I've always loved being active, and my kids all share my love of the great outdoors - so when summer rolls around, there's nothing we like more than crossing the Channel and exploring Europe in the open air. We like to get as much quality time together as a family as we can, so instead of package holidays we like to set our own agenda, travelling to France with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and then going wherever we fancy. Last year we explored the Loire valley by bicycle - who knows where we'll end up this summer!
However, after a few hours in the summer sun we're all grateful for the chance to cool down. My kids can't get enough of theme parks, rollercoasters and waterslides, so I always like to make sure that there's a great water park somewhere on our route. There are usually rides and slides for all ages, and if you feel a bit too old for sliding down a chute you can always settle down with a book - mind you, I'm usually the most excited of all of us! Here are some of the fantastic water parks we've found on our travels - all readily accessible from our terminal in Calais.
Located just up the coast from The Hague, Duinrell is a theme park, campsite and water world all in one!
Duinrell Theme Park
The covered Tiki Pool is the largest in the Benelux area, with more than 1km of slides and chutes, and you can rent a chalet or set up your tent if you're planning a road trip! Since it's only a few hours' drive along the coast from Duinrell back to Calais, we like to stop off there for a night or two on our way home - it's a great way to extend your holiday, without the hassle of finding a hotel!
Aqualand Bassin d'Arcachon
We love exploring the beautiful sights of Bordeaux, although the kids can start to get fidgety after a while.
Tropical Paradise at Aqualand Bassin D'Arcachon
You can always head to one of the beaches nearby for a change of pace - or to really blow off some steam, take the short trip to the local Aqualand for some high-energy fun in the sun! There are seven Aqualand parks in France and more dotted across Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, but we love the park at Bassin d'Arcachon because it's in such an interesting area. Who wouldn't want a holiday of sightseeing, exploring vineyards and riding the giant Surf Racer?
Only 30km from Brussels, the spectacular Aqualibi is one of the best reasons to visit Belgium (well, my family certainly thinks so!).
Aqualibi Waterpark in Wavre, Belgium
If you want to relax after a few days of hiking or cycling, the jacuzzis are perfect for chilling out - and if your kids are still full of beans, there's everything from flumes to a giant wave pool to keep them entertained. You won't be able to do everything in one day - we like to buy the Aqua Card, a cheap way of getting 10 passes for the park so you can visit again. And if you're feeling daring, sign up for the Gladiators-style Aquaclash - a contest of strength and agility between two teams, with plenty of splashing guaranteed!
Whether you're planning an adventure holiday or a quieter break (perhaps with just one water slide), Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is the perfect way to start and finish your holiday. The journey from Folkestone takes just 35 minutes, and with up to four trains an hour at peak times you can really set your own pace from the word go. Just make sure you remember your swimming costumes!