After circling Paris Charles de Gaulle airport approximately six times while trying to locate the exit from the car rental place, we cheered as we finally got onto the motorway and en route to Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont.
As the sun started to set, we drove through miles of French countryside and excitedly chatted about what we were expecting when we arrived at the campsite. To be honest I was maybe a teeny bit apprehensive due to not having taken a holiday like this before. I needn’t have worried though. We were met by a friendly courier and as we unloaded our bags into the cosy lodge, I felt real excitement creep over me about the next couple of days.
Having arrived quite late due to a delayed flight (and having a grand tour of the airport!) we went in search of food. Luckily the campsite restaurant was still open and we were warmly welcomed in. Our meals of steak-frites and mussels were delicious! After finishing the meal off with amazing ice cream sundaes we wandered back through the crisp Autumn air to our lodge. The campsite was very dark so it was such a treat to see the stars, we even spotted the International Space Station whizzing across the sky.
The next morning we awoke to complete silence, it was bliss! I crept down the stairs and pulled back the curtains in the living room. It was a beautiful clear day and having arrived in the dark, it was so exciting to be able to see the sun lazily rising over the lake opposite our lodge.
I quickly got dressed so that I could go and collect the morning’s baguette from the on-site bakery. As a child on holiday in France, I used to love gathering my francs together and heading off with my dad to the bakery or ‘boulangerie’ to ask for ‘une baguette s’il vous plait.’ It was lovely reliving these memories.
After breakfast we enjoyed a tour of the campsite with Kat, the Canvas site manager, to see all of the different types of accommodation that Canvas offers. The three of us on the holiday have only worked for Canvas for a few months so this was a great chance to see everything that we offer. Our favourite was the Safari Tent Deluxe – they were so big and looked amazing! We could imagine sitting on the deck overlooking the river and enjoying a glass of local wine on a warm summer’s evening.
As we were there in mid-October, just before the school holidays, the campsite was wonderfully peaceful. It was so pretty wandering around in the sunshine under clear blue skies. There were a few kids out and about on their scooters and people relaxing with a spot of fishing next to the lake. The campsite itself was beautiful – the three lakes in the middle of the site were surrounded by lots of trees, all various shades of red, orange and brown.
Pierrefonds & Soissons
For the afternoon we ventured off site to explore some of the surrounding area. Our first stop was Pierrefonds as we had heard that the château ( featured in BBC series Merlin) was worth seeing. As we drove into the small town, we were greeted with the sight of the majestic château sat on a hill straight ahead of us. It really was impressive. Dictated by our growling stomachs, we went in search of food as soon as we arrived. We came upon a cute looking crêperie – Le Triskell. We made it inside in the nick of time as they close at 2:30pm for the afternoon. This is really common in France so if you’re heading out for lunch, ensure that you don’t leave it until mid-afternoon. We all tucked in to the most delicious gallettes (a type of savoury pancake) and crêpes that we had ever tasted. An hour or so later, and extremely full, we stepped outside and had a walk through the town towards the château.
The château sits in parkland at the top of a hill so it was perfect for an after-meal wander. You can walk right up to the entrance of the castle without having to pay a penny and the views over the surrounding area are stunning.
We decided not to go into the château, although the entry prices were really reasonable as we wanted to visit Soissons too. (The drive between the two, took around half an hour.) Soissons was completely different to Pierrefonds, it was much bigger and had the most striking architecture.
We found free parking next to the Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes and were able to walk around the whole town from here. There were lots of shops nestled along lovely little streets and a large Cathedral on the far side of the town. The walk to the Cathedral Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais was worth it just to see the stunning stained-glass window. The late Autumn sun streaming through was just gorgeous!
Looking back on my first Canvas Holidays experience, I have good memories. I would love to return to the campsite in the summer as I imagine it must be completely different when it’s busy. For three girls in their late-twenties, mid-October was a great time of year to visit. The weather was lovely – not for sunbathing as it was a tad chilly – but for exploring the local area and enjoying the food in the region. The lodge was perfect as it was big enough for us all to have our own space, but cosy enough for us to enjoy relaxing in the lodge and eating together. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the leisure facilities but the pool complex looked like great fun.
The Intermarché supermarket in Vic-Sur- Aisne is a five minute drive from the campsite and is open until 7:30pm.
Restaurants and cafes, particularly in villages and towns, close for a mid-day break from approximately 2:30pm until 7pm.
We visited towards the end of the season so the opening hours of facilities on the campsite varied each day. We visited Tuesday to Thursday and found most of the facilities on the campsite were closed all day on the Wednesday, excluding the pool. The pool does close for approximately an hour and a half over lunchtime. It’s probably best to check at the campsite reception for the most up-to-date times of facilities and excursions when travelling at this time of year.