Last weekend, my parents returned home to France. Nothing too unusual, it happens about every 6 weeks or so, except this time, we went too. As they were driving down, we were able to go with them for very little extra cost.
This meant the girls had their first experience of going on a ferry; Bunny was stunned by the size of the “boat”, having expected something much smaller and thinking we were being silly when we pointed to the lorries driving onboard. They stood out on deck as we left Dover, waving goodbye to England as the white cliffs faded into the distance.
Then came the long, long car journey. We were prepared with some of their favourite CDs and some snacks they liked, but as it turned out, the car bingo game I picked up on the boat was a big winner and kept them both amused for a short while. And then they both fell asleep! So we pushed on and stopped for a picnic lunch in an aire when they woke up.
That night we stayed in a budget hotel in Le Mans and, after a big ‘all you can eat’ breakfast, continued on our way. We stopped for a while in Poitiers as I’d been through on the train in the past and always thought it looked pretty, but being a Sunday afternoon, it was mostly closed up and empty, but at least we found some landmarks!
And then the final leg and we were there! The girls behaved brilliantly all the way, making the whole experience so much easier. That evening, they enjoyed a little bit of time running around outside before dinner and bed.
With Monday morning the holiday started properly. We had a lazy start and then went to a local market where the girls enjoyed strawberries handed out by a stallholder and we enjoyed drinks and cake at a local cafe.
The girls had a wonderful afternoon running around in the garden, playing with our old toys and getting lots of attention from their grandparents. I also enjoyed having the chance to mow the lawn with my dad’s ride on lawn-mower – not something I’ve ever done before!
On Tuesday, we headed to a lake which has a wonderful kids’ play area next to the beach and a woodland walk on the opposite side. The girls LOVED the playground and happily climbed, swung and slid there for hours. My parents went back to the house to pick up a picnic lunch and when they got back, almost an hour later, still had to drag the girls away from playing.
After lunch we started to do the woodland walk, but the wind was picking up and the girls were showing signs of tiredness, so we headed home instead. But not before we’d collected lots and lots of pine cones, spotted lizards sunbathing and played in the sand on the beach. A really lovely day, that was virtually free, yet lots of fun for all of us.
Wednesday started with an Easter Egg hunt in the garden, then we visited a relative I haven’t seen for a few years.
Before lunch at a pizzeria, we had a quick walk around the older parts of town which is so pretty and quintessentially French, it’s easy to see why my parents chose to move there.
When we got home, they played in the garden again, enjoying piggy in the middle and football with grandpa, and even a brief spell of hide and seek. And then candy floss made by grandpa just before dinner!
And then, all of a sudden, with the hottest day of the week, also came the last day of the holiday. We decided to spend the morning at the house to keep things quiet for the girls and they played in the garden again, having pretend Easter Egg hunts, writing postcards home and using tablecloths as capes. I made the most of some reading time to sunbathe and relax before the 8 hour journey home by car, plane, train, tube, train and taxi began!
We really did have a wonderful week, with the added bonus of wonderful weather that meant we spent virtually all of it outside. All meals except breakfast were eaten al fresco and it was perfect being able to sit out on the terrace with a cold beer, watching the girls play and the sun set after dinner each evening. Exactly how a holiday should be!
As a child, I had many, many incredible camping holidays in France with my family and can barely remember spending any time inside, always making the most of the warmer climate and laid back, cafe culture. It is so precious to be able to create similar memories for the girls and I hope that this was one of many for us.
Joining in with Coombe Mill’s Country Kids: encouraging children to spend time outside. Click on the image to discover what other families have been doing this week.