It has taken me forever to get around to writing this, but in the hope that it will be helpful to others, here goes…
When The Small People were tiny, we enjoyed a few trips to Center Parcs Longleat in the UK, which we loved – and as it boasts a similar “Five Star” rating, we opted to spend our half term at Les Trois Forets, Center Parc’s “newest village”, as it promised much…
Situated in the Mosel Lorraine Region of France, it’s perfectly located for visiting nearby places such as Strasbourg and Nancy, which was also another reason why we decided upon it.
Center Parcs is probably not the kind of holiday we would have chosen pre-children, but it’s often a good option as it has something for everyone, and the cleverly laid out housing lets you pretend that you aren’t surrounded by hundreds of other guests, which is always a bonus…
Anyway, first impressions at this particular CP were good. Staff at the information desk were eager and friendly on arrival, and helped us organise a few additional activities to keep The Small People entertained. By the way, the information desk is one of the few places you can comfortably speak English – it’s rarely spoken at all across the rest of the park, which wasn’t really a problem – it just lead to a lot of confused looks as I tried to converse in a strange mixture of Danish/French and German!
Activities booked and sorted, it was time to check out the accommodation. We had chosen a Premium Level Cottage, which actually turned out to be in walking distance from the pool complex which (as most facilities seem to be concentrated in this area anyway) meant that we didn’t actually need to hire bikes. The cottage was pleasant enough (if not a little basic for the Premium price tag), but it was warm, quiet and cosy (albeit with a rather Eighties interiors vibe). The big folding Scandinavian doors onto the patio were a nice touch, but on the whole we found the cottage to be a lot smaller than Center Parcs accommodation we have previously stayed in. The biggest let down was the kitchen. One of the reasons we like Center Parcs is that we you can choose whether to cook or eat out, and with all that lovely French food on our doorstep, this was part of the appeal. Cooking proved problematic however with a hobbit sized hob, the tiniest microwave in the world, and no oven (and it was definitely not barbecue weather!)!! In comparison, the property at Longleat was so well equipped we managed to cook a Christmas Dinner for 8 in it – you could probably just about manage toast for four in this one! Oh, and whilst we are on the subject of burning things – a word of warning – if you intend on using the paper logs (available in the rather chaotic “village” supermarket) during your stay, do make sure you open the chimney properly, it was only once the smoke had cleared and we had sat with the doors open for a couple of hours in sub-zero temperatures that we found the tiny sign (in French) instructing us to do so…
And it’s because of the above that I can report that the restaurants in the “village” are mostly good (perhaps that’s part of the plan?)… The Italian is reasonable with good quality pizzas, The Grill restaurant is nice if you can get a table! The buffet is quite good value, and the staff here were friendly and helpful (especially when the Seven Year old did a good Mr Creosote impression after indulging in too much chocolate fountain after a glass of orange juice..)!. The Gallette restaurant close to the farm area served really nice gallettes, but you can’t reserve a table unless you are a party of eight (which seemed to be the case with a lot of things). My main complaint would be that all of the restaurants were so bitterly understaffed – which meant that the staff that were present were rushed off their feet. Thankfully this didn’t reflect in their attitude mostly, I just felt sorry for them.
On to the activities. Having asked the Small People, they both agreed that they enjoyed the climbing experience the most. Set in the forest canopy, high above the ground in a spider-web of ropes and nets, to them it was 40 minutes of paradise. They also had a fantastic enthusiastic instructor, who was a credit to his company, and whilst the two Small People were high in the tree tops having a whale of a time, I was happier at lower levels admiring the gorgeous toadstools on the forest floor.
As you might expect from a Center Parcs holiday, the swimming complex is another huge attraction, and it’s this I think that lets the side down the most. Perhaps having been spoiled by the UK and Netherlands Center Parcs, “The Aqua Mondo” is incredibly small in comparison, which meant swimming wasn’t an overly pleasant experience. The Seven Year old hit the nail on the head when she said it was kind of like “people soup” in the main pool, and both she and her little brother preferred to spend their time out of the pool at the mouse-trap inspired water play center instead. If we came here again I would be tempted to bring them in just for this, but I would just sit fully clothed watching them play, well until they start moaning that their skin was turning “pruney” at least!
