Secret delights of Moliets, France, with Madame Vacances

The Plage Central at Moliets, France

At the Plage Centrale in Moliets


Moliets et Maa has a problem.

The French beach destination is an hour and a half southeast of Bordeaux, and merely an hour north of Biarritz. It has pine forests, beaches, lakes, tennis and golf clubs, and cycle paths. There are enough activities to keep kids happy and exhausted for a week.

The problem is that when you tell people you’re going, they invariably say, “Where?” so you have to be ready to explain, possibly with hand gestures and a Google map. It’s the best place in France you’ve never heard of.

There are so many wonderful places to visit in France, it can be hard to decide exactly which location to choose for a family holiday. Here’s why we’ll be returning to Moliets.


surfboards on the beach

The kids warm up with bodysurfing before grabbing their boards


Staying in Moliets with Madame Vacances

My daughter and I visited the area with Madame Vacances, a holiday rentals company that’s been operating for 25 years. The company started in the Trois Vallées in France, home to ski resorts including Méribel and Courcheval, one of my favourites. Here, in Aquitaine in southwestern France near Spain, they rent villas that range from clean blue-and-white houses lifted from a California photo shoot to low-slung villas with unassuming frontages that open up onto your own private pool-and-view.

We toured a range of the properties, motoring around on private roads on golf carts — every single one seems to look out onto pine trees, a private pool or the loping greens of the golf course. They feel serene without being lonely. (The holiday homes here live in closely knit clusters, drawing mainly French, German and other Europeans, so you know you are not alone.)


by pool in Moliets with Madame Vacances

Friends lounge by (and swim in) the pool in our villa


We stayed with Madame Vacances in a 4-bedroom villa in Villas La Clairieres aux Chevreuils. These are known as some of the most luxurious villas Madames Vacances has in the area. Each has its own sparkling swimming pool, and inside they are perfectly arranged for large family groups or multi-family getaways, with each bedroom containing its own ensuite bath, some with tubs.

I’m going to be writing more about the trip, which included sports galore and delicious food. Until then, I wanted to share why you should think about Madame Vacances in Moliets for your next family holiday.


ropes course in Moliets, Aquitaine, France

We’ve done a lot of ropes courses. The one minutes from our villa is one of the best


cycling in Moliet

Cycle paths take you through towns, through forests and skirting lakes


Here are 7 things we loved about Madame Vacances at Moliets et Maa:

  1. Madame Vacances has “free arrival dates”. That means you don’t have to turn up and leave on a set day of the week along with everyone else. This can also be called “avoiding motorway hell”. This works especially well for our family, as we juggle disparate work and travel schedules for the adults as well as 2 sets of school holiday timings. A little leeway goes a long way.
  2. You have a pool in your back garden, and it is heated. In terms of temperature, think “not freezing cold” insead of “warm bathtub”, but the appeal of having a good-sized pool to jump into or lounge beside cannot be underestimated. Also, they have pool alarms, for an added measure of safety.
  3. The unspoiled beaches nearby are beautiful and perfect for surfing for both beginners and experienced surfers. The main beach La Plage Centrale has lifeguards from the end of May to the end of September, the so-called “south beach” has them in July and August. Not only do I personally LOVE surfing and am happy to have passed this on to the kids, but in September/October every year the Quicksilver Pro surfing tournament takes place here. “You can see the big-name surfers just walking around on the beach and the action takes place right in front of you,” said one person who has attended.
  4. There are loads of activities to keep families engaged, including too-cool teens: one of the best high-ropes courses I’ve ever seen, cycle paths that allow for long rides (my 12-year-old cited this as her favourite activity of the trip), tennis, golf, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding — even skateboarding lessons with a local instructor (more about which I’ll be posting soon). For us, this is an ideal holiday scheme — running round like maniacs doing sporty things, then collapsing every afternoon to read, nap and have a dip in the pool.
  5. You can stay comfortably with close friends…or not-so-close friends because of the layout of the rooms. You’re not on top of each other and not sharing bathrooms while still enjoying comfortable living and dining areas with a full kitchen. Plus, the properties have cleaners and are managed so you’re not on your own if something goes wrong.
  6. If you book this year with Madame Vacances, you can visit any Madame Vacances location (beach, countryside or ski) for the next 10 years at the same price (!).
  7. You’re surrounded by nature, in France. I loved how a stay here combines soft sandy beaches, hushed pine forests, beautiful countryside and then, French restaurants and auberges serving delicious dishes like asparagus soup, fresh oysters, steak frites, pizza and wine. Yes, there is wine.


escargot in Moliets, Aquitaine, France


What a visit to Moliets doesn’t have

There are of course things that a Madame Vacances holiday doesn’t have. Despite being just beside the other neighbours, we weren’t overlooked, so you miss out on that nudged-up-against-the-neighbours feel.

