Travelling hundreds of miles in a car with your nearest and dearest is both wonderful and stressful.
Don’t get me wrong, my little family are my world. I love the bones of them. We absolutely love to travel and explore new places. Its why we chose a road trip through France all the way down to the South. But sometimes its just a bit stressful isn’t it?! And sometimes its okay to admit we don’t have it all worked out. I mean there are moments of sheer frustration at home, let alone in a car, packed to the brim and travelling for hours at at time. We did well, and it was an absolutely awesome holiday. But we are definitely not a well oiled machine quite yet…
So. Here we go. As promised. The misadventures of a French Road Trip. Things to avoid and general comical and quite unbelievable errors (I mostly blame the 3 boys).
Frankly it made the holiday all the more memorable. Easy to say with my rose tinted glasses on mind you.
(1) Breakfast on an over night ferry
Having slept through the night, which was a major bonus by the way (no tantrums, no getting bored, no sickness), we woke up hungry for breakfast and figured it would make sense to eat on the ferry and then crack on with the long drive once we docked.
Wrongo. Of course, everyone else on the ferry thought the same thing. Mega queues and panic purchases ensued. And then there was the finding a table with a toddler who didn’t want to sit down, a 7 year old who didn’t want egg on his plate, a Mummy with 300 bags and a Daddy who really cared mainly about a strong coffee and a quiet sit down. It was chaos. When we finally got to said table with said breakfast (including egg on his plate) they announced it was time to return to the cars ready to disembark.
Will not repeat this little moment in future. Will pack healthy and varied breakfast treats and take with us on to the boat. After all, what difference would another bag make????
(2) Roof boxes and underground car parks
This probably seems like a pretty obvious and rather stupid mistake… Well that’s because it is, I guess. Now I mentioned Toulouse would feature in the misadventures blog. This is why. We arrived in to Toulouse later than we had hoped. We had been a little over optimistic in terms of how quickly we could travel the entire length of France, and we ended up stopping more frequently than we had anticipated. Still, those stops were essential and good fun so we weren’t too bothered. We’ll just rock up at the hotel, we thought, park in the hotel parking, we thought, and get some dinner, we thought. Hmmmmmm.
Loads of roadworks in Toulouse made it a total stress to find the hotel (there may or may not have been threats to abandon the car and walk). When we finally turned the corner and saw the car park entrance you’d have thought we had just won the lottery. There was whooping in the car and general scenes of celebration. We drive down the long thin drive to the underground car park and approach the barrier. Bang. Oh dear me. The bloody roof box.
We had all completely forgotten that we had a giant sodding roof box on top of the car and we had now, in fact, driven in to the overhead sign telling you not to drive in should your car be taller than this sign we had just driven in to. If you catch my drift. Bugger. Sadly it didn’t end there. Normal people would have reversed, turned around and found an alternative. Not us. “It’s ok” says he (husband at finest, most optimistic). “Its just this sign we are too tall for. Lift up the sign and I’ll drive through the barrier”.
I wasn’t sure but frankly it was late, I was hungry and the boys were now crying. Okay here goes. Through the barrier we go. And oh look there are pipes that look quite low, and oh yes we cannot actually get in to a parking space because, as the sign suggested, we are, in fact, too tall. Oh and we can’t get back out as the barrier is not an exit, simply an entrance. And there’s no one around to help. It is late and dark by now. Insert your choice of very loud swear words here…
The next 30 minutes were spent removing the roof box from the car, leaving it on the floor, driving the car in to the car park, carrying the roof box to the car and putting it back on (a feat which had to be repeated the next morning in order for us to exit the car park). BIG lesson here. Remember your roof box people. And read signs. They are usually there for a reason.
(3) Toddlers and evening entertainment
Our littlest adventure bean is a happy and pretty chilled little bean in temperament. He is in to everything and literally does not sit still. But he very much goes with the flow on the whole, taking everything in, happily observing the world around him. As such, we thought it would be lovely on the odd evening to have a wander after dinner, get a drink, sit back and enjoy the evening entertainment at the holiday village. If not for us, then for our eldest who loves to try everything that is on offer, like he is actually ticking everything off in his head to make sure he has maximised his time. Bless him.
Well. Now then. Ralph was not of the same opinion. Dinner time, means bath time, which means milk time, which means cuddles and bed time. He is a routine machine.
No I shall not have my milk and fall asleep in the pushchair so you can all relax. Yes I will scream and throw things. Yes I might hold my breath. No I will definitely not give in.
Home it is then.
Evening entertainment and a relaxing drink? Well Mummy and Daddy had to take it in turns.
In fact, the best result all round, was instead to get little one to bed and then relax on the decking – we could eat, drink and play games with Henry. Everyone was much more relaxed and stress levels were non existent because no one was screaming, hitting or kicking. Bliss.
(4) Exploring new places on the map late in the day
We do it to ourselves you know. We just can’t leave it. When we are off exploring and have had a lovely day there is always that little glance at the map when we get back in to the car… Shall we just stop off here on the way back as we’ll be passing?
Answer, I now see, should always be no. When the children are in the back and have, to be perfectly frank, had enough of exploring for one day and just want to eat dinner and do their own thing (mainly cause havoc with footballs), just say no.
Scenes of a quick stop off on the way back from a day out, at what the guide had called a beautiful sleepy harbour, were sent in to disarray by a sat nav which tried taking us through someone’s house and down a one way street, a toddler who no longer wanted to be in the car, screamed and then threw up, and a 7 year old who cried as a result of all the turmoil and because he had no snacks left.
From now on, it is a day out and then straight home…
I don’t know what it is with us but every time we go to France there seems to be some kind of market related incident. Let me explain. We absolutely love going to the local morning markets when we are there. They are so lovely to wander around, listen to the locals, pick up some nice produce for lunch or dinner. Henry absolutely loves them too – he likes to ask for items and pay the euros. It is super cute and one of my favourite holiday moments. But we always seem, at least once in the holiday, to end up having to buy something that we didn’t really want to commit to and/or costs us approximately 3000 times the amount I thought it would. I speak a little French and can get by. But clearly I need to do better. Last time it was a very expensive and very large amount of tapenade (which we simply couldn’t finish despite eating it every day for the entire holiday). This time? Nougat. Size of a cake. Costing the earth (well almost). Know your measurements, quantities and costs everyone. Us? We just smiled and paid. Smile and paid. Enough said.
I think the nougat rounds it off nicely. Any holiday mishaps of your own to share?! Please say it isn’t just us that does things like driving in to huge great metal signs? Please???!!!
Happy Adventuring (less mis-adventuring) everyone! x