French Roadtrip: Days 4 and 5 – The Long Drive Home

It is a long drive from Brittany to Coventry, but at least we were on our own schedule for this part of the trip, so decided to split it over two days, with an extended stop on the first day. I had planned to stop in Honfleur, a lovely little fishing port, but realised that it wouldn’t be suitable for Owen, so decided to stop a few miles away in Deauville, so that Owen could run around on the beach and dig some holes!

After another great breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Michel and Collette, my Mum’s cousins who had been hosting us in St Brieuc, and my parents, who were extending their trip with a few days in the Massif Central. We made plans to meet Simon and Sophie in Deauville, then set off, initially retracing our route from day 2. It took around three hours to get to Deauville. Owen only slept for the last hour, despite still seeming tired from his late night previously. There were a few traffic snarl ups around the Caen ring road, but we made good time and even managed to find a parking space right next to the beach. Ideal when you have a grumpy toddler who just wants to dig holes in the sand!

Whilst Owen was building, then immediately destroying sandcastles, I went to find some ham and cheese baguettes for lunch. Deauville beach is really well set up, with a boardwalk, little cabins (named after Hollywood stars, who may or may not have visited Deauville) then little kiosks selling beach essentials – including lunch! After eating our baguettes we walked along the beach road, checking out the impressive old buildings. The Normandy Hotel, where my Mum used to work, was the highlight, with its half timbered exterior. We then walked back along the boardwalk, stopping for ice cream. I found my new favourite ice cream flavour – chestnut. I’m not sure where else I will be able to get it from again. Although I do know some chestnut farmers, so have got them on the case! Whilst we were eating our ice creams, Simon and Sophie turned up, so we spent some time with them whilst Owen played in the sand some more. When it was time to leave, he ran all the way down the boardwalk to the car – quite a long way for someone with such little legs! It was a good job he was tiring himself out, as we had almost another three hours of driving ahead of us.

Our overnight stop was in Le Touquet, and we spent most of the drive looking out for tractors with Owen – he seemed way more impressed with them than the huge bridges we went over. As we were getting closer to Calais we noticed that most of the cars on the road were British registered, which I thought was funny. Not having been to Le Touquet before I wasn’t expecting to drive through pine forests on the edge of town and was pleasantly surprised to see that everything was really well set up for cycling. We were less impressed with our hotel, which felt really tired and due to a strange layout we were in the 153rd of 156 rooms down a really long corridor. At least the location was good – right on the beach! The town itself seemed nice though! We walked along the beach, past the wake boarding pool, the beach bars, kids clubs and volleyball courts to the town centre. I wasn’t prepared for just how busy the town centre would be – there were people everywhere, shopping, drinking and generally having a good time. As we were all pretty hungry, we went to the first place we found, a little pizza restaurant just off the main street. The pizza was amazing! I love that in France you can get pizzas with an egg on – quite a rarity in the UK. Owen was a bit of a monkey during dinner, I guess he had loads of pent up energy, after being cooped up in the car most of the day. So while Jen did some last minute shopping in town, I took Owen down to the beach for more digging! This is the photo at the top of the post. Once again, Owen enjoyed himself on the beach, hopefully two beaches in one day made up for all the time stuck in the car!

The tractor and combine harvester conversations we had been having with Owen in the car must have been playing on his mind, as he work up at 5:45 asking about combine harvesters! We let him get into bed with us, forgetting that toddlers seem to have an inbuilt need to sleep perpendicular to anyone else in the bed. With only a tiny slither of bed to balance on, I didn’t manage to get back to sleep. At least this meant we were ready to leave early for the relatively short drive up to the Chunnel. When we got there we were given the opportunity to take an earlier train – result! Jen had never used the Le Shuttle, and was wowed by how seamless it all was. We were pretty much straight off the motorway and onto the train! Before long we were speeding along under the English Channel. Whilst I was stretching my legs Owen took the opportunity to commandeer the drivers seat, thinking he’d get to drive the next leg of the journey. He was so upset when I put him back in his car seat.

We’d worked out that it would only be a twenty minute detour to visit Jen’s sister, Heather, in Hackney. So as it was her birthday it would have been rude not to call in! I love the drive into east London, with the Canary Wharf skyline, Olympic Park and the O2, then through the 120 year old Blackwall Tunnel. At this time on a Sunday morning it was a pretty easy drive too. Owen was very excited to see Heather, especially as this was the first time he had been to her flat. We had brunch at the cafe around the corner from Heather’s flat. As I was in East London I felt that it would be rude not to have smashed avocado on toast (and of course post it to my Instagram story).

