Wellness family road trip between France and Portugal
15 June 2020
Who hasn’t dreamt of taking to the road and riding to new adventures? For many, road trips are a solitary experience that rhymes with discovery and freedom. However, it is quite possible to organize a road trip with your whole family! If it is well organized beforehand, a family road trip can even be an excellent way to strengthen bonds. So, fasten your seatbelts and let yourself be guided. Between France and Portugal, varied visits and wellness sessions, Little Guest takes care of everything!
The undeniable advantage of the road trip is the possibility to adapt it to everyone’s tastes. Whether you want to recharge your batteries at the seaside, get some fresh air in the mountains or multiply your urban visits, it is indeed very easy to organize an itinerary that will meet your expectations. For this one, Little Guest has designed a wellness trip from the surroundings of Limoges to Vidago, in the north of Portugal, via Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Designed around three exceptional hotels, this itinerary will allow you to take full advantage of the top-of-the-range infrastructures of the establishments while enjoying the adventure on the road. Perfect for families with children who want to combine relaxation and multiple discoveries, this itinerary between ocean and countryside will surely allow you to create wonderful holiday memories.
THIS ITINERARY IN A NUTSHELL:
- Number of kilometres to cover: it will take 375 km from your first drop-off point to your second and then 660 km to your final destination
- Landscapes encountered: countryside, regional or national parks and coastline.
- Main activities: hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, canoeing, golf, tennis or yoga sessions, relaxation at the beach, pool and spa.
- Expected visits: towns, historical villages, natural parks, various museums.
SOME ADVICE BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Turn your car into a comfortable cocoon: water bottles, snacks, nap cushions, sun blinds, etc. Little Guest has thought of everything in order to offer you some ideas to turn your car into a real amusement park so that children are never bored on the road. We have prepared an article to organize your family road trip perfectly, as well as a Little Guest road trip edition playlist!
- Always carry the children’s essentials (ID, vaccination booklet, etc.), a mini first aid kit with bandages, medicines against motion sickness…To make sure you don’t forget anything, Little Guest offers you three checklists: for children from 0 to 3 years old; from 3 to 6 years old and from 6 to 12 years old.
- Finally, in this particular period, remember to regularly check the evolution of the opening of the borders of European countries. Indeed, some of our itineraries cross several countries and it would be unpleasant to get stuck in France during your trip.
DAY 1: BEGINNING OF THE TRIP IN THE DOMAINE DES ETANGS
Your journey begins in the heart of Domaine des Étangs. Located between Angoulême and Limoges, 4 hours’ drive from Paris, this luxurious hotel has found its place in the heart of a lush and soothing nature. For this first day, take time to discover this 11th-century castle which has been tastefully renovated and decorated with contemporary artwork.
In the morning, let the children have fun on the large playground, slide down the slides and makeup stories in the wooden huts in the park while you enjoy the sun by the pool. For lunch, trust the Chef and ask him to prepare picnic baskets for you to enjoy by the ponds. Finally, you can spend the afternoon wandering through the alleys of La Colline Enchantée Animal Park, which features more than 40 varieties of animals, including kangaroos, camels and llamas.
DAY 2: DISCOVERY OF THE SURROUNDINGS
The Domaine des Étangs has the advantage of being located not far from many sites of interest, both cultural and purely entertaining. This second day could therefore be the ideal opportunity to get out of the hotel and visit the surroundings.
In the morning, discover first Massignac, a typical village of the region, then Limoges (less than an hour away) and its world-famous porcelain. After a well-deserved lunch break, continue the day by visiting one of the castles (La Rochefoucauld, de Rochechouart or de Rochebrune) that stand around the Domaine. Interesting for adults and fun for the youngest, they will delight the whole family. At the end of the day, back at the Domaine, take time to recharge your batteries with a boat ride, a yoga session or a cooking class. These activities, offered by the establishment, are an excellent way to make the most of its tailor-made services.
