We spent most of Sunday packing and set off late afternoon to Matt’s parents. The children slept all the way, so a nice easy journey. Great excitement on our arrival as they had a new adult sized trampoline. The evening was spent bouncing and playing with the Uncles. So the boys were blissfully happy.
Monday morning we drove down to Newhaven. We thought we had allowed plenty of time, but there were roadworks nearby, so we only just got there in time.
The ferry journey over was quite hard work. The ferry was very full. JJ wanted to walk around all the time and although we had taken some stories with us, we could have done with more for them to do. There was a little play area, but it had been taken over by older boys wanting to act out their latest violent computer games, so it wasn’t the best place for littlies.
We arrived at Le Havre at 6pm French time and parked in town. My French was hopelessly rusty and we only just managed to buy a few bits and pieces for a picnic tea. But the market was fantastic, everything looked so fresh and colourful and smelled so good. It made shopping at Tesco’s seem a very sterile activity in contrast.
We set off for Paris on a main road, avoiding the motorway. It was a long, long way. JJ by this point was very thirsty. He somehow has managed to refuse to drink anything but a certain flavour of smoothie, so his last drink had been that morning and he was refusing water. So he was tearful and I spent an hour or so in the back of the car singing him to sleep. While Matt did the driving.
As we approached Paris we realised that our map was inadequate and before too long we were hopelessly lost. JJ and Mip woke up and were crying, I ended up with them both on my lap still singing to them and desperately trying to get JJ to drink some water and poor Matt was trying to navigate without a map reader. Eventually, about midnight he stopped at a cafe to ask for directions. There was lots of pointing right and saying ‘gauche’, so he set off right. Five minutes later we were hopelessly lost again. Suddenly a car shot past us on a roundabout with a gesticulating Frenchman hanging out of the window. “I’ve seen him before” said Matt, which seemed unlikely to me, but it turned out to be a man from the cafe who must have seen us set off in the wrong direction and followed us. He set us right (or gauche) and by 1am with no more major problems we found our hotel. We had phoned from Rouen to say that we would be running late, so they had left the key out for us.
We carried the children up to our room – a bunk, a single and a double with a caravan style shower room – with much relief, and slept very thoroughly.
For future reference:
- Check travel news before travelling,
- Take enough travel games for a ferry trip
- Make sure everyone is able to drink water,
- Take a proper map.