I was surprised at how easy it was to get from Heather’s flat to the M11 for the start of the final leg of our journey – two hours back to Coventry. I was back on familiar roads, and driving on the left, so it was the easiest drive of the trip. We were home by 14:00, exactly five days since leaving, having covered just over 1,000 miles!

French Roadtrip: Days 2 and 3 – Brittany

We woke up to rain, not ideal on holiday. After a good breakfast at the hotel in Coutances, we loaded up the car for the drive to Brittany. It was still raining. At least it was a good opportunity to test the new wipers and RainX on the windscreen of the BMW. My main niggle with the car since getting it, is that there is no intermittent setting on the wipers, only an “intelligent auto” setting. Which isn’t that intelligent. Even on the most sensitive setting it waits until you can’t see anything ahead, then wipes the screen. I found an old bottle of RainX in the garage and thought it would be worth a try. I wish I’d thought of that a few years ago, as it worked a treat! Even in the heaviest rain I could leave the wipers set to auto and I could see the road ahead clearly!

Just because I could see where I was going didn’t mean that the journey went smoothly. Our first stop was in St Malo, and we had been sent directions to the car park we were meeting everyone at. However the directions opened in Google Maps, and we find that whilst the directions are usually spot on, they aren’t communicated well. It seems to be a lottery if it tells you the road name/number to turn on to and doesn’t show the number of the exit from roundabouts. To be fair we also didn’t have the audio mix tuned, so I could barely hear the turn by turn instructions, so we took a few wrong turns. I think I’ll stick to using Apple Maps.

When we arrived in St Malo the car park that we were looking for was full, so ended up parking somewhere else anyway. It was still raining. The plan had been to have a walk around the old town, but no-one really felt like it, so we followed my Dad straight to his favourite ice cream shop – Sanchez. He seems to have a favourite ice cream shop in every town we visit! 11:00 isn’t really ideal ice cream time, but it was somewhere we could sit in the dry, and I’d heard Dad saying how good this place was for a few years,. So we had to try it out. I had a giant sundae, with coconut, white chocolate and banana ice creams. It was good, but even I struggled to eat it! The plan had been to get “galette saussice”, for lunch, but I was so full of ice cream I couldn’t face one, so shared with Owen. For those that don’t know, a “galette saucisse” is a buckwheat pancake wrapped around a sausage. It is a typical Breton street food and one of my favourite lunches in France.

From St Malo we drove an hour along the coast to St Brieuc, where fortunately the weather was better. We were staying with my Mum’s cousin Michel and his wife Collette. We saw them in the UK last year, but it is probably 25 years since I last visited them. I didn’t really remember their house, but it is lovely, with the living areas (and a massive garage, with workshop) downstairs, then the guest bedrooms upstairs. The downstairs is very modern, with each of the guest bedrooms decorated with a different theme. Jen, Owen and I were in the historically themed room, with a Louis XIV wardrobe that Michel restored in his workshop. The wardrobe was an ideal place to hide all of the breakable ornaments from Owen – as it is very much the sort of house that a two year old could cause trouble in! Michel is also a petrolhead and has a lovely classic Simca 1000, that was manufactured in the year he was born, so we did some tyre kicking. Owen liked the “old car” too.

We drove into the centre of St Brieuc for a walk around, then down to the harbour, where the Rosengart car factory used to be. We had a little walk around, looking at the boats and one of the cars made in the factory. On the way back, we stopped at the supermarket to pick up some essentials: milk for Owen, chestnut puree for me and wine for Jen! Owen was disappointed that this supermarket didn’t have a tank of live crabs/lobsters, unlike most other French supermarkets. Michel did a BBQ in the evening – french sausages and merguez (a spicy north African sausage), which was one of the foods we particularly wanted to eat on our trip – result! Michel and Collette are great hosts (they used to run bars), and we had a lovely three course meal, with the sausages/merguez as main course. Owen loved watching the sausages being cooked on the open fire, and wolfed his sausage down. Then stole some of my Mum’s merguez too! We had to break our “no iPad after dinner” rule, as toddlers and extended French meals are not an ideal combination – something I remembered from when I was a little boy. He sat happily on my Mum’s knee playing tractor/digger games whilst the grown ups chatted, mostly in French.

