Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David

 

Aqualand 

      It's childish I know, but every summer as the temperature rises so does my excitement at the prospect of going to Aqualand.  Officially of course, this is the kids' big day out, but it's amazing how many of my adult mates come along for the ride too. 

      We leave as early as we can although this is never precisely means the crack of dawn.  Not when there are sarnies to cut, wine to decant into plastic bottles, swimmies to dig out and a huge number of water-toys to load into the car.  But we usually manage to hit the road by mid morning and generally arrive at Aqualand before lunch.

      The place is amazingly well-presented; a freshly-painted, brightly-coloured fun park.  Slides and nets and fountains, streams and Jacuzzis and wave machines, floats and mats and rubber rings abound.  There are a surprising number of flowers too, the landscaping at Cap d'Agde being better than at some other parks, which makes the place relaxing and pleasant to walk around.  (Yes, I confess, we've visited water parks all over Europe from Switzerland to Spain!)

      There's no point in attempting to make the kids eat anything sensibly, or trying to keep tabs on where they're going.  They disappear instantly, only returning to base camp at intervals demanding food and dry towels.  But it doesn't matter.  Parents can relax.  On the safety front, the park is awash with supervising staff equipped with whistles and life-jackets who rigorously enforce all the safety rules.  The most common incident is kids tripping over wet tiles.

      At 24 euros for adults and 17.50 for kids under 12, tickets aren't the cheapest in the world but are great value seeing as you really don't have to spend a penny more once you're inside and once you've unleashed the juniors, you can guarantee they'll be happy all day long.  Also, for every paying child, an accompanying over-65 can get in free, and kids under a metre tall get in free too.

      There are plenty of rides ranging from teeny little slides for toddlers through to dare-devil falls that reduce grown men to queasy heaps.  My personal best favourite is the Black Hole; it's kind of high but once you're sitting in the inflatable boat it's just pure unadulterated fun with groaning sounds, flashes of lightening and a plunge pool at the end of the pitch-black covered slide.

      My top tips for a great day are:

      Go on a Sunday because Aqualand says that this is the quietest day of the week.

      Pack a huge picnic; everyone gets very hungry and eats all day.  (There are snack bars and fast food outlets, but naturally this will push the budget through the roof.)   Remember to decant drinks into plastic bottles as glass is banned and the staff at the entrance will confiscate any glass from your cool box.

      Take rescue remedy, arnica cream and waterproof plasters to deal with the inevitable stubbed toes, bumps, scrapes and bruises.  There is an efficient first aid station, but queuing for an elastoplast could be a drag.

      Don't wear any jewellery you're not prepared to see washed away in the rides.

      Finally, win yourself some money off vouchers on the Aqualand lottery.  You can enter once for each person and we won 2 euros off each.

     

 

 

 

 

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