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“Great concept - cottage need a lick of paint”

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Center Parcs Les Bois-Francs
GreenLeadersBronze level
Reviewed August 22, 2010

Those who are familiar with the Center Parcs concept will know what to expect. Nice surroundings, different zones with cottages (some old, some new) and a central area with the restaurants, shops and of course, the Dome with the water park.

This is the 2nd time we have stayed at Les Bois Francs.

Pros:
The forest park is very pretty, calm, quiet and well maintained. No cars allowed on the site, although hundreds of bikes whizzing around means you have to keep you eye on small ones.

We were also taken with the Style ('Eden' on the UK site) cottages. Modern cottages with wood exterior. The cottages are all quite small (we received a 6-person cottage instead of 4-person which made a difference) but well laid out. Each cottage is surrounded by trees, bushes and raised earth on each side. Just enough to give you the impression of privacy and you own 'area'. This time, we took a VIP cottage - complete with sauna - which was very nice.

Plenty to do as well. Great water park (or at least, great for kids. Adults might find the sheer number of people off putting).

Cons:
These cottages are getting run down! This is mentioned in most other reviews and I would agree completely. Bits broken off furniture, dust everywhere, scratches and stains on the walls, broken bulbs, broken lamp. We had 3 days without heating...

These places get a lot of a use, and we were arriving late in the season. But this is not an excuse. Center Parcs need to pay more attention to keeping these places clean and in good shape for the price they are charging. We met other couples that had worse experiences and were not happy at all.

The activities are a little pricey, and the pool gets very busy after lunch (our recommendation - take an early lunch and go to the pool earlier - it is much quieter). Restaurants only open after 7pm which might not suit younger children.

We did the pony riding last time and kids still talk about it now. This time round, they have changed the circuit so you just to laps of a small square area instead of going through the woods. Not very inspiring. The 1hr queue to get on a pony didn't help either (they didn't mention that when we handed over the money...:). The kids still enjoyed it, but think about coming at a quieter time - perhaps early in the morning.


Overall...we like the concept for Center Parcs a lot. The Eden cottages are well designed, the park is very pretty and the water centre is a dream for the kids. But the cottages are just not looked after enough. We don't mind the crowds or even having to pay for all the activities, but a run-down cottage is not where you want to spend a week away. This is the only reason we will probably not be coming back to this resort again. If we go with Center Parcs again, it will probably be with one of the newer resorts instead.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank Voyager006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 14, 2010

We have just come back from Bois Francs. Had a great time with the kids but not the cheapest (general approach + exchange rate) and the quality of the accommodation and its cleanliness did leave a little to be desired.

Had an Eden VIP accomodating 6 for 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) and was only just big enough, 6 would have been a bit too sardine like and have no idea how much more basic it could be (we did have a dishwasher and dvde player). The master bedroom and bath is up some very narrow stairs and I am a bit clostrophobic so did feel a bit confined at first but soon aclimatised and in the end it wasn't a problem. The master did have its own sauna which did seem to take a a week to warm up.

Elevedon seemed bigger and generally of a higher standard. We did have a jacuzzi bath but the bath was so small and narrow unlike Elvedon which was a huge tub for two.

Had to wash everything in the kitchen that we used first. The kitchen had no oven but did have a kettle (a review we read did say they and all the villas didn't have one) but no oven and such a complex microwave (all auto programmes so impossible to use unless you could read the French only instructions and knew what you were doing with it - I managed to cremate a couple of chicken burgers early on and then surrendered for the rest of the holiday). Impossible either to grill, heat or microwave - all combination programmes and impossible to work out in the limited time.

Note the supermarket shuts at 1 pm so being spontaneous with your eating is tricky and eating out is limited and extremely expensive, never spent £100 + for a pizza meal for 4 before. The Santal restaurant was excellent. Chez Pierre was ok but the food came out cold. All the service is extremely slow which can be a bit trying with children. Don't bother with the kids eat free vouchers, it only applies to the kids menu and these are usually 1 x dessert option, 1 x starter and 1 main - so if you're children want a bit of choice you are stuck and you have to present the vouchers before eating. Some of the restaurants close on Fridays and other days and the snack places don't open in the evening. But there is a decent super (hypermarket) in Vermeuil.

