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Center Parcs

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Poll at Center Parcs resort near Paris. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.

Center Parcs family resort Les Bois-Francs, near Paris. Photo © Teresa Plowright.

For North Americans who've dreamed of taking the kids to Europe, but find the logistics daunting, here's a strategy: stay at a family-friendly resort with a large recreational property and many activities for kids. Very popular in Europe, the Center Parcs chain has twenty "holiday villages" in France, England, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

Overview

Center Parc's signature feature is a large domed building that houses a beautifully landscaped tropical pool, plus play zones, restaurants, shops, and spa. Some of the indoor play zones are terrific; and the tropical pools have waterpark features such as waterslides, wave pools, kiddie pools, etc.

A second priority is outdoor recreational activities, which range from archery to zip wires, rafting, raft-building, tree-climbing, ATV, horse-back riding, pony riding, inline skating, ice-skating.

Features for Families

Of course, all the above activities and facilities are designed for family fun. In addition:

  • in busy seasons, children's entertainment and kids' programs are organized.
  • you might also find children's farms or children's activity pools, at some Center Parcs locations.
  • "cottages" or "villas"are typically large and often meant to accommodate three-generational families.

Worried about a language barrier? English is widely spoken and understood especially in the BeNeLux countries and Germany; also several Center Parcs locations in France are popular drive-to locations for visitors from England, so staff are well prepared for English-speaking visitors. Visitors from North America can can also opt for several choices in England including one near Sherwood Forest.

Bottom Line

  • Center Parcs resorts are reasonably-priced getaways for families, very popular in Europe, with a great signature concept: a huge domed area with tropical pool.
  • Center Parcs resorts can provide a "easy entry" for North American families wanting to visit Europe: explore the surrounding countryside, cathedrals, villages, etc., from a comfortable home base that offers plenty of fun and recreation for kids.
Keep in mind that price varies widely for different properties in different countries. Visitor comments at TripAdvisor.com will give you all the hints you need for each individual holiday village.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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