Best things to do in Normandy with the kids for an idyllic family holiday

We were standing on Omaha beach in Normandy, France, and soft sand stretched out as far as the eye could see. The English Channel was a deep blue on one side, green grassy banks on the other, and barely a soul in sight.

“Can you imagine what it must have looked like during the D-day landings?”

I asked my 15-year-old son Harry. “Not really, no,” came the reply and I knew exactly what he meant.

Even in the height of summer on a warm sunny Saturday there must have been just 20 people on the beach with little to indicate the battle here decades before.

It was a perfect place to spend a relaxing day building sandcastles, taking dips in the sea and eating ice cream.

The quiet and peaceful Omaha beach

 

The previous day had been much livelier. We had risen bleary-eyed at 4am to drive to Portsmouth to catch the 8.15am Brittany Ferries service to Caen. Six hours seemed a long time to keep our brood entertained but we needn’t have worried.

My wife Lyndsey took Lucy, 12, and Elliot, 10, to one of the two onboard cinemas while I supervised Lyra, three, in the soft-play area before catching The Princess and The Pirate show.

Harry decided to catch up on some sleep in our cabin which, at £31 one-way, was ideal for stashing bags and also came in handy for escaping the crowds.

We were soon winding our way though the French countryside towards our accommodation for the week, the delightful Siblu Domaine de Litteau holiday village. Set in a forest, surrounded by farmland, it was a perfect idyllic rural retreat. A quick check-in and we were soon in our mobile home – and a home was exactly what it was.

We had a double bedroom , two twin rooms and a spacious living/kitchen area. It was compact, clean and modern.

Jon and Lyndsey at Honfleur harbour

 

The site was clean and tidy too. It had an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a snack bar, the biggest Viking longboat inflatable I’ve ever seen (much to the delight of our youngest).

There were also play areas, a basketball court, and an area for evening entertainment–  shows, singers and tribute acts. The site shop sold essentials and had fresh-baked baguettes and croissants every morning. The kids were glad of the wi-fi, and we were glad the cost of a  week’s pass for three devices was just €36.

After a first day on the beach we started exploring, starting with the incredibly impressive Mont St Michel – a spectacular abbey sitting atop a rocky islet, surrounded by sea and sky.

Mont-St-Michel, Brittany, France (pic: Getty)
The incredible Mont-Saint-Michel (pic: Getty)

A tour is €10 per adult and under-18s go free. It’s worth every cent. Not far away lies Cherbourg and the outstanding La Cité de la Mer, a maritime museum entered via a hall filled with submarines.

First up for us was the Walking into the Depths virtual reality experience,  an exploration of the depths. Then came Le Redoutable, one of the first nuclear-powered submarines. The younger ones loved the vast aquarium.

Another gem is the family-run Alligator Bay, a park filled with reptiles. Luckily we arrived at crocodile feeding time.

Huge gasps ensued as two crocs went for the same (dead) chicken, ripping it in two.

Honfleur and its picturesque harbour,

Then it was off to stroke giant tortoises and explore the Dragon’s Maze, which has an impressive array of lizards and snakes – and perspex viewing tunnels for kids to climb through. Not too far away, atop a hill, Château Guillaume le Conquérant was an unusual mix of old and new – a traditional castle exterior with a modern finish inside.

A tablet from reception allowed us to scan a coin in each room to reveal how the room would have originally looked. Elliot loved the treasure hunt, using the tablet to find objects hidden in the castle.

Thirty minutes away was Bayeux and its tapestry, while the stunning port town of Honfleur was perfect for an ice cream and a stroll with Naturospace nearby, a large indoor butterfly enclosure.

At the holiday village, an hour splashing in the pool became our evening routine before catching whatever was left of happy hour at the pub. At €2.50 for a pint of lager you couldn’t go wrong, and it set up nicely the evening entertainment. Bend Jovi anyone?