DAY 3: WELLNESS DAY AT THE HOTEL
The third day at the Domaine des Étangs will be dedicated to well-being, the core value of this road trip. To start the day on the right foot, discover the hotel’s park by bike (the hotel provides bikes), on foot or by kayak. The children will be delighted to get a glimpse of the local fauna (foxes, squirrels, numerous species of birds). In the afternoon, meet the family at the Moulin des Étangs, the hotel’s wellness centre, for a relaxation session. Don’t worry, it’s not reserved for adults and even boasts a special children’s treatment card, so you can treat yourself to a moment of relaxation all together! Later on, let your kids have fun in the large attic of the estate, set up for their greatest pleasure with colouring books, games and a pool table, among other things. Finally, and to end the day in style, dress up and join Dyades, the starred restaurant of the establishment, for a magical dinner.
DAY 4: DRIVE TO THE GRAND HOTEL THALASSO & SPA
It’s time to say goodbye to the Charente and take the road to the Basque Country and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. You will only have about 350 km to do during the day, all the more reason to take your time and make a few stops on the road for new discoveries!
After about 45 minutes’ drive, you will arrive in Angoulême. Capital of the comic strip, this city shows everywhere its taste for this art (if you are addicted too, visit its comic strip museum). As you wander through the cobbled streets of the old town, remember to look up at the street signs, they are bubble-shaped! Grab a good breakfast and enjoy it in front of Saint Peter’s Cathedral, one of the city’s emblems.
Take the road again towards Bordeaux, the second stop of the day. Don’t forget to take a look at the various vineyards that stretch out on either side of the road. Once you arrive, as lunchtime approaches, head towards the Saint-Pierre district, the historic heart of the city, where you will easily find something to eat. Next, head to Place de la Bourse and its famous water mirror, a must in the city that will delight children.
To get to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, it will take you about 2 hours by car and they will be through the superb Landes de Gascogne Regional Nature Park. While adults will need to stay focused on the road, children will have plenty of time to observe the local flora and fauna; one way or another to keep them entertained along the way.
DAY 5: DISCOVERY OF THE GRAND HOTEL THALASSO & SPA
The Grand Hotel Thalasso & Spa, voted Best Spa Hotel in the World in 2019, has a lot to offer families and you realise this from day one. Upon arrival, children will receive a nice welcome surprise, a great way to start the stay! For this first morning, Little Guest invites you to discover Saint-Jean-de-Luz: take a look at the magnificent villas that line the Promenade Jacques Thibault, make a detour to the Saint Jean-Baptiste church and then go to the Halles on Boulevard Victor Hugo to discover local Basque products.
After lunch, offer your children a moment of joy at the town’s Grand Manège and then go and have a look at the port to plunge into a truly picturesque atmosphere. For the most beautiful views of the town, follow the Sentier du Littoral (Coastal Path), which starts from the port, it is worth the detour and is perfectly adapted to children! If you want to discover the hidden face of the Basque Country, go to the town of Sare (10 km from Saint-Jean-de-Luz) and take the fabulous Train of La Rhune! In 30 minutes, this magnificent train dating from 1924 will take you to 950 m altitude and offer you a unique 360° panorama. Finally, to spend a good evening with your family, book tickets for Toro Piscine Labat, a 1h30 show in the Erromardie bullring, with a programme of various games and cow numbers!
DAY 6: VISIT OF BAYONNE AND BIARRITZ
Why not take advantage of a stay in Saint-Jean-de-Luz for a day trip to other must-see cities in the region? In the morning, take the road in the direction of Bayonne (30 minutes) where you will discover all the rich heritage of the Basque Country. Once there, start with a guided tour of the town’s bullring; led by bullfighting enthusiasts, it will delight young and old alike. Then head to the historic district of Rue Port Neuf and see the traditional houses with their colourful shutters before heading up to the Sainte-Marie Cathedral via the quays along the Adour river. For lunch, pack a picnic basket and enjoy it at the Botanical Garden, great for kids!
Take the road out of the garden and head back to Biarritz. Located only 9 km away, the European capital of surfing is ideal for a family afternoon at the beach. Drive along the Côte des Basques and past the Rocher de la Vierge to La Grande Plage, the vibrant heart of the city. After a good swim, check out the Art Deco casino and wander the streets until it’s time to head back to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. If the weather does not lend itself to idleness on the beach, take your children to the city’s Aquarium; penguins, fish, shellfish and sharks are just waiting for you!
