Our Summer Holiday in France 2019

Going Abroad With Baby Boy

This summer we went on our annual holiday to my Mum’s house in France. With money being tight and a 6/7 month old we probably wouldn’t have gone away this year if we didn’t have this option.

3 children and mum on an aeroplane. The baby is asleep and children on iPads

I have heard about that person who went backpacking with her baby during maternity leave, but for me going away with a baby feels like you are doing the same things, but in a different location without all the conveniences of home. With Baby Boy crawling and now pulling up on everything what we really needed was a holiday at a soft play where everything was padded. Hard flooring is less ideal, but the sunshine and swimming pool made it worth the trouble. Baby Boy isn’t a chilled out baby who is happy to watch the world pass by (like Little was), he gets grumpy if he doesn’t have the chance to get down and move around which can make days out a bit of a challenge let alone holidays. 

The flights weren’t too painful. Baby Boy slept for part of the flight on the way there and pretty much the whole flight back.  This is slightly easier than handling a wriggling octopus in a confined space, but I needed a wee on the flight back and he didn’t wake up until the seat belt sign came back on. I was running for the toilets when we landed at Stansted. Fortunately the flight isn't very long so I don't have to worry about DVT or wear compression stockings like these from Athlemo. Not being able to move around on a longer flight would be a much bigger problem. 

We only went out a few times while we were in France. The swimming pool tends to entertain the girls enough that there is no need to rush out. So we went to some of our favourite places to go with children in the Dordogne: Chateau Bridoire, Parc Jacquou and a Night Market (as well as popping to a vineyard to ride some horses and a supermarket for some sweets, why is the range of sweets so much more exciting in France?).

View to a French sunset past a stone building and metal table and chairs

Sunset in the distance next to a large French house with shutters

Chateau de Bridoire - Ribagnac, Dordogne

We have been going to Chateau de Bridoire since 2014 and each year we notice changes; some for the better and some not so much. The Chateau was in a state of disrepair when it was bought by the Guyot family in 2011. They have slowly been repairing it, but the most exciting aspect is that they have filled it with a large number of old fashioned games. You have to search a bit to find them all (although the map obviously helps) and this year they were in the ground and first floor of the main chateau, there were a couple in the dungeon, but there was no artificial lighting down there so they weren’t really playable, above the stables and in the grounds (the plain of big games). In previous years they have also been in the top floor of the chateau and in the courtyard.

As well as the games there is a café open in the summer which is trying hard to be eco friendly so only had glass bottles and various homemade snacks. There are also a few ponies/ horses, rabbits and chickens and the owners pet dog.

It was the busiest we have ever seen it this year and it is definitely getting more popular each year. Since 2016 there has been a new area called The Mysterious Valley which has an additional entry fee, but we haven't explored this yet because it's not suitable for small children and you need closed toe shoes, as we only seem to go on really sunny days we are never prepared. 

While some of the games are probably original victorian wooden ones, many are recreations, but they are entertaining for the whole family. Games include those people will recognise such as skittles, shut the box, a type of egg and spoon race, giant chess and fishing games, but there are many that people wont have played before. It's a fun place to go on a dry day. Some of the rooms eg the kitchen have been restored so there is a bit of history to explore too for those interested.

Chateau de Bridoire a fun castle for children in the Dordogne France

A 3 year old child playing an indoors skittles style came at Chateau de Bridoire

Jacquou Parc - Le Bugue, Dordogne

We discovered Jacquou Parc last year and we are such big fans we knew we had to go back on this holiday. It’s essentially an amusement park with a good water area in it, but you would be disappointed if you compared it to Chessington or Alton Towers. I would describe it best as quaint and crumbly. The paint may be chipped and it’s all a bit faded, but it has a lot of charm. 

There are a range of rides which work well for children around 3 to 8. There is only one fast rollercoaster, which alongside the pirate ship and flying swings merry go round make up the bigger rides. Last year there was another fast ride too, but that had been removed. 

There are various height limits for how tall you have to be to be go on each ride or to ride alone. They seem to be pretty relaxed on this though and generally health and safety is much more the responsibility of individuals than us Brits are used to. Another peculiarity is the rides are meant to stop for 90 minutes over lunch, although this year the ones near where we had our picnic seemed to continue throughout that time.

The park is much quieter than any theme park I have been to in the UK and all the queues are short. In fact sometimes the longest wait is for the ride to start due to multiple rides being controlled by one staff member. 

