The Cynic’s Guide to Driving in France - by Vicki Marinker, Lifestyle Maven
Being an unadventurous family of four with two young kids, our holidays usually comprise an all-inclusive hotel in a hot climate where we don’t have to move far from our sunbeds and the kids are entertained by far more engaging adults than us.
This year we joined my best friend and her family in the Dordogne region of France for a self-catering holiday in a large rustic farmhouse.
It was a long car journey, taking nearly two full days with an overnight stop in a fantastic budget hotel in Le Mans en route (see, I can speak French and everything!).
There is some essential kit you need to take with you if you’re driving to France, including headlamp beam deflectors and other safety equipment. There are loads of car kits available on Amazon and they aren’t expensive. I also recommend taking a spare car key. We forgot ours and had a couple of hairy moments looking for our one and only key.
We learnt a few things during our trip, so here’s my honest guide to driving in France, with some helpful tips and a few MASSIVE generalisations, all served with un petit peu of sarcasm:
Food & Drink:
Out and About:
Places to Visit:
Although we had a pool and all the comforts of home, we had several rainy days so had to find interesting places to take the kids. They would have quite happily played Minecraft all day, but we felt that was a waste of a 700 mile journey. The Dordogne is full of beautiful towns and villages as well as historic and pre-historic sites. We were in the North of the region and were willing to travel up to 90 minutes, so here are my picks:
Brantome – a pretty village, with boutique shops, several restaurants and a weekly market. Has something of a Cotswold feel to it.
Bourdeilles – beautiful architecture in this village with a wide river running through it. We went to a little food fair one evening, with musicians playing and great street food. We let the kids run around and paddle in the river while we sipped our Rosé and noshed on our duck confit.
Le Roque St Christophe – a pre-historic town cut into a very high cliff. Neanderthal man lived here 50,000 years ago. It’s 300 feet above the ground and gave me the wobbles, but it’s a fascinating place.
Grotte de Villars – these caves were only discovered just over 60 years ago by a potholing club. It’s difficult to describe how incredible these caves were. There are literally thousands of stalactites and stalagmites, which are lit up – artificially of course. There is a light and sound show in one of the chambers and original cave paintings. Awesome – in the true sense of the word.
On sunnier days there were lots of opportunities to swim in lakes and rivers as well as hire canoes. A favourite of ours was called La Guinguette de Rénamont, where the water was clear and there was a little beach.
Feel free to share any tips you have about driving abroad, or just tell me about your summer holiday in the comments below. Bon Vacances!
Vicki Marinker in the creator of Lifestyle Maven, the UK lifestyle blog for your fabulous 40s and beyond - from the unusual to the useful, the beautiful & the bizarre: beauty, food, fashion, parenting & more. You can read more lifestyle articles on Lifestyle Maven.