Sunday 19 August 2007

France - Episode 2

Found our way out of Calais without any problems (thanks again to the sat nav). And off we set at a lightening pace to drove west across the breadth of France.

Ah, but not so fast! We are traveling with 4 children. Abigail got her hair caught in the Velcro on Sebastian baseball cap and we couldn't undo whilst moving. Marc pulled the car over and just yanked. Ouch!

The French do build bridges. Much like the Swiss build tunnels. We went over several on our journey, the most notable one being the Pont du Normandie. It is huge and rises quite a bit. I had a mild anxiety attack as we started our ascent thinking about the bridge that just collapsed in Minneapolis. Oh, please, tell me they invested appropriate funds to build this bridge!

Our first stop for fuel was a bit odd. It was nothing more than a pump on its own. The children needed a toilet and we needed diesel so we got back on the motorway. The next stop for fuel demonstrated why I was not so keen on a France holiday in August.

Every French person goes on holiday in August. The queue at the petrol station had 10 queues of 8 cars each. There was a French woman at the front conducting the traffic in and out of the station.

Once gassed up, we went on for a bit and at our midway point we stopped for a quick picnic. The children played and ran off some energy. Then came toilet time. The French have never been known for their ability to conquer something as fundamental as toilet sanitation and this trip just proved that they still have a long way to go.

I took Abigail off to the little building marked toilet. I opened the door and there was a hole in the ground with two places to put your feet on either side. And no toilet paper (loo roll) at all! Not even on offer. Seems it plugs up the plumbing!

Abigail freaked out. She started shaking her head and wagging her finger saying "No, no, no, no!" At which point I decided I needed to set a good example here or this was going to be a long trip. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in France, pee over holes and don't wipe. Once I showed her what to do, she was up for it. I removed her little panties, she held her dress up and I dangled her over the hole. I am soooo grateful I dressed her in a dress. Poor little Lottie refused completely and decided holding it for all eternity was a better option.

Back on the road, there were queues at every toll booth (payage) which was VERY frustrating. just as we would get a rhythm going, we'd be stopped dead in our tracks. You would think the French would figure out a better way to do this! It seems they used the toilet engineer rather than the bridge engineer to design the motorway system.

We had trouble finding the last little bit of our way to the villa as the sat nav couldn't figure it out. Eventually, we found it! We reached our final destination around 5:30 pm local time (1 hour more than Greenwich Mean Time-London) which amounted to just under 10 hours door to door.

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