I tell myself that most family holidays experience the odd set back or obstacle and that this is just part of the ‘memory’ of it. However, our recent holiday to Brittany had more hurdles than an Olympic hurdle race.We awoke on the Saturday morning bright and early at 4am, feeling a little tired but still enjoying the buzz and excitement our two young children were radiating at the thought of our pending holiday. Little did they truly comprehend the drive that awaited us to our destination in Southern Brittany. Despite a couple of incidents of road kill (rabbits half asleep on the road), we made good time to the port of Dover, where we were to catch our 7.30 ferry crossing. This is a journey we had done on numerous occasions and we were quite familiar with the port. However, for reasons we still have not been able to fathom, once through passport control, we managed to end up in a lorry lane, with our P&O car lane two lanes to the left of us, hidden behind a sea of international lorries. In the split second it took us to realise our error, we had been completely boxed in on both sides, with no way of escape. Given our early arrival to the port, we felt it too soon to start panicking; however 10 minutes on it became apparent that the lorries were not going anywhere anytime soon. We managed to get the attention of one of the cab drivers, communicating in sign language, which given the height of the cabs was a task in itself. After another 10 minutes had lapsed and still no lorry movement, we decided more drastic action was to be taken if we were to catch our ferry. I was elected as the person to get the lorries to all move a meter forward, giving us a large enough gap in which to exit the lorry lane. Given that I was 6 months pregnant and clearly somewhat unstable to be running around the lorry lane at 7 in the morning, I managed to appeal to the drivers’ better natures and to my delight got 5 juggernaut lorries’ to inch their way forward. Feeling somewhat fraught (and pretty impressed with myself), we managed to catch our ferry, relieved in the knowledge we had pre-booked club lounge and so were able to relax the rest of the journey to Calais.
Once in France and barely half an hour under our belts, our youngest decided, that with an 8 hour journey ahead of us, confined in a car packed to the brim with luggage, that it would be a great time to throw up as a result of car sickness. Amazingly, despite our disastrous start to the trip, we made it to our destination by the early evening, still with a positive outlook and very much looking forward to our week in Brittany, followed by a 3 night stint at Euro Disney.
Having holidayed in Brittany the previous year, we were familiar with how wonderful the region is for young families. The villa we stayed in was perfect and the garden enjoyed beautiful sea views. We enjoyed a relaxing BBQ on the first evening and all slept well given our early start that morning. On the second evening, our youngest, again, was running a high temperature and by the third evening we were almost out of our stash of ‘just in case, but I’m sure we won’t need it’ medicine. We thought it best to go to the doctors. Just our luck the local doctor was on his annual vacation and trying to track down the locum was easier said than done. Fortunately the health system in France is very comprehensive and the doctor who we did eventually see was extremely thorough and spoke sufficient English. Armed with antibiotics and more pain killers to treat our daughter’s tonsillitis and ear infection, we were once again feeling quite up beat and looking forward to our last few days in Brittany. Twenty four hours later and given the lack of sun we had actually had time to expose ourselves to, we were surprised when my husband showed all the classic signs of sun stroke. Having lost another day, we were all determined to make the most of our last 2 days and I am pleased to say we did. The kids enjoyed the beach, as we knew they would, and we even had a local pool to ourselves for the most part, surprising given it was school holidays in the UK.
The time came for us to wave ‘goodbye’ to Brittany and begin our shorter journey of approximately 5 hours to Euro Disney. Once again, despite dosing our daughter up with travel sickness tablets and sick bands, we found ourselves on the verge of the motorway an hour into our journey. The sun was blazing and by the time we arrived at our Disney hotel in the late afternoon, it was still incredibly humid. Our children had no idea we had planned this ‘add on’ trip and were both thrilled at the thought of the magic that lay ahead the following day. We stayed at a Hotel a short distance from the park and the accommodation was very comfortable and well equipped for children.
The following morning, given the high temperatures and good weather of the previous day and that the sun was shining brightly, we caked ourselves in factor 50. No sooner had we stepped out of the hotel, then two giant clouds appeared from no where and the heavens opened. For the next hour it was torrential downpour and thunder and lightening, after which the sky’s cleared to leave a pleasantly warm day. Although the hotel was running a shuttle bus for the non drivers, we made the very short drive to the Disney gates by car. The Disney Parks certainly lived up to expectations and the next couple of days were filled with magic and wonder. The prices of everything within Disney are little hard to swallow at first, but you soon get used to paying €5 for an ice cream and €10 for a burger. The rides were all worth the long queues and some of the rides even had fast passes, enabling you to bypass the masses. We were told before we went that the Disney parade is unmissable and it certainly was. I’m sure our children would have loved to have stayed longer but for us, two days in the park was just enough.
Our return journey from Paris to Calais was only 3 hours and fortunately uneventful. We even managed to arrive just in time to catch an earlier ferry home, even though it did mean boarding the boat with more lorries!
We ended our stay in France with mixed memories; fortunately Brittany still lived up to our expectations and it would certainly be a region I will return to. We are pleased we can tick Euro Disney off the children’s wish list, but that will be a return journey that will have to wait another few years!