Paris activity holiday: Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs & Disneyland

Sep 30, 2022 BY Luke Rees

Are you looking for a Paris activity holiday with family or friends? Want to experience the city of love but stay in the countryside at a relaxing rural resort? Then take a read of this review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs & Disneyland from my family visit over the May half term.

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs - beach

Getting to Paris for a family holiday

With three International airports, Paris is easy to reach by plane from almost anywhere. It is also well linked to the European train network. Even from London you can hop on the Eurostar and be in the French capital in a few hours.

Living on the south coast of the UK, my two sons and I took the DFDS car ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. From there it is a 220-250km (depending on the route) drive to Villages Nature Centre Parcs near Disneyland Paris.

Arriving at the ferry terminal in Newhaven there was a short queue to check tickets and passports. We then waited while incoming passengers left departed before driving onto the ferry for the 23:00 departure. The ferry was full, but we got three recliner seats in the sleeping section for the overnight journey.

DFDS Ferry during family Paris activity holiday

Everything ran very smoothly and we docked in Dieppe on time at 04:30. We were one of the last cars off the ship and the queue for passport control was very slow. So we did not hit the road until well after five AM.

We had all managed to get some sleep on the comfy chairs. But as expected the kids slept most of the drive which took just about three and a half hours – including stops – as we hit some rush hour traffic around Paris. Taking the DFDS ferry was cheap, comfy and a very good use of our time as we still arrived at resort before nine in the morning, ready for a full day of fun!

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs

I had never stayed in a Centre Parcs in the UK let alone in France. But I have plenty of friends who regularly visit them in England and across Europe. So I knew to expect a high standard of accommodation, lovely parkland in natural surroundings and plenty of activities to keep the boys and I entertained.

Review of Centre Parcs Villages Nature Paris

Setting of Villages Nature Paris

We arrived at Centre Parcs hours before we could check into our accommodation at four. But you are allowed to use the facilities on arrival and departure days so we made the most of them. At reception we were given a map and directions of where to park, plus our wrist bands that are used as keys and to store credit etc.

We then set off to walk around the lovely grounds at Villages Nature Paris. The 120 hectare park is a sustainable oasis for nature. Surrounded by woodland and set on a sequence of interconnected lakes it is a beautiful tranquil location that immediately feels relaxing.

As with all Centre Parcs it is safe for kids and perfect for pedestrians as cars are kept well out of the way. The main promenade is along the lakeshore with restaurants, cafes, various activities and shops nicely spread out. It is perfect for a Paris activity holiday with family or friends.

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs

That first day we walked around the lakes and explored the woodland. The boys loved the Forest of Legends, which is a large kids play area with ropes, climbing and slides etc all tastefully set among the trees. We spent hours there, before having a lovely lunch at Vapiano (see below for food write up).

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs Aqualagon

After lunch, and before we checked into our accommodation, we paid our first visit to the Aqualagon.

One of the main activities at a Centre Parks is swimming. And here in Paris the indoor and outdoor pools are excellent. The water is kept at 30°C both inside an out, and the indoor area has a tropical feel to it with lots of green plants and natural light.

Review of Centre Parcs Villages Nature Paris Aqualagon

There are seven large water slides for kids (min height applies) and adults, plus a number of smaller kids flumes outside and in the indoor water playhouse area. On three of the slides you use large inflatable rings, and on all of them you’ll have a lot of fun. On the most thrilling slide you stand in a capsule, the floor then opens and you drop vertically at high speed.

The huge indoor area includes a large pool with a wave machine that sets off every thirty minutes. There is also a smaller pool surrounded by rocks you can climb and a rope swing you can jump for.

Outdoors is a large pool with many different sections plus plenty of sun loungers for guests to relax during their Paris activity holiday. During this review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs my kids particularly liked the lazy river and the floats you could clamber across using netting.

Review of Centre Parcs Villages Nature Paris Aqualagon

Accommodation at Villages Nature Paris

We stayed in a two bedroom premium cottage that sleeps up to four. It was very spacious, nicely decorated and had everything you need to prepare your own food. Including a dishwasher, cleaning kit, microwave grill, 4-ring induction hob, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto machine, kettle, toaster and more.

The master bedroom has a very comfortable queen size bed and an en-suite bathroom with walk in shower. The second bedroom had two singles which is perfect for the kids. Plus there is a second bathroom with a full size bath and a separate toilet.

The open plan living area is light and colourful and a really pleasure to spend time in. There us a dining table for up to six and a TV to entertain the kids if you need it.

