Tag Archive | France

Travelling or a holiday?

Possibly because I have so many breaks as a teacher – every ten weeks, I have at least two weeks off – or possibly because of the effort needed for a long haul flight; either way I don't see our trip to France as a "holiday".

For me holidays are slow and relaxed, even if we do plenty of active things, whether going away or staying at home. OK, in France we won't have to get up every morning by 6 to be at work by 7.40. But we won't be lazing the days away with a book or five, on the beach. We won't be hanging by our own pool with cocktails and music. Not that we don't do active things on our holidays. Mr S can't sit still for long, hence the annual ski trip, and I have to go for walks. Our ski trip and our road trips are holidays. In the past my favourite holidays were camping by the beach in national parks. Still, while we might be on the move, we have a slow relaxed feel.

Like our trip to London two years ago, in France we will be on the go. This time it will be slightly more challenging given the language and driving challenges. We will be busy.

I want to see everything, eat everything, sit and absorb the local atmosphere. Of different places.

For we may never take this path again!

No matter how beautiful, how beguiling, we may never pass this way again.

No, my trip to France is "a trip", not a holiday. I'm like a woman on a mission.

Travelling in Australia, I'm a little more relaxed, as I know it is more likely that I can pass this way again. I didn't get to do something I wanted to last January at Lake Crackenback (in the photo above) but no worries. I think I will be back next summer.

Actually for most of my breaks, my holidays are about going on trips to somewhere new or seeing a new bit of something I missed (like my Kelly expeditions or stopping off at different places on our road trips north and south) or simply relaxing at home. I never understood the attraction of a holiday home. Why would I want to go to the same place every holiday? Why would I want another home to be responsible for? Mr S likes routine and going to the same place, like the same ski field, and having the same pub counter lunch.

What's your approach when travelling somewhere new? What's your approach to holidays – is it the new or the known that attracts you?

How should we get around in France?

Mr S doesn't want to drive on the wrong side of the road. The right side being the left side and the wrong side being the right side. So he says he doesn't want to drive.

Because I want to go to little backroad places, I don't want to be struggling with trains and buses and luggage. I want the freedom and independence that a car gives you.

I figure as I'm left handed and left/right confused (which I wrote about here), it won't make much of a difference to me. I just have to chant, "Mr S in the gutter."

My downfall is I can only drive an automatic. Seems most cars in France are manual. Automatics are not as common or cheap. So I got in early and booked a car. There are some horror stories of automatic-needing customers booking automatics and the car hire company taking their bookings but not supplying an automatic car or making them wait for hours while one is sourced. I hope my luck will hold.

I did investigate leasing but we are not driving for long enough. Also there are not as many pick up places for leased cars as there are for hire cars.

I'm not going to be mad enough to drive in Paris. We will drop our car in Tours and catch the TGV.

My fear is driving into the towns and trying to find parking. We are staying in some old centres that have no, or very limited, parking.

How do you prefer to get around when travelling in a different country? Have you coped driving on the different side of the road from your normal side? Or was it horrendous?

Where should we go?

Planning for our upcoming overseas trip started last year.

Mr S has always had an interest in the western front of WWI. So I wanted to plan a trip where we could participate in a 100th anniversary memorial ceremony.

I've always wanted to visit Brittany. There is something romantic, "other" and remote about it for me. OK, I get that it might seem strange to someone from the UK who can catch a ferry over to think of Brittany as remote but there you have it.

So the first thing I did in planning for our trip was to look for a battlefields tour that would take us to a memorial ceremony and to other western front sites. I found an Australian company that would do the Paschendalle memorial service in October. Perfect. Mr S knows a lot about that battle and it fits in with a time we can both take LSL.

We've never been on an organised bus trip and I don't know how we'll go – with the morning bustle, stuck with other people, having to listen to tour guides. Mr S likes to argue about interpretations of history and he has an immense capacity for remember facts, and will no doubt find some errors by the tour guide's errors.

Anyway, with that locked in, I proceeded to plan the rest of the trip around the bus trip. I wanted to incorporate the end of term break with Long Service Leave, so we didn't have to use too much LSL.

I roughly planned how long we should be on the road before the bus trip, which leaves from and returns to Paris, and decided that we should stay in Paris for a few days after the trip.

With a rough guide I looked for flights. Mr S won't travel on budget airlines. We wanted to go with Qantas and get the extra leg room seats in the small economy section Qantas has on the upper deck. We got those two years ago when we travelled to London. More leg room than premium economy and such a small section of economy so no noisy crowds and close to premium economy that they don't place babies there.

I booked the flights. But bugger!

Qantas code shares with Emirates to Paris and Emirates doesn't put economy upstairs. Nor do they allow pre-purchase of extra leg room seats. Luckily we are on Qantas from Sydney to Dubai and got our seats.

With that done, I did no actual planning for months.

I borrowed books from the library: travel guides for France, coffee table books on the most beautiful villages in France, travel guides on Brittany. I read travel brochures. I asked friends who had recently been to France questions.

I daydreamed and thought and made rough notes.

And then I was ready to plot out my trip!