Our Family Holiday – La Croix du Vieux Pont
La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny-Rivièra
La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny-Rivièra was our favourite holiday destination before the boys started school. But with the Easter holiday being early this year (2015), we were once again able to return, using our favourite family friendly holiday company, Canvas
La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny-Rivièra is situated about seventy-minutes from Paris. And with it being only an hour from , it offers a lot more than a convenient sixty-minute road trip to see Mickey Mouse and pals.
Although we knew we would be early when we got off the ferry at Calais, we headed straight for the campsite. If our accommodation wasn’t ready when we arrived, we knew we could just park up and use the facilities until it was.
With it being the first day of the Easter holiday, upon our arrival, we discovered that the campsite was fully booked. Obviously Canvas knew this and so extra staff had been drafted in just to help with the influx of new arrivals.
With three hours of the boys deciding what DVD to put on next, we finally arrived at La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Rivièra. And although it was in hope rather than expectation, we were glad to be told that our accommodation was ready, despite being two hours early.
Gaining an extra star since our previous visit three years earlier, this was to be the first time we had stayed in a five star complex. Fair enough it was only a campsite, but it was five stars none the less. Continue reading and you’ll discover exactly why this campsite deserves all five stars.
Our previous accommodation at this site had been the two bedroom wooden chalets along the lakeside.
This time, however, it was to be one of the many static caravans that were dotted around the campsite.
Conveniently situated within a stone’s throw from all of the facilities, our caravan was exactly to the same standard we had become accustomed to when staying with Canvas; clean, tidy and a welcoming bottle of wine sitting on the table.
After about three or four hours, there was a knock at the door. It was a Canvas rep checking that everything was okay and whether or not we needed anything. We had not had this before and I thought it was a nice touch.
With the gas only going once (this time with nobody in the shower!)and a fuse blowing the lights one night (that was easily fixed with the flip of a switch), our accommodation was just right for the size of our family.
Tip – If you happen to book this site through another agent, be sure to ask for the main campsite and not in the new part of the site. Although this still looks nicely presented, the main facilities are all on the main campsite.
Well, where do I start? As I mentioned earlier, this was now a five-star facility and unlike the Pontin’s holiday village (Brean Sands) we had stayed at the year before, this site was well maintained.
With this list of facilities, it’s no wonder a lot of families come back year after year. In fact, we overheard somebody checking in at reception, saying that this was their eleventh year.
The retail area is situated at the entrance of the site with a couple of eateries being offered on the far side of the campsite. These include…
- Three Bars – The main bar is situated at the entrance, whilst another one can be found by the lake and the final one is located in the centre of the campsite near the ‘beach’.
- Two Restaurants – As we discovered, both restaurants offered great food and were very popular. In fact, the first night we arrived, we tried to get a table but both were fully booked. Needless to say, booking is advisable.
- Takeaway Centre – After being turned away from both restaurants, on our first night we ended up eating a takeaway. Not my first choice I have to admit but with people queuing outside the door, we weren’t the only ones in this situation. To be fair though, although it was a little bit pricey, the food (we had the burgers) was really tasty.
- The Bakery – When we first came to this site, we had to order our bread the day before, so just to ensure we had some for breakfast, I took a short walk to order some. With the shop assistants English being as good as my French, it was soon a task I gave up on and returned the following morning to find bread a plenty. Pssst, the pastries are rather nice too. Not a great place to be if you’re on a diet.
- The Grocery shop – Next door to the bakery is the grocery shop. It offers most things you would expect a campsite shop to sell, at a price that would tempt you to drive down to the supermarket if you were buying the week’s worth of shopping in one go. However, with most of the shops being shut on Good Friday, Sunday and Easter Monday, this was a very convenient convenience shop.
- The Retail Shop – This had been moved from the reception area to swimming pool area. It was bigger than before and therefore, was able to offer more to its customers. Although I have to say, I didn’t like the range of knives they had on offer, even if they were aimed at the fisherman.
- The Fishing Shop – Although I wasn’t fishing, I noticed this little shop whilst queuing for some drinks at the lakeside bar. I guess with two lakes and a trout pond, this could only be described as an opportunity to gain some trade from a captive audience.
We never book a holiday with the intention of staying on site but if this sounds like you, there is plenty to do at La Croix du Vieux Pont. With so much on offer, you could easily keep the kids entertained within the fascinates of the campsite.
- Two Fishing Lakes – I do like to watch people fishing but must admit, I much prefer sea fishing to that of freshwater fishing. And although we watched people catch some huge fish (Sturgeon, Bream and Carp), a day at the seaside is still my thing.
- Trout Pond* – The trout pond is located between the ‘beach’ and the far lake and although we have been to this site three times now, I have never seen anybody use it.
- Swimming Area – There is one big swimming area with three different pools and a splash pool. The main pool and kids pool are both heated and have a removable roof for sunny days. Outside there is another smaller pool and a newly built splash area.
- Laser Quest* – This is a new addition to the site and something we didn’t have time to try out.
- Soft Play Area* – This again is new and is situated in the same place as the laser quest. The boys are a little big for this although I’m sure they would beg to differ.
- Ten Pin Bowling* – Now this we were impressed with. Of course it helps if you enjoy ten pin bowling but even if you don’t it’s worth a go.
- Indoor Football Pitch – This was the fourth new attraction that is part of the new building. Popping my head in was as far as I got but it looked fantastic.
- Children’s Play Area* – Situated at the lakeside bar area is a children’s play area that consists of a bouncy castle, trampolines, bungee trampolines, motorbikes and a climbing frame. By purchasing a ticket at the bar, the kids had enough entertainment to last them the week.
