A family holiday itinerary: notes from Phil and Martine Burke with Bradley (11) and Rory (9)
family made a week-long family holiday by cycling from Horsham to
Paris, stopping a couple of nights to enjoy Versailles en route.
Phil writes: |
"I'd recommend the approach we took of making it a holiday rather than a race, and in particular making the final stages toward Paris into short hops so there is plenty of time to study your directions and if a mistake is made to back up and go the correct way rather than feeling pressured to take the family into the traffic.
"Our boys are keen cyclists so perhaps not completely typical. The great advantage of cycle touring is the inbuilt handicap system with the 9 year old having a luggage free bike, the 11 year old feeling like big brother with some small panniers, then Mum and Dad with the real luggage. This guaranteed it wasn't the 9 year old who was last up the hills! Another tip for Mums I've only understood in retrospect is to start off with roughly the same load in your panniers as your husband, but to give him a fairly large empty plastic bag which you only later explain is the laundry bag. Then as your legs get a little weary as the trip progresses this is nicely offset by the clothing progressively migrating out of your panniers into your husband's".
Where we stayed:
Newhaven Lodge -
Fine for a family with a family room of a double and small room off with bunks.
Bikes lived indoors in the breakfast room then were moved out to the back yard for breakfast from where they could be loaded up and off to the ferry.
Perfectly fine but the same money the other side of the water buys a lot more charm …. but then that’s part of why we make the trip.
Grand Cerf –
Good family room again, directly opposite the garage where the bikes were stored. Good food in the restaurant.
Chambres de lAbbaye –
Excellent family room, double with a twin room off. Bikes stored under cover in an outbuilding.
Lovely place and recommend to take up the option of dinner with the hosts.
Le Clos B&B –
Possibly the boys’ favourite as the family room was fun – all one space with a little step up to the parents’ bed space.
Again, take up the option of dinner with the hosts. Both because they are friendly and the food is excellent …. And because there’s no other option in the village….
Campanile at Villennes sur Seine –
Functional. Worth cycling back into Villennes for atmosphere before spending the night there. No problem with keeping the bikes in the room and plenty of space for them there. No family room so two twins next to each other.
We stayed in the ‘gypsy caravans’. Others have said these are cramped but it was fine for two adults and two small boys for a couple of days with the small amount of luggage a bike trip imposes. The small restaurant on site can be tricky to get a table in but there’s an excellent small Italian just down the road.
There’s a bike path pretty much all the way along Avenue de Paris from Versailles to here so easy to take your route to Versailles, cross the park then pop out to here to stay the night, then walk or bus back in the next day.