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Trip Report Trip report - 5 weeks in France and Spain with 3 kids

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We received such great advice and feedback to my pre-holiday questions, I wanted to come back with a trip report which might help other families travelling in France and Spain.

I’ll provide a brief overview of what we did and if anyone has questions, I’m happy to check back to provide more detail.

Firstly, we are two adults with three kids (5,5,2 years old). We had a five week holiday over Easter (March – April), equally split between France and Spain.

We used the French car lease back scheme and drove a Citroen Picasso Grande between cities and utilised public transport within cities. We travelled with our own car seats, travel baby cot, five weeks’ worth of nappies etc. And while we actually had a lot of luggage,we found it fairly seamless, arriving at the airport, being met by the Citroen Rep, clicking our car seats in and away we went. With the use of a GPS, and despite the horror stories from others, we found the driving easy. We understand others find the driving distances vast, but perhaps coming from Australia and having kids who are used to driving holidays, we weren’t bothered by this at all.

Accommodation wise, we either used AirBnB or booked apartments on Booking.com. We stayed exclusively in fully equipped, family apartments with secure off street car parks. Lots of the places we stayed at either had heated pools, big yards and/or toys for children.

Our itinerary turned out as follows. We had 10 days in the middle, which we booked on the road, allowing for some flexibility. The rest we pre-booked before we left. The towns listed below are where we slept each night. Major activities during that day are listed next. Most days also included a play at a park somewhere. Daylight savings started while we were in Paris and it was light until 8/9pm at night.

1 Arrive Paris
2 Paris – Lourve, Les Colonnes de Buren Square
3 Paris – Eiffle Tower, Sacre Coeur, Montmarte
4 Paris – Musee de L’Orangerie, Champ de Elysee, Laduree, Arc de Triumph (Hop on hop off bus)
5 Paris (Easter Sunday) – Notre Dame, Batobus Tour, Parc des Buttes Chaumont
6 Paris – Luxembourg Gardens
7 Mont St Michel – Depart Paris in early morning. Drive to Versailles. Depart after late lunch and drive to Mont St Michel.
8 Mont St Michel
9 Loire Valley – Depart early. Visit Azay-le-Rideau. It was torrential rain, so we skipped Villandry.
10 Loire Valley – Da Vinci House (Chateau du Close Luce, Parc Leonardo da Vinci), Amboise (Friday morning market).
11 Loire Valley – Chenonceau, Chambord
12 Orange – Depart early. Drive to Puy de Dome. Visit Vulcania amusement park. Drive to Orange. We actually stayed in a country farm house 20 minutes outside of Orange, perfect for kids.
13 Orange – Pont du Gard, Uzes
14 Orange – Caverne du Pont D’Arc, Aven d’Orgnac,
15 Orange –Gordes, Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque, Roussillon, Sault, Mont Venoux.
16 Orange – Fontaine de Vaucluse, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Chocolaterie Castelain (Kids’ chocolate cooking class), Teatre de Orange
17 Arles - Chateau des Baux de Provence, Carrieres de Lumineres. Drive to Arles.
18 Aigues Mortes/Camargue – Arles Saturday market. Drive to Aigues Mortes after lunch.
19 Aigues Mortes / Camargue – Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau, Salin de Bardon
20 Barcelona – Drive to Barcelona
21 Barcelona – Sagrada Familia, Picasso Gallery
22 Barcelona - Park Guell, La Boqueria food market, Las Ramblas
23 Valencia – Drive to Valencia.
24 Valencia – Oceanografic Aquarium, Gulliver’s Park
25 Granada – Drive to Granada
26 Granada – Alhambra (highly recommend the kid’s sticker book for keeping kids engaged as you walk around)
27 Granada - Sierra Nevada (build a snowman), Flamenco show.
28 Granada – I got up early and did the Lonely Planet El Nino Graffiti walk, Albayzin.
29 Cordoba – Drive to Cordoba. Stop at El Tornillo del Torcal National Park for a day walk.
30 Cordoba - Mezquita
31 Madrid – Drive to Madrid
32 Madrid –Reina Sofia, Chocolateria de San Gines, Plaza Mayor.
33 Madrid - Parque del Buen Retiro, Mercado de San Miguel.
34 Madrid – I went shopping by myself (Antigua Casa Talavera, Casa Hernanz, Monastery of Corpus Christi, Monasterio de la Visitacion), while hubby took the kids to the excellent Madrid Rio Park. Depart 10pm

What we would have done differently – We had terrible weather in Loire Valley. I think we would have dropped a night here and added a stop over in Puy de Dome. The kids loved Vulcania and, instead of just 4 hours, we could easily have spent the whole day.

Trip highlights – Mont St Michel, Chenonceau, Alhambra, Sierra Nevada, Vulcania, Sagrada Familia, Caverne du Pont D’Arc, Camargue’s pink flamingos

Overall, we had a fabulous trip. We saw a lot, but still went slowly enough to allow for lots of croissants, carousels and ice-cream. Instead of fabulous restaurants, we visited many, many local parks along the way. Being able to cook our own breakfast and dinner each night was perfect for keeping the kids relaxed, saved a lot of money eating out and let us experience lots of local produce bought at the local farmer’s markets along the way. With respect to galleries, we were very targeted, only visiting our most wanted and prepping the kids before hand with kid's books about Picasso, Mona Lisa etc.

It was our first overseas holiday with kids and while it was a totally different experience to travelling before children, we would do it again.

Cheers

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