Combining Disneyland Paris with Champagne!

By Emma Stoney, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Reims.

Overall rating:3.8 out of 5 (based on 4 votes)
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Recommended for:
Activity, Family, Food and Drink, Budget, Mid-range

A week in Disneyland Paris may be heaven for the children but is not all adults' idea of fun. Here's how to turn a magical trip to Disney into a relaxing family week away in Champagne, northern France

The eldest of our 3 young daughters had been growing increasingly desperate to 'do Disney', but with the youngest being 18 months old, we did not feel a trip to Florida would be fully appreciated just yet.

I priced the various packages offered by Disneyland Paris to stay in one of their hotels and was horrified by the cost for a family of 5.

My Husband said "We could have a week away for that!" and so we did...

Gites within striking distance

I searched the internet for self catering gites in the north of France, sticking mainly to the east of Paris as this is where Disneyland is located.

A gite is a French holiday home that is available for rent, a bit like you would search for 'cottage' in Britain or 'villa' in Spain. Generally a gite is an old farm workers cottage or converted outbuilding or barn with the owners living close by.

I found plenty of choice of accommodation of a high standard on the website www.gites-de-france.com  There is a central booking office that communicate with you via email and pass on your booking details to the gite owner. I also contacted the owners of the gite I had chosen and found Christophe to be extremely helpful, answering all my questions quickly and in English!

The chosen gite in roucy

Le Gite du soldat Carouge, 7 Rue de la Fontaine, 02160 Roucy.

The gite I settled on was in the department of Aisne, very close to Champagne.  I had asked Christophe how long the drive to Disney would take us from the village of Roucy and he was able to tell me 1 hour and 20 minutes. In addition to this he offered to purchase the tickets to Disney for me at a reduced rate he was able to get through work! Wonderful!

Northern France in September

We travelled by P&O ferry from Dover to Calais. I booked the ferry crossing around 6 months ahead of our trip through the P&O website for the ridiculously cheap price of £50 return. (I even went back to double check I had not forgotten the car and booked us as foot passengers!)

I printed off directions from the AA route planner before we left and they got us from Calais to Roucy in just under 3 hours. The toll charges on the motorways in France keep the roads quiet and make for easy stress free motoring.

We picked up food shopping in Laon, one of the closest large towns to Roucy on the way through and then went on and found the village with ease.

Roucy is a small typically french village perched on the side of a hill with the remains of a fort just visible behind its walls. There are no shops other than the boulangerie which sells basic provisions plus the obvious delicious freshly baked croissants etc. The Gite is in the centre of the village next to a pretty fountain and opposite the church.

The owners' house faces onto the street and the holiday gite is round the back through the electric gates.

I can not sing the praises highly enough of this well thought-out conversion. The accommodation is in a topsy-turvy layout with the large and light open plan kitchen lounge diner on the top floor. The staircase then leads you down to the bedrooms on various levels and finishes in the original vaulted cellar with roll top bath and huge walk in power shower.

The decor is modern and tasteful throughout and with the building work only being completed one year ago, all still feels very fresh and new.

Outside is a patio and enclosed grass area for your sole use. There is a large walled garden shared with the owners and a heated swimming pool which is fully secured meaning children are safe to play outside unsupervised.

The biggest bonus of this fantastic place is the provision of every imaginable bit of kit for children and babies. There is a highchair, pushchair and cot plus delightful extras such as bikes and a fully furnished dolls house. The owners have 3 children themselves and this has clearly influenced the thoughtful way in which the gite has been equipped.

We found northern France at the back end of September to be a touch on the cool side. However we did manage to use the pool and gardens but one can only imagine how fabulous these facilities would have been in the summer months.

Day trip to Disneyland

The route to Disneyland from Roucy was straightforward. Disney is well signposted as you approach.

The beauty of visiting at this time of year is the lack of crowds. It is worth noting that Wednesday is a day off school for French children so in addition to the weekends is best avoided.

Because it was so quiet we did not need to use the 'Fastpass' system that they have. This would allow you to select a time slot later in the day to avoid the long queues for the more popular rides.

Our 3 young children particularly enjoyed the It's A Small World ride and of course the parade. I felt that although the park is excellent, it is perhaps not on the same level as its American cousins. The fact Buzz Lightyear and all of his Disney character pals were talking in French before English felt a little odd.

That said, our girls were certainly caught up in the magic of it all and it will put them on for a few more years until we plan a trip to Florida.

I felt that after a full day here exploring the 4 lands we had seen as much as we needed to. I was pleased that we had not opted for a 3 day Disney only trip that I had originally had in mind. Families travelling with slightly older children may benefit from a further day here to ride some of the bigger attractions which are height restricted.

Reims

Roucy is set between the 2 old French towns of Laon and Reims, Reims being the nearest at 15 miles away.

