Living in Paris, much of what I love about the city is also what I sometimes feel the need to escape from every now and then. I love the energy, the architecture, the people-watching. I love that I can walk to most places I need to go, or rent a bike, or take public transportation anywhere in the city. I enjoy not having to care for a car anymore. I like that there are bistros and cafes and restaurants just around the corner from my apartment. But sometimes....
Sometimes I crave a slower pace. I crave a pitch black sky twinkling with stars, the silence that comes with the country in the evening, the smell of trees and flowers and grass, fresh air, and wide, open spaces. When the possibility of a four day weekend popped up, I suggested to my husband that we rent a cottage and take the kids away for a few days. We briefly considered a campground within the city of Paris itself in the Bois de Boulogne, but ultimately decided we wanted to escape the city limits.
We chose the campground of Le Village Parisien, located 50 kilometers outside the city limits in a village called Varreddes, close to the town of Meaux. It's easily accessible via the RER trains that run from the city, followed by taking a local bus that stops right outside the campground. Although not exactly a remote, "roughing it" kind of campground, it's located far enough from the city to feel as though we've gone somewhere else, but close enough to be the perfect distance for a long weekend trip.
The campsite has a variety of accommodation options, from tent pitches to caravans, mobile homes and cottages. We chose a cottage accommodation since we don't own any camping equipment in Paris, and really didn't feel like going on a shopping spree for a weekend away. Plus, the weather has been cool for the season and we weren't sure how cold the nights would be. We tried to rent a two bedroom cottage but they were booked, so management offered us a three bedroom one at the same price. Sold!
The cottages are different from what I'm used to when renting a small cottage in Canada, in that most of the materials are pre-fab plastic or laminate rather than wood, and they are a bit smaller as well. That being said, our cottage is well equipped and clean, with a shower that has hot water and sturdy bunk beds in the spare rooms. The stove is gas, and the kitchen area is quite modern. The kitchen is stocked with dishes and cooking utensils, and when we let reception know that our coffee maker was missing the carafe, they brought us a brand new coffee maker within the hour.
The kids appreciate the large front porch and small yard that they can run around in, and my husband and I enjoy the privacy. Although the accommodations are fairly close together, there is a large hedge that surrounds the entire property, making it quite private and also safe for the kids to play in. Not that we spend much time at the cottage with all the activities available on site.
France has a huge network of companies that specialize in campgrounds that are almost like an all-inclusive vacation one is used to in the Caribbean. This location isn't quite as large and sophisticated as others we've researched, but that's what we like about it. We wanted to come and relax, but also to have a few activities available to keep the kids happy.
There are two large swimming pools, one outdoor and one covered and heated with a splash pad. There is also a tennis court, ping-pong table,s mini-golf, soccer pitch and basketball court, bouncy castle, and playground. The river is a short walk away where kayaking is available, and there is a bike rental spot at the entrance. The campground has a small store stocked with basics and a snack bar with small meals. For those looking to go off site, Disneyland Paris is a short drive away, as is the town of Meaux, where a popular type of Brie cheese is produced.
For our part, we're having a really good time. The kids love having the freedom to run free and there are activities that please both my 3 and 7 year old boys. So far every staff member we've met has been friendly, and the campground's strict no noise after 11:30pm policy has meant the kids get a good night's sleep. The parents, too!
I know I'll be happy to get back to my city apartment when our vacation is over, but for now, this long weekend was just what the doctor ordered!
- Le Village Parisien
- Rue des Otages - 77910 Varreddes