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Our family getaway to the Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

A pair of red squirrels dance in the wildflowers outside our chalet. From the meadow behind us comes the sound of cowbells. Our one-year old points excitedly at the Redstarts flitting between trees.

Just a stone's throw from the French border, the scene is a veritable Tricolore: red kites soar in the clear blue sky above our village of white houses. The French influence is found everywhere here, and it brings an element of romance sometimes lacking in other areas of Switzerland.

We are at the Reka holiday camp in Montfaucon, canton Jura.

If you are not familiar with them, Reka are otherwise known as the Swiss Travel Fund Cooperative. They aim to "enable the largest possible number of families in Switzerland to go on holiday and enjoy leisure time." In practical terms, it means their holidays are affordable, accessible, and you will not be fleeced at every turn.

We are traveling as a couple with our one-year old, G, trying to see if it is possible to relax and holiday with a toddler, all at the same time. Our Reka chalet in Montfaucon is clean and functional, in a no-frills kind of way. There is enough bed space that we could have brought our parents along, too, if we had been so inclined.

Each chalet sits independently, meaning there is lovely green outdoor space on which to spend those long evenings watching hot air balloons fly into the sunset over the Jura mountains.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

For parents, it is amenities like the wipe-clean highchair, the large kitchen and the push-chair parking space which show that Reka are dedicated to making your life as easy as possible. Beds are made and towels are provided. Only the cot remains to be assembled.

The Reka holiday village is designed to keep you busy with activities.

On the first morning as I wait for my four-minute egg to cook in the large dining area, I chat to another dad. His kids are "somewhere around" he tells me, shrugging, before he makes his way back to his wife as they enjoy their oeufs in the peaceful morning sunshine.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

A nine-hole mini golf course sits pretty on the hillside, near to a huge skittles game, football pitch and play park. The epic sand pit features wooden tracks for transporting sand, and a treasure chest full of toy trucks, buckets and spades.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland
Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

Towering above this is the clock tower, with splendid views, a fire pit and musical tubes. Kids run around completing detective trails - without a care in the world.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

There is a swimming pool with a kids' splash pool full of toys, as well as room for grown-ups to do lengths. At 9 AM, we are the only swimmers. With the sun streaming in the large windows, this is an idyllic way to start the day.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

Another big selling point is the bike hire center. There are some electric bikes, as well as mountain bikes and trailers for kids. We test out G in a trailer - his first time - and while he is not keen on wearing a helmet, he dozes off as we whizz through the lush green scenery of the surrounding hills.

Bicycling in Jura, Switzerland

Gourmet pleasures along the way.

We stop for lunch at Auberge de la Gare, sitting in the charming garden overlooking the railway line. Here, we are reminded that we are in Switzerland. There is only one waitress serving around thirty hungry lunch guests.

We look on enviously as steak tartare and crème brûlée are devoured all around us, but arriving at 1:45 PM, we have missed the main lunch menu. Nevertheless, G entertains himself in the grass while we enjoy a plate of superb local cheeses, and a glass of crisp Neuchâtel wine.

To the excitement of many diners, a steam train rolls into the station. It is packed with day-trippers who have spent the day at La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Auberge de la Gare in Montfaucon, Switzerland

A town built with wide streets to optimize exposure to the sunlight, La Chaux-de-Fonds is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in Swiss watches. It is a simple half-hour trip by train from Montfaucon, but plan ahead if you would like to travel by steam.

As I make the most of G's nap by testing out the mountain bike's suspension on the more rugged trails, I pass happy couples on horseback. This is equine country, and horse trails are strung across the hills. The holiday village can help organize these as well.

Later that day, we will dine at Aux Coleurs de Terroir in the village itself. With a view onto their thriving allotment, this friendly spot has toys for kids, and a menu adhering to the slow food movement. We stock up on beer from local brewery BFM, and wish we had time to visit their tap-room in the next village, Saignelégier.

On Sunday we visit the Doubs river, which carves a deep ravine along the French border.

You can hire scooters in Saignelégier and descend to one of the riverside restaurants at the Doubs. It is also hugely popular with hikers. We book a table on the terrace outside Restaurant Le Theusseret, with a moss strewn waterfall trickling into the river beyond the clematis-lined balcony, it could not be a better spot for a long lunch.

Jura River Doubs

We finally get that steak tartare and we regret giving G a taste of the fresh trout. He devours it to the expense of both our wallet and stomachs.

We cannot leave the Reka village without making the most of the spectacular circular grill, situated on the first floor of the clock tower. Stocked up on BFM beer and meat from the well-renowned butcher in Montfaucon, we watch the sunset as we grill, and marvel that this place is not busier.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland

Swiss schools went back this week (it is mid-August), but one feels the Reka could make more of international visitors, and couples with younger children.

So, did we find the elusive relaxed holiday with a toddler? Judging by the satisfied look on G's face as he sleeps in the back of the car, and our slow pace winding home through the Jura mountains, I'd say yes.

Reka Holiday Village in Montfaucon, Switzerland


Luc Benyon is a British writer and communications specialist based in Zurich. He has an unhealthy appetite for design and advertising history.

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