Monday, 7 September 2009
Travel with a toddler... Grenoble, Beaune & Arras
When we reached my parents' house in Piedmont, we had a good rest. The car hardly moved as we visited relatives, ate and enjoyed the celebrations of the Feast of the Patron Saint. There were concerts, fireworks and rides. Michela had her first experience of a funfair as a 'passenger' rather than an onlooker. After enjoying warm weather and hospitality for nine days we left on an overcast Sunday morning. Our first stop in France was Grenoble. We took the teleferic up to the mountain pictured above, where there is an old fort and decided to walk down. The views were worth it but the journey down the mountain proved treacherous.
I had forgotten how long it takes to go down mountain paths, this one was 2.5km long and full of stones. It's a miracle our stroller survived the bumpy ride. I had asked a French couple before I bought my one-way ticket and they had assured me it was doable - we did it but Michael had quite a job pushing the stroller down as stones, tree roots and rocky bumps interfered with the wheels. Hats off to Bruin for their sturdy strollers!
If you visit Grenoble on a Sunday, like we did, all the shops are shut in the afternoon, even the supermarkets and some restaurants. We asked a local woman and discovered the Arab quarter, where we found a spice shop that sold groceries.
As we had time left, we visited a museum. There are two free museums in town, we opted for the historical one, which had ancient foundations of a baptisphere in the basement. This was the only museum we visited during the whole trip as the weather was so good we wanted to spend time outdoors. Our stops were also quite short, as we had only half a day or less to visit each town.
Next day we were in Beaune. The old town is like a circle surrounded by walls. We had a good walk on the ramparts too, after walking around the streets full of enticing shops selling wine, food and local delicacies. In one of the squares there was an old-fashioned fairground ride (pictured below). We had one of the best evening meals here - all regional specialities.
Last stop was Arras, which is not far from Calais. It is town with plenty of Flemish buildings (see photo below) and robust cuisine. We had a huge evening meal very cheaply and we had the restaurant for ourselves as the local fete had terminated and it was a Tuesday night. Very few tourists were about as it was early September.
Throughout our road trip we have been a bit edgy about Michela's behaviour in restaurants. They never have plastic glasses so we had to watch her handle a glass tumbler and stop her from misbehaving, which she is fond of doing to attract attention. This time there was nobody to impress so she behaved better.
My top tip: if you want to enjoy a dinner meal with a toddler in tow, bring with you a plastic beaker and feed your child beforehand as they get hungry earlier than you. At the restaurant order them a treat, such as a plate of chips, an ice cream or their favourite snack. Even a glass of cold milk with a straw can keep them occupied! On the last evening we brought two board books too, so she could 'read' a bit while we ate.