Now I’d like to be coming on here to say what an absolute blast we’re having but we are apparently still finding our feet.
For one Ben was surprised to learn that in some small French towns and villages it’s common for bars and restaurants to be open for random and limited hours. He found out the hard way after cycling uphill to a bar at 8pm last night. Still it got him out of my hair! You win some, you lose some.
A swimming pool that wasn’t a swimming pool. Maybe some sites need to update their amenities or map as it turns out our first site din’t even have a pool. River yes, pool, nope.
Having allergies in France isn’t really the one, especially when you can’t eat two foods that are staple diet here – MILK AND EGGS. Man do I miss crepes too, lucky for our youngest he doesn’t know what he’s missing! I love the sweet ones with chocolate and the savoury with cheese, egg and tomato yummmm! Though an awesome tip we were given today by an English couple was to get the Google Translate app which you can use to scan ingredients menus and everything really – ABSOLUTE GAME CHANGER. You may already know about this, I have mentioned I’m a bit of a technophobe so I’m prob slow to learn this! Yesterday we stopped at a supermarket and the boys had a ready made baguette whilst for me and Drew I bought one French stick, a pack of ham and made it up separate without butter. We will have to get some margarine… shouldn’t be to hard to find, it’s French invention right?
Speaking of my lack of local knowledge we were in the Loire Valley yesterday without realising (only seeing signs as we drove out) we didn’t visit one vineyard or chateaux. That was a dick move as we don’t plan on going back, still it’s early days, lesson learned! Any tips of beautiful places to visit in the south please let us know as that’s where we’re headed next!
I also seriously wish that I’d bought the kids toilet seat with me because everywhere we’ve been (and we’re talking quite a few toilets so far) none of them have a seat? Might be worth knowing, I wish someone told me! Soap and hand dryers/towels also seem to be some kind of luxury here.
Of course there’s the toll roads, when driving though the middle of France we were weighing up going through the tolls or adding time to the journey therefore costing more fuel and we decided to go the more direct route with tolls and get there quicker. Unless you’ve got a decent coastal track and nice scenery then we guessed we might as well? Unless of course you enjoy monotonous motorways with kids in the car for HOURS. The endless requests for ‘mighty king song’ (lion king) on repeat. In the end the tolls for the four hour drive (longer with caravan) from Durtal to Clermont-Ferrand costed around 60euros in tolls vs the 1hour 30mins added drive it would’ve been without!
This beautiful but bizarre country we are still getting to grips with. We also understand what people meant when they said the best way to see it is by motorhome as travelling place to place restricts you with a caravan as you can’t just pull up and a lot of the roads are quite tight. We can venture out once we’re at a campsite and set up which is great just not en route.
Here’s some things we’ve done in the car to break up the journey;
As Drew spent his birthday on the road we still wanted to try and make it enjoyable so we stopped for lunch in a services to have our picnic we’d already made before setting off. We also bought a dairy free cake from the UK before we came out lit the candles and sung happy birthday from the roadside 🙂
Musical car statues – Pretty self explanatory, music on then everyone dances until the music is stopped anyone still dancing is out! The winner gets a sweet so this game lasted pretty well. We had to strategically let people win to avoid arguments, obviously.
Spotting colour/types of vehicle – everyone has a colour or vehicle to look out for. For the two year old this is mad easier by getting him to spot lorries! For older children you could look for makes and models, I remember doing this when I was a kid, who could name the car first!
The kindle/tablet – pre downloading educational games and some films. Once someone wins they pass it on, some games you can change the level so that it’s suitable for each child. For the youngest he just wants to be involved so randomly pushing buttons keeps him pretty happy!
Leaflet collecting. So our eldest loves looking through catalogues, leaflets etc. I mean the toy magazines keep him entertained for HOURS so when we’ve stopped at services or any local areas we have picked up all the tourist brochures. Even if they can’t read them they love looking at the pictures. Let us know what you do on the road to pass the time!