- Boats* – Pedal boats and Kayaks are available to hire for the lake. A great way to get around the lake to watch the fishermen.
- Table Tennis – Table tennis seems to be a popular past time of most campsites. With the tables having their own little building, there is no chasing balls half way across a bar area.
- Playgrounds – Scattered throughout the site are three playgrounds for the kids meaning no long treks.
Although there is a lot on offer at La Croix du Vieux Pont, the leisure facilities marked with a *carry a charge but to be fair, it is only the activities you would expect to pay for anyway.
As you would expect, there are basic utilities on site that include
- Washing Machines
- Tumble Dryers
- Shower and Toilet Blocks
- Safety Deposit Boxes
- Baby Baths
The washing machines and tumble dryers are operated via a token you have to purchase through reception. Before you have a go, although they are the same shape, twenty pence pieces do not fit (yep! we tried them).
What to do
The centre of Berny-Rivière is only a ten-minute walk away, however, you’re going to need the car if you want to travel to the nearest town of Soissons. Although we are yet to explore Soissons, we have visited the supermarkets on many occasions.
Being British, this seems to be a natural habit and if this is something you feel you need to do, remember supermarkets are shut on a Sunday. Oh, and you might want to be warned that there is a McDonalds in the carpark so you might want to go on your own and leave the kids with your partner.
Tip – When buying milk you will find Blue top is semi-skimmed and red top is full fat. You will also discover that the French drink a lot of UHT milk so you may discover the smaller supermarkets may not have enough stock in their fridges.
Pierrefonds Castle – For those that don’t know, Pierrefonds Castle was used to film the BBC series ‘Merlin‘ and being big fans of the programme, it was on our list of ‘must visit’.
By coincidence, the first time we went happened to be the last day of filming. With visitors still having access, we got more than we bargained for as we sat and watched the filming. Most of the cast were on set, but I was a little disappointed to be informed that Emilia Fox had gone home the day before.
If castle’s aren’t your thing, with bars, ice cream stalls and a boating lake, a walk around the castle and village still makes for a nice day out with the family.
Disneyland Paris – To this day, I can still remember the very first time we went to. It was everything we expected and more.
Actually, between you and me, I found it overwhelming to the point it almost brought a tear to my eye. Here I was, in, with my son (no Harrison at this time), two things I thought I would never achieve.
La Croix du Vieux Pont is popular with families wanting to visitbut don’t want to stay within thecomplex. With it being over just an hour’s drive away, even with petrol, toll and parking costs on top, it can still work out to be the cheaper option.
Tip – If you buy your tickets before you go, make sure they tickets and not vouchers that you have to exchange upon arrival. There is nothing worse than queuing up for an hour, just to exchange your vouchers for tickets, with a couple of excited children tugging at your clothes.
Safety Tip – Whenever you go to a theme park (or a day out), always take a photo of your children. No matter how much you try, in a panic, you may not remember what they were wearing. You should also write your phone number(s) on their arm, just in case. Alternatively, Disneyland do sell identity wrist bands for you to purchase just inside the entrance.
Le Parc Des Felins
Le Parc Des Felins – If you’re into big cats then this is well worth a visit. Not only has it got the biggest collection of big cats but it also has the biggest enclosures too.
This park is dedicated to helping the survival of some of the most endangered species of cat, left on our planet. If you have young legs with you, it’s well advised to take the free train around the park first, just to see what’s on offer.
After that, you can then choose what to see at your leisure. With the park being spread over such a huge area, taking a pushchair or hiring a park buggy is strongly advised. In our case, Harrison spent most of the day on my shoulders whilst Joshua just wanted to sit down all the time.
Even though the park was a good hour’s drive away (easily found with our trusty European Sat Nav), it was well worth it. The entrance fee wasn’t advertised on any of the leaflets we found and thought it was a little pricey (about 60€ for four of us).
However, we knew this was being spent on good causes and therefore, didn’t mind. All in all, a great day had by all at Le Parc Des Felins.
Paris – We are yet to discover the romance of Paris! Neither of us had the confidence to negotiate the city traffic and out of two attempts, we have only managed to get there once (we made it to the Eifel Tower and back).
Whilst the campsite offers a day trip excursion to Paris, we felt the boys wouldn’t sit still long enough to see the hour or so through. A visit to Paris is going to a personal thing, you’re either going to want to go or you’re not going to be bothered.
Either way, it’s there to explore and I’m sure if you plan your trip before you leave England, it could make for a great day out.
Working on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, the campsite also offers two excursions a week, one to Paris and the other to. Both are available to anybody staying within the campsite.
La Croix du Vieux Pont is a great campsite and has a lot to offer for all the family. Although it is located in the middle of nowhere, if you’re willing to travel, there are some great days out to be had. Given the opportunity, we will definitely be returning. But until we do, we’re looking forward to exploring other great sites we’ve read about with Canvas.
Alternative Booking Methods
If La Croix du Vieux Pont looks like the kind of place you wish to stay at, then there are plenty of options available when it comes to booking your holiday. I have recommended Canvas because that’s who we have used for five years now and never once had anything to complain about. However, other agents that include
and if you’re really feeling confident, you could contact the site direct although this might work out a bit more expensive.
Please be aware that this post is based on our experience only. I have read other reviews on various websites and not everybody has had the same experience we have had. If you are camping, staying in a motor home or even a caravan, your experience may well be different to that of ours. If you have stayed at La Croix du Vieux Pont and you would like to share your experience, then please drop a comment in the comments box below. Thanks and Happy Holidays!
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