WITH HELEN BOWMAN
If you’re looking for your next family holiday destination, how about beautiful and scenic Languedoc in the South of France? We follow Editor of Absolutely Mama and mother-of-two, Helen Bowman as she jets off to the stunning French countryside with her family for a summer getaway. Here, she shares her travelling tips and more. Read our interview with her below.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED TO TRAVEL?
Absolutely! I’ve always gotten so much out of discovering new places. And wherever I visit, there’s always the question of whether I could live there. When I was younger, I always wanted to live abroad.
HAVE YOUR TRAVELLING HABITS CHANGED SINCE YOU’VE HAD YOUR LITTLE ONES?
I don’t travel as much now – or do as many city breaks. For now, we tend to choose the type of accommodation over location – whereas before it was the other way around.
IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME IN FRANCE?
No, we try to get to France every year.
It’s the new Provence! A similar landscape and countryside but generally cheaper, less touristy and in some ways more authentic.
SNOOZE IN STYLE
We stayed in a large, modern villa that we found through family travel operator Oliver’s Travels, though we sandwiched that with stays at two chateaux – both owned by the same company and both amazing, family-friendly apart-hotels.
We discovered a quaint little French town – Uzes – in the middle of Le Gard, sometimes referred to as being in Provence when it’s actually in Languedoc; this was our third trip back. This time we stayed in the tiny village of Bourdic, 15 minutes away. There are lots of great boutique B&Bs in the area if you’re going kid-free or prefer the hotel experience.
Over the course of our trips, we’ve visited St Remy de Provence (which has some cute shops to browse), Avignon and Arles (for the Vincent Van Gogh museum). Provence is a 90-minute drive away – this time around I was keen to visit Chateau La Coste and do the art and architecture walk. It would be amazing to stay there!
EAT LIKE A LOCAL
We chose our villa for the self-catering aspect as we find this works best with the children still being young. But I would recommend Les Terroirs in Uzes for biodynamic produce and wine, and La Filles des Vignes (also Uzes) for cocktails.
In Uzes, market days are Wednesday and Saturday. Think of all the good French stuff: bread, smelly cheese, organic wine. There are a couple of good boutiques too.
PLACES LITTLE ONES WILL LOVE
Wild swimming at the spectacular Pont du Gard, a surviving stretch of Roman aqueduct, is a must. And there are plenty of beautiful gorges in the area fit for the same purpose. The kids just love being by a pool every day, which is why their swimsuits were the key essentials. We picked our accommodation expressly so we didn’t have to leave too much. Both châteaux – Les Carrasses and St Pierre de Serjac – have a kids club and plenty of family-friendly activities available, like bike-riding, tennis lessons and horse-riding. So there’s no need to venture too far afield.
ANY MEMORABLE STORIES THAT HAPPENED DURING THIS TRIP?
I love going away with family because you get free childcare and can actually relax every so often. One night the grandparents looked after the kids so my sister and I (and partners) could go out for drinks and dinner. Clem also took her first unaided strokes in the pool, which made her (and us) very proud.
Wild swimming at the spectacular Pont du Gard, a surviving stretch of Roman aqueduct, is a must.
MUST-HAVE ITEMS TO PACK WHEN TRAVELLING TO LANGUEDOC?
A straw hat and bag are perfect for the French countryside!
ANY TIPS FOR FAMILIES TRAVELLING HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME?
You’ll definitely need to hire a car for this area.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Portugal – Lisbon, Porto and Comporta in particular – seems to have an abundance of family-friendly accommodation that doesn’t compromise on design. We went there on a babymoon and while Lisbon itself might be tricky with a buggy, due to the steep hills and cobbled streets, we quite fancy holing up in a villa somewhere outside the city later this year.
With thanks to Helen Bowman X
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