Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The European Center Parcs holidays that are half the price of Britain’s

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Do your research

Before you completely defect to the Continent, it’s worth doing a few extra calculations: there’s the time it takes to get there: Center Parcs UK says the average travel time to its parks is around two hours; if you travel to the Netherlands instead, you’re looking at a drive of at least five hours, ferry costs and extra fuel. 

Activities vary in price and availability: for example, archery costs from £20.50 at Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest, compared to £13 at Belgium’s De Vossemeren. Just to enter the spa at Elveden, in Suffolk, will set you back £70 per person for a three-hour visit; at Les Trois Forêts, the largest Continental Center Parcs spa in the mountains in the east of France, prices start at closer to £25. Activities such as indoor skiing have specific booking windows: make sure you ask about these to avoid missing out.

If you can be spontaneous, there are last-minute (meaning six weeks out) weekend breaks available with savings of as much as 33 per cent off already lower prices on the European Center Parcs site. Split the driving and cost with another parent and child, and you’ll be looking at a keenly priced adventure.

Finally, a great source of advice is the very useful rabbit hole of a Facebook group called “Center Parcs Europe Just For Brits”, where you can ask the 38,000 members advice on the quality of pools and age-appropriate activities at a particular site. Responses are rapid and meticulous. One of the most popular questions is whether men must follow French municipal swimming pool protocol and wear swimming briefs rather than shorts to pools at the French Center Parcs sites. Spoiler: no budgie smugglers required.

10 great family holiday parks in Europe 

Here are a few of the best Center Parcs options (centerparcs.eu), chosen for their accessibility from the UK, on-site activities, and quality of lodging. All prices are for a family of four, with two adults and children aged four and eight, based on the lowest price with current availability for stays during the school summer holidays. During the same period, Elveden Forest, in Suffolk, has a seven-night stay for £2,328, while Whinfell Forest, in Cumbria, offers lodges from £2,328.

1. Eco chic near Paris 

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