The outside play areas here are a highlight thankfully, and The Small people especially enjoyed the one near the (slightly depressing) farm area. Another huge hit was the indoor soft play at the same location. It’s enormous and it’s a good place to take a book and relax while the children run riot. It was here that we also booked both children into a play club, and this I would highly recommend. What’s not to like about almost three hours of peace while they are trained in the arts of circus life for example (check whether there are English Speakers as part of the team before you book!). What’s really nice is that each session ends with a little performance – something that the tiger in the family particularly enjoyed!
So would I go back to this particular Center Parcs? Possibly, if they employed more staff, and had an expansion of facilities in some areas. Its location is perfect to for exploring the surrounding area, and the Parc itself is promising. But just right now it doesn’t quite live up to what we have come to expect from the Center Parcs name, which I think is a real shame…
Disclaimer… I was not asked to mention Center Parcs at all, I have done so in the hope that it helps with holiday decision making, and perhaps, just perhaps for the guys here to take note of a few things that could so easily be improved…
Jennine Dumont says
Thanks for your review! I too am looking to book for this summer. Are there any resorts similar to a Center Parcs in west of France that you are aware of that may have a better water park?? Thanks in advance! Jennine
I have heard that the other French centre parcs fair slightly better in terms of swimming pools, but I can’t recommend any personally, apologies…
it is actually too bad that i see this post just now, since i already have a booking for this summer. I hope it will not be too disappointing.
I would like to ask you if you can share the activities in the area you have mentioned. We have 3 young children (6,6,1).
I am sure you will have a wonderful time Hadass, I think your 6 year old children will enjoy the climbing experience, there are great family bikes (that fit all of you) that you can hire too, which I am sure they will like. I am sure all of them will love the animals in the farm too, and of course the pool! The play barn is a great place for everyone to relax, and do make sure you book your six year olds into the theatre/drama groups there, my two totally adored this, and they still talk about it now! Enjoy! Emma :)
Thank you for the info. We love France, but haven’t been since having the girls, we’re thinking about going this year and I mentioned Centre Parcs to my hubby, I haven’t done any reasearch yet so this is hugely useful to me :)
Thank you! I think the others in France sound vastly more organised… Give me a shout if you have any questions about any other aspect of our stay! :)
I don’t know why we’ve never been to a Centre Parcs before, especially as Thetford Forest is fairly near. Interesting to hear the differences between the UK and French versions. People soup sounds ewwwww!
Thank you! The UK parks are well worth checking out in my opinion, we really really enjoyed Longleat! I don’t know, may be it’s just me – apart from the pool thing (which is the biggest thing that needs changing), maybe the expectation of the French on their holidays is totally different… Maybe they don’t want to cook! :D
Emma @mummymummymum says
Thats interesting to read. I wonder how the other French Center Parcs compare?
Hmmm, I wonder! The place we visited in Denmark a couple of years ago (Lalandia or something like that it was called) seemed more like a center parcs in my honest opinion, although if they would like me to find out, I would be more than happy to oblige! :D Thanks Emma!
Mama Syder says
We visited a Center Parcs in France about 25 years ago, that had just opened too, and in some parts they were still building and the trees and shrubs hadnt grown back yet. We had a great time, we were teenagers so didnt notice staff issues etc, although my Mum did and said similar things to you (our villa didnt have an oven either and with 7 kids, it was a bit of a nightmare for Mum).
Mum did return to the same parc a few years later and she said it was so much better. I think sometimes the Parcs need to get going a bit.
Great post, really informative, Thankyou x
Thank you Mama S… It was just so annoying because (apart from the pool which is just nowhere near big enough), it is relatively small things that could be remedied (and like you say, they could well be teething problems!), but I think it’s these that will stop people going back! x
Funky Wellies says
Right… Not disastrous, but does not really make you want to stay there…
PS: Glad the subscription is working now, and thank you for subscribing to my blog too! xx
You are more than welcome. Thank you for commenting on this. It’s taken ages to write, but considering CP didn’t ever get back to me regarding my many comments in the “questionnaire” they ask you to fill out on departure, I felt I had to make my concerns heard elsewhere too! (: