Psst! Want to hear about my latest adventure? Then come join me in my blanket fort, bring your torch and a bag of marshmallows and I’ll tell you all about it!
Ever noticed that being a grown-up isn’t quite as fun as being a ten year-old? Yeah, me too. And that is the main reason why I recently had the opportunity to have that much fun again, I jumped at it. A friend of ours kindly gave Husband and me one of those activity-thingy-voucher-boxes with a selection of “quirky” over-night stays to choose from. Glamping in a yurt or a teepee, B&B on an organic farm or in a castle, that sort of thing.
As we flicked through the glossy pages of the brochure, something caught our eye: a night in a nest. Up a tree. On an island. Off the coast of Brittany.
We took a closer look and we discovered the fabulous idea that is Parcabout (bout is French for a rope when used on a ship – a line, in English). It was founded by a group of ex-fishermen, who had to retire early due to health problems, and had to find something else to do with their skills. Remembering how their kids had loved bouncing on old fishing nets strung between a few trees, they decided to make a whole amusement park made of nets. Parcabout was born.
They have now exported the idea to several other parks around the world, and have added the unique “nests”, small round pods strung from the trees. The Parcabout on Groix island off the Atlantic coast of France, near Lorient, is where it all started, and that is where we chose to stay.
The journey accross to Groix is like an adventure of its own. We parked our car at the ferry terminal in Lorient and crossed as foot passengers, something I haven’t done since I was about 10. Like a miniature version of the channel ferries, the “Lorient Express” as I decided to call it is a quick and efficient 45 min journey and costs about €30 per person for a return trip. It was considerably more to take the car and the park is about 15 mins walk from the port, so we decided to go pedestrian. You can also rent bikes, scooters or even cars when you land in Port Tudy. Also, be careful, you may just fall in love with the place.
After a lovely lunch at the Auberge du Pêcheur, we walked to the Park, eventually finding it at the end of a tiny pedestrian track (there is a car park the other side of it via a longer route). The lady who greeted us was warm and welcoming, she told us that we could choose our nest, and that they are all at different heights with different ways to access them. We wandered between the towering trees, looking up at the nests and discussing our choice, then settled on the lowest, simplest one, nearest the toilets and showers, because I’m a wuss with a tiny bladder.
Inside the pod is a round bed with cozy pillows and duvet, a storage net and nothing else. It’s like an egg-shaped tent up a tree. Mid October, we were pushing it a bit in terms of warmth and weather reliability, but to be fair, we had a lot of lovely sunshine and only a few short showers. The nests are only available from April to October.
So after discovering our accommodation and dropping our bags and coats, we went off to explore the park itself. We were all on our own, Sunday afternoons in October are not exactly high season! Soon we were scrambling, climbing, bouncing, falling over and laughing ourselves silly. I don’t think I’ve had that kind of completely uninhibited outdoor fun for quite a few years now. It was exhausting, exhilarating and utterly bloody brilliant.
The nets are all completely enclosed, so unlike treetop adventure parks, you don’t need to be harnessed and secured, you’re free to bounce, run, jump, fall, climb or Tarzan-swing your way this way and that with complete carefree abandon. All of this was only cut short by a short but intense shower of rain that had us running for the nearest cover, otherwise we could have gone on for hours. I swear it’s possibly the best workout I have ever done! It was both intensely fun and completely knackering. Somehow we still managed to drag ourselves back into the town centre and enjoy the most devastatingly delicious crepes ever (roasted apple and salt butter caramel, yum!).
Just what we needed for a good night’s sleep in a round tent hanging from a tree.
The next morning, we enjoyed a nice continental breakfast, then bid farewell to the park and walked back to the port the long way round, along the cliffs and beaches. And as we walked we fantasized about buying a house on the island and staying there forever, because it was just that lovely.