Travelling with kids (and babies)
Back in April we treated ourselves and the kids with 10 days of hopping around 5 French glorious chateaux hotels. And the one who has a very special place in our hearts, ideal pied a terre for family holidays in the Dordogne with kids or without, fine dining and wine tasting Bergerac, best chateau hotel Perigord countryside is Les Merles. A 17th century chateau in pristine countryside, cute villages to be explored walking or by bike, indulging in local markets, local produce and cookery classes.
Why a special place in our heart? The chateau is the labour of love from our Dutch friends -we celebrated with them many years ago our birthdays in a glorious long week-end.
About 20 friends reunited from various European corners: Barcelona, Paris, London to mention just a few.
It made the perfect celebration with long lunches, wine tastings, lying in the sun and catching up by the pool wonderfully set amongst blooming flowers, green lawn and therapeutically scented lavender.
We were all booked in boutique rooms and suites and treated royally. There were late nights, dancing under the stars, glorious Dordogne wine and champagne flowing, lots of fun and tales.
So years after we returned with the kids. And staying in a fairytale castle is as appealing to our kids as it is to their parents! The Chateau Les Merles is as glorious as ever, and for our recent kiddies additions there are 6 perfect villas to rent, giving you full flexibility in terms of dining and wining options, lots of space all boutique, designery and impeccably integrated with the 17th century heritage chateau.
The kids loved playing by the green lawn in front of the villa whilst we were sunbathing with a glass of wine or to by sun loungers. The living has games and books plus the perfect set up for more playing and the kitchen is practical and great. We’ve done little cooking but it’s handy to have easy breakfasts in pjs and late night chats with kids in bed over more wine and cheese.
They also loved running around, observing insects, blowing blowballs, cuddling dogs and cats. We used little of the flatscreen telly and Dvd library but then we’ve been lucky to have constantly over 20 degrees and sunshine!
The pool is not warmed so we haven’t use it in April, but May onwards to October it makes a perfectly refreshing dip for family holidays in the Dordogne. There’s also a playground and a tennis court but most importantly warm delightful hosts. Chateau les Merles welcomes kids with open arms and the third generation of the Van Grinsven is around, lovely and very friendly.
The adults loved the chateau set up and glorious restaurant. Lunches are easy and casual in the chateau countryyard, there are kids friendly options and gourmet easy choices midday. Dinners are sophisticated, seasonal and local glorious produce. Cookery classes and best of wine tasting Bergerac sessions could be easily organised.
For golf lovers there’s also a nine hole golf, so you’ll see few golf enthusiasts around playing, enjoying the chateau set up and the cuisine.
The countryside around is stunning and picture perfect setting for family holidays in the Dordogne with kids: orchards, river, quaint villages, chateaux, local markets and lots of vineyards and restaurants.
Our highlights outside Chateau les Merles were Chateau de Bridoire, a 15th century castle in the heart of Montbazillac vinyards. We spent an enchanted Saturday in here with a local fete: white ponies and horses roaming around in the pretty green fields filled with blooming flowers – a truly fairytale set up.
There are lots of medieval games including archery, races, mazes and so on – fun and games!
We also spent a morning exploring the pathways close to Dordogne river – it’s large and fascinating for the kids and for adventurous parents there are even kayaking and canoeing options. We paired it also with walks in blooming plum orchards – wonderful.
The villages around are quaint and cute and our favourite lunch outside Les Merles was in Montbazillac – the service was superb, the kids got even their personalised plates! I personally overindulged in fois gras and of course lots of Montbazillac glasses, to complete the wine tasting Bergerac sessions focused on tanin and full body reds.
Timing wise if spring and summer have great pretty months for Dordogne with kids, September and October are even better, with crowds dissapearing, mellow searing heat and grape concluding.
For luxury family holidays in the Dordogne and the best chateau hotel Perigord, we reckon (along with Mr and Mrs Smith and I Escape) no looking further is required, just head to Les Merles!