September 24, 2023

Pilleonlin Info

Skillful babby purveyors

Our first proper holiday – Family life

2 min read
A Carrelet hut on the Gironde Estuary.

The summer break is well and truly over and I’ve been so relaxed that I’ve neglected to write about anything for ages. Including our first proper holiday as a family of five. It was also our first holiday abroad in eight years.

As soon as the school year was over, we headed to France to stay with my parents. We decided to go all the way to Bordeaux via train, stopping overnight in Paris both on the way out and back.

There were a few reasons for this possibly questionable choice – mainly environmental and financial, but also an awful experience last time we flew.

Two photos of famous Parisian landmarks: Sacré-Cœur and the Eiffel Tower.

Having used British trains for years, I was a little worried about missing connections but I needn’t have. The trains are way better in France.

They were reliable, fast and cheap. The Paris-to-Bordeaux leg took just over two hours. That’s a similar distance to that between London and Newcastle – in an hour less.

The train from Bordeaux to our final destination was a similar time and distance to the one we often take to Brighton but cost around £15 less. That’s enough about trains, but I’m seriously impressed!

Onto the holiday itself and we had a lovely time. We enjoyed a much-needed change of pace and introduced the kids to places I first visited when I was a child myself.

The 17th-century citadel in Blaye, France.

Highlights included a Roman villa, a 17th-century citadel and some sightseeing in Paris. But it’s the so-called small stuff that will really stick with me.

Such as all three kids becoming much more confident in the swimming pool and ordering meals in French. Probably things I did at the same age on family holidays.

Plus the quirky stuff like the Carrelet huts dotted along the rivers that form the Gironde Estuary and a bread vending machine in the village we stayed in. Despite the fact the latter had the word “pain” on it, it was very easy to use!

Three children looking at a bread vending machine.

Above all, it was lovely to spend time as an extended family after the last couple of years. We came back feeling recharged and proud of ourselves for not getting lost.

I think this approach to holidays might become our thing. Apart from mad queues at St Pancras on the way out – it was the very first morning of the summer holidays – it was a lot less stressful than flying.

Going on a proper holiday again after so long was lovely. I always enjoyed going to France as a kid and I think my three felt the same. Hopefully, it won’t be another eight years before we get to go again!

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