After his late night Owen had a short lie in, and when we got downstairs Michel had just arrived with croissants for breakfast from the local bakery – they were still warm! They were the best croissants I have ever eaten, they were so light. Nothing like the croissants you get in the UK. The bread was amazing too, and this is just from their local neighbourhood bakery. After breakfast we went to the beach at Les Rosaires, as we hadn’t really done anything aimed at Owen and digging holes at the beach is his favourite thing to do. We were there about an hour, Owen made sandcastles, paddled in the sea, explored rock pools and generally had the time of his life! However, we had to leave, as we had to fit in a three course lunch before our afternoon excursion!

Collette made us an amazing lunch – cockles, pot roast pork and raspberry panna cotta – I think they also grew/caught everything in the dinner apart from the pork and the milk! As is the way with French meals, it took a wee while, so we were late leaving for the pink granite cliffs at Ploumanach. The drive took just over an hour and Owen slept for most of it. When he woke up we were in a little seaside town that reminded Jen of Lulworth Cove in Dorset, and me of 17 Mile Drive in California. We had to carry him past the ice cream shop and the beach (“sandpit” in Owen’s words), then up the hill to the pink granite outcrops. He absolutely loved it there! Climbing on the rocks and posing for photos. I also like to think he was taking in the amazing views and wondering what geological and ocean forces were at play to form these amazing rock shapes. As the grown ups were taking their time walking back, I sat Owen on my shoulders and carried him to the beach, to do more digging in the sand. I’m not sure where he learned to do it, but he has taken to using my head like a steering wheel if I’m not walking the way he wants to go. Then if I mention it, he tries to steer me off the path or into something. He is such a cheeky little monkey!

Michel led us back the scenic route to St Brieuc, so it was already past Owen’s bed time when we got back. Collette made him egg and toast for dinner – his favourite. He had also asked for baked beans, not understanding that you don’t really get them in France. As we’d had a large lunch I was expecting a light dinner, but it was a 6 course job, including the aperitif and cheese! Aperitif (nibbles), mackerel pate, mussels, cod in white sauce, cheese and fruit salad! We were all stuffed after that. After his dinner, Owen had perked up a bit and didn’t want to go to bed, he sat quietly on his iPad, until the fruit salad came out. He took a liking to the homegrown blackcurrants, stealing them from my Mum’s bowl, then requesting more from the serving bowl! He actually stayed up later than his grandpa!

French Roadtrip: Day 1 – Normandy

We are in France for a few days visiting my Mum’s family. As we are visiting a few different places we are roadtripping in my BMW – our first proper road trip as a family of three! Our ferry left Portsmouth at 9:00 this morning, so we travelled down to the south coast yesterday.

As I was loading the car Owen asked to sit in the drivers seat, it is one of the few places where he can sit still for ages, so I took advantage. The only problem was that he thought he was going to be driving us down the motorway. He was absolutely gutted when eventually removed him and strapped him into his car seat. He had a proper tired two year old tantrum. Luckily within a few minutes of setting off we saw a tractor, which cheered him up. Then before we even got to the city centre he was asleep!

The journey south was uneventful, we called in at Itchen Valley Country Park in Eastleigh, to let Owen have a run around and stretch his legs. The drive took us two hours and Owen woke up just as we pulled into the park. Owen enjoyed both the playground and the play trail, which had animal themed play equipment dotted around in the woods. It also looked like there was a decent, albeit flat, bike trail, but there wasn’t room for my bike on this trip. Only a few minutes off the motorway it makes a much better stopping point than a service station!

All the fresh air made us hungry, so we tackled the rush hour traffic and drove to Whiteley for dinner. It is a nice little out of town shopping/leisure area, which seemed to cater well for kids with animatronic dinosaurs and sand pits to play in. We ate at Bar + Block, a steakhouse which I think may be coming to Coventry soon. Jen and I enjoyed our steaks, but I’m not sure Owen was too fussed about his – he still has a lot to learn!

In the morning we woke up early and called into McDonalds for breakfast on the way to catch the ferry, on the basis it would be cheaper and probably better than what was on offer on the ferry – we were right! Despite the early start, we only just got to the port in time. It has been well over ten years since I last caught a ferry from Portsmouth (I think it was 2005, when I first had my mk1 MX-5!), but it seemed strangely familiar. Owen was very excited to get on the ferry, looking out of the window at all of the activity on the Solent and waving at the boats.