Book the holiday

STAY THERE: A week’s self-catering at the Domaine de Litteau holiday park is from £602 for four people sharing a two bedroom holiday home with terrace from August 24. Find out more on siblu.com or call 020 8610 0186.

GET THERE: August fares on Brittany Ferries’ Portsmouth-Caen route start at £175 each way for a car and family of four. Find out more on brittany-ferries.co.uk or call 0330 159 7000.

MORE INFO: Find out more at uk.france.fr/en.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Plans for huge new zip line attractions in the UK revealed and they sound so fun

    Thrill-seekers may want to start planning.

  • Universal Studios shows riders what to expect on new Hagrid-themed rollercoaster

    Harry Potter fans can get ready.

  • Two words frequent flyer claims has ALWAYS got her upgraded to First Class

    Choose a broken seat, sit next.

  • New Zealand’s visa rules are changing for Brits – here’s what you need to know

    Brits heading to New Zealand for.

  • Calling all gin fans – a bottomless G&T brunch has just launched in the UK

    There’s nothing quite like finding a.

  • Best UK summer festivals which are perfect for families – including a giant picnic and Busted live

    There are some fantastic festivals taking.

  • Lake Garda breaks are going from £139pp for summer including your hotel and flights

    Lake Garda is one of those.

  • Inside the giant inflatable unicorn park complete with a themed obstacle course

    Unicorn fans may want to update.

  • Best cities in Croatia for short breaks that need to be on your radar

    Croatia has fast become a holiday.

  • Dream job will pay you up to £50k to travel the world living on luxury yachts

    If travelling the world and living.

  • Top tips for finding cheap breaks to Spain for the Champions League Final

    Having four Premier League teams in.

  • Iconic bay from Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach closed to tourists until 2021

    The beach which served as the.

  • 10 beautiful castles in Europe that look like something out of a fairytale

    Castles can make for pretty fascinating.

  • All Points East 2019: Full festival line up, schedule and how to get tickets to Victoria Park show

    If you’re yet to book a.

  • Cheap train tickets – how to get hidden and cheap fares and split tickets

    The start of the year saw.

  • Holiday car hire firms to AVOID ahead of summer holidays

    Holidaymakers have been warned to avoid.

  • Dreamy Athens and Santorini breaks are going from £279pp including flights

    Greece is full of breathtaking destinations,.

  • Lastminute.com flash sale includes Ibiza summer breaks from £229pp

    If Ibiza has long been on.

  • Top things to see and do in Jordan including Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea

    I can’t think of any other historic.

  • Best UK campsites for a brilliant cheap staycation in 2019

    Camping holidays are no longer about.

  • Best things to do in Majorca including top days out for families

    Majorca has everything you could want.

  • How to find cheap holidays in Orlando and visit the theme parks on a budget

    Orlando holidays can make a pretty.

  • Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid. #madeuthink

    mirrorLoad mobile navigation News UK News.

  • Where London Marathon 2019 runners can get free food and drink after the race

    Completing the London Marathon is no.

  • Brits use nearly half of their annual leave on events they feel forced to attend

    We Brits are renowned for being.

  • Inside the Four Seasons’ private jet that’s basically a luxury hotel in the sky

    The Four Seasons hotel group has.

  • Best things to do in Fuerteventura whether you’re after lazy days or adventures

    Fuerteventura has everything you could want.

  • Universal Studios is opening an adorable new Secret Life of Pets ride

    Universal Studios Hollywood is opening a.

  • Easy packing tips anyone going on holiday needs to know

    Any holidaymaker will know the stress.

  • Universal Studios’ new Harry Potter ride reveals magical creatures never seen before

    Universal Studios is getting a new.

  • Alton Towers has half price tickets for anyone with one of two chosen names

    Alton Towers Resort is celebrating Staffordshire.

  • Disneyland Paris is hosting a very special Toy Story event this summer

    Disneyland Paris is celebrating the release.