it will get  a rest before the next group arrives. Would love to come back

Stayed with two children in July 2012

Thank you for a trul wonderful visit. We have relaxed, played and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. You have been the perfect host. Thank you to your staff for all their help and kindness. We hope we will be back soon.

Stayed with three children, July 2012

Tell everyone

Thank you for a very relaxing fortnight - a world away from Dubai in every sense. Beautiful house and fab day trips. We will be telling everyone.

Stayed in the Gite, June 2012

 

Excellent hospitality

Thank you for a very relaxing and enjoyable week. Your hospitality has been excellent. We have really enjoyed staying in Le Castel

Stayed in Roi suite June 2012 with a baby and a toddler

 

Brilliant memories for Iris's first holiday

Thank you so much for an amazing week at your dreamy house. We will miss everything. We are in love with Le Cale restaurant - what a place. Brilliant memories for Iris's first holiday. Love the decor of the gite SO much - heaven and inspiring. 

Stayed in Voici gite June 2012 with a four year old

 

Wonderful

At last! A truly relaxing holiday with our four children. Thank you for making our stay really wonderful

* Stayed in Roi suite, June 2012, with children aged 6, 5, 5 and 2

(Maia, aged 6 added- Thank you for all your kindness. My favourite breakfast were the pastries)

 

Relaxing

Thank you for a very relaxing stay and much needed break from the daily grind.

* Stayed in the Emperor suite, June 2012, with children aged 4 and 2.

 

First trip away with a baby was really easy

Thanks so much for having us, we had a wonderful stay. It made our first trip away with Emily really easy!
We enjoyed all the D day stuff - saw the tapestry and the d day museum in Bayeux then went to pointe de hoc. Other than Alex insisting we stopped at McDonald's on the way back, the journey home was very easy.

*Stayed in Emperor suite, May 2012, with young baby

We'll be back

We had a great stay so thank you for everything! Had a great visit to the mussels and sausage place on beach recommended by you too!  The weather was a bonus! We'll be back!

*Stayed in gite, May 2012, with two children

Thanks for the advice

Thank you for a lovely stay and the advice on the things to see in area.

*Stayed in the Emperor suite, April 2012, with two children.

Lasting memories

Even the challenging weather couldn't dampen our enjoyment of our week's stay. The children loved the grounds and the toys. Marie has been wonderful looking after the children. We have enjoyed a relaxing time. Having happy occupied children has given us lasting memories. Great food (far too much), lovely wine, interesting company.

Stayed in the Roi suite, April 2012, with two children.

Le Castel was closed between September 2011 and April 2012

 

Pretty much perfect

We stayed in Le Castel first week August 2011 and had a great time, two adults and two children (7 & 3). The house is lovely and the rooms spacious and comfortable. John and his team did a great job of making us feel totally at home and yet were there to offer a beer or very good advice on where to go and where to avoid.
The children absolutely loved it and it was great to see all the children staying there playing together in the safe environment of the house and grounds but giving them plenty of freedom to explore and of course stay up late. The few hours child care that is offered was great to start the kids off but not too regimented.
All in all we all had a superbly relaxing time in great surroundings and with great company and I would highly recommend it, although I think best suited to children under 12.
One word of warning is that although our adult bedroom was massive, it had a beautiful but standard double size bed - with a footboard. If you are much over 6ft tall this might make the sleeping a bit of a squeeze! I believe only one suite has this.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family

