Road Trip with Baby

Les Carroz

Our daughter was just 8 months old when we embarked upon our first epic journey that would challenge us both mentally and physically. A road trip that would take us across rich and inviting tundra, breathtaking landscapes, and engage us with the indigenous communities in their native tongue.

Destination, Les Carroz d’Arache in the French Alps, albeit outside of ski season, but sunny and very pleasant all the same.

Our reason for driving were 2 fold. Firstly, I like driving. I enjoy the freedom it gives me while abroad. Freedom to, at the drop of a hat, explore further afield, finding those hidden gems that would otherwise be out of reach. Vehicular familiarity is also a bonus, for me at least, so it had to be our own car. The adventure begins ridiculously early in the morning; car expertly packed (the second time), with a good 600 or so miles to our final destination.

My second reason for favouring ‘la voiture’ is simply that you can take more with you. All the bulky trappings such as the travel cot, baby seat, toys and push chair that you are indebted too, for the salvation they bring.

Unbeknown to us, trouble was a brewing… What we had greatly underestimated was Juniors interpretation of the rest stop frequency, and how quickly she tired of being strapped into the car seat.

The drive to the ferry and the ferry leg itself  went without incident. Junior was tired, and although putting up a good fight, fatigue finally won that round, and she fell asleep. We were comfortably experiencing a false sense of security, swiftly broken by our first encountered problem as we left the ferry. The sat-nav  I’d bought it specifically for it’s up-to-date European maps, failed us. Fortunately, we’d subconsciously anticipated this and expertly sidestepped this obstacle by going old school with a large  roadmap.

We planned to drive to our stop over, a quaint little town called Beaune just outside of Dijon, mainly sticking to the autoroutes on account of there being frequent, and well maintained rest stops to make Juniors ‘3 hourly’ nappy changes and feeds more comfortable (for us all). So we set off, but, unbeknown to us, trouble was a brewing… What we had greatly underestimated was Juniors interpretation of the rest stop frequency, and how quickly she tired of being strapped into the car seat.

After approximately 45 minutes, it happened. Junior was bored or uncomfortable and wasn’t shy in letting this be known. In an enclosed space, the volume really does become quite intimidating so we pulled in at the next rest stop (having passed one just minutes previously), which took approximately 30 minutes. Now the pattern had been set, it continued the entire way, transforming the estimated 6 hour journey into a wapping  12 hour dust-kicking, ear-ringing, rest-stop frequenting frenzy. Day turned into night, and at around 8pm, we eventually arrived to, quite frankly, the most tranquil and delightful family run Hôtel le Home.

Hotel le Home

The owner greeted us upon our arrival, and showed us to our chalet, set in a wonderfully quaint old style French building, with wooden shutters covering the patio doors, classic furnishings, and a very deep and inviting iron bath. Just the ticket. Once refreshed it was our hunger that needed urgent attention. Ravenous from feasting solely on sugary snacks throughout the journey, we put a very sleepy Junior into her pushchair and headed off the the town square. Teaming with bohemian locals, we chose a quaint bistro, ordered a large glass of wine and pizza each, and began to relax into the beautiful evening.

Returning to out chalet fully satisfied, and ready for a restful sleep, which we filled the travel cot with Juniors favourite toys to create a sense of familiarity, placed her in and crashed out ourselves.

les trappeurs chalet les carroz

The following morning we set off for the Alps with Junior seemingly more attuned to the subsequent leg of our  journey, and as a result, it went much more according to plan. We finally arrive at Les Trappeurs (highly recommend a stay here), Les Carroz early afternoon, greeted by brilliant sunshine and the freshest air to hit my lungs in as long as I can remember.  We all three pottered about over the subsequent few days visiting farmers markets, pool-side basking, walks into the hills, which while really testing our pushchairs’s durability, was manageable, and took a few excursions out in the car to nearby Annecy which boast as beautiful old town and enormous lake for boating. We also travelled through the Monte Blanc tunnel to Aosta, a gorgeous historic Italian town. Point of note; if you only intend on a day trip trough the tunnel, let them know at the toll or you will pay a higher tariff.

From the modest hum of passive activity during the afternoon, it seemed to suddenly come alive with a lively crowd spanning a wide age group, busying the pub’s bars and restaurants, and spilling out into the narrow cobbled streets on throes of laughter.

We were fortunate in that we were able to find a baby sitter, so for one night only, we left junior for some alone time in a wonderful little family restaurant called Les Campanules. Highly recommend ordering ‘la cloche’ if you’re a meat lover.

So after a few short but very enjoyable family break, we loaded up the car, and set off relatively early; destination Troyes for an overnight stay. The journey went a lot better, about 6 hours journey time, as Junior seemed more attuned to the road.

Hotel comtes de champagne

Troyes is a wonderful place that we will certainly be visiting again, maybe even the same hotel ‘Comtes De Champagne‘, but perhaps when Junior is quite a bit older to fully benefit from the vibrant bustling restaurants the evening had to offer. From the modest hum of passive activity during the afternoon, it seemed to suddenly come alive with a lively crowd spanning a wide age group, busying the pub’s bars and restaurants, and spilling out into the narrow cobbled streets on throes of laughter, until the early hours. Fortunately, this didn’t wake junior, but mum and I were both wishing we could be out enjoying a nice glass of wine in the warm evening air.

The penultimate  leg of the journey wasn’t too much trouble. Peppered with the occasional road break, perhaps too many espressos pour moi, we arrived at a heavily backed up passport control in Calais. Thankfully it didn’t cause us to miss our ferry, and with just minutes to spare, we boarded. A stuttering start to our final leg caused by my preparation in removing the headlight deflectors gave the port authorities reason to pull us over, but once that little mishap was settled we were on our way and back home in no time.

Big Daddy

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