The crossing wasn’t great, Jen and I don’t really have sea legs – I suppose that is because we live about as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK! Owen didn’t seem too bothered though, wanting to explore the ferry. It was funny watching him wobbling around as the boat pitched and rolled. We were definitely glad to dock at Cherbourg and that we will be coming home on the Chunnel!

The first stop of our trip was a very small village called Gonfreville, where my Mum grew up, to visit her friend Christiane. Gonfreville is about an hour south of Cherbourg, slightly longer with a boulangerie stop for lunch. The French really know how do make a perfect ham and cheese baguette. Jen’s theory is that it is down to the butter, and Normandy butter is supposedly the best in the world. Owen slept the whole way, only waking up when he heard my Mum’s voice, as they had arrived at Christiane’s a few ays before us. The excitement of being on a farm, with rabbits and an excitable dog meant that Owen woke up quickly and was soon practicing his French, by saying “bonjour” to everything!

We worked out it must have been seventeen or eighteen years since I was there, as I remembered Christiane’s granddaughter being about Owen’s age – she’s twenty now! My brother Simon and his wife Sophie also joined us, which made both Owen and Lola, the dog, even more excited. We had a drink, ate some cake and looked at old photos, including one of me as a baby. Owen and Jen thought that was funny. I’ve seen photos of me at around nine months old and I looked exactly like Owen did at that age, but at a few months old we looked nothing alike.

Leaving Christiane’s we had a tour of Gonfreville, my Mum showing us the houses she’d lived in and her old primary school. We drove in convoy to Coutances, which was our overnight stop. Our hotel was on the edge of town, so we dropped our bags and walked into town, down a steep hill and then up the other side. It was hard work in the sun, especially pushing Owen’s pushchair, so our first priority in town was to get an ice cream! Suitably cooled down we had a wonder around town, Owen particularly liked the public gardens, with ponds, a playground and a maze. We also went to see my Mum’s secondary school before walking back down, then up the hill to the hotel. I haven’t been to Coutances for over twenty years, some bits of it seemed familiar, but I’m glad my Mum knew where we were going.

We had a bit of downtime before all meeting for dinner. As is the French way, dinner seemed to last hours, so whilst Owen was well behaved to start with, he was getting grumpier and grumpier as the meal went on. Jen and I both had melon and parma ham to start, chicken tagine for main and apple tart for dessert. All the food was really good, Owen seemed to enjoy his too and seemed keener to try new things than he was in San Sebastian a few months ago.

I didn’t manage to take any photos in Normandy, so the one at the top of the post is of Owen, whilst I was loading the car back in Coventry.

Extra Long Weekend in Paris

Eiffel Tower

I’m not really a fan of Paris, it smells and is full of rude French people (I’m a French national, so can get away with saying that), so when Partho and Marilena were at my flat on New Year’s Eve and it was suggested that we go to Paris in 2013 I wasn’t that fussed. Jen was pretty keen to go and a matter of days later had found some cheap Eurostar tickets and we were booked to go to Paris for a long weekend! Then I accepted an offer on my flat and the 119 Project started to gain pace, so I was quite looking forward to a weekend away from DIY!

The trip started well, the train from Rugby to London was busy, but on time and we didn’t have to wait too long for Partho and Marilena at St Pancras. Before we knew it we were travelling at 170mph through the Kent countryside towards Paris.

On arrival we checked into our hotel (Ibis Eiffel Tower at Cambronne) then headed straight to the Arc de Triomphe, for some evening sightseeing. Following a suggestion from “Bulldong” on the Pistonheads forum, we headed towards our chosen restaurant for the evening – Le Relais de Venise. I’d heard of this restaurant before and had been meaning to check out the London one for a while, so wasn’t too surprised to see a queue. We joined the back and within 30 minutes we were at the front looking at the hand written menu showing the only option for main course, “Streak frites”! After a few more minutes we were ushered in, the restaurant was typically French with the maximum amount of tables crammed into the small room, the food was excellent and well worth the wait. After dinner, Partho and Marilena suggested that we went for a drink at the bar on the 34th floor of their hotel which was just around the corner, their hotel was a lot posher than ours, but I was still shocked to see the drinks prices – €17 for a beer and €27 for a cocktail – the bottle of wine we had with dinner was only €14! Drinking Laphroaig (even at €25) looking over Paris to the Eiffel Tower with its hourly light show was a perfect way to spend the evening!

