What and adventure!
Over 2,500 miles, 2 countries, 1 boat trip, lots of service stations and plenty of car ride songs!
France was a blast. I didn’t really know what to expect, it was my first driving holiday, and our first time driving any long distance with Harry. Needless to say it went really really well.
If you read my previous post you’ll have read about the amount of stuff we had packed and prepared for this holiday, it felt like a big build up! When the car was packed and we set off, it felt weirdly relaxing knowing we were on our own time and weren’t in any rush to catch a flight, it was bliss!
We set off from our hometown of Carlisle and travelled south towards Dover where we had an overnight stay before catching the boat to Calais the next morning. We managed that journey really well, we only stopped once in Manchester to have lunch and let Harry have some time out of the car.
We arrived in Dover just around Harry’s dinner time and quickly settled into our hotel room. We just stayed in the Premier Inn Folkestone which actually wasn’t cheap at £140 for the night, not including breakfast but this could have been our fault due to booking it quite late. I took a quick drive into the town centre to get some dinner (Dominos) for Chloe and I while she fed Harry. First day a success!
Our boat was scheduled for 11am so we weren’t in any major rush, plus we were only 2 miles from the port so that was a good start. If your ever getting the boat from Dover to Calais, arrive at least 1 hour before because the queues to get through security is really long.
When we eventually got through we parked up in the priority boarding lane. This meant that we got on and off the boat first. I’m not one for waiting around when I have somewhere to be!
The boat ride took 1 hour 30 minutes, this was fine for Harry and us, throughout the whole trip he was obviosuly our main priority and keeping him entertained is the hardest bit. He doesn’t like to sit still, he likes to crawl around and crawl very fast!
He entertained the whole boat by his antics and made short work of racking up the steps (or crawls) on deck! He and the boat trip was a hit!
Before we knew it, 90 minutes flew by and we got off the boat really quick and headed on the 2 and half hour journey to Reims. For the whole trip we used the SatNav, Chloe had everything organised all the addresses/confirmations for each hotel so we were able to input this information into the SatNav and we never had any issues.
Reims is the champagne capital of France! We had booked to stay at the Les Bulles Dorees. We chose this place as the reviews were fantastic! This was a small independant Chateau in Reims that is run by a lovely lady named Heidi. As well as being a hotel they make and bottle their own champagne, Didier Herbert. We bought a few bottles back!
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by Heidi, and given a glass of champagne. Heidi was great with Harry and was really keen to entertain and hold Harry while Chloe and I enjoyed our champagne.
This Chateau has 4 bespoke bedrooms that are all individually designed. They share a large open plan living area with lots of really cool nick nacks to look at and admire and an honesty champagne fridge. It was perfect for us as we were able to put Harry to bed and still be in close range to have the monitor on while sat in the living area drinking champagne and relaxing.
You actually get to walk through the bottling plant of the champagne house to get to the rooms which is another really cool thing about this place. Heidi makes fresh breakfast every morning for the guests. And WOW! what a breakfast this is. Fresh juices, coffee, meats, cheeses and more! Its a taste sensation, oh and of course more FREE champagne!
We really wish we could have stayed here longer but we had only booked one night here, so our experience at Heidis champagne house felt a little short lived. Highly recommend this little gem even if you have a baby/children, we will certainly go back.
We leave the lovely setting of Reims and head for Lyon. We have never been to Lyon before but had been told its a little like Paris, so we were looking forward to it. Harry was being really good in the car by this point so it meant we could really push on and make it there is good time. We did download some movies on the iPad for Harry and attached it to the headrest for him to watch which did keep him entertained if he wasn’t sleeping.
We stuck to the toll roads where we could as it was easier to negotiate but also a big bonus was the service stations! They were immaculate, every one we stopped at was clean, well attended and never seemed over crowded. We stopped and had some lunch at an American diner which was well equipped for children.
Lyon took about 4 hours to get to, it wasn’t so bad but as you start to hit the outskirts of the city it gets a little busy, I guess it depends on what time you arrive as we hit the work traffic so that didn’t help.
We booked one night at Hotel LE Roosevelt, its a 4 star hotel with good reviews on TripAdvisor. We had managed to book this hotel through the deal website Secret Escapes and it was perfect for one night as it was central with parking.
We got parked up and checked in without any hassle then headed out to get some food. I mentioned earlier Lyon was a little like Paris, and I was right, the streets are really like Paris, filled with little patisseries and quant shops, its really worth a visit. We stopped for food at a grill place near Place Du Marechal Lyautey. It was great for Harry as it was outdoors and it meant he could get some fresh air! He slept while we ate and woke once we were finished which was fine as we had a lovely walk around the park and fountains. He loved the fountains at the Place Du Marechal Lyautey.
Whilst we were in Lyon Chloe spotted a well known shop called Petit Bateau, some of Harrys clothes are from here so she was off with the credit card, she also spotted another shop Cyrillus which meant Harrys wardrobe was just getting better and better!
So after dinner, a short walk around the city and a trip to the fountains, it was back to the hotel as day 4 was a big one, the long drive to St- Tropez and the main location for our holiday!
Lyon was short lived, but perfect but a stop off and somewhere that we would visit again!
That wraps up Part 1, stay tuned for Part 2!
Thanks for reading.