Jason Collie enjoys a fun-filled holiday park in France

Camp and caravan villages in France can be great fun.

Lots of facilities, loads of activities to keep the kids entertained and some lovely countryside, towns and seaside to fill up your week away.

But there can be one hitch – they are often extremely busy.

It’s not about being a grinch and antisocial but for some a holiday is about total relaxation rather than having to hunt for free deckchairs as the kids mither about wanting to jump straight on to the waterslide.

Thankfully the final week of our school holidays offers the best of both worlds, with the French children already back behind their desks. Essentially you get the run of the parks with a few other (largely English) families. Some of the events might be a bit smaller or not held but it’s a trade-off, and you should still catch that warmer weather.

Last year Siblu’s Domaine de Dugny, in the Loire Valley, was lovely and quiet without being a ghost village. The Saturday we arrived had seen a large exodus as the locals packed up.

It meant the bar and restaurant always had tables and no long waits, the kids’ clubs saw more attention on the children and just a sense of calm.

It also meant a safer environment for the kids to ride the bikes or carts around the campsite lanes without the fear of a lot of traffic.

And it meant you could really enjoy the pools, whether it was the sedate indoor one, the slides or the outdoor with its own ‘rapid’ that you could muck about in.

Naturally it was a bit quieter in the evenings, but when you’re going with a relatively young family, bustling night-time discos and bars are not the first box the tick in terms of priority.

But one of the keys to an enjoyable holiday in a caravan is not to skimp on the level of home you go for. It may be a little more expensive, but a caravan in the Excellence category has a proper living room alongside the dining area, meaning no nights trying to get comfortable at a table.

Domaine de Dugny is set in countryside about two hours south of Paris, between the towns of Blois and Tours. It’s a little more rural than previous Siblus we have visited in Brittany, but the Loire Valley had that taste of peace and quiet we were seeking.

Both towns are worth a visit, particularly Blois. It is a picturesque little city worth an afternoon of wandering around its windy streets.

Whilst you don’t have access to the seaside, there is more enough to do, particularly if visits to châteaux and scenic towns on the Loire is your thing. There are 160 castles and stately homes that you can visit but number one should be Château de Chambord, which has stunning Renaissance architecture.

At the other end of the scale is ZooParc de Beauval. It is a little bit of a journey from Domaine de Dugny but is worth it, with more than 6,000 animals. Pandas and gorillas were highlights, but the undisputed show-stealers were the seals.

A car is essential to travel around but the trips out along the Loire are pleasant driving. And whilst Domaine de Dugny may be in the countryside, the town of Onzain is just a couple of minutes down the road – and is adequately served by a decent supermarket to stock up the caravan fridge.

Travelling to and from Domaine de Dugny is relatively easy. Brittany Ferries will take you from Portsmouth to Caen and then it is less than three hours to the front door of the camp.

All very sedate and relaxing. Just what you want.

* Siblu owns 15 holiday villages across France. Most have large pool complexes, monitored by lifeguards at all times, free children’s clubs, evening entertainment, and sports facilities, including multi-sports pitches. siblu.com

* Brittany Ferries operate from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to Western France saving miles of unnecessary and costly driving. Travel overnight by luxury cruise-ferry in the comfort of your own cabin with en-suite facilities, or be whisked across the Channel in as little as three hours.
For late August, return fares between Portsmouth and Caen are about £414 for a car and family of four passengers. For offers visit brittanyferries.com/offers. Book online at brittanyferries.com or call 0330 159 7000