The second day started in the best French style – with pastries from the boulangerie! We then went back to the Arc de Triomphe to start our day of sightseeing with a walk down the Champs Élysées, we had a look in a few clothes shops etc, but my favourite thing about shopping here are the car manufacturers shops/galleries. Peugeot wasn’t great, unless you are in the market for a pepper mill, which Peugeot are the Ferrari of. Mercedes was strange, the cars all had wraps, think gold G-Wagen, snakeskin SLS and velvet CLS! Renault seemed more about the cars than any of the others, with the new RenaultSport Clio and a Redbull F1 car being the highlights, also after sitting in a Twizy they seem to make more sense. At Citroen we skipped the road car section an went to the rally display in the basement, where for €2 you can go in the “4D rally simulator”, which was well worth it, especially as €2 doesn’t get you very much in Paris. After Citroen we stopped for a drink, which was a mistake, as right at the end of the shops Jen spotted the Fiat gallery, which had a Maserati exhibition and a cafe with a 30s Maserati Grand Prix car on the top floor which would have been the perfect place to stop for a drink, The gallery also had a Ghilbi, which is a car I’d not seen in the metal before, but was curious about after reading a restoration thread on Pistonheads, and the Maserati edition 500 Abarth.

We then continued our walk towards the Louvre, stopping for a ham and cheese crepe at Place de La Concorde, which we ate overlooking one of the ponds in Jardins de Thuiles. I imagine the gardens would be a great place to spend some time in the summer, but as the weather wasn’t great it was a brisk walk through the gardens to have a look at the pyramids at the Louvre, followed by a confusing 10 minutes looking for the Apple store (for warmth and free wifi), only to find that it was actually underground! Entering the Louvre, via one of the pyramids, was quite a spectacular expreience, the way that the architects combined the modern glass structures with the palace worked really well. Once we’d paid for our tickets (€11) we did what seemingly every other tourist does and headed straight for the Mona Lisa, although I’m still yet to understand why it is so much more important than any of the other paintings in the museum. We wandered around the museum for a few more hours, the Egyptian exhibition was good, especially the tombs and the mummy, but the sheer amount of exhibits was too much for us, personally I think they should have gone for quality over quantity!

After the Louvre the plan had been to go up the Eiffel Tower, but as there was so much to look at in the museum we were there for longer than we expected and actually quite tired, so headed back to the hotel for a rest, before meeting at the Buddha Bar restaurant which Marilena had booked for us. The food was good, Partho and Marilena went for a sushi platter, Jen and I had Thai style dishes, all under the eyes of a giant golden Buddha. Rather than taking the Metro all the way back to the hotel we decided to walk the first and last parts, crossing the Seine near Place de la Concorde I was able to take the photo of the Eiffel Tower at the top of this post. As we were out for dinner I had only taken my Canon S90 compact, but I’m still pleased with the picture and no doubt would have frozen to death if I had been making sure I got the perfect shot with my DSLR and tripod.

When we woke up on our third morning the top of the Eiffel Tower was in the clouds, not ideal considering our plan for the day was to go up it! Instead we took a walk along the Seine to Notre Dame, with a stop en route for breakfast in a typical cafe where we could watch the world go by and warm up a bit! After looking round Notre Dame we went to Les Marais via Centre Pompidu. The reason for going to Les Marais was another restaurant recommendation from Pistonheads, when we got to Rue des Rosiers we knew we’d found L’as du Fallafel as it was the only one of the falafel places on the road with a queue outside! When Partho and Marilena arrived we joined the queue and were told that we would have a 12 minute wait – very precise! It was worth the wait in the rain, our falafel pittas were some of the best street food we’ve eaten anywhere in the world!