 The most relaxing family holiday we have ever had

Every holidaymaker has fallen victim to the reality not quite living up to the promise. Websites are good these days and often you can realise all too late that it doesn't do what it says on the tin. Not so at Le Castel in Normandy. From first minute to last we were looked after, welcomed, hosted and entertained by the larger-than-life owner Jon Barnsley. Despite its beauty and grandeur, there's no fussiness about sticky fingers, or discarded sandals, or a dropped ice-cream. Jon and his team keep the place spotless while all the time making the holidaymaker feel like this is their home. A fantasy which lasts as long as your stay.
This was the most relaxing family holiday we've ever had - and we've been to some places.
While there are three suites in the main house, we stayed in one of the cottages in the grounds to enable us to have a bit more privacy as and when we wanted it. It worked well for us but others with older children loved being part of the chateau and the ability to come down to dinner in the main house knowing their kids were safe upstairs. My wife and I did the occasional tag team over dinner but we did take advantage of a babysitter for the amazing five-course 'show' dinner on the Friday night.
There is childcare for two hours in the morning and again in the evening and this takes place in the giant marquee/circus tent on the lawn. For those with clingy children you may find it difficult to make the most of this R 'n' R but there is such a lovely atmosphere around the place that most of the parents just got involved in whatever was going on. 
We go on holiday to be WITH our children so I suppose for us it was perfect as we could make the most of the fabulous play space and grounds while enjoying the company of the other families.
This is a social holiday - a great chance to mix and meet new people, for both adults and children. Our group got on famously and it made the holiday all the sweeter.
The food for the adults was superb in the evenings (we all decided to eat together) and the kids got involved in making cupcakes and pizza. Naturally the kids food is less a la carte than the adults but they devoured everything from spag bol to local sausages.
I suppose the acid test is whether I would go again. Three letters say we would....Y E S.

Room Tip: The rooms in the main house are beautiful but if you want a bit more seclusion have the cottages a short walk from the front door.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family

 

 

 

A review on Mumsnet

http://www.mumsnet.com/Reviews/TravelShortHaul/5307-Le-Castel-Manche-Normandy-France

From: NancyMumsnet on 23-Jun-11 09:38 Overall rating 9.0

Le Castel is a beautiful chateau in the Manche region of Normandy, in a wonderfully secluded, quiet and very green area, but within comfortable driving distance of loads of tourist attractions. The rooms inside are beyond gorgeous and all decorated terrifically with with their own bathrooms and an interconnected room for the kids. They are decked out in thick carpet, lovely beds and windows that open onto the huge garden - which is full of peaceful-looking hammocks, marquees, wendy houses, swings, bikes, toys, and a terrace perfect for lounging in the sun with a novel. It's impossible to overstate just how lovely and comfortable the accommodation was - we could have happily spent days and days in our high-ceilinged room, at the writing desk or in the bath, lounging by the window, (plus free wifi) - it was honestly extremely romantic, at night the only sound was crickets and the trees in the breeze which was so soothing, I slept like a log. 

And while this was great for us, there's an incredible amount of thought been given to children. The idea is that the three suites (plus two self-contained gites) will either be fully booked out, or have a family in each, which means that the kids will be happy to play together so parents can relax.

Each of the three suites in the chateau has its own room for children, which each have something to make it a little extra special, like a huge stuffed tiger, colourful wall-hangings, bright paintings, plus low child-sized beds, and of course, books and toys and likewise for gites. I spotted toys in almost every corner of Le Castel – it really achieves a great balance of being perfect for kids without losing any of its style and sophistication. 

The kitchens had plastic plates for kids, kettles, microwaves, plus plug converters, a hair dryer and even a baby monitor so you can enjoy a glass of wine downstairs in the main chateau living room without worry. 

When we weren't drinking coffee in our suite, or lounging on the downstairs sofas with the two household cats, we ventured out into the countryside for some day trips. Our host, Jon, was extremely welcoming and friendly, and provided us daily with recommendations on what we might fancy, plus a helpful guide he'd written ('don't bring a pushchair to Mont-Saint-Michel' being one to remember!). We went to St Malo and took in some of the lovely sea-side views, and enjoyed some tasty galettes in the medieval town before we went for a wander around the cobbled streets, then on to Mont-Saint-Michel which was possibly one of the highlights of my year, let alone my trip - the Abbey is such a fantastical building that twists and winds like a labyrinth through cavernous rooms (which would be great for Harry Potter fans given how Hogwarts-esque it feels, especially the center garden.) And upon our return to the Chateau we were immediately offered a much-needed glass of wine - lovely! 

We were offered many restaurant recommendations which was really helpful, and one memorable place in particular was suggested to us where we ate our weight in Moules Frites, right on the beach. The food at Le Castel was also delicious, with a fab spread of bread and pastries, jam, fruit, yoghurt and cereal each morning and then dinner in the evening was equally great (while we were there we enjoyed a brilliant meal of Duck Confit with local cheeses to follow) and we were made to feel quite welcome to help ourselves to a glass of wine whenever we fancied.

