FTF's European correspondent takes families on a tour through the Loire Valley while based at one of her favorite, family-owned B&B manor houses.
The Manoir de ClÃ©nord, just south of Blois in the heart of France’s chateau country, is barely a two-hour drive from Paris, so add it on to your next trip!
In late October I bundled my mother, my teenage son and a buddy of his into the car with bikes strapped on the back for a three-day mini-vacation. Let me clue you in on my best discovery for successful travel with teens — bring along a friend, or see that there’s one when you arrive at your destination. It’s worked for us every time — in France, Italy, Holland, Tunisia and Morocco — and language has been no barrier.
While my mother and I visited Cheverny and other nearby Loire Valley castles, the boys biked through the woods surrounding this delightful family-owned bed and breakfast.
The Manoir de ClÃ©nord has its own multi-generational crew, including grandbabies, young parents, grandparents and, of course, dogs! They will refer a babysitter, provide a baby bed or cot free of charge, but charge an extra €30 per night if you request a rollaway bed in your room. Travelers are welcome to bring their dogs and pay €7 per night per chien.
Although you can’t count on finding kids at all B&Bs, the owners will be welcoming, showing your family around the farm or estate, pointing out biking or walking trails, and knowing where to go for fun. Staying at accommodations such as these offers an important added benefit for travelers: your family will be welcomed by a local family. Fun, friendship and learning are the natural outcomes. Note that large groups may also consider renting out the whole property for themselves.
At ClÃ©nord, we got together daily for breakfast, which is included in rates and provided us with a regal selection of drinks such as fresh coffee, hot chocolate, fresh teas or orange juice to accompany a satisfying repast of home-made jams, Nutella, a croissant and baguette, fresh fruit, yogurts and cereals.
We had a wonderful dinner with our hosts (lunch and dinner may be ordered from the kitchen for an extra fee, and there is a children’s menu), though we were also free to try the nearby restaurants, too, if we preferred. In the afternoon, while my mother rested, I’d take the boys out to the mushroom cave or the late afternoon market. Later, I might swap, and go wine-tasting before dinner with my mother.
While there are convenient facilities for tennis, swimming or ping-pong, and nearby, the possibility to try watersports on the Loire River (sail, windsurf, canoe, kayak rentals) or horseback riding in the Galvinettes, this isn’t the place for mopey teens who need music and action. Interests in our group were diverse but we all had a good time, thanks to a flexible attitude and a wide variety of low-key activities to sample.
For other family-owned accommodations around France, pick up a copy of my favorite (trilingual French, English, German) guide: “Guide National Chambres d’HÃ´tes Prestige et Gites de Charme,” (France’s Finest B&B and Country Rentals), published annually by the Gites de France organization. You’ll find it at a French bookstore or specialty travel store. To make reservations at listed properties, contact the owners directly; phone, fax and languages spoken are listed in the book.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Manoir de Clenord|
|Phone:||33/0/2 54 70 41 62|
|Seasonal Rates:||$ – $$|
|Choice of Activities:||B|
|Quality of Amenities:||B|
|Bonus:||Beautiful estate, lovely staff make families feel like royalty.|
|Note:||It’s a bargain for large families who may book the four and five-bedded rooms.|
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