Camping isn’t really my thing. Not anymore at least. A stay in a Moulin Bertrand yurt in France with kids didn’t seem like something I would enjoy, but my kids would.
Boy was I surprised!
I grew up camping. It was a cheap way for my parents to travel, get us back into nature, and see a bit more of the East Coast. I have very fond memories of camping. That campfire smell, building Barbie wilderness land at our campsite (my dad still talks about the milk carton of Barbie dolls he had to haul around for my sister and I) and getting cozy in my sleeping bag—these are still the memories that pop up when I think about camping.
And then I became a teenager.
Indoor plumbing is nice. I enjoy not having to put shoes on to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I sure love a warm shower in the morning. When I found out we would be staying in a yurt during our one-week trek across eastern France with kids, I was curious, but not exactly thrilled.
I would do it, though. It was something new and my kids had recently started begging to go camping. This was my compromise.
MOULIN BERTRAND YURTS
Moulin Bertrand in Martigny-Courpierre, France was a nice little farm with a pony, llamas, a deer and a few other farm staples. My boys piled out of the car and ran to see the yurts just past the tiny gravel parking lot, while their dad and I said hello to the owners. We would be the only overnight guests that night.
The property has five yurts that can accommodate different group sizes. Our yurt had two twin beds for the boys and one double bed for my husband and I. There was one power outlet as well as a few bedside lamps. A wood burning stove sat in the middle. It being August, we didn’t really need some extra heat, even though the nights were a bit chilly.
Just down a stone path from our yurt was the main bathroom for guests to use, complete with showers, toilets and toiletries for guests. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was very comfortable and reminded me of going to a favorite aunt and uncle’s house… except the bathroom was outside.
What really set this place apart were the owners, though. A husband and wife team ran the yurts and the farm. The wife cooked in the kitchen while the husband served the tables. The food was superb, and the children’s menu of chicken nuggets and fries satisfied my boys as well as the other French family’s children who popped in for dinner that night.
As we wrapped up dessert, our kids ran outside with the other children. They played volleyball, soccer and looked at the farm animals. The île flottante (floating island made from egg whites) was light and fluffy. It would be the first of many I would devour in France.
The sunset and it was time to tuck our boys into bed. They both thought it was funny that they had to walk with their shoes on in their jammies to brush their teeth and use the toilet before bed. This was the closest they had ever been to camping and so far it was a lot of fun.
The real test would come at night. Camping tends to be a dark experience in the evening (duh!). A four year old who was scared of the dark might not think camping was so fun once the lights went off.
Just as I expected, my youngest ended up in bed with me. His dad moved to his twin bed. It was just a little too scary for him to be on his own. Thankfully we had our Kindle Fires with us. We were able to put a little nightlight on via the Kindle, as well as some white noise to make my youngest son more comfortable.
My son and I snuggled down. He was quietly snoring in under five minutes once he knew he was safe and secure. I, on the other hand, now had a four year old who liked to move and kick in his sleep. That was OK. I soon drifted off to dream land too.
Waking up in the middle of the night to use the toilet is something any woman who has given birth (and even those who haven’t) can relate to. At 4am I was up. The question became could I get back to sleep without going out of our warm and cozy yurt to use the bathroom?
Apparently not. I found my flip flops and sweatshirt. I grabbed the provided flashlight and sprinted to the bathroom building. As soon as the lights flicked on I began to breath again. Nothing had eaten me on that short run. Phew!
Once I safely returned to my cozy yurt I drifted back to sleep. I woke well rested and ready for our next adventure in the region after a traditional French breakfast of fresh bread, croissants, coffee and juice.
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Even though I am still not a huge fan of camping, I have to say, this yurt thing may be a nice compromise. We can still have all of the fun of the outdoors. I get to have the comfort of a cozy, warm bed at night instead of the hard ground. I just might have to request a yurt close to the restroom each time for those nighttime wakings.
You never know what could eat you when you rush out for a late night pee.
Many thanks to Moulin Bertrand Yurts for hosting my family for a one night stay. As always, opinions are my own. When they aren’t, you will be the first to know.