When we were asked if we would like to try a Family Holiday in the French Mountains at Camping La Ravoire we initially hesitated; it would involve either a great deal of driving or a plane journey, both of which we had yet to tackle with the children in tow. However, what then followed was probably one of our best family holidays so far…
Living in the Midlands, we would prefer to fly from Birmingham, however, we discovered that with a little search and some creative thinking, the best way for us to get to Geneva (about an hour from our final destination) was to fly from Heathrow…We actually found that it was cheaper for us to fly (once we had added on the luggage!) with Swiss Air rather than Easyjet. We also wanted to fly direct as this was our first encounter flying as a family of four.
So, straight after school on the Friday, we packed the car (it is actually quite liberating only packing into suitcases – we are the family who cram the car full of ‘essentials’ that we never use but pack ‘just in case’) and set off down the motorway. Our hotel was clean and spacious and the window looked directly onto the runway – bonus!
The first day was a little challenging…after booking flights that left at 9am, nice and sensible…we were informed a few weeks before that the scheduling had changed and we were in fact now flying at 7am. This meant a 5am wake up and grumpy children before the holiday had even begun. We also completely underestimated a) how slow tired children are and b) how ginormous Heathrow is and as a result, we very nearly missed our flight and were the last ones on board…not a great start!
However, once on board, our cheeky little chap politely enquired if the Pilot would ‘fly the plane nice and straight’ and was immediately ushered into the cockpit to meet the pilots and ask him personally! The Swissair crew were so attentive and sweet with our little nervous flyer (responding very calmly to his enquiry about where the parachutes were!) and frequently checked on him during the flight. Well done Swissair, a super demonstration of being family friendly!
We arrived in Geneva, quickly located our bags and then began the challenge of finding our hire car. It is worth noting that Geneva has a Swiss side and a French side…as such, having spent 45 mins queuing for our hire car, we were dutifully informed that we were in fact on the Swiss side and needed to go to the French side…
The car was swiftly sorted (in the end!) and we navigated our way through increasingly beautiful scenery towards our campsite.
We arrived about 1.30pm and were quickly shown to our beautiful Safari Tent at Camping La Ravoire. However, there was no time to explore as the kids were ravenous and we suddenly remembered that all eateries shut down between 2pm and around 5pm in France. We were quickly directed to the supermarket (there is a smaller supermarket in Doussard and a small Spa in Duingt, about 5 mins drive away) in Faverges. It was at this point, we appreciated the use of Google Maps whilst on holiday with small children…I have to say, it was incredibly useful on a number of occasions. The supermarket had sandwiches for 1 euro so I quickly threw these at the children in the car and left them with the husband (watching Netflix on the phones!) while I did the shopping for the week – the local rose comes highly recommended!
We arrived back at our Safari tent and made ourselves comfortable (which involved opening said Rose!). The Safari tent was clean, well equipped and most importantly, had a HUGE fridge. This meant we could do one shop for the week which really helps when travelling with little ones…We also had bedlinen and towels, provided by Damien at Camping La Ravoire , so this was one less thing to think about (and pack!).
We all slept very well…the beds were surprisingly comfy and the tent lovely and cosy (there are heaters in the rooms if needed). We immediately began a holiday tradition of sending the 9 year old off to collect the fresh bread and croissants from the site shop (small, but with the essentials and you order your bread the night before). She loved the little bit of independence this gave her and both children also loved the fresh croissants for breakfast too!
Today was all about settling in, so we explored the pool (smallish but great for our children) and the two waterslides as well as the small indoor pool (which is heated). We also spent some time on the bouncy castle and small park on site. The children explored their new holiday toys (I always keep something back from birthdays or Christmas to reveal on such an occasion) and were generally content having a quiet day to recover from the journey here.
Feeling a little braver and more rested today, we picked up some leaflets and asked at the Reception for things to do in the local area. Knowing that there was a rather exciting paraglide comping up, we decided to head up the mountain to Col de la Forclaz to get a view of the beautiful Lake Annecy and to see where the paraglides fly from. It was a real mountain road, twisty and turny (not great for our travel sick prone daughter) but well worth the effort at the top. There are a couple of small restaurants and shops here and the view is totally amazing. We ate our picnic, admired the view and then headed down again to get ready for the afternoons adventures.