The plan for the afternoon was that Jen and I would go to Sacre Couer, then meet Partho and Marilena under the Eiffel Tower. The walk from the Metro to Sacre Couer reminded me of the walk to Park Guell in Barcelona, lots of tourist tat, but we still managed to find a nice chocolate shop and stopped at another cafe for a crepe to warm us up, did I mention it was absolutely freezing? Not fancying the walk up the hill, we took the funicular up to the basilica, which I actually thought was more impressive than Notre Dame, however, the real reason for going to Sacre Couer was the view, which I’m sure would have been better without the fog. The fact it’s where C’etait un rendezvous ended had nothing to do with going there – honest! After a few quick pictures we walked back down the hill and got the Metro to Torcadero – for more views of the Eiffel Tower, but as the weather was still pretty rubbish they weren’t great. So we crossed the river to meet Partho and Marilena under the Eiffel Tower, which seemed to be the coldest place in Paris! Due to the weather we decided we would only go up to the second level, but as I had a bottle of wine in my rucksack (bought as a gift, not for consumption up to tower) I wasn’t allowed past the airport style security, so we went back to the hotel to warm up.

For dinner, Jen & I followed yet another tip from Pistonheads and went to Chez Gladines, a Basque restaurant, we both love the Basque Country, especially the food and it was where we went on our first holiday together. We found ourselves in another typically French restaurant, with everybody packed in, sharing tables etc, as the evening went on more and more people kept arriving and crowding round the bar, making use of every possible space to wait for a table! I chose Basque chicken from the menu and Jen went for steak, both came with loads of fried sliced potatoes (think a cross between chips and crisps) and veg, on realising we were from the UK, the waiter asked if we were from near Leicester, which he described as “a bit shit”, you can’t say fairer than that!

On Tuesday morning we woke to snow, a quick check of the Eurostar website said trains were running, so we decided to go straight to Gare de Nord to ensure we made our train. When we got there it was chaos – all Eurostar trains had been cancelled due to snow in northern France! When we eventually got to speak to someone we were told to come back the next day and try our luck. We were able to get booked into a hotel at Gare de Nord, even better, we were able to check into our room straight away to regroup, speaking to our travel insurance company and eventually Eurostar to get rebooked onto the first train the next morning.

With our travel home sorted, it was time to enjoy our extra day in Paris! As it was still snowing, we wanted to stay indoors, so got the Metro to Galeries La Fayette, the French equivalent of Harrods in London, Partho and I went watch (window) shopping, whilst Jen and Marilena looked at shoes/handbags/jewellery etc, luckily we all managed to resist purchasing anything and retired to the Angelina tearoom for afternoon tea and cake, I went for their speciality hot chocolate and an amazing chestnut teacake, which also happened to be their speciality cake. Unsurprisingly, with it being the poshest shop in Paris, the tea and cake were seriously expensive, but well worth it! After refuelling, we had more energy for shopping and went to check out the food court, I love French food and wished I could have taken loads home, but wasn’t convinced I’d get the 5Kg tub of Nutella in any of our kitchen cupboards.

When we got back from Galeries La Fayette I checked with Eurostar again, their website said our rebooked train in the morning would also be cancelled and not to go to Gare de Nord! I decided to bite the bullet and book flights back to Birmingham, as my travel insurance did say they would cover this, Partho and Marilena decided they would get up at 5:00 and try their luck with Eurostar.

After a distinctly average meal over the road from our hotel we went to bed, glad that we wouldn’t be getting up early to wait around in a freezing station, just in case we could get on our train. However, in the morning we found out that Partho and Marilena did manage to get onto a train, but despite the early start they were still nowhere near the tunnel. We had a traditional French cafe breakfast, in what actually turned out to be a Belgian cafe, then battled across Paris on a busy RER to Charles de Gaulle airport. We were able to get a Croque Madame for lunch, Jen was yet to experience this French delicacy, luckily it lived up to the praise I’d given it. Looking at the big screens it seemed our plane would be on time, which was a relief given that some of the other Birmingham flights had been cancelled – consolidated with our flight it turned out. In the end we were about an hour late taking off but we made it back home safely, although our luggage did get to enjoy an extra 4 days in Paris.

I should add that we were eventually able to get refunds from Rail Europe and Eurostar, despite them being unhelpful while we were actually stuck and Natwest Advantange Gold Travel Insurance eventually paid out the rest of the extra costs, so we weren’t out of pocket for too long. The International Traveller Service I have on my phone through O2 was really useful, as despite spending a lot of time on the phone sorting out our travel back to the UK/dealing with the insurance company my phone bill wasn’t too bad at all.

Despite the travel chaos and the bad weather we all had a good time in Paris, I’m sure we will end up going back, but next time we will definitely leave it for late spring/early summer!