My brother and I in the South of France as kids
I’ve been extremely lucky that I’ve been able to see so much of the world and from a young age too.
Many holidays as kids were spent in the South of France and these were usually road trips through the UK, then onto a ferry arriving at Calais before driving onwards to the south to spend time in Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo for care-free blissful beach holidays by day, dining at al fresco restaurants by night, with us sometimes heading to Switzerland where my parents had a place for ice skating and snow topped mountain tours… What a journey it was to get there too..
…I distinctly remember the hot cream leather seats of my folk’s Mercedes cruising through picturesque French towns, stopping for snails in gleaming buttery garlic (much to my delight) and dark chocolate petit gateau at patisseries which made us believe my brother and I believe we were in the French equivalent of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)…but most importantly of all, our holiday began the moment we got in the car and drove!
We did of course fly a lot too (particularly when we travelled to Cyprus, Greece, Malta and beyond) but having driven to Italy, touring around Rome for their honeymoon and later Napoli, my parents somehow felt sentimental about road trips and loved that they could give physically show us (and still discover) so much more of a country, by car than by plane.
…I would sit in the back seats with my brother, Solos, each with our own notebook, drawing and noting down diary style excerpts of every place we passed, incredible meals we ate or experiences we had from visiting open air French markets at the break of dawn to making foreign friends on the beach we could barely converse with but connected over sandcastles and smurfs. We ADORED those trips.
Later, flying to South Africa several times pre-kids with my husband to see where he was born, we often made the drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (his home town), down the wine route, taking in the views and the vino (not drinking and driving of course)-we stayed over as we went, a brilliant way to learn more about such a fascinating country. Safari’s, a visit to Robben Island, Elephant tours, dreamy days filled with picnics and champagne by the coast before returning for our first wedding (we had two) in the country itself: life changing times we shall never forget.
Now with kids, I’m not sure I feel confident to take a road trip. Will they try and kill each other in the back?! Will boredom drive them and us crazy beyond belief?! Should we wait until they’re teens or would that be even worse?
No, we need to do it. We need to take a holiday with those kids of ours and drive to France, to relive my childhood and show them a different kind of holiday, one where you feel excited to get on a boat, go off the beaten track and discover places you simply didn’t know existed. To explore, to learn, to feel free…and eat buttery snails and petit gateau by the bucket load of course!