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Take the Family › Exploring Picardy as an October Half-term Destination

Exploring Picardy as an October Half-term Destination

Château de Pierrefonds © Comité Régional du Tourisme de PicardieChâteau de Pierrefonds © Comité Régional du Tourisme de Picardie

Northern France has long been one of our favourite destinations with kids – easy to reach under your own steam, by taking your car on the ferry, and great value. So we were very excited to hear about some special offers on breaks in Picardy for the coming half term. We asked Felicity Irwin, a Brit who works at the local tourist board, for her tips for family holidays and breaks in the region. 

If you could sum up Picardy as a family destination in just two sentences, what would you say?
Picardy is a real gem just waiting to be discovered by British families – safe and not over-run by tourists but with so much to see. There are indoor and outdoor activities galore and lots of opportunities to get out and about in nature while introducing kids to French culture, with everything within easy travelling distance.

What would you recommend to parents planning a visit to Picardy? What kinds of family-friendly accommodation is on offer, for example?
There’s a huge variety of family accommodation options in Picardy, from coastal campsites to château-hotels. 

Three family-friendly hotels, all very different, spring to mind. The Domaine du Val has 30 individual bungalows perched on a hillside in the middle of the countryside, near the Somme Bay. This area is just teeming with wildlife and it’s the kind of place where kids can run wild. 

The second is the Hôtel Beaudon in Pierrefonds, a gorgeous French village, with views directly over the Chateau de Pierrefonds, setting for the BBC’s ‘Merlin’. 

The third is L’Hôtel des Trois Hiboux just outside Parc Astérix. Unlike many other themepark hotels, this one puts service first, as well as being brilliantly designed for families.

Do you have any insider favourites to share with our readers when it comes to child-friendly restaurants and local markets worth trying out?
Readers should head to the famous Vanille et chocolat bakery in Pierrefonds, at the foot of the château, for Monsieur Bigot’s famous cakes and his reinvention of a traditional sweet from the area with caramel and almonds, the Machicoulis.

The town of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme is the place for mussels and chips to die for, and another speciality of this area is ficelle picard – a crêpe filled with ham and mushrooms covered in creamy béchamel.

The big markets are great in Amiens, Senlis and Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme.

Lastly, if you could pick just five unmissable experiences in Picardy for those with kids, what would they be?
• Sample some original Chantilly cream at the café at the Château de Chantilly, which also has a huge play area for kids, with animals, gardens and live shows.

* Get back to nature on a day in the Somme Bay, which you can cross on foot at low tide. There is a large seal colony, and the impressive Parc du Marquenterre bird park is close-by.

* Spend a day at Park Astérix, a world-class themepark dedicated to the lives of Astérix and Obélix from the famous books, with attractions for all ages.

* Explore intact trenches and take in a bit of child-friendly history during the centenary of the First World War at the Musée 14–18 in Albert.

* Visit the gorgeous town of Pierrefonds and explore Merlin’s Camelot from the BBC series.

Read more about half-term deals in Picardy.

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