Simon Woods

Farewell to Val de Bonnal - Al Fresco Holidays

Some holidays involve lots of travelling around and sightseeing. This one hasn’t for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this part of the Franche Comté region isn’t awash with must-do attractions. While there are several towns that are worth a visit (expect something on Besancon on the next day or so), they’re pretty in a picture postcard way rather than major centres of historic or cultural interest. But secondly, there’s so much to do at Val de Bonnal itself.

Those who like water have several choices. As you may have read here, you can go canoeing or kayaking, with a coach coming to reception each afternoon to drive you a few kilometres upstream, allowing you to finish your paddle just outside the site. Then there’s the swimming pool, complete with slides, jacuzzi and mini-waterfalls. It’s more a place for slobbing around with younger children. If you want more space or are into serious swimming, or if you just want a change of scene, the lake is the place to head for. It’s less than 5 minutes over the bridge from the site, and there’s a broad sway of grass on which to set out your towels. There are gentle shallows (complete with the occasional fish flitting past your feet) for less able swimmers, and huge expanses of water for those who have a bit of the Michael Phelps about them. Further along the lake, there are vast sections for anglers and water-skiers, but to be honest, we never got that far.

Away from the water, there are activities such as archery and the adventure playground – Alex will be filling you in on those soon. Every morning, you’ll see sporty men (mostly) setting off for long runs or bike rides (bring your own, or hire them on-site), while their kids hair round the site on scooters. At around 10 am, a trio of efficient looking Dutch girls opens up the play centre, which is soon swamped with children of various nationalities, but mostly German, Dutch & English. Cue drawing, lantern-making, water fights and – most importantly – the kick the flip-flop competitions.

I spoke to several people who had been on the site for a fortnight and apart from an occasional trip to a cave or Besancon had otherwise only left in order to pop out provisions (the U Express in Rougemont has better wine than the Intermarché in Villersexel). In fact, the only negative point of Val de Bonnal has been the lost trainers (see pic). They appeared on a grass verge on our second day of our visit, and remained there until we left. Occasionally they moved a few yards, occcasionally they pointed in different directions, but most of the time they just sat there looking forlorn. So if any Al Fresco customer has lost a pair (Adidas, probably size 1), they may still be there..

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