Camping La Ravoire had kindly organised for me to paraglide with Flyeo during the afternoon. As someone who has regularly climbed and abseiled, I have to admit, this still scared me a little…We arrived at their base in Doussard (which had a lovely chill our zone with hammocks and beanbags as well as amazing local ice-cream) and were met and reassured by some lovely members of staff. Without much time to think, I was whisked away in a minibus, back up the windy mountain road and back up to the beautiful Col de la Forclaz. My instructor, Jim, was calm and reassuring and without time to think, I was strapped in, firmly attached to my instructor and flying in the most beautiful scenery. It was amazing how smooth and calm the flight was, I even had a chance to pilot myself! Having been so nervous about the experience, it really was amazing and highly recommended. Interestingly enough, the families in the tents next to us also had a paraglide with Flyeo and had a wonderful experience. They were great with younger flyers too so if your children are brave enough, it is something the whole family can experience.
It was a miserable day today with rain forecast for the whole day, so we took advantage of the boat tickets organised for us by Kayleigh at Reception and made our way to the port at Doussard for the boat ride to Annecy.
The boat takes around an hour each day and takes you directly into the beautiful town of Annecy. There are lots of shops and places to eat here so a great place to walk around (although perhaps more enjoyable without small, wet children!). We chose a restaurant and settled down to the local speciality of Tartiflette (a dish so nice I had it a couple of times this holiday) and the slightly less sophisticated meal of ‘frites’ for the 4 year old, washed down with a glass of Rose (to take the edge of the cold, wet weather) and followed it up with amazing ice cream from Palais de Glaces (highly recommended). We then caught the boat back and spent the rest of the day keeping warm in our tent – the tent heaters were greatly appreciated at this point in the holiday!
We teamed up with the lovely families in the tent and caravan next to us today to embark on the adventure that was a cycle ride with 13 people to Annecy. Kayleigh was again incredibly helpful in providing us with bikes (and a trailer for the little one) and we embarked on the 9 mile ride to Annecy.
Although it does seem like a daunting distance with children, the trail is relatively flat throughout and so easy to navigate for kids who are relatively confident cyclers. There is also the option of getting the boat back rather than cycling back so this is always a helpful alternative to consider if they are tired after the journey there.
We happily cycled back to Annecy for more Tartiflette and Rose (obviously!) and then half the party came back by boat while the other half cycled back, pausing for a drink at the lovely L’abri Cyclette café on the way back.
In search of more adventure away from Camping La Ravoire and with our new friends to help us entertain the children, we ventured up another mountain today in search of better views and a luge! Not far from Annecy was Semnoz, a ski resort which has an all-weather luge, places to eat and spectacular views.
Once we arrived at the top, it was warm and sunny so we took advantage and had a coffee in the restaurant, enjoying the sunshine and the scenery while the children played.
We then headed to the luge and quickly discovered it closed over lunch (not sure if this is seasonal so worth checking!). We had a few goes down the luge (you can buy a pass which makes it all much better value for money when in a group) before closure and then drive a little way further up the mountain for the most spectacular picnic spot I think I have ever been in! We even managed to glimpse a view of Mont Blanc in the distance!
After a picturesque rose at the restaurant, we headed back to the luge to get the best value out of our pass, before returning to the campsite to wear the kids out in the pool.
The weather was glorious so we decided to head down to the beach at Doussard for our final day. There has been a great deal of work done on renovating the beach area and it is clean and well resourced – there is a small beach café which sells ice cold beer and snacks (more frites!) and the children can play in a park, paddle or swim to a platform and dive off, if they are feeling brave enough (the water is rather chilly this time of year!).
Our last evening was spent with our new friends, with the help of Kayleigh on Reception, we booked a table at Les Fontaines (the sister site a 10 min walk up the hill) and set off to enjoy our last evening together. The food was relatively simple but came quickly and there was more Rose and a chance to chat about our week.
Camping La Ravoire is a wonderful site for families, the staff are friendly and personable and have excellent local knowledge, essential when you want to get out and about and explore the local area. Kayleigh went out of her way to ensure our holiday went well and we knew where we were going and how to get there. The staff were also very responsive – we had an issue with our electricity in the tent while we were there (as did the other families) and they went out of their way to solve the problem quickly.
The facilities were also good; the tent was clean and fresh, the swimming pool well maintained and there was a brand new shower block which had a large cubicle with an adult and child shower in it as well as smaller toilets for little ones, which was a lovely touch. Camping La Ravoire was also an excellent location for exploring the local area, there was so much to do, we could easily go back again for another holiday and we were all sad to leave – the children declaring it was ‘the best holiday-ever!’
So if you are after a family adventure a little further from home, we would highly recommend Camping La Ravoire, (do check out their website) in fact, it was so wonderful we are thinking of booking up again for next year!
With thanks to the staff at Camping La Ravoire for organising our Safari Tent, paragliding, boat trip and bike hire and to the Clements and Attridge families for their company and comments about the holiday experience.