This twin-turreted, Napoleon III chateau, set conveniently close to the Normandy coast, ferry ports and magical Mont St Michel, has recently been voted amongst the top family friendly hotels in France by the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Times thanks to its family-friendly multiple-room suites, abundance of facilities and summer child-care inclusive weeks.
Owner, Jon Barnsely, is a former national newspaper travel editor and, having sampled some of the best accommodation the world has to offer, he's poured his experience into making Le Castel something very special too, whilst focusing on filling the gap for a family-friendly chic chateau in Normandy.
Jon began offering his dedicated children's suppers a few years ago and they became an instant hit with parents who lap up the opportunity to not to have plan each evening's meal, let their little ones eat sociably and enjoy a catch-up and a glass of wine with other grown-ups all at the same time, especially when it means they can also enjoy their own 5-course candlelit dinner, baby monitor at the ready, later in the evening.
This year, he's introduced Normandy's first luxury all inclusive family holidays (running from early July until mid September) with discounted ferry crossings, stress-free onsite dining, childcare and essential caboodle such as cots, high chairs, baby bowls, sterilizer, monitors, baby baths and changing mats, all included.La Castel is set in four acres of parkland, featuring swings, a sandpit and woodland den where youngsters’ imagination can run wild. An array of bikes is available and children can delve into a box of balls, bats and frisbees found on the terrace. During the summer months, the swimming pool is always a winner and a Camelot-style marquee kitted out with toys and games, provides essential shade. Inside the chateau the library provides a welcome refuge for unwelcome rainy days, with UK TV and children’s channels, DVDs, a computer and games. There’s also free wi fi throughout the chateau and grounds.
The two bedroom Roi suite is the most elegant consisting of the Marie Antonette room and the Louis room on the first floor. The Marie Antoinette room is huge and has a beautifully draped double bed, sofa plus a bathroom. The Louis room has twin beds plus a small sofa that can be turned into a bed and an ensuite shower room. Between the two rooms is a comfy lounge area and there is also a kitchen with a fridge, microwave, kettle, coffee makers and bottle steriliser. Both rooms have three metre high windows with great views over the grounds. The price is based on 2 adults and 2 children on a B&B basis with exception of July, August and early September when the price change reflects an all inclusive package for families of 3 or 4. Extra children are charged at 15 Euros per night on B&B basis and 150 Euros per week during the all inclusive period.
Peak season all inclusive packages include:
*7 nights accommodation in a two bedroomed suite or cottage
*All evening meals (except Thursdays), including children’s meals at 5pm most days followed by adult only suppers or dinner later. Lunches are not included.
* Drinks, including wine by the glass, beer, soft beverages, juices, milk, water.
* Free ice cream and lollies. Fruit, fromage frais, and yoghurts are also available. Bread and pastries are usually on the kitchen table...unless you have eaten them all at breakfast!
*Children's organised play sessions on some days so parents can either have a lie in or simply read a book in peace. Parents must remain on the premises, but you can put your feet up and relax! Children must generally be 3, but they often make exceptions to this rule if younger children are happy to join in the sessions. Sessions are usually run by a qualified nursery nurse, who is also a mum of young kids.
Le Castel provides a convenient hop across the Channel to France, located close to the Normandy coast and around an hour from the ferry ports of Cherbourg, Caen and St Malo. When arriving in Calais by Eurotunnel, the drive takes around 3.5 hours, with the picturesque harbour town of Honfleur providing the perfect half-way point for taking a break in a quayside cafe.
Deserted sandy shores at Montmartin sur Mer are just 20 minutes away and Jon at Le Castel will be happy to pack the perfect picnic of local goodies in a wicker hamper, complete with fine china, napkins and chairs. The traditional seaside resorts of Granville and Countainville are also only 30 minutes drive and no holiday to Normandy would be complete without visiting the haunting D-Day beaches, monuments and museums within an hour away. Some of the most poignant sights include the Airborne Museum at St Mere Eglise, where the parachutist was caught on the spire in ‘The Longest Day’, the site of the gun emplacements at Pointe Du Hoche, the American War Cemetery, the Mulberry Harbour and 360 degree cinema at Arromanches.
Also within an hour away, spectacular Mont St Michel is one of France’s top tourist attractions and the stuff of fairytales to children. Cross the causeway at low tide to enter the walled town and follow narrow cobbled streets up to the crowning glory of the Abbey. While visiting Mont St Michel, you might also explore the walled harbour town of St Malo.
For budding history buffs, a visit to medieval Bayeux is simply a must to see the famous tapestry, depicting the 1066 Norman conquest of Britain in an extraordinary masterpiece. Alternatively, Le Castel is surrounded by fine Chateaux, ruined castles and Romanesque Abbeys so wherever you head, there’ll be something interesting to see.
Normandy is noted for its fine regional delicacies including cheeses, seafood and ciders so Le Castel can provide details of foodie trails to sample some of the best nearby.
Getting There: Le Castel is approximately an hour’s drive from the ferry ports of Caen, St Malo and Cherbourg or 3.5 hours from Calais.