DAY 7: RELAXATION AT THE HOTEL
For your last day in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Little Guest has planned a day full of relaxation and rest. In the morning, entrust the children to the hotel’s kids-club. The program includes creative activities, building sand castles, swimming, beach soccer and various games organized by great entertainers. Take advantage of this moment of calm to go to the Joa casino for example poker, slot machines, roulette wheels. If you are fond of golf, drive ten minutes to reach the Golf of Chantaco and its 18-hole course. You can even have lunch at the Club House in a sumptuous Art Deco decor!
In the afternoon, meet your children at the hotel to enjoy the Loreamar Thalasso & Spa centre with your family. Enjoy a body treatment or the heated seawater swimming pool while your toddlers enjoy a massage specially designed for them. Spend long hours relaxing in the sumptuously decorated, landmark hotel.
Option: If you prefer to be adventurous, take the road to San Sebastián (33 km) to discover its beautiful old town and outdoor sculptures or to Bilbao (130 km) and the unmissable Guggenheim Museum.
DAY 8: DEPARTURE FOR VIDAGO
The 8th day will be dedicated to the journey to Vidago, Portugal. A large part of the day will be spent in the car as there are almost 650 km to cover but that won’t prevent you from enjoying some nice discoveries on the road. After driving along the French coast, cross the Spanish border and drive towards Burgos. Go to the Santa Maria Cathedral square and enjoy a nice bocadillo in the sun before getting back on the road. You will have about 4 hours of driving time left before reaching the hotel, but you may want to take a short break in Leon to cut the journey in half. On arriving in Vidago, you will discover a very wooded mountainous region with one of the most famous spas in the country, an ideal place to end this wellness road trip in the best possible way.
DAY 9: DISCOVERY OF THE HOTEL
The Vidago Palace Hotel is the highlight of this family itinerary. Absolutely sumptuous, this Art Deco style palace offers all the advantages of a palace. Start your stay with a delicious breakfast in the Winter Garden and then discover the estate’s 100-hectare park; children will love to let off steam after the day before in the car. Spend the afternoon taking advantage of the hotel’s various exceptional services: walk along the surrounding footpaths (bikes are available free of charge for Little Guest families so make the most of them), visit the estate’s organic farm and vegetable garden where children can meet the hotel mascot, donkey Mirandês Figueiro, and end the day by the heated outdoor swimming pool. Relaxation guaranteed!
DAY 10: CITY OR NATURE?
For your penultimate day, Little Guest has imagined two possibilities for a day-long getaway. If you’re more of a nature lover, you can explore the Alvao Nature Park, located less than an hour’s drive from the hotel. Inhabited by numerous animal species, it also offers dazzling flora and is home to the Fisgas do Ermelo waterfalls; watch out, it’s going to splash!
If you prefer urban sightseeing, take the road to Porto. In less than an hour and a half, you will reach this charming coastal city. Start by taking a walk along the Cais da Ribeira, the docks that offer a breathtaking view of the city and the Dom Luis bridge. After lunch, discover the Ribeira district and its colourful houses with walls covered with azulejos. Then, take the Gaia cable car for an unforgettable crossing of the Douro, the children will be amazed! If it’s not too late, take a boat for a trip on the river, it’s surely from this one that you can best admire the extraordinary architecture of the city!
DAY 11: A LAST DAY DEDICATED TO WELL-BEING
The last day has come, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it. After the big day of sightseeing the day before, Little Guest invites you to spend the day at the hotel and enjoy its incredible spa which covers more than 2.500 sqm. Whether you choose to leave your children at the hotel’s wonderful kids-club or take them with you, sauna, hammam, indoor and outdoor swimming pool and above all, a range of treatments and massages are just waiting for you! Please note that the spa offers a menu specially adapted to children and their fragile skin, so you can enjoy this day with your family before it’s time to go home.
Buckle up! Let’s go!
Guillaume, 26 years old, passionate about travelling, from Paris