Paris is about an hour away from Dreux on the train (takes you in to Montparnasse and the Metro). Dreux is a pretty small French town and is worth a trip (especially the chocolate shop on the main street).

We were at the Bois Frances/France in August when many of the smaller shops are closed for a couple of weeks for the annual August holidays - the same is true of Paris.

We had a mix of weather, a litte rain some days, nice others. Buggy safari, horse riding, spa, mini-golf and water park all highly recommended. Use the spa wisely, we were funnelled through the spa and our treatments and then out after our massage so were a bit disappointed for our E95/pp, unlike Elvedon Forest (think the spa is infinitely better) where we could linger as long as we liked. Keep some 50 cents pieces for the lockers at the pool, and even in the spa (1 Euro). Also take pool/spa shoes.

There is a childrens' animal farm on the site and the animals are rather exposed to the visitors, there are no supervisors and while the farm closes at 6pm the animals are still fully accessible so the inevitble happens. Was contemplating taking wire cutters and liberating them all at one point - as you do get the feeling that facing 4 footed/2 winged predators might be a kinder way to go - but resisted.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank Fledge64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2010

i was worried about going there after reading a few of these reviews, but quite happy that i could accomdate a bit of mould etc. After all it was £400 cheaper than Whinfell.

You've also got to bear in mind that my CenterParcs experience has always been Whinfell Executive accomodation.

Accomodation: This is a dirty place, i booked a Premiere lodge, but it was very grim. The bed sheets had holes in, the kitchen cooking surface was all chipped and filthy, the bathroom was mouldy. The smell was atrocious, even a trip to intermarche for aire freshener and toilet duck didnt work. yuk! The living room couch stunk of smoke, and the flooring was foul. There were lots of utensils and pots and pans, and there is a dishwasher, but that didnt work very well. i paid for a lake view, it was a muddy brown! Inside the centre there is a pond with fish and some roaming animals, but the pond was thick brown sludge.

Restaurants: i went to the italian twice, food not bad but the service appaling, cold food, or different members of the party get theirs 10 or 15 mins before the others. also, all the restaurants are shut between 2pm and 7pm, and some days they are not open at all.

Costs: 5 euros a pint of beer, 7 euros a cocktail, 18 euros for a meal, 5 euros for an icecream, 3 euros for a cornetto. dont bother with the breakfast delivery it was a right rip off, intermarche is 5 mins drive away where bread costs .5 euros a stick and 2 euros for 5 croissants. diesel was about 20p per litre cheaper if you dont use the service stations.

Waterpark: brilliant but a little dirty, very very busy, and they take bus fulls of day trippers (wierd).

Language: i found it difficult to communicate in french as they talked too quick for me to translate, and only a few staff talk english, however most of the signs are in english too. and i got the rolled eyes when i tried to talk in french, they then spat out what little english they knew.

smiles: not many of the staff smile, i made sure i gave each a jolly bonjour every day.

Journey: its about 3.5 hours from Calais, and costs about 15 euros in Tolls (if you go the Abbeville route). an easy journey, with some fantastic scenery. if you stay anywhere enroute i would stay in abbeville, a lovely picturesqe town, and gives you the opportunity to do the somme museums on the way back.

This is not the luxury relaxation of Centerparcs that i experience when i visit Whinfell. i wont be going there again.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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8  Thank gusgormenthedoorman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2010

What saves Center Parcs Bois Francs from a terrible review is the Center Parcs 'concept' itself. We (hubbie, me, 5yo daughter) have never been together before, and the whole thing worked very well. We hired bikes and a trailer and spent a week pootling around and rummaging in the forest with a happy and relaxed daughter - which was perfect.

Highlights - Hannah - Aqua Mundo, bike trailer (!)
Us - Parcours de l'Aventure (similar to 'Go Ape'), surrounding villages and countryside. Price - got a last minute discount on an Eden villa.

The area around Center Parcs is beautiiful. We took a trip to Chartres one afternoon and drove through some of the most beautiful, clean and affluent countryside I've ever seen in France. Now I know where our EU contributions are spent.