The attention to detail for children, plus the gorgeous interior and location makes Le Castel a really excellent place to stay on holiday, and I would recommend it.
*****

 

We stayed at Le Castel for 7 nights for an all inclusive break. We have a 5 month old girl and 3.5 year old boy. We all had a lovely stay. My son loved the toys, marquee, CBeebies, food, apple juice literally on tap(!), and the wonderful huge stuffed tiger in his room. It was lovely for him to have other children to play with and also great attractions nearby whether rain or shine. We enjoyed the beach at Granville, Coutances, Zoo de Jurques, Cherbourg Aquariam with brilliant submarine simulator - my son is still asking to go back to France to see the fish! We experienced very good hospitality, in particular the excellent wine that was also on tap, my wine glass never seemed to empty thanks to our attentive host Jon. The extra touches are what really made it - getting a special cushion to help wedge our daughter in the high chair, my husband's birthday made very special with many touches including a fantastic cake, batteries provided for our monitor and packets of wipes every where (very useful with two small kids!). Our bed was so comfortable, the suite was perfect with our son in a different room, and an excellent well equipped little kitchenette for all our baby needs.
  Jon and his staff were all excellent, friendly and very helpful. It was good to have the option whether or not to eat with other guests. We had some lovely meals with the other guests – very much like impromptu dinner parties where you don't have to do any of the cooking or washing up! Jon read the guests well and was there as a dutiful host when needed and left us to it if he thought we’d get on. I must say he got it right every time!
Overall though we felt very rested at the end of our week and it really did feel like a home away from home. Stayed June 2011.

Latest comments from Le Castel's guest book - 2011 season

Aug 14, 2011

 Jon et al. Thank you we had a fabulous time. Ab fab

The sun always shines when you’re having fun

Jumping on the trampoline

Swimming in the pool

Eating far tooo much!

Merci

 Aftab family with two lads aged 7 and 5

 

 We had a wonderful stay. Thank you. It is a real skill being a great host. You and your team made us feel so welcome, relaxed and pampered

 Ricci family with lads aged 2 and 7

  Thank you so much. Fantastic house, wonderful food, everyone so friendly…a real relaxing stay. You’ve created a perfect place for parents and kids. Xx

 Lambert family with two girls aged 5 and 8. Cottage all inclusive

 

A great week. A very relaxing stay with lovely hospitality. A super place for the kids. Thank you

 Bromage family with lads aged 2 and 6. Cottage self catering

 Aug 6, 2011

 Thank you for a fantastic stay. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the garden, activities and socialising with other kids. The food was a real treat.

 Price family with three kids aged 3, 1, baby

 We had a fantastic time here. The children have loved the freedom, space and the chance to be children and run about and play and be noisy!! A beautiful place with great hospitality and superb food. It was all gone too quickly

 West family with three kids aged 8, 8 and 11

 Dear Jon, we had a great time. One of the best holidays we have had. Everything was great. Food was great and tasty. For some reason everyone is nice, kind and friendly. Children loved it and did not want to leave! Our bedroom was very nice and comfortable with beautiful atmosphere. A big thank you

 Garrett family with two kids aged 4 and 10

 Thanks for such a relaxed and comfortable stay. Every whim was catered for so a huge thanks to you and the team. See you all soon..I hope. As Sir James Saville would have said “A thousand thanks- Jon’ll fix it”

 Rouss family with two kids aged 2 and 10. All inclusive cottage holiday.

 July 30, 2011.

 What a fabulous week! Thanks to everyone at Le Castel for a proper family holiday in a wonderful house.

 Thomas family with three kids aged 5, 3 and baby

 

Thank you for a wonderful week. Great venue, lovely company and charming hosts. Excellent in all respects

 Rowson family with three kids, aged 12, 7 and 4

 We had a wonderful holiday. Excellent company and fabulous hosts. Thank you.

 Lee family with two kids aged 6 and 4

 July 24, 2011.

 We were the first Belgians to have the Jon experience..and it was great. Thank you for everything

 Nielandt family with two children

 Thank you! It was lovely.

