I went to spend a day in this holiday village which promises us "to experience moments of relaxation, emotion and bonding with your family and friends in the most beautiful French forests".

JI chose the Bois Francs estate 9 km from Verneuil-sur-Avre in Normandy. I took care to buy my tickets from the Tourist Office (located in the center of Verneuil) which offers preferential rates then I booked my day on the Center Parcs website before going there. So here I am on national road 12, in the company of my companion, heading towards this touristic Eldorado that everyone is talking about! 

The Bois Francs © Philippe Prudhomme

We are a few meters from the entrance and we are already plunged into the heart of a vast green forest. At the bend of a bend, a magnificent castle appears out of nowhere. We drive slowly, on the one hand to admire the beauty of the place, and on the other hand, to let the horses and ponies of the equestrian center located not far away cross. We pass a few people on the bike. Holidays smell good!

Arrived at the guardhouse, an officer motions for me to roll down my window. I present my reservation QR code in exchange for which he gives us two colored bracelets. He invites us to park in the car park to our right and wishes us a pleasant day before opening the barrier.

The parking lot is huge. We are beginning to realize the scope of the field. 

© JF Roy

That day, the Aquamundo aquatic center opens from 10 a.m. This leaves us a few minutes to get there quietly on foot. The plan is essential here. Cobbled alleys and dirt roads, intersect and crisscross. Many cottages, each nestled in the heart of the forest, punctuate our route.

Housekeepers on bicycles are busy on both sides. Yesterday was Pentecost Monday, a three-day weekend ended. Many residents have returned to work and new clients will arrive in the early afternoon for a well-deserved stay. We therefore take advantage of this crossover to benefit from the park's equipment for the day in peace!

We are approaching the “bubble”, this immense dome where the aquatic area, the spa, the restaurants and the shops are concentrated. We cross a small wooden bridge and admire one of the lakes that adorn the estate. Further on, the mini port shows us that it is possible to rent a pedal boat for a bucolic ride. Above our heads, we can see the acrobatic course in the trees. It seems that a zipline will transport you from the shore to an islet in the center of the body of water! Mini-golf, golf, climbing, paintball, archery, bowling, segway… are all original activities offered within the park. 

We finally enter under the dome. Ponds, tropical trees, birdsong, the sound of fountains, the paved ground and the architecture of the shops and restaurants transport us to the heart ofa real tropical village!

© Milan Vermeulen

Directional wooden arrows guide us towards Aquamundo, in front of the reception. It is 10:10 am, we are going to change in the changing rooms. 

The towel on the shoulder, equipped with our swimsuits, we are captivated by entering the aquatic area. The vegetation is still lush. The space is immense and the ceiling, several meters high, lets in the rays of the sun as in the open air. The air is hot and humid like in the middle of a tropical forest! We don't know where to turn: water tree, rapids, whirlpools, via ferrata, multi-activity river, wave pool, slides, whirlpools, solarium, outdoor pool…. The places are aptly named "Aquatic Paradise"!

After 2 hours of exploration and water games, our stomachs begin to manifest. We go back through the changing rooms to dry ourselves off and get dressed then we return to the bubble to do the restaurant tour. Restaurant with play area for families, brasserie, snack bar overlooking the aquatic area, fast food for burger aficionados, grill, crêperie… There is plenty to choose from!

I booked a treatment at the Spa for 15 p.m. You have to cross the Action Factory to reach the entrance. It is an indoor play area where there are various free or paid activities such as climbing courses, playgrounds, interactive activities, mini-karting, trampoline, Baluba… A true paradise for our two toddlers ! We will have to come back with them soon.

From the reception of the spa, we enter a luminous, calm and relaxing universe. We are a little early. We undress, we put on our bathrobes and we are made to wait in a small cocooning lounge while tasting a Deep Detox herbal tea, a delicate blend of mate, peppermint, lemongrass, cardamom and ginger. A French product produced by a naturopath from Haute-Savoie. 

We are then taken to a double cabin for a romantic Deep Nature ritual treatment. Perfect duo relaxation thanks to an energizing aromatic scrub with rare and precious spices (sweet and savory) and an "immersion" massage, a subtle blend of scented sea rain and exotic scents. 50 minutes of pure happiness! 

At the end of the treatment, we decide to continue our afternoon relaxation in the Aquabalnéo space. No need to go through the changing rooms again. We have direct access from the treatment rooms. While I treat myself to a little reading on a deckchair on the edge of the relaxing jet pool, my darling has a short sauna session. When it comes out, it rushes under the cold showers, a Nordic ritual! For me, it will be a sensory shower followed by a herbal tea on the terrace. 

17 p.m. We come out completely rinsed but ultra relaxed! We could have returned to the Aquamundo for one last descent of the wild river or shopping in one of the shops in the dome. A game of bowling on the first floor or a few video games at the bar are tempting. We choose to treat ourselves to a pancake at the Le Lagon snack bar then we set off on foot, hand in hand, for a stroll along the lake and in the woods that cover the area

Our perfect "zenitude" contrasts with the incessant ballet of the vehicles of the new arrivals. Families exhausted by the trip, children in a hurry to put on their swimsuits and go to the swimming pool, stressed couples who are anxiously looking for their cottage number to finally put down their suitcases! Teenagers excited by seeing the quads, the course in the trees or the signs towards the paintball field. French, English, German, Belgian… A real cacophony reigns in the wooded alleys of the estate. The village will resume its air of a small paradise tomorrow, when everyone will have settled in and realized that here, everything is done for their comfort and leisure.

It's time for us to come home. We promise we'll be back with the kids! And who knows? Perhaps we will extend our stay in a premium or VIP cottage to have the happiness of waking up to birdsong and having lunch on the terrace in the heart of these Bois Francs!