Our French Adventures… {Part One}

Jess McGlynnAugust 12, 2015

I can’t deny that choosing to use the word ‘adventures’ in the title for this little series of posts is very apt; from finding out our overnight accommodation was booked on the wrong day at 11pm after driving for 13 hours to James getting lost in the middle of Amiens at midnight whilst trying to park the car in a car park which was supposedly 200m away and having to be rescued by me; our recent trip to France was stuffed full of adventures.  Some more memorable for the right reasons than others!

It all started well; we travelled across the channel by ferry with P&O which was really straightforward.  We did have a slight delay as they were incredibly busy on the day we travelled but once we were aboard the boat it was fine.  Having won the crossing in a competition we also had club lounge access which was amazing.  I’m not great on boats but having the luxury of being in the lounge and not having to hunt for somewhere to sit or worrying about losing the kids in the crowds of people was a real plus point.  James took the kids for a walk to see if he could take them outside (despite the rain) and he said it was quite chaotic.  I would definitely pay the £12 per person surcharge if we were to travel by ferry again.

Not to mention the complimentary champagne and the large windows which offered a panoramic view of the journey.  Both Meg and Eli loved this, especially as we approached Calais and they could see it coming ever closer.

After the ferry we drove for about an hour and a half into Amiens and spent the night in a hotel.  The following morning we had a quick wander, taking in the cathedral and letting the kids burn off some energy before we set off on the longest leg of our journey; approx 7 hours to take us into the South of France.  Some parts were better than others; it’s a long way to drive, especially with two children.

All the weariness of the car journey was forgotten within a few moments of arriving though.  We were staying in a lovely villa in an area called L’Etang Vallier which is in the Charente region.  There was a lake with a sandy(ish) beach and a waterfront cafe which was ideal for enjoying first night pizza and wine.

Although the weather wasn’t great for the first few days, we tried to make the most of our surroundings with time spent at the beach, visiting a local market in Chalais where Meg got a much craved hair braid and even daring a trip to the pool.  I have it on good authority (because I wasn’t daft enough to try it for myself) that the water was ‘alright once you got in’.

Personally I don’t blame Eli for sticking to the toddler pool which was much shallower and therefore, warmer.

After a couple of days settling in we took our first day trip to meet some friends who were also holidaying nearby.  We chose Saintes, a picturesque city about an hour away from where we were staying.  It’s the second largest city in Charente-Maritime and has a lot of historical significance; the whole area is full of Roman buildings and remains and we had lots of fun walking around and exploring them before finding somewhere to eat in the evening.  We also made several stops at coffee shops dotted around, as is the French way!

I even found this gorgeous library; it’s hard to believe that it is just an ordinary library.  I would have gladly spent hours sequestered away in here but unfortunately the majority of the books were in French so it wouldn’t really have been practical.

After our trip to Saintes we had a number of ‘downtime’ days when we simply enjoyed the site and our immediate surroundings.  Both Meg and Eli absolutely loved being on the beach every day and watching their confidence in the water grow was amazing.  Eli, who has always struggled through his swimming lessons, was putting his face under the water willingly and even jumping in.  He has definitely come home a different boy.

They both really thrived having so many members of their family around them; it was lovely being away with James’ family (there were 12 of us altogether) and it was so enjoyable to be able to spend more time with everyone, I actually cried when it was time to come home but more of that another time, we’ve got some more adventures to share first so stayed tuned!

Packing my Suitcase


  • Phoebe Thomas

    September 1, 2015 at 16:31

    Sounds like you had a lovely family holiday with just enought adventure to keep you on your toes! You might like to link this post (or others on France) to my monthly linky #AllAboutFrance which opens next week on Thursday 3rd Sept. You can find out more information if you look on my blog (Lou Messugo), you’ll find the badge for the linky in the sidebar. #MondayEscapes

  • My Travel Monkey

    September 1, 2015 at 16:31

    Oh, what a great trip and such wonderful photos. I thinkt you're right – adventures can be good and bad – but they certainly make for interesting stories! Hats off to you both for doing such a long car journey with the kids! I have yet to explore France I'm ashamed to say, but posts like yours make me want to go more and more. I really must make the effort! I know I would love it! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • Kerridwen

    September 1, 2015 at 16:31

    That does seem like a better place to spend time on the ferry.. Better than searching desperately for a free spot in the middle of the night, when all couches are taken, and having to put two chairs together for a makeshift bed. Yes it happened to me.. LOL I was exhausted and ready to sleep anywhere! 😉 Like your pictures! I think I'd quite like to see that library… Knowing French, I'd be able to stay all day!

  • Bronwyn

    September 1, 2015 at 16:31

    Wow! What a trip! That really is a step up on the ferry, isn't it? I'd pay for that , too! I love looking at the pics of your kids enjoying the history and beauty of France. We brought our kids overseas to the North of France last summer and it was the best trip we have ever taken. Our kids still talk about it endlessly! That's why we do it, right? Looking forward to reading more about your trip!

  • would like to be

    September 1, 2015 at 16:31

    looks like a lovely holiday and loving the look of the lounge, looks fab! x

  • Susan Dalzell

    September 1, 2015 at 16:32

    Looks like a really nice family holiday! At least a long car trip makes you appreciate the destination all the more, right? #MondayEscapes

  • Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault

    September 1, 2015 at 16:32

    I love books in any language so would quite happily have spent hours in the bibiotheque. Looks like you had a good holiday despite a few hiccups that I am looking forward to reading about. Maybe we can tempt you to Normandy for a future holiday – it's a lot closer than Amiens!

  • Louise Fairweather

    September 1, 2015 at 16:32

    Wow I want to go club lounge the next time we sail! Some lovely pics x

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