We may have found our perfect family holiday location and being only an hour and ten minute flight from London, I may be able to grin and bear it on a more frequent basis (just a shame about the taking off part..).
As ever with the B's escapisms, I chanced upon our accommodation first before working out if we could actually find our way there easily or if the area was even habitable! My lovely fellow blogger Stephanie gave a special mention on her From The Poolside blog to Karine Kong, French interior designer, and her Cazaux home - which, handily, she also rents out some of the year. I fell for its stunning interior, size and family vibe (Karine has a daughter) - there's no pool but we discovered it was a five minute drive from the beach and after a quick recki-check with our French friends ("Is it in the middle of nowhere? Is it a dump? Would you go there yourself?") we booked our flights and voila, our summer vacances was in the diary.
The house is a forty minute drive from Bordeaux - and an easy peasy drive, which, if you aren't a fan of driving on the wrong side of the road (or, like me, keep trying to change gear in the window, forgetting it's on the other side), this is a bonus. There are four decent-sized bedrooms including a children's room (hurrah for other people's toys when you have only managed to cram some very squished bunnies and teddies into your hand luggage, which your child is bored of within seconds) with two kid's beds and a spacious outdoors with sun loungers, pizza oven and your own private driveway. Karine, being an interior designer has spent several years revamping the house with her husband and it balances just the right amount of cosy family living with chic style. The open-plan kitchen and living area is ideal for watching mini people zoom about whilst being able to eat/cook/lounge horizontally on the sofa with a mountain of magazines.
We're not beach bums, us B's. I can lie down on a beach for approximately 3 minutes before I get restless and start demanding where we should go next. I like exploring, adventuring, just not sun-baking. But...the beach near the house was something to behold.
It's part of the Unesco heritage site and in fact more of a giant lake but the mighty bonus for families is that there is no tide, the water and sand is crispy clear and your little ones can toddle out a good half mile before the water starts to creep up to their knees. Plus we pretty much had a giant proportion of the beach to ourselves (none of that paying €0 for a knarly-old sun lounger malarkey) - this being a favourite haunt for locals rather than a tourist-coach-load attraction, something Mr B and I both freeze and balk at.
Mini B was in his element splashing about in the water and being pregnant and not really up for activities involving any energetic movement beyond reaching into a bag of crisps, I rejoiced in lounging on my towel and soaking up my Kindle. I even managed a swim in the sea - something I love to do but am so often thwarted by manic waves or water so muggy you fear you may step on an unidentified object that could subsequently require a Tetanus shot.
This was one of our only holidays where things to do just fell into our lap without the need for my obligatory repeat visits to the local Tourist Information office, scheduling our plans for the entire trip. We found a zoo a five minute drive away and initially compared it to a neglected 1990's Jurissaix Park themepark - lots of faded signs and giant gates concealing goodness knows what. But, this was place was fab. Yes it's a bit tired but it is VAST. A lot of the walkways go high above the animal enclosures for a 360 view - note the metal walkway above the lion pen is corroding in places and areas partly shut off, not the most encouraging sight! - but we saw tigers, giraffes, lions, gorillas closer than we'd ever reached before. And importantly for me - the animals all appear to have a lot of space to roam.
The nearest large town of Arcachon is a 10 mile drive away and unlike the frequent tumbleweed-rolling places we usually have to rely upon - a good sized, well-stocked hustling go-to. A buzzing open-air market runs until early afternoon and there are cafes aplenty - the posho island of Cap Ferret is a 20 minute boat ride too.
We came home from this holiday overloaded with wonderful memories - dinner on the beach, climbing mountainous sand dunes, me discovering Des Petit Hauts and wanting to max out my credit card buying the entire shop (I bought the grey & gold wooly jumper - it is a BEAUT), drinking champagne with creme brulee on the side whilst Mini B counted pigeons...
Barcelona is our go-to fun-time city of choice and we now have that put-your-feet-up-and-relax perfect hideaway to return to time and again...