Accommodation at Centre Parcs during family Paris activity holiday

The sofa is huge and comfortable, although we did find that the cushions slipped forward which was a bit annoying as you had to get up and adjust them from time to time. There is plenty of room for a sofa bed although I never checked if one is built into the seating.

Your accommodation also comes with outdoor space – decked patio leading to a lawn. There are table and chairs, a big sun umbrella and a couple of loungers. Our outdoor space got sun most of the day, although we were out most of the time so barely used it.

Paris activity holiday: What to do?

In addition to the excellent swimming there is so much to do at Villages Nature Paris.

Cycling during Paris activity holiday at Villages Nature Paris

Cycling

As with any Centre Parks bikes are the main mode of transport. You can bring your own or hire them. There are a huge range of options for all ages and types of riding. My youngest is not yet confident on a bike so we got him one with stabilisers and then removed them as he improved.

Once we had bikes we pretty much cycled everywhere. Including exploring some off road trails through the woods. For this I had to tow the little one as he couldn’t quite generate enough power. Cycling helped reduce the distances between the different activities although nowhere is too far away.

Archery

At the back of the Forest of Legends is a fully set up archery area. You need to pre-book this and it begins with a safety briefing followed my instruction how to hit the target. After some practice you have a little competition. The boys and I loved it, loads of fun and good to know I can use a bow just in case of a zombie apocalypse.

Archery during Paris activity holiday at Villages Nature Centre Parcs

Bowling

Tenpin bowling is the perfect rainy day activity. We didn’t have any poor weather but it was nice to escape the heat for a bit. As ever the kids loved bowling, albeit we were all frustratingly rubbish at it.

Climbing/Bouldering

One of the best things we did during this Paris activity holiday was to spend an hour on the bouldering wall. Located in the Action Factory it is an indoor area full of activities including an assault course (unfortunately closed), dance off, a throwing game and karaoke.

You are kitted out with climbing shoes and given a safety briefing. Then you choose the routes you wish to climb. All the climbing is below four meters over a padded floor. You don’t use ropes, so technically it is bouldering, and you climb on lit up coloured holds with beginner, intermediate and expert difficulties.

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs - bouldering at action factory

Using your wrist band you check in and choose your difficulty level. Then you climb the corresponding colour and tap your wrist band on a sensor at the top to complete it. You can see your score based on how many you have completed. Some climbs go across at well at up, others have overhangs and one crosses a clear bridge. We loved it!

Mini Golf

The kids love a game of crazy golf. This one was a bit less crazy than the pirate and dinosaur ones we have enjoyed during Isle of Wight activity holidays. But nonetheless it was still fun and we spent two hours enjoying the 18 hole course.

Other activities

There were also many other things you can do which we did not have time to try. You can paddle board, hire boats on the lake, drive mini-cars or a segway. There is a sports area with football goals and basket ball hoops. You can also play table tennis, boules, giant chess or go pony trekking.

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs - Forest of Legends

We’d like to have tried the escape room experience, which is a series of puzzles to solve but it was fully booked. Also one of the most adventurous activities are the tree trails (similar to GoApe) where you explore a range of obstacles suspended, one, three or eighteen metres above the ground.

Review of Disneyland Paris

But I am sure the most popular activity is a trip to nearby Disneyland Paris. It was a 10 minute drive to Euro Disney and if you are staying at Villages Nature your parking at Disney, which is normally €30 a day, is free of charge.

I had never been and neither had the kids. To be honest it is not really my kind of thing and the boys had never asked to go. But being so close we just had to visit, and I have to say it was magical! It was far better than I expected and a really special experience to share with my kids.

Review of Disneyland Paris

This was helped as we had queue jump tickets, which meant for many rides we could go straight to the front. This is done in a very tactful way so people who have been queueing for an hour do not see you breeze straight to the front, which would have been uncomfortable. As a result we did 16 rides and had many other experiences in one day.

Favourite ride

The boys favourite ride was Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, which we did three times. It is a 3D Star Wars adventure that was different each time. The kids loved that on one adventure I was picked out of the group of around 30 as a rebel, Darth Vader then chased after me (I love it too!)!

Personally I liked Big Thunder Mountain and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in the Walt Disney Studios park. The kids enjoyed both but I could not convince them to go on again.

Review of Disneyland Paris autopia

We did the Pirates of the Caribbean ride a couple of times as the kids loved it. Plus we enjoyed Crush’s Coaster, Peter Pan’s flight, Ratatouille, Buzz Lightyear, Autopia, Phantom Manor, Cars Road Trip and so much more.

