We've got some time off in June and are considering our first trip to Font. I boulder around the Font 6c-7b range and my partner potters around on anything up to Font 5.
Our daughter will be 26 months old in June and enjoys scrambling around at the bottom of boulders. She does have a full body harness so will probably be keen for some really slabby routes with a top rope.
We would probably be camping and driving down from Carlisle.
Where is the best place to be based? What family friendly camp sites are there? Where is it best to get the ferry from? What problems should we have on our lists? What is the best guidebook to take with us?
I've only stayed at Les musardier campsite. i found it to be noisy in summer with loads of students and parties. You might do better with a gite?
I don't have kids, but a gang of us go every year an increasingly this means kids too. We stay in Noisy sur Ecole which has good access to lots of areas with a wide range of grades so something for everyone. A couple of years ago i had an ankle injury so basically ended up working the kids routes with a toddler for company! (Great fun) L'elephant has a great kids circuit and the yellows are fun too.
What we've always done (from Cockermouth, so almost identical journey) is drive down late one evening to Travelodge on far side of London, such as by Dartford crossings. Leaving Cumbria at say 6pm gets you there before midnight, so a reasonable amount of sleep. And then get a fairly early ferry (for us, ferry works well, as it's an hour or more when they can run around fairly freely), get in at lunchtime, and then it's about 4-5 hours on the other side, so at campsite in time to pitch tent and cook tea.
We've tried a couple of campsites over the years, but La Musardiere near Milly la Foret is now winning because it's opened its swimming pools and they're ace for kids. Also an expanding playground. We've not found it noisy in evening - if you don't want electric hook ups, camping goes quite a way back into the woods away from the busy areas.
I have a list of good areas to take kids, at least at the pottering end of things - ie those that are either nice and flat and/or have kiddy white circuit, and have yellow/orange circuit for the grown ups. I'll try and dig it out, but hassle me by email if I forget! The Elephant, and Diplodocus are two obvious, well known ones that have kiddy friendly areas to play - although not necessarily right by the bouldering - we've tended to end up with one adult pottering off to boulder alone unless we've managed to rope extra grown ups in. But that's also because we're both really trad climbers, so going round a long but fairly straightforward circuit has as much appeal as working individual hard problems.
We have the purple Fontainebleau Climbs guide, which has a symbol to tell you if areas are kiddy friendly or not.
I've stayed at this campsite before http://www.les-courtilles-du-lido.fr/ It was a long time ago (2002?), but it was much nicer than Musardiere, with lovely grassy pitches for tents. It is one of those sites that have fixed caravans and tents, with kids clubs and things, but there was a lovely section reserved for people with their own tents.
Les Courtilles du Lido has become much more low key over the last 10 years - EuroCamp and similar have all withdrawn (it's not posh enough anymore, I think!), so none of the kids clubs and stuff. The result is it's very quiet (well, apart from the trains!).
Certainly more space - but more driving, and the pool's not so good for the kids. Crazy golf very popular with the kids, though!
In reply to rockrat: everything carolynr says - we have done this with kids a couple of times and will go again this year is brilliant - at that time of year spots with shade will be key (the chien area is very exsposed) tois pingions is the perfect family spot easy flat acess lots of differnt areas to explore easy and. Hard stuf fto go at.
Take a bucket and spade for the kiddie - also ours learnt to ride balance bikes there too as lots of flatnopen paths - milly la floret is a good place to stay