Travel with kids: Roadtrip to France

If you feel adventurous during a half term / school holiday you can take the kids on a roadtrip to France. Without much planning we decided to go skiing and sledding for a couple of days on the Mont Blanc on the French side with a few stops along the way. It’s 1000 km one way and you can get there in 15 hours with no stops.

However with young children (Diego is 8) this is unthinkable and a more traditional road trip is recommend. It is a bit too much but quite adventurous and worth doing once in a blue moon. After all it is 2000 km journey in total in just 6 days.

 

Tour Eiffel Roadtrip to france travel with Kids London Mums magazine

By Day or by Night la Tour Eiffel is always spectacular! The special lighting effects at night are simply stunning.

 

It reminded me the road trips my father organised in the Seventies and Eighties and for that reason it was enjoyable.

Our six-day road trip included the following activities and excursions:

Day 1

London – Dover
Dover – Calais by ferry P&O ferry
Calais – Paris
Paris – Tour Eiffel and Marché de Parry
Evry – Hotel Premiere Classe

food markets in France

Food in France is amazing! Marche’, boulangerie, patisserie all provide fresh food for any kind of taste

 

Day 2

Paris Antique market

antique market in Paris roard trip to france
Paris – Avallon (Bourgogne)
Avallon – visit the historic town
Hotel premiere classe in Avallon

 

Day 3

Avallon collage roadtrip to France

Avallon – Cordon (Mont Blanc)
Cordon – hotel Les Rhodes (2 nights 320 euros £280 only one breakfast and one dinner for 3 included)
Cordon – Chamounix

 

Day 4

Cordon – day spent entirely having fun on the snow.

cordon & Comblaux collage

Near Cordon in Comblaux there’s a great skiing school – 1 hour private lesson with a skiing instructor costs 40 euros. For non skiers there are amazing walks up and down the Mont Blanc. There’s a sport called raquette a neige which essentially is walking using racket-shaped boots support.

Day 5

Cordon – Appoigny
Auxerre – good size city with lots of Gothic and Medieval buildings
Evry – Hotel Premiere Classe

 

Day 6

Paris
Quick Paris tour in the car – with few stops at the boulangerie to buy baguette and tarte au citron – through Porte de Passy, Tour Eiffel, Place de la Concorde, Saint Germain de Pres.

baguette bread roadtrip to france
Paris deserves a lot more than a quick car drive through the city centre. From London it’s worth going to Paris by train and use Parisian public transport as parking in town is quite complicated (same as in London).

Paris -Calais – 3 hours drive
Calais – a quick stop in Calais supermarkets (Carrefour is the biggest one) is a must if you like French wine and want to stock up. We noticed lots of British cars who just came over for the day to do some shopping.

Calais – Dover (by ferry boat) 1 hour
Dover – London

Shaun the Sheep goes to France collage

To keep us company we brought Shaun the Sheep with us. He had a ball in France!

 

Activity suggestions to keep kids entertained in the car

1) Picture dictionary: Cards with 225 picture words French – English – we found one in a motorway shop and it kept Diego busy for 2 hours. In the end we all learnt basic French vocabulary.

2) Percy Parker CD to practise the timestables

3) Sing along to your favourite music

4) Radio Time: Listen to the local French radio and try to understand what it says – the FM 107.7 is audible throughout the journey everywhere in France as it is the national radio that offers updated motorway traffic information.

Travel with kids Are we nearly there yet

5) Problem solving exercises: children at school need to learn simple problem solving and you can involve them in calculating how much petrol is needed for the km to drive; number of km to still drive if the total amount is 1000, etc

6) Books reading: if they are not prone to vomit in the car they can read their books.

7) Games to do together: mention all the countries / cities you have visited in your lifetime; mention all the airlines / animals you know; etc portable chess games are available to buy.

8) iPad or iPhone are great as entertainers (or when you need a few minutes to rest) but make sure you only upload educational or semi educational app. Limit screen time in the car to only half hour at the time otherwise kids get really agitated – this is the effect of over exposure to screens.

 

Essentials during a long roadtrip

Car documents
Valid Passports

For the skiing / sledging

Scarfs
Gloves suitable for the snow
Thick / thermal socks (many socks of different thickness as they get wet)
Snow boots
Snow / waterproof skiing trousers
Long johns
Sunglasses
Suncream – on the mountain the sun is very strong

sun glasses

For the trip

Lots of snacks for the trip
Torch, first aid kit, fire extinguisher  and quilts to keep in the car
Euros for motorway charges / hotels / shopping
Little French – English dictionary (Collins)
Euro Adapter
Extra Battery charger for the iPhone
iPad mini
Wet wipes
Kleenex
Water
Cameras

 

Costs (on a budget)

Three nights at 2 different Premiere Classe hotels (don’t be fooled by the name – Premiere Classe is a rougher and less comfortable version of Travelodge in the UK). It costs an average of 35£ per night for a family of 3 = £105

2 nights at a 3 star skiing resort Hotel Les Rhodes in cordon = £280

Motorway total charges approximately £200
Petrol for a Volvo 4×4 car approximately total £400

Skiing lesson (one hour) for 2x people £35
Skiing equipment x 2 people per day £20

Food costs – France offers really good food at decent prizes. Boulangeries (bread shops) bake fresh food every day as an alternative to making your own snacks for the trip. French cuisine is amazing and I would recommend to try. I am Italian and very fussy with my food so take my word for it.

 

travelling with kids color

Conclusion

Overall the trip was a bit stressful for the driver –  too many km in a few days – but on a positive note we learnt a lot about the French culture, geography and language in a full immersion educational and fun experience.

Would I do it again?
‘Not in a month of Sundays’ (Wallace & Gromit)

Not anytime soon but it was great to find out what we enjoyed doing together as a family such as skiing and sledding, visiting art and historic cities and learning a new language. Next time we will probably go by train to Paris for a couple of days and another time we will fly to Geneva airport which is half hour away from the Mont Blanc and spend a whole week skiing and sledding.

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