Europe Beyond the UK, walks

Domaine Des Ormes: The Return

We have had our second visit to Eurocamp visit to Domaine des Ormes and though there were a couple of problematic moments early on, a very good time was had by all and once again, the benefits of this large, well-equipped, sensibly designed site were on show.

Adventure course sits high above the lake and lawns overlooked by the restaurant & bar area.

Our first Eurocamp holiday in Bénodet (specifically at the La Pointe St-Gilles campsite), we’d gotten a Classic model home and it worked really well. We wanted a bit more space the next year so for during the first trip to Domaine des Ormes, we went for the Espirit. Strangely, the layout of the living/dining area of the Espirit didn’t suit us as well (fine for dining but not so much for 3 people lounging with kindles waiting for the rain to stop) so we went back to a Classic this year and we’re glad we did. The living/dining area layout was perfect for the three of us – myself, ModParlPhotos and Sprog (age 12).

Obviously, the Classics are the oldest of the homes in Eurocamp’s inventory so they do show a bit of wear and tear – we expect that. What we didn’t expect was main living area lights that wouldn’t stay on, a wasp nest growing bigger by the second in the roof just above the door and a table with not one but TWO broken sides. Let’s just get the annoyances out of the way so we can get on to the good stuff.

THE ANNOYANCES

We arrived on Saturday evening around 6:30 so we couldn’t report these things until Sunday morning but we were there at 8:30 am to report on the table and lights. Back at noon to report on the wasp nest. ModParlPhotos dislike of wasps aside, they did make it nearly impossible to be on the deck for any length of time and we found we couldn’t eat inside with the door open or in they came. We were told that Eurocamp could sort the table and the lights but that Domaine des Ormes would have to sort the wasps. The table was swapped by that evening and we were told an electrician was coming Monday to sort the lights – fair enough, most electricians were not gonna come out on a Sunday unless it was an emergency and this was not. All the Eurocamp staff we dealt with regarding these issues were on top form, helpful and responsive.

The issue really become the wasp nest – which remained unaddressed until nearly 6pm despite a follow up visit in the interim to both Eurocamp and Domaine des Ormes (DDO) at the main reception desk. The incredibly shirty DDO representative said it was a priority but that even over 4 hours after first reports, they could not say when it would be dealt with. I felt bad for the poor Eurocamp rep who was utterly at the mercy of this receptionist-gone-mad-with-power so I assured her that we understood she was doing her best but that if Domaine des Ormes didn’t feel wasps were an issue – there was nothing she could do. We then turned our icily polite but pointed attention fully onto the DDO rep. Once we invoked the spectre of a 12-year old overcome with wasp stings, describing the level and scale of the complaints that would follow as a result, she phoned the man on duty who said he’s be over as soon as he dropped off some blankets. They must have been very important blankets if they were prioritised over a wasp nest complaint 6 hours old. But – arrive he did and he dealt with the wasp nest brutally and efficiently. They bothered us no more – and the electrician came the next day to sort the lights. So – all the problems were done and dusted, leaving us the majority of the time to enjoy ourselves.

THE GOOD STUFF

First night – as has become our habit, we had dinner in the onsite restaurant. It’s not a huge menu – pizzas, pasta, chicken and some salads – but that’s fine. They have finer dining options but for us, it’s not that kind of holiday. Pizza suited us just fine and it meant we didn’t have to rush to the Carrefour the second we got there. The other reason we weren’t terribly fussed about supplies was the shop onsite. The shop at Bénodet was a bit lame, closed super early and offered very little beyond the absolute basics; last year, we’d been delightfully surprised by how good the shop at Domaine des Ormes was and how convenient the hours were. We finished a leisurely dinner then wandered over to pick up a few bits to get us through breakfast before a good sized weekly shop at the local hypermarket.

Days fell into the same routine as last year. Sprog is a huge fan of the Eurocamp kids’ clubs and I have to say – so are we. He’s quite happy to join in with kids he doesn’t know as a rule – I suppose he sees it a bit like Scout camp. He’s just not a shy child and that makes this sort of holiday ideal for him. Every day, he was off for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.