 Rossi family with two girls aged 5 and 2

 July 16, 2011.

 Thank you for a wonderful stay in your beautiful house. Fabulous breakfasts!

 Williams-Grays family with two kids aged 3 and 1

 

Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable stay in your wonderful Normandy Retreat.

 Neville family with two kids age 3 and 1

 Thank you for a wonderful week. Great fun and entertainment for all. Great advice on local beaches.

 Turner family with two children aged 3 and 1

 July 9, 2011.

 We all had a great time. Lovely surroundings, fun company

McIlroy family with three kids aged 10,9 and 7

 June 11, 2011.

Thank you for a lovely week. Great food, wine and plenty to see and do. Kids enjoyed the daytime, we had great evenings – my wine glass never seemed empty! Recommend zoo and aquarium for rainy days.

The Wright family with two kids aged 3 and baby

 Thanks for a wonderful start to our holiday

Murphy family with triplets aged 6

 June 5, 2011.

 We had a wonderful break with lovely food, very relaxing surroundings and great hospitality. We hope to come back soon.

 Stott family

 

Some comments from Tripadvisor

****

Just returned from a wonderful stay at Le Castel, a superb and very peaceful location, excellent food and hospitality and one of the best five course dinners we have had for a while.
Jon is a superb host and has the chateau spot on for kids (ours are 1 and nearly 4) --our daughter did not want to come home! Our garden in Cambridge is somewhat smaller than Jon's acreage, which is a superb environment for the kids to play (lots of toys and play areas).--we will definitely be going back. We did not expect to have such a peaceful break as a family but everything was near perfect.

****

We stayed here as a family of 4, with 2 children aged 9 and 4, plus 2 grandparents. Our rooms were superb, with every degree of comfort considered and a wonderful luxury feel, as well as being perfect for the kids. The suites have a small kitchen where you can make drinks, kids milk etc and a fridge for storage.The food was great and John goes out of his way to make it easy for the adults to enjoy an evening meal, having fed the kids earlier. They can safely sleep upstairs as you eat, as the hotel is small enough for you to hear them (and baby monitors are provided if you want extra reassurance). There's lots to do within about an hours radius and if you just want to relax, the garden is perfect for the kids to play and you to sit! I'd say this is a great place for families with children up to approx.8 years old. The pool is not as big as it looks on the website, so don't bank on that if swimming is a big requirement for you.

Stayed May 2011
***

We did not know really what to expect - maybe that the children would have to be seen and not heard. This expectation could not have been further from reality. Jon and the staff were very accommodating and kind to the children and to us harassed parents providing DVDs and children's satellite channels and a HUGE garden so that we could get on with being adults again, eating, drinking & reading while the children were safe and happy. It is a beautiful and comfortable place to stay and  attracts very interesting guests. House party is definitely how it feels and we really would like to return. We loved it.

***

This was our second time visiting Le Castel and it was just as wonderful as the first. There was quite a crowd this year since in addition to our family of 4 (including 2 teens) we had invited some old friends. Jon took care of everything with both style and substance - wonderful dinners, plenty of wine, a day trip to St Malo and Mont St Michel, and of course with the chateau itself in the somnolent Norman countryside. It was perfect. Thanks.

****

My family and I stayed there for three nights in April. We had intended to stay for a couple of nights and drive on, but the whole family loved it so much we extended our stay. Le Castel is simply the most gorgeous chateau-like house to stay in that we saw. Everything from Jon's hospitality to the gourmet evening meals he cooks are superb. I can't recommend it enough.

****

There were three generations in our party, comprising nine adults and three babies under two, and all of us had a wonderful time. Jon’s special early suppers for the two older babies were devoured eagerly, and later the feasts he prepared for the grown-ups were despatched with equal enthusiasm. The small wine list is well chosen, and sensibly priced.
   The special gala dinner Jon produced for my husband’s birthday was truly memorable, and he went to a great deal of trouble to make it a festive and happy occasion, with champagne and a splendid chocolate cake. It was not his fault if the children “stole” the balloons and burst them all before dinner!

