Country Kids: a very special family retreat


Occitanie With Family


Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 January 2023, updated on 16 April 2024

Satisfying family holidays are all about balance. The right kind of holiday caters equally for each member of the clan, allowing stimulation for children, relaxation for adults, and the mutual freedom to enjoy their special relationships with the obstacles of everyday life removed.

At Country Kids, their all-inclusive family holiday estate in Hérault, in the Occitanie region of southern France, Laure and Sylvain have the balance just right. With backgrounds in tourism and hospitality and two young daughters of their own, the couple know just what holidaymaking parents are looking for – and their recipe for success involves luxury accommodation, an immersion in nature and fantastic on-site facilities for both halves of the family. The hosts organise activities on and off site, also acting as tour guides to introduce families to the beautiful local area and offering a wealth of tips, maps and picnics. Best of all, each Country Kids holiday is tailor-made to suit each family.

Visitors love the laid-back charm of Le Mas Pandit – a ‘mas’ being a traditional farmhouse in the south of France – which was sensitively renovated 10 years ago from its origins as a Roquefort dairy to create seven self-contained holiday apartments. All have their own outside terraces, hand-built stone and timber kitchens with every modern family convenience, and bathrooms boasting marble floors and stone-encased baths. Air conditioning has been installed where needed. There are two options for holiday packages: ‘A la carte’ (April, May and mid-September) and ‘Absolutely Everything Included’ (from June to mid-September), offering families total flexibility in how much they want from their stay.

And when it comes to those inclusions, it’s hard to know where to begin! Country Kids’ list of on-site facilities goes on and on, from a tennis court, boules pitch and mini football pitch to nine-hole mini golf, trampolines, a treehouse and two zip wires. Water babies are well catered for, too, with the enormous heated outdoor pool (complete with slide) and even a spa, offering pampering services for kids and adults alike. But perhaps the most attractive aspect of the estate is its engagement with nature.

Not only is it reassuringly safe – car free, gated and fenced, with flexible and exceptional childcare as standard – but it encourages kids to put down those tablets and learn real life skills through connection with the surrounding environment, and with each other. All families arrive on the same day, and as soon as children are through the gates, they’re off meeting new friends and having adventures. Laure and Sylvain find it incredibly rewarding to watch the results of a little bit of independence and a big dose of nature.

A dedicated kids’ club encourages all manner of country-style activities, from hiking and exciting assault courses to intriguing bug hunts, creative gardening and making dream-catchers in the forest. There’s even a petting farm with friendly animals to meet and groom, accessed by tractor ride. And off site, the opportunities continue with horse riding, trout fishing and watersports on the Lac du Salagou. Country Kids even takes the stress out of trying to capture these precious family moments on camera, offering a photo shoot service to immortalise those memories without you lifting a finger.

What about adult activities? Parents don’t need to act like parents all the time at Country Kids. Once the kids are set for the day, the time is yours to take a hike through the Salagou valley, go boutique shopping at a local market town, visit a chateau winery or simply laze by the pool. The bar and shop at the centre of the estate has comfy sofas and armchairs, perfect for relaxing with a book in the shade of the trees. Follow all this with a romantic dinner out at a local restaurant, while a babysitter comes to your apartment to put the kids to bed.

As you’d expect in France, food plays a central role at Country Kids and guests enjoy a regionally themed lunch to linger over on their first day. For the rest of the week, an on-site chef and kitchen team prepare family-friendly, French-Mediterranean bistro food to pick from at every meal. Freshly baked baguettes, croissants and barista coffees are available at the bar every morning. There’s a weekly evening exploring local French flavours and pairing them with local wines, as well as an evening of deliciously cheesy indulgence.

This part of Occitanie is rich in history, culture and traditions, and has a thriving tourist trade – but mainly with the French. Hérault is made for family holidays that suit everyone. There are rustic old stone buildings, lively markets, Mediterranean beaches and wine. The Lac du Salagou is a stunning place to walk, cycle, swim, picnic and explore. Laure and Sylvain have spent many happy hours there climbing the rocks and swimming the inlets with their daughters – and if holidaying like the French isn’t escape enough from daily life back home, we’re not sure what is.

To find out more, visit Country kids'website

By Rachel Johnston