But, there is a big downside to Bois Francs - it's very grubby. Not absolutely filthy, but has a general air of not been well maintained. In the UK, the children's farm would be reported to the RSPCA and is miles worse than the British farms which caused an outbreak of sickness last year.

We stayed in a 'new' Eden villa. It stank of cigarettes (and HB and I are ex-smokers so put up with more than most!). The last occupants hadn't bothered with an ashtray outside, and butts hadn't been removed. They'd also had a bonfire in the garden area which hadn't been cleared up. There were fleas in the carpets and bedbugs (or something) in the beds. Instead of the feared mosquitoes, we were bitten by fleas instead! Presumably a previous occupant had taken a dog.

Our duvet cover was ripped and when we removed the covers at the end of the stay (requested), one of the duvets was bloodstained.

The bathroom, like most of the villa, was 'surface' clean, but the shower screen was pretty grubby. The fridge was clean but the (4 ring) hob wasn't. The microwave wasn't too bad. Some crockery was grubby as no-one puts salt or rinse aid in the dishwasher (why would you?!) and needed re-washing before use.

Although the Eden villas are fairly new, there was a hole in the front door and another in an internal wall. Paintwork was pretty badly scuffed and marked. Had we not received a 20% late booking discount I'd have been pretty p****d off.

Finally, one of the selling points of an Eden villa is the jacuzzi style bath. We found the fuse on ours had been switched off to prevent it running. When we switched it on it ran intermittently on its own - pretty dangerous. No wonder the fuse was off. It also smelt pretty rank because it had obviously not been used for a while. We reported the fault. 36 hours later someone visited while we were out and ... re-set the fuse. Couldn't be bothered to complain again.

BTW, as with most of France, don't expect anyone to speak English much (apart from the fab and cute guy at the Parcours de l'Aventure). But would staff at Sherwood Forest speak much French?

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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4  Thank Zoe_S_2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2010

Just back from Les Bois CP and would go back. Having read some reviews on this site b4 going, I was a bit panicked. Before we went to France, I upgraded our accomendation to a premier cottage, so we were up in the 900s. Our car park was very nearby so it was handy for days out. Accomendation was lovely and spotless.
This was our first family holiday with a baby 6 mths old. We loved the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.
We rented bikes but got lazy and returned them and got an electric car (a golf buggy) instead. It was a dinky motor and had a storage area under the back seat.
We shopped in Verneuil sur Arve, 8km away from the Parc in the Intermarche (great shopping centre with bakery, pasteries and McDonalds) The local Carrefour was small so only went there once.
We didnt eat in the restaurants on site as I had read reviews onthis site and decided to either cook in or eat out in Verneuil itself.
All in all, Normandy was gorgeous and we had a wonderful break away.
Went to Chartres and Paris on day trips. Would definetly return to a CP when Junior is older as CP is geared for activites and relaxation.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank Carrie1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 13, 2010

We a 10 month old baby boy, my wife and I were looking for destination for our first family holiday that would be suitable for babies, opting for Centre Parcs Les Bois after a friends recommendation.
:
PRO'S
Lovely accomodation in the forest - nice decking area for barbeques and loads of wildlife to keep us all entertained

We liked hiring the bikes and riding around

The Aqua Mondo pool was amazing and free

CON'S
The restaurants only serve food 12-2pm 7-12pm - useless if you have a baby! I resented coming out of the pool at 11ish and not being able to eat.

The food on site is expense but a large hypermarket in the town is all you need

Doesnt cater for the drinking parents - you can't order beer without eating, unless they aren't serving food then you can order just a beer

No creche facilty - would have been nice to lose the baby for an hour so I could thrash the wife at table tennis or something

It's hard to get a taste of France staying there - didn't find any decent towns nearby

Summary
We'd go again but with family or friends so that when the baby is asleep then the adults can play. It's a great option for babies but infuriating opening times on site meant that we didn't even have a single meal out - bad for us but surely Centre Parcs is there to make money? When I'm on holiday I don't want to be dictated to as to when I can or can't eat, oh and Centre Parcs staff - SMILE!!!

Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
2  Thank Ovensnake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 5, 2010

We returned yesterday from Centre parcs and had a fantastic time. We chose this park based on the price vs the price they want in the UK. It was over £400 cheaper to go here including the travelling costs over a UK centre parcs for the half term week. The Earlier you book the more discounts you get, look around on the web for other discount codes offered by the ferry companies, this worked for me and knocked off over £100.00.

We booked an Eden 3 bed VIP Villa no 828. We chose this one as it had a lake setting on the map and was disappointed to arrive to find no lake in this area , the map is not correct on the web. The accomodation had 2 downstairs bedrooms, very spacious and a huge upstairs for the master bedroom with sauna , jacuzzi bath and italian walk in shower.

Cooking was a task though, just a couple of frying pans and microwave with instructions in french, we managed ok but, boy am I glad to get back to my cooker.

I would agree with the previous review that the villa's do need a lick of paint, it would make all the difference to our expectations.

Great flat parc , easy to get around, we looked at the hotel but, I thought it was a bit shabby compaired to the Villa's.

The supermarket is pathetic, 3 times the price you pay down the road at the large supermarket in nearby down about 8km away, the choice was nothing to write home about either we spent 30 euros on a couple of bits of chicken, bread, milk and eggs at 4.95 euros a box, total rip off. Like i said get your keys take a look at your facilities and head back to Veneiul sur avre on the N12, it is open in the evenings.

We ordered pizza's via the cottage service one evening and they didn't arrive so I biked down to pick up, spoke to the manager refused to pay the whole amount and only paid for 1 of the 3 I collected, very poor service and the pizzas were not that good either.

Activities,

My son went on the mini quad bikes, 10 euros for 10 mins, very safety concious member of the centre parcs team, he had it totally under control explained to the children in good english the rules. They also wore headnets underneath the helmets for health and safety, very impressed with this activity.

My Daughter who is 13 went horse riding, you book this direct with the stables, try not to book the 2pm ride as it is a huge group. She ended up riding at 3pm with 1-1 tuition. 1 hour ride cost 23 euros. If you have smaller children they can go out on shetland ponies I did not notice the cost of this but, the parents have to lead the ponies, ladies be careful what shoes you wear that day as I saw a lady leading apony in flip flops only to get her foot stamped on by the horse, she was in agony and very bruised. ouch !

Swimming pool is amazing, we had lots of fun in there going around the rapids, lazy river, wave pool. everything you want and more. My only advice would be if you have little ones, make sure when you down the indoor end of the rapids, last drop you go 1st as the current takes your feet away. My dad is 70 and quite frail and i had to hold him up and pull him out of the current to get out as it was so strong.

Golf, hubbie played all day 36 holes for 23 euros, in excellent condition and the staff were really helpful.

Treatments, my mum and I had a 60 min facial for 54.00 euros, it was fantastic a lovely last evening of our holiday, the staff did not speak much english but, who cares when you are being pampered to the full. The treatment room was nice a big, a totally different experience to a facial in the uk.

Bikes, we only hired 2 for the kids, midweek break rate was 30.00 euros, they have to be back by 10am on the day of departure.

The drive to centre parcs from Calais was approx 3 1/2 hours, we did have a comfort stop on the way, just one tip for the toilets for the ladies on the way, go to the disabled otherwise you will be presented with a hole in the ground to do your buisiness in, never seen anything like it !
Rouen is a nightmare to get through in traffic but, if you use the le-harve way the tolls are expensive.

Would go back in the future but, with other centre parcs to visit in europe could be well in the future.

Enjoy and have lots of fun.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank ontour2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Center Parcs Les Bois-Francs

Address: Les Barils, 27130, Verneuil-sur-Avre, France
Location: France > Normandy > Haute-Normandie > Eure > Verneuil-sur-Avre
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Verneuil-sur-Avre
Price Range: $52 - $262 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Center Parcs Les Bois-Francs 3*
Number of rooms: 21
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Also Known As:
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Center Parcs Les Bois-Francs France/Verneuil-Sur-Avre

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