It is regarded as the capital of the champagne region and is home to many of the most famous champagne houses, Veuve Cliqcquot and Lanson to name two.

Although we decided that a tour of one of the champagne caves may be more stressful than enjoyable with a lively toddler in tow, most of the well known champagne houses plus some of the lesser known offer them. Christophe also mentioned that at least 2 of the champagne houses in Reims have a train that takes you on the half hour tour of the caves, which may appeal to older children.

The fact we didn't take a tour did not stop us sampling plenty back at the gite!

The Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral in the centre of the city is magnificent and well worth a look around. The city centre is full of well known high street stores plus some more unusual boutiques. We stopped for the most divine hot chocolate and pastries at one of the many fine patisseries on the cobbled streets close to the cathedral.

If like us you travel with a roof box on the car, remember to avoid the city centre mulitstory car parks as they have height barriers. The on street parking was both plentiful and reasonably priced.

Other days out locally

The city of Laon is the capital of the Aisne department in Picardy and is 20 miles away. A hilly city in an otherwise flat area, the cathedral perched high on its peak is visible from miles around. The historical old town centre is linked to the new town down below by cable car.

We spent a very active and enjoyable afternoon at Axoplage, a recreational area within Aisne less than a half hour drive from the gite.

The entry price is very reasonable. There is a lake with various water sports available and a beach. The many walking tracks take you through both landscaped gardens and wildlife wetlands. There is a bird hide high above the grounds and plenty of slides, climbing nets etc that are suitable for both younger and older children.

There doesn't seem to be a website but you can contact the park for more information:Tel: 0033 323 809241

The way to do Disney?

The week away was as relaxing as is possible with a young family in tow. I felt like we had a real break and the day at Disney was a pleasant addition to the holiday rather than all consuming.

The area has interesting cities for days out and an abundance of champagne houses on the doorstep. Alternatively the gite itself is the perfect spot to just kick back and relax.

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More information on Combining Disneyland Paris with Champagne!:

Author:
Emma Stoney
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
3.75
Average: 3.8 (4 votes)
Total views:
220
First uploaded:
26 October 2010
Last updated:
3 years 42 weeks 6 days 15 hours 28 min 50 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Activity, Family, Food and Drink
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range
Free tags / Keywords:
champagne, swimming pool, gite

Emma recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Le Gite Du Soldat Carouge
N/A

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Community comments (4)

Rating:
3
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Sounds like you had a wonderful holiday. Nice photos and a personal account of your holiday.

The guide is very practical and personal, almost like reading a letter combined with a “how to” guide. The strength in this guide is that it is full of useful facts and tips. The description of the gites is very detailed and certainly enough for readers to decide if they would like to stay there.

Some ideas I have. You mention that you had excellent hot chocolate and pastries in Reims. I would suggest including the name of the cafe, address and a website if it has one to help readers track it down. You might even wish to include an idea of how much it cost to eat there. You mention that you booked through the P&O website, so perhaps include a link to this in your guide.

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Rating:
4
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Hi Emma

What a great way to do Disneyland Paris, and I'm sure the kids got more out of it by being immersed in genuine French culture. I agree the Disneyland hotels are expensive, whenever my family stayed there I used to get special deals with my American Express card points which helped with the cost quite a bit!

Simon

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Rating:
4
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Welcome to Simonseeks Emma - may you catch the writing bug and share many more articles in due course :o)

You have written a solid review, and I always admire plain and clear travel writing. Your review is very easy to digest as a result.

Just to offer my thoughts, I would have changed the emphasis just a little to give a bit more Disney info, and a little less on one particular gite (although I like that you really sell the benefits of staying out of the Disney Hotels).

More people are going to be interested in Disney, so you may attract more hits that way. Likewise, I would have offered a few more Disney and local attraction photos.

Still it's just my thoughts, and I hope you do well and earn a few pennies towards your next trip!

Paul

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Rating:
4
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

Emma,

This appears to be your first Simonseeks guide and I certainly hope we see many more.

Your guide is packed with information and great tips and will be especially useful to parents with young families looking to visit Disneyland Paris.

I loved your photographs and its great that you have included people in the shots as they make pictures far more interesting to the reader.

One thing I would do is revisit the guide and perhaps include a line or two explaining just what gîtes are.

It may be I am not the brightest but it is a term I previously never heard. I found myself looking it up on Wikipedia to be absolutely sure it was, what I thought, it was.

Also, for future guides, keep an eye on length as this guide exceeds by some distance the recommended word count.

Could you also perhaps consider updating your personal information so readers have a chance to get to know a little bit more about you. I do feel readers are more likely to trust someone they can fully relate to.

Your first guide, however, is a welcome addition to the site and I look forward to reading more about your family's travels.

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