In the nearby town of Moliets, there are some shops and restaurants but there’s only one bar that stays open til 5am, so while you can have the occasional late-night fun, there’s no all-night party scene to enliven your dreams.

Which — come to think of it — isn’t a problem at all.


Have you been to Moliets et Maa or stayed somewhere with Madame Vacances? I’d love to hear your comments and tips!


Jenography was a guest of Madame Vacances. We stayed at Villas La Clairière aux Chevreuils. Prices start from £102 pp (£819 total) for a seven-night stay in a villa sleeping eight, on a self-catering basis. Each spacious villa is equipped with families in mind, from their large lounges with satellite TV and well-equipped kitchens to their decked terrace and private pool.

All opinions are my own.


Madame Vacances Fact Box:


Madame Vacances offers five complexes across the Moliets seaside resort, with its comfortable range of apartments, cottages and villas with pools ensuring couples, families and groups can all enjoy their ideal break – whatever their budget from as little as £219 per apartment per week in a studio that sleeps two people in May.

To book call Madame Vacances on 01273 358 071, or visit


Return flights from London Gatwick to Bordeaux cost from £108 pp with easyJet (

Specialising in hassle-free holidays throughout France since 1991. With 45 resorts offering upscale hotels, Alpine chalets, holiday cottages and self-catered villas with pools in its prestigious portfolio, Madame Vacances offers great value holiday options that cater for all styles and budgets. From family holidays to golf getaways and beach breaks along the French West Coast to winter escapes exploring some of the Alps’ top ski resorts.

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7 reasons to visit Moliets France

I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google Profile+



  1. July 4, 2016 / 4:20 pm

    I’ve always thought Madame Vacances sounded lovely but nice to hear from someone who’s been. Most of my holidays growing up involved camping along France’s West coast but i’m not sure we made it much further south than Biarritz though (not least because we got the ferry and drove )

    • July 4, 2016 / 4:39 pm

      Cathy, once I experienced Madame Vacances, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before. The self-catering properties are lovely and this part of France seems to have everything!

  2. July 5, 2016 / 10:32 am

    This looks like a very relaxing place to spend holiday at. We have never had a holiday in France, need to bookmark this place! Thanks for sharing!

    • July 7, 2016 / 8:35 am

      Mirka, Very much worth checking out. I love the freedom of self-catering.

  3. July 6, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    It sounds wonderful! I love the idea of being surrounded by nature and it sounds like your holiday is what holidays are meant to be about, relaxing and family time. I’ve never known of a holiday destination that lets you arrive as and when, this would also suit us perfectly as we hate getting caught in traffic with our littles! #sharethejoy

    • July 12, 2016 / 10:44 pm

      Hi Lizzie, thanks so much for the comment. Ugh – the traffic! After living in the UK for more than a decade, I understand completely why people strategise their entire holiday around the drive.

  4. July 7, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    We’ve stayed in villas in France and Spain for the past few years and I love the freedom that villa-living gives you, especially with small children. This looks like a lovely spot and Madam Vacances sounds very flexible! Thanks for sharing with us at #sharethejoy

    • July 12, 2016 / 10:43 pm

      Michelle, you’re right: the flexibility is great — whether you have tots or teens. Thanks for commenting and do check out Madame Vacances the next time you’re thinking of self-catering.

  5. July 17, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    I don’t know this bit of France, but it sounds right up our street. I do love a good pine forest! The offer of a holiday for the same price for the next 10 years is a very good one.

    • July 20, 2016 / 10:49 pm

      Hey Nell — yes quite a bargain, especially if you love France, like I do. I think one of the things I really like about this place is that the delights include the kind of activities that will keep kids entertained as they grow.

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