Eurocamp Kids’ clubs

This meant that ModParlPhotos and I could keep our walking programme up – the grounds are really lovely with walks along the water, past the golf course, over to a small petting zoo type space (with sheep and donkeys now added to the sheep we saw last year). We also hung out on the bar terrace overlooking the water cable skiing site. I indulged in my holiday ice creams on the terrace as well.

My preferred afternoon ice cream destination

In between kids’ club sessions, Sprog would meet us back at our Classic and we’d have lunch (various cold meats, cheeses, breads and salads) and after a brief rest, we’d go out to take advantage of the impressive facilities on site. Highlights included ModParlPhotos and Sprog getting harnessed and helmeted for the adventure course, which Sprog was very nervous about at first (honestly, I thought he was going to be sick) but which resulted in an adrenaline rush-fueled trip on the zip line later on. And before you ask – no, I did not do either one. I am not ashamed to say I chickened out. Besides, someone had to take pictures.

Practicing for the adventure course
Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiipline!

There was a new rope climbing tower that Sprog took a couple of runs at (the way small children clambered over that thing – like it was NOTHING – was really amazing) and we fed the donkeys and goats. The weather was OK for two days and overcast for three. Downright chilly for a couple of them as well – so the pool wasn’t really on many people’s radar but I noted the slip-n-slide was popular no matter what.

The rope climb – which probably has an actual name – drew children like spiders to a web

We usually had dinner at home, went for an evening walk – over to the open area by the ‘big house’ – and a toss around with Sprog’s new boomerang (that none of us could get to come back). Lots of UNO was played and lots of reading was done. One evening we went to a performance at the Domaine des Ormes equestrian centre (adjacent to the campsite) – an absolutely stonking show put on by Les Baladins de la Vallée d’Argent’s called ‘Tournoi de Chevalerie’ jousting, fire breathing, acrobatics, trick riding . . . as ModParlPhotos said, “wonderful, hilarious, swashbuckling stuff!”

An entire audience of kids shrieked with joy at each clash of the swords
Run away! Run away!

Embarrassing moment for us when toward the end of our second visit to the area, we discover a better, closer supermarket than the Carrefour we’d been using. There was nothing wrong with the Carrefour but when I prepped last year, I’d listed the addresses of the three closest supermarkets and that one was first on the list. No idea why we’d skipped checking out the Super U (the closest of the three) the first year – something must have led us to go to Carrefour instead but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was. We ended up at the Super U on the last day full day of this trip and spent half an hour walking around calling ourselves names – it was bigger, had better and broader selections better equipped, and was closer.

Speaking of trips to get groceries – last year we made several day trips across the surrounding area but this year we didn’t actually leave the campsite this year except for a few runs to get groceries. Yes, Saint Malo is really lovely and the Grand Aquarium is a top notch day out – but we’d done those. And truth be told, even when the weather was kinda crap, there’s a lot to do onsite so we saw no reason to supplement our daily agenda. If we’d been stuck at a smaller site, we might have struggled a bit. But there is so much on offer at this particular site (it is one of the largest in the Eurocamp selection) that it never seemed to slow anyone down. And you know what? The hiccups that first day aside, Eurocamp’s site at Domaine des Ormes remains:

  • a tremendously good value,
  • an easy run from home (about 450 miles which we do in two chunks with an overnight stay near Le Shuttle in Folkstone),
  • staffed with engaging, friendly and super helpful young people,
  • somewhere we will go again.

I mean, seriously – how could you not go back for something like this:

The show was hot hot hot!

We’ve also been discussing what type of accommodation to book – and this though they are picturesque, I have nixed the idea of the water-based pods. I’m not sure they are Eurocamp in any case. But they fall short of my key requirement – indoor plumbing. So we’ll look at something  … more like an Avant. More space in the bedrooms sounds very appealing after spending a week in a room so small, I had to leave it to get dressed.

Nope, not staying in this.

Of course, ModParlPhotos goes nowhere without his camera so he grabbed a lot of moments from all areas of the site and during lots of walks and activities.

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