I love to travel but am not keen on package holidays – I like the freedom to do my own thing at my own pace – and decided that our 10 year old was now old enough to cope with a road trip… We’d been to France many times before and as it is only a short ferry crossing from the UK thought it would be an ideal introduction for her.
We stayed overnight in Dover (at the fantastic Premier Inn Dover Central – Eastern Terminal) then caught an early ferry to Calais. We had pre-planned our route and booked accommodation in advance (always wise at the height of summer!). Our first stop was at on old mill, Moulin de la Fleuristerie (http://www.countrybreak-in-champagne.com/en/the-flowermill) in Orges. It was approximately half way on our journey down to the Alps and was just off the main road. The accommodation was charming and the owners were welcoming. Who would have guessed that a mill in the middle of nowhere made artificial flowers for the fashion houses of Paris!!
After a relaxing overnight stop, we carried on down to the resort of Tignes, our base for one week of the trip, where we stayed in an apartment at the Residence Montana Planton (http://www.village-montana.com/uk/chalet-exception-residence-planton.php) in the village centre. The apartment was well-equipped and comfortable with three balconies, each with stunning mountain views. There was also an outdoor pool at the sister hotel which we could use, which was a bonus. Although the pool was not large, I don’t think I’ve ever swam in a pool with such amazing views!
To encourage summer tourism, many traditionally winter resorts are now putting on free activities during the summer, to attract summer visitors. On and around the lake in Tignes were airbag jumps, trampolines, water zorbing, kayaking and pedalos, amongst other things. Freya would have spent all her time there if we had let her…
If mountain biking is your thing, Tignes is the place to be… Ski lifts are adapted to carry bikes and riders to the mountain tops from where you can tear down the many marked bike tracks. If not, there are walking trails around the village of varying degrees of difficulty and length. A set of maps can be bought from the Tourist Office for €10.
Food-wise we mixed it up a bit – some meals we made in the well-equipped kitchen in our apartment (there is a well-stocked supermarket in Tignes) and other times we ate out. Without exception, the meals were excellent and prices were reasonable.
Tignes, although better known as a ski resort, is definitely worth a visit in summer.
We headed off after an active week in Tignes to our next overnight stop (another old mill) – the stunning Moulin Neuf in Vignoux-sur-Barangeon (http://www.gite-moulin-neuf.com/). This one was much more luxurious than our first overnight stop and we were reluctant to leave! But leave we did, visiting the Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley on route to our next destination. We arrived early when it was not too busy and enjoyed looking around inside the chateau and wandering through the beautiful gardens. Freya did not enjoy the chateau visit very much and was ready to leave much sooner than we were… so rather than put up with her whining, we left!
From there we headed to Glomel (Brittany), where we stayed with family at their B&B, Webb’s of Glomel (http://www.brittanybedandbreakfast.net/). The rooms were comfortable and the food was very good. One of the highlights of the few days we spent there was our trip with Glomel Bateaux kayaking down the chutes on the Nantes/Brest canal – great fun, particularly on a hot, sunny day!
From Glomel we headed north to Bayeux, where we stayed at the Bayeux Novotel on the outskirts of town… There were two reasons for this choice – firstly, it had car parking (which many of the more central hotels did not) and secondly it had a swimming pool. The weather was lovely and we enjoyed walking round Bayeux looking at the beautiful Bayeux Cathedral and visiting the Bayeux Tapestry.
Our second day was spent looking round the immaculately kept war cemeteries – sobering but well worth visiting, even for a 10 year old.
From there we headed back to Calais for the ferry back to the UK after two weeks travelling around France by car.
I did wonder as I was planning this trip if it would be child-friendly enough but, for the most part, Freya enjoyed it. That said, I don’t think we would have attempted such a long trip (around 2,800 km of driving in France, plus a 3 hour drive each way to Dover) with a child any younger.
Would I do it again? Definitely! We are already planning our next road trip, so watch this space…