A few years ago I went to France with my sister and her family. They live in England and it was a relatively short car trip through the Chunnel to Normandy. With three children under five, an extra adult made the trip more manageable.
We had done this before, with one and two children in a rented villa. Worked great. The kids could keep a reasonably normal schedule. You could keep yogurts and other kid food in the fridge. You could threaten a nap and follow through...
This time was different, we stayed in a bed-and-breakfast.
France is not exactly kid-friendly.
They eat breakfast late (what do you do with toddlers in a hotel before breakfast?). They eat a long lunch (yeah, right... try to get YOUR kids to sit still for three courses). And they don't sit down to dinner before 7pm (bedtime).
Plus, they have way too many plates and glasses on the table.
We picked apples from the orchard and fed them to the local horses. Before breakfast. We ate chocolate for breakfast (cute little jars of Nutella).
We bought lunch at the supermarche. Fresh bread, fruit, ham, cheese, pastries.
We found the local pizzeria. They didn't open before 7pm either, but you could call ahead and order a pizza to be picked up the minute they were officially open.
Outings were another story. We did the beach and rented chairs and an umbrella. The butterfly museum. The markets. Discovered every park within a reasonable drive. Then someone suggested the cheese factory.
The local cheese factory (usine de fromage) was actually a shed. They SOLD cheese to the public, but it was not what we might call a factory. When the owners saw the disappointment in the girls' faces, they suggested a larger factory about an hour away. Ahhh, the magic word -- tours.
We got there just before they closed for lunch and managed to get directions to a supermarche, where we arrived just before THEY closed for lunch. We found a nice park and had a picnic. Back to the factory for the first afternoon tour.
Nope, that one was in German, since there was a larger German-speaking group. We waited for the tour in English. In the end, it would not have mattered since "in English" only meant that the sub-titles for the 20 minute film were in English and not German. We became quite unpopular as we read and repeated the English subtitles to the girls. The other English-speakers tried to "shush" us but by this time my sister was not in the mood to be shushed.
Then, FINALLY, we got to walk through the factory. It was interesting. Sort of. The best part was the aging room. Do you have any idea what cheese from Normandy smells like as it ages?
The girls pinched their noses and scrunched up their faces making it pretty obvious to the rest of the tour group what they thought of cheese from Normandy.
The rest of the trip, whenever they were asked to say "Cheese" for the camera, they all smiled and screamed STINKY CHEESE FROM NORMANDY!