We also took in a couple of shows, enjoyed the parade, went in a few exhibits and enjoyed the generally atmosphere. We didn’t last until the fireworks as the boys were exhausted and wanted to head home, but I heard they are stunning.

As an adult who had very little desire to go to Disney I had a great time. It was a really fun day and the kids absolutely loved it. Even if Disney is not your thing it is a magical experience particularly with children.

Review of Disneyland Paris parade

Review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs food

While we had a lovely kitchen we only used it for breakfast. For which we were delivered a package each morning. Croissants, pain au chocolate, baguette, fresh orange juice, butter, jam, fruit and milk kept us going until lunch. For the rest of the meals we ate out at the following Villages Nature restaurants, courtesy of Centre Parks.

Vapiano

This is an Italian themed restaurant that we ate at twice and got take away from once. The pizzas are excellent, as is the pasta and risotto. The boys loved it and particularly liked the wide range on offer.

The only disappointing thing is the lack of table service. The app is good but for some reason I could not order lasagne, and you cannot order take away through the app, meaning going up to the reception. Also you have to go to the bar to collect your desert when you want it, which was not communicated to us. But the food was great.

Review of Vapiano at Villages Nature Paris Centre Parks

Crêperie Suzette

Kids love a crepe. That said I tried to get mine to eat savoury ones and they were not so keen. They of course demolished the sweet ones for desert.

We had a pretty poor experience here as they got the order badly wrong. Not only did they forget my order twice, but they then turned up with the kids order for a second time. So the boys had finished before I got any food which was not ideal. However, the crepes were very good and it seemed like they had lots of new staff adding to confusion!

Les Délices de la Ferme

We really liked this restaurant next to the farm and are here twice. It offers a healthier dining option using local ingredients that have been produced with  respect for the environment. There is a lovely outside area and it is next to the soft play, so the kids could have a play while I relaxed.

Food at Villages Nature Paris Centre Parks

Everything I had was tasty and inventive with plenty of vegetables. I particularly enjoyed the trout. The kids meals are good, although less inventive. My boys loved the Croque Monsieur and of course burgers. Also the mint cordial was a big hit with them.

Miam Miam Burger

If you like burgers, chips and milkshakes this is the place for you! There is a great range of different burgers to choose from and the American diner style is really cool. We had lunch here but it would also be good for dinner.

Restaurant CEPAGES

This is probably the most upmarket restaurant we ate at during this Paris activity holiday. Serving traditional dishes from different regions in France the menu was very appealing.

Review of Cepages at Villages Nature Paris Centre Parks

The boys enjoyed steak hache with pasta while I had a delicious prawn, fish and asparagus dish. The cheesecake for desert was divine!

Getting home

We had planned to spend the final day in Paris and I had booked tickets for the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, my youngest was ill, not sure if he picked up a bit of a bug or drank too much pool water, but he was sick on the final night. He was sick again in the morning, so a train journey into Paris was not a great idea.

Instead we had a relaxing morning and then drove back to Dieppe early. Fortunately, despite being full DFDS managed to squeeze us onto the earlier ferry. It was a shame to come home early, but on reflection it was an amazing holiday and the kids will be talking about it for years to come.

mini golf during Paris activity holiday at Villages Nature Paris

Paris activity holiday: Conclusion

To conclude this review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs & Disneyland I’d say it is one of the best family trips we’ve had in years. This Paris activity holiday was full of adventures, fun, sunshine, laughter and great food. The accommodation was excellent plus swimming and cycling every day with the boys was something to cherish.

If you would like to take your children to Disneyland Paris then staying at Villages Park Nature provides a different experience to staying on the Disney site. Equally if you like the idea of visiting Paris but staying somewhere rural and relaxing Centre Parcs is a great option.

Ultimately a stay at Villages Nature Paris provides a very varied holiday. You get the relaxing, outdoors and active experience of Centre Parcs, combined with a visit to one of the world’s best cities and a day or two at Euro Disney. What is not to like about that?

Review of Disneyland in Paris

I hope you found this review of Villages Nature Centre Parcs & Disneyland useful. If you’d like to book a Paris activity holiday then go to: www.lesvillagesnature.com.

 
Europe, France, Paris
Bouldering, Cycling, Golf, Multi Activity, Walking
Centre Parcs, Disney, Family, Swimming
Travel Articles
 

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