****

I stayed at Le Castel with my husband and our one year old and four year old.
We chose Le Castel as we specifically wanted to hire a gite attached to a small Hotel/B&B where we could have Dinner in the Hotel having tucked the children up in bed.
  It worked like a dream. Jon is incredibly welcoming and helpful.
We had dinner at the hotel on two evenings and wished we'd done it every night!
The house is really beautiful and the whole experience was elegant and lots of fun. The food was fabulous, it managed to satisfy both my vegetarian needs and my husbands carnivorous desires. We particularly enjoyed the shared dining experience. ( i.e. everyone staying at the hotel sits around the same table to eat, which could be hideous but works brilliantly: a sort of pot luck dinner party with Jon as a very accomplished host/ringmaster.)
   The gite itself was perfect for us, very chic interior with everything we needed. Child friendly often means wipe clean and ugly but not in this case. Both bedrooms are beautiful and really comfortable. (such a lovely surprise to find two gorgeous huge sleigh beds in the children's room instead of the usual poky bunk beds.) From travel cots and stair gates to thoughtful touches like pretty children's bowls and cups and proper blackout blinds (an absolute must for children's bedrooms!)
   My husband would say that I am a very fussy control freak (i.e. female) so for me to say that Le Castel was perfect for us is high praise indeed.
    We very much enjoyed our time at Le Castel and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. We will definitely be returning.

****

We stayed at Le Castel when we had a chance to take a week's holiday at late notice. We were very glad that we did.  As we arrived with our two small (1 and 4) children, Jon was there to greet us.   We stayed in the self catering accommodation which was probably the best of its type that we have come across. Good galley kitchen - with complimentary wine and basic provisions, breakfast area, sitting room and bathroom downstairs. Upstairs two big bedrooms with additional corners to hide a cot and feel like you were getting some privacy as well as a bathroom with a shower that kept our daughter amused for hours. My wife, a theatre designer, confidently informed me that it was the most stylishly finished place we had stayed in.
   We had dinner in the Chateau on a couple of nights and this was probably one of the most entertaining hosted dinners that we have been to. Jon is highly sophisticated and entertaining, an excellent host and has lots of stories about his time hanging out with the A list stars in a former life in the world of show business.
   There is tons to do in the area with great beaches, an indoor swimming pool at Coutances (although it did have some odd opening times), beautiful countryside.

****

We went on holiday with no great expectations but thinking it would be nice to find a new (to us) part of the world that was easy to travel to with children that we could visit and get to know over the years. Much to our surprise (and delight) this part of Normandy hit the mark. More than that, Le Castel was a place that we would come back to again and again.

****

We spent 2 lovely nights in Le Castel and were thrilled with the experience.
   The atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming, the venue stunning and the food a must... a big recommendation is to stay in for dinner.
    Jon is a fabulous host and after eating out on the second night we really regretted not staying in again.
    Jon is terrific and goes out of his way to make sure your stay is exactly what you want.
    All in all this is one of the best experiences we've had while travelling through Europe over the last several years. A must getaway for anyway with a spare weekend.

 

The next guest comment is actually an article from the Manchester Evening News but I have included it here because the family, who stayed in August 2011, paid full price for their holiday and then wrote this lovely article for their local newspaper. I couldn't ask for higher praise.

Home from home in France 

Manchester Evening News - Jan 14, 2012

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/life_and_style/holidays/s/1470785_home-from-home-in-france

 

It was the first night of our holiday in France and the guests at our table had only been introduced to us earlier that day. But we all had one thing in common – we were eagerly awaiting the final members of our party as our host prepared a lavish cake and champagne to celebrate a special birthday they were marking.

As the good humour bubbled alongside the champers with suggestions one of them have a birthday every day the following week, our eldest son had even more reason to be delighted at their arrival.

David and Wendy came complete with their own two sons – aged 11 and 12. For our 11-year-old that was the moment the holiday really started. And that kind of sums up Le Castel, an imposing chateau in Normandy.

While the backdrop is stunning and the facilities fantastic this newcomer  to the world of all-exclusive family breaks is really all about people and making those face-to-face connections that have somehow got lost amid all the social networking and multi-media platforms of the 21st century.

So let’s get the proviso out of the way first. If you don’t talk to your neighbours, barely know what age your colleagues are or their spouse’s name and in all honesty prefer the kind of catch-up that is the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter timeline, then this is not the holiday for you.

