Thursday, 5 June 2008

France - and a better way to get there

Our week in South West France was so lovely.

We've been here a few times before and usually the journey there and back casts a long shadow over the holiday. One option has been a flight to Toulouse with all the check-in, long-term car parking, baggage traumas and car hire that flying entails. Its about a two hour flight, but from door to door it takes closer to six hours.

The alternative to flying was to take the car on either the Eurotunnel or ferry, and then drive down the length of France. A journey involving over twelve hours on the motorway. The last time I did this I was six months pregnant and our car was a tiny Mini Metro with no air-con or CD player. I admit I'm scarred.

So this time - our first visit in six years - we decided to try the train instead. It was a joy from start to finish and I can't imagine ever driving or flying there now.

We researched and booked it on the marvellous Man In Seat 61 site. The Eurostar was pretty cramped on a Bank Holiday weekend, but so quick - just two and a quarter hours from London to Paris now that the high speed line in the UK has opened. Once we had crossed Paris and had some lunch, the TGV whisked us to Montauban, near Toulouse in just under five hours. Five hours in which we could play cards, read, chat and listen to iPods.

After driving across France you are drained, aching and spent; after taking the train you arrive positively refreshed and relaxed.

Once in France we played by the pool, read books in the sunshine, visited a castle, ate many buttery croissants, played on the swings and generally admired the scenery.

I also came home with over 30 photos of poppies! This is my favourite.


  1. What a wonderful holiday - I love that part of France. You will be amused to know that "the man in seat 61" is my husband's FAVOURITE website.

    If you are ever doing another rail trip across Europe there is a very good shop called Rail Canterbury (in Canterbury) which can organise your schedule and do all the bookings. We highly recommend them.

  2. They used to say "let the train take the strain" and it certainly seems to have worked for you - glad the holiday went well. I am envious of all those buttery croissants, yum.

  3. I am beginning to unwind just looking at these photos and reading your account. wonderful, wonderful! i want to be there!!!!


  4. the poppy photos you took are beautiful-think you should make them into postcards (we took delivery of our first set today, very exciting!)
    Could just eat a croissant smothered in Bonne Maman jam...mmm...x

  5. Hee Hee Montauban is about 1.5 hours from where my parents live now. Not long ago - did we do that drive. 15 hours door to door driving using the Euro Tunnel. We definately thought about the train - so this is a good review
    Take Care
    Clare xx

  6. ooh looks like a great trip! love the poppy photo - do we get to see the other 29?


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