The water park area at Jacquou Parc is easily the best and most popular part and I suspect some people just go along for that. They have a range of water slides including one I’m not brave enough to go on, right down to a little one a 1 year old could enjoy. The range of slides meant there is enough to keep all of us happy. I say all of us, my Mum kindly came along to look after Baby Boy as he would have got bored long before any of the rest of us wanted to leave and we wouldn’t have been able to accompany the girls as easily. 

So if you are thinking of visiting Jacquou Parc I recommend having low expectations of it’s appearance, don't compare it to UK (or US) theme parks and you will have a great time. The rides will entertain most 3 to 8 year olds (with a few rides to entertain those older/ younger) and the water park will be enjoyed by all. I recommend taking a packed lunch as well as your swimwear. The park is quite small so you can easily pop back to the car to get lunch, swimwear etc to save carrying it around.

3 year old child on a fire engine as part of a ride at the Parc Jacquou theme park in France Dordogne

A ride where you have to pedal to make your plane go up while the ride goes round at Jacquou Parc

A small children's train ride at a theme park in Dordogne France

Beaumont-du-Perigord Night Market

I wasn’t aware of Night Markets until my Mum moved to France. They take place during the summer in town’s across France and they are well worth a visit. Long tables are set up in the market place or other large space and food vendors sell a wide range of food that you can go up and buy. It’s a bit like a food court you get at shopping centres, but outside, temporary and there is often entertainment. 

The week we were visiting the nearest one to us was in Beaumont. We got there early to ensure we got somewhere to sit and had some food while the sun went down. A french couple sitting next to us looked on in amazement as Baby Boy nibbled various bits of my food. Apparently Baby Led Weaning hasn’t made it to rural France. We had strawberries, a bean stew, chips and various cooked meats. Also on offer were fajitas, duck, pancakes, omelettes as well as food from the restaurants in the square such as pizza and ice cream.

We ended up leaving early when the music was only just starting because my eldest was complaining a lot about being tired etc etc. Funny how she got a second wind as soon as we packed up to go.

The market square in Beaumont, Dordogne during the night market in August

A pony ride at a vineyard open evening

Fun Times in The Swimming Pool

Much of the rest of the week was taken up with swimming and chilling at the house. The girls went in the pool every chance they got and it was great to see the improvement in their confidence over the week. M even practiced her strokes (something she is often reluctant to do) and managed to swim the length of the pool unaided a few times. She hasn't had a swimming lesson for a year and has only been in a pool a few times in that period.

We took our Konfidence swimming gear which we were gifted as part of our ambassador role and I’m so glad we decided to make space for it in the suitcase. The swim jackets were brilliant for the girls. I wasn’t sure whether M would actually where hers because she has got really fussy about what she considers cool enough to where, but she did. It helped her initially as she regained her confidence in the water and after that she used it when she wanted to play around or go past the point she could stand up in the pool. 

Little wore her swim jacket pretty much every time she went in the water. Within a few days she was able to move around independently using the jacket and a noodle. By the end of the week she was happy to jump in the pool and “swim” a few metres using just the jacket. By swim I mean she was using her arms and legs to keep afloat and move. The jacket keeps children fairly low in the water so they are in a good position for swimming, but without the noodle, being supported or her moving herself her chin (and mouth) would go in the water. 

Of course we also took Baby Boy’s swimming kit too. The double nappy system meant I didn’t have to worry about accidents in my mum’s pool (that would be even worse than a public pool!) and it saved the need for buying disposables. The babywarma was also great. While the water and air temperature were fine most days for us, the water did feel quite cool to Baby Boy. A combination of the babywarma, cuddles and a bit of bouncing up and down kept him happy.

I am really impressed with the Konfidence swimming kit and genuinely recommend it. I have used Babywarma’s with all 3 children now, but the big surprise to me was the jackets and it was great to see how much more they helped the girls' swimming develop than armbands etc which we had used in previous years.

As a reminder you can get 10% off at the Konfidence website using this link or entering my affiliate code at checkout (AFFILIATE-4503-EC4RA-AAPD).

A family selfie in the swimming pool (parents and 2 children)

2 girls sitting on the edge of the pool in konfidence swim jackets and a baby being held up to them by the mum. The baby wears the Konfidence Babywarma on a sunny day in France

Baby Boy being held by me and enjoying the water

a selfie of me with the swimming pool in the backgroun
My sea tiger swimming costume according to M

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