First Week in France

by Karen
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We have been in France for just over a week, are we loving it? Are we getting into the swing of things? How are we finding France?

Its been very up and down, if you had asked me on Wednesday, I would of said I just want to go home!

It’s still the same old life, you still need to clean and tidy, do washing, go food shopping and deal with the same old arguments over chores, clothes, food etc just with different surroundings and without friends and family around you. Plus a language barrier and different food to make matters harder.

Highs

Sunlight streaming through a forest of pine trees
Sunlight through the trees at Val Ygot

Two nights at the V1 site were lovely, it was an interesting and beautiful spot which was very quiet and just what we needed to start our adventure. We even had fun making a den in the woods opposite our RV.

Our second stop was at a lovely site called Camping Neuville run by an English family just outside of Le Mans. We saw giant snails, lizards, red squirrels, loads of birds and even some bats and the site was situated next to a stunning weir. Just up the road was a lovely little village with a lovely boulangerie and patisserie with amazing croissants and cakes.

Visiting Le Mans Circuit and Museum has certainly been a high for me. The weather was beautiful and warm, there was a race taking place on the track that we all enjoyed watching. The museum was full of amazing cars. We even had some fun on the public section of track in our BMW. Amazingly Olivia enjoyed it too especially the racing.

Roman Wall at Le Mans

Seeing the Roman wall, Medieval town and the Saint-Julien du Mans Cathedral in the old town was wonderful too, seeing such amazing architecture and history was stunning.

Hearing Olivia trying to speak French and instead of saying “tres bon” (very good) she said “tres bedong” which had us all laughing hysterically.

Lascaux Cave Painting

Revisiting the caves at Lascaux and seeing the wonder on her face and hearing the excitement in her voice was well worth the visit. It’s such an amazing place that is even better now they have added a museum and integrated technology.

Although a sad and humble place the experience of visiting Oradour-sur-Glane was amazing and strangely beautiful one I shall never forget.

Tart Citron

Eating fresh Croissants and wonderful patisseries like tart Citron has brought a smile to our faces.

Having a car to get around the small villages and fun on the twisty roads.

The RV is feeling very homely and I enjoying relaxing and living in it.

Lows

Smashed Mirror

As you heard in our earlier post about arriving in France, it did not get off to the best start with our passenger mirror having its glass smashed out again!

Only petrol station we could fit in and it was shut

Getting LPG for the RV has been a lot harder than we were led to believe, most of the places that do have it are too small to get the RV into, the others we have caught at the wrong time and been shut for hours as its lunchtime! We stopped at 6 petrol stations on a 163-mile trip and only one was big enough to fit on and it was shut!

Travel days are taking much longer than expected, the 163 mile trip should have taken just over 4 hours, it took 8 hours. Some of this is due to the random route the SatNav decided to take us, some down to not wanting to go on expensive toll roads and partly due to the hunt for petrol.

Olivia finds travel days hard, even though she reads, watches movies, plays games and colours she gets bored and grumpy. We end up so tired its hard to find the energy to play with her once we are set up.

Everything is more expensive than we anticipated. LPG in the UK is around 55p a litre, when we can get it here its 86p litre.

Food shopping is a nightmare, to be fair it always is with Olivia! The supermarkets are enormous yet don’t have that much choice; just endless variants of the same thing. Food is also a lot more expensive, even at the supermarkets which are much cheaper than the local shops. Innocent apple juice for example in the UK is £2.00 for a 1.35l bottle, here it is €2.50 (£2.15) for a 900ml bottle.

Food is an issue, we are too fussy. Olivia hates the butter here and apart from baguettes, we have not found any bread that we like and certainly no good bread for toast. Baguettes are also no good for Olivia as she can’t bite through them with no front teeth! We cant get garlic bread and its been almost impossible to find green beans or mangetout.

The language barrier makes everything slightly harder and means you don’t have many people to talk to.

Lack of kids. So far Olivia has not made friends with any kids. Mainly as we have not really met any which has surprised us a little. There was a family at the park but when Olivia went to say hello it turned out they were leaving.

Driving separately on travel days is not much fun. We can’t look for stops while we are on the go as we are both driving. The walkie talkies are not great and we miss parts of conversations and questions and it can cause raised voices (they are kids ones though).

Then just 3 days in we all developed nasty coughs and colds which is making us tired and grumpy and everything so much worse.

Are we Going Home?

Not yet!

We have discussed it but we are going to change a few things about how we are travelling and see how we go. One of the things we discussed is that this is meant to be an adventure, but it’s also meant to be our life, not a holiday.

Being ill is not helping with anyones mood and is making stressful situations harder to deal with. We need to take rest days, days to do work, learn, blog and just be us, not just race from place to place seeing stuff.

The time difference has not helped either. We were obviously an hour ahead when we got here but then a few days later the clocks also went forward meaning we were now dealing with the essentially a 2 hour time difference. This meant we were not tired at bedtime but did not want to get up until 9.30/10am.

We have decided that we need to slow down. I think one of the issue we had but did not really realise was that we were trying to get south as fast as we could to get to the nicer weather, but that meant too much driving.

Way Forward

We have decided to stay at this campsite a bit longer. Take some rest days, do some jobs on the RV, get some work and structured learning done.

We will plan in advance where we will be stopping, even booking campsites but allowing ourselves more time to get to them, maybe planning a few aires, wild camp stops that we could spend the night at on route if we need. Also planning and looking on google earth of views of petrol stations so that we can hopefully get LPG into the RV.

The idea will be to try and bring our days back into some type of normality. Getting up at a reasonable time, continuing structured learning, work, general life and sightseeing much like it was at home. We will try and relax and not rush to see everything.

Conclusion

We are enjoying France, we love being in the RV but it is much harder and more expensive than we anticipated. I hope that by slowing down and with a few more weeks under our belt we will get into the swing of our new life.

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