There is no escaping socialising the old-fashioned way at Le Castel and it’s exactly why we loved it. I mean, for starters our host and the owner of Le Castel, Jon Barnsley, is a former showbiz editor of the now defunct News Of The World.

It was great fun checking out his famous gallery featuring pictures of him with the likes of Kylie, Elton John and Victoria Beckham and his career certainly made for interesting dinner table chat.

Yes there was the odd bit of scandal and gossip served up with the delicious culinary delights, but more than that there was a healthy dose of finding out about people you had never met before but took a leap of faith to spend a week’s holiday with them. Although that may be stretching the nature of the holiday a tad.

Of course, it is essentially your family holiday to do with it what you will but the format at Le Castel is to take breakfast and evening meals together and with only five families staying at any given time there is plenty of interaction throughout the day. 

But there is also plenty to do as a family flying solo and for days out in the surrounding area, from the D-Day beaches to getting a closer look at the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Conveniently located just 90 minutes to the nearby ferry ports, including Caen where we travelled across the Channel with Brittany Ferries, also makes it a fairly easy jaunt for young families.

In fact, relaxation with your little ones is key – formality is a no-no at Le Castel. Stay in or go out the mood is laid-back and you do tend to switch off and enjoy.

There is no fussiness about sticky fingers, or discarded sandals, or a dropped ice-cream. Jon and his team keep the place spotless while all the time making the holidaymaker feel like this is their home.

This was the most relaxing family holiday we’ve ever had – and we’ve been to some memorable places.

While there are three suites in the main house, we stayed in one of the cottages in the grounds to enable us to have a bit more privacy as and when we wanted it.

It worked well for us but others with younger children loved being part of the chateau and the ability to come down to dinner in the main house knowing their kids were safe upstairs.

My husband and I did the occasional tag team over dinner but we did take advantage of a babysitter for the amazing five-course ‘show’ dinner on the Friday night.

There is childcare for two hours in the morning and again in the early evening and this takes place in the giant marquee/circus tent on the lawn packed with toys.

For those with clingy children you may find it difficult to make the most of this R ’n’ R but there is such a lovely atmosphere around the place that most of the parents just got involved in whatever was going on.

We go on holiday to be WITH our children so I suppose for us it was perfect mix as we could make the most of the fabulous play space and grounds while
enjoying the company of the other families.

This is a social holiday – a great chance to mix and meet new people, for both adults and children. Our group got on famously and it made the holiday all the sweeter. Firm friends were made during a wonderful week.

The food for the adults was superb in the evenings served after the children were fed and best efforts made to put them to bed (interestingly no-one at any time took the option of eating separately from the group even though you can if you want to).

As the perfect host, Jon does take his lead from his guests in terms of eating with or without the children but at least one night is devoted to all generations dining together.

Naturally, the kids’ food is less a la carte than the adults but they devoured everything, from spag bol to local sausages and having some adult time in the evenings was greatly appreciated by our group.

I missed Le Castel as soon as I got home. Would I go back – most definitely and would love to book it out with established friends next time just to give that same quality time to old friends that we thoroughly enjoyed with some new ones.


TRAVEL FACTS

For information, go to www.le-castel-normandy.com
All-inclusive breaks from £1,800 to £2,600 for a family of three or four for a week to include accommodation, breakfast and evening meals (except on a Thursday), drinks including beer and wine, unlimited ice cream with snack fridge also available.
Organised play sessions on most days for children aged three to 12, tented play area and five-course show dinner on Friday night.
For travel information, see
www.brittany-ferries.co.uk  
Tracey travelled from Portsmouth to Caen where return trips cost from £75 per person.
For days out information, go to
www.zoo-champrepus.com/index.htm and www.tapestry-bayeux.com 

 

 

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Latest...

Guardian Feb 2011
Guardian review by a paying guest, which appeared on Feb 9, 2012
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Manchester Evening News review by a paying guest, who loved our all inclusive family holidays.

Contact us

Address


Phone
Email
Le Castel, 50210 Montpinchon,
Manche, Normandy, France.

00 33 (0) 2 33 17 00 45
lecastelnormandy@gmail.com
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