When we started to plan our summer break we had a sudden realisation of the price hikes that come with school holidays (best get used to it – only 16 years to go!). We couldn’t find flights (to literally anywhere!) for much less than £1000. With car hire and accomodation on top of that it was looking bad! You know me though, never one to be put off. I quickly settled on taking the Euro tunnel to France and then driving (over night was the plan!), arriving in a pretty little town called Calvisson in time for lunch the following day. Best laid plans….
From a cost point of view it worked out at £550 (including train cost, toll costs and fuel) so that was a plus! The reality was however it took nearly 23 hours…turns out the Euro tunnel can’t cope with peak travel and it took 2 hours to simply check in and bouchon (accident) after bouchon meant we eventually arrived 23 hours after we left – cue tired parents much in need of wine (and that’s something easily come by in France!) and children who had watched way too much on their iPads! Turns out driving on French motorways over peak weekends was not my best plan! Hey ho! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….or something like that. Anyway, we eventually arrived in Calvisson.
Calvisson and our accomodation
Calvisson is a commune in the Gard department in the Occitanie region in southern France. A traditional and quaint little French town. We checked into a wonderful family home (we really must rent ours out!) in the heart of the town – equipped with parking, a plunge pool and endless toys (thanks to the two children who lived there!), it more than suited our every need.
*Top Tip: Live like a local, book an apartment through, this link for £25 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!
The town itself is typically French, all very peaceful during the day but comes to life around meal times! It was equipped with everything you’d need. There was a delicious pattisserie in the centre (oh yummy yummy croissants!) and lovely bars and a divine children’s play park at the back of the church.
Market day is a Sunday but the Sunday we were in town happened to coincide with the annual Bandido (pure luck – this travel blogger has no idea!). This annual Bull run happens in Calvisson, according to the Carmargues tradition, where no bull gets hurt. During the Bandido 4 bulls are run together through the street guided by a group of twelve ‘guardians’ mounted on white camargue horses. Boys and men run with the bulls and try and separate them from the horses, stop them, and physically turn them away from the horses. All very exciting!
Most days were spent lounging by our plunge pool but we did also visit the local municipal pool. At 2.5 euros (for adults), it was a pretty cheap morning out and the children had to speak some French (tick for me the linguist!). The only downside was the need for tight figure hugging Speedo’s – cue grumpy daddy searching a French supermarket for a bargain pair!
Calvisson was also a wonderful base for exploring a beautiful region of France. Here’s a few of the day trips we enjoyed.
Aigues Mortes and Beach at Grau du Roi
A summer holiday isn’t quite complete without a visit to the beach. We settled on Grau du Roi (30 minutes from Calvisson). There’s a large central car park (Free parking for 2 hours!). Arrive early though it gets busy. A short stroll from here is the entrance to the beach. Here you’ll find plenty of cafes and bars. The beach was immaculate and perfect for families. After a gorgeous morning soaking up the rays we drove to Aigues-Mortes.
There’s nowhere else quite like Aigues-Mortes. Behind its four rather imposing medieval walls lies a lively little town of shops, bars and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to escape to after a morning on the beach. I first visited as a child and couldn’t wait to return. We had an idyllic family lunch (yes this can still happen!) in a central square with the children playing in the foundation. The stuff of family memories!
Pont du Gard
Another great option is a trip to the Pont du Gard – an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River. There’s lots to keep you busy but with the little people in tow we kept the museums to a minimum. We all loved the children’s museum (pitched at my sort of level to be honest!) – all very hands on and packed full of information. There was a much needed and reasonably nice bar near the ticket office (equipped with water sprays!). From here it’s a reasonable walk down to the beach (well pebble!) area. Well worth it though. It’s paddling with a view! You could easily pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Much closer to Calvisson is Sommiers – another typically French town. We parked down near to the sports arena (opposite the municipal campsite) (where you’ll also find a great play area). From here it’s a short scoot along the river into the main squares. Plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. We stumbled across a wonderful pancake house (in Place de Jean Jaures). We returned another nights for a walk around the market and delicious dinner in Place de Jean Jaures again!
Another fab holiday full of family adventures and plenty of laughter. I holidayed in France for many years as a child. I’d forgotten how wonderful it is – great wine (and cheap!), delicious food and beautiful towns and villages! We’ll definitely return.
After a week enjoy the delights of the south of France we ventured home, taking a detour via Disneyland Paris.