We got up late and a little hungover after a late night with our new friends from Chouilly. You could feel that the village was back to its normal, quiet self after the excitement of the last day or so. We would be travelling with the Baileys for the next few days so we picked Versailles as a meeting spot in the afternoon and both families set off.
It was a very grand town/outer suburb of Paris with wide streets and imposing buildings. The aire we had considered staying at was temporarily closed and, needing badly to change water and toilet, we were forced to seek out a campsite for the night. Good thing too as it meant Bailey and I could watch the football that night!
Next day we aimed for the busy centre of Versaille and the fabulous palace. Parking a car within a km or two would have been difficult but after simultaneously pulling a u-turn on a 6 lane highway (!), we found a school that was clearly closed and so parked up in front of it, careful not to block the entrance. I even spread the ‘tricolore’ across the windscreen to hopefully garner sympathy from any passing parking cops.
We’d already bought tickets for entrance to the gardens and the palace and the place was heaving. Unfortunately the queue to get in was a 2 hr minimum, something neither the adults of the kids could face. So we headed straight for the gardens to see if it calmed down later.
The gardens were lovely and we spent a couple of hours wandering around, dodging the odd shower.
We headed back to the palace but the queue was still too long to consider. The tickets weren’t cheap so, thanks to my World Cup touting experience, we managed to flog them to people in the queue and get our money back.
It was then time to head for Paris as the 14th July – Bastille Day – was the next day. In just 20 minutes we were there at the only campsite inside the city limits. While I checked in and parked up, Chelle went to the camp shop for a few supplies. Somehow she got lost and turned up a good hour later weighed down by shopping bags and trapped on the far side of the barbed wire fence surrounding the site. She was furious, yelling at us for deliberately not hearing her shouts for help and having been soaked by puddles splashed by trucks on whatever road she had ended up on. While Bailey and I tried to keep a straight face, the protection of the fence meant sniggers turned to outright bellows of laughter until we realised she was holding the beer in the bag and we quickly reverted to sympathy.
Next morning we successfully caught the ‘navette’ and then the metro to the Champs Elysées. We were just in time to see the flyby of the military places over the Arc de Triomphe. A great spectacle.
We were too late to get a decent vantage point for the rest of the parade as the crowd were 4 or 5 deep. Nevertheless, on tiptoes and by hoiking the kids on shoulders we all saw enough and enjoyed the atmosphere.
We mooched around and, via a couple of metros, found our way to a cosy little restaurant that we’d found recommended on the internet for its traditional fare and good value meals. And it was a great find – delicious food that even the kids gobbled up. I perhaps got a little too adventurous in ordering the cow bone marrow – sucking up the gelatinous goo was a bit much even for me
We had a good old wander around Paris. Hunted down the Place de la Bastille, only to find out there was not a single reference to it’s namesake so not a particularly special place to go on 14th July. However, it did take us through a nice area of Paris, dotted with bars and interesting shops.
We also hit up some of the big ticket items such as Notre Dame – instead of the grey skies and dozens of people that we saw in January, we were greeted by blue sky and thousands upon thousands of tourists.
So, after our Paris stay, it was time for the main event… a very generous pressie from Chelle’s Dad, we had tickets for a day at Disneyland. The Baileys also had a ticket (in honour of Thia’s birthday) so we set sail for the resort where we were assured campervans can stay overnight.
The 30 minute journey across Paris somehow turned into 2hrs 50 min slog and a near divorce. But we don’t talk about that.
Instead, the magic came alive and we all had a great time. Despite being summer, it was a work day and the dreaded queues were perfectly manageable. James and Abbie have given a rundown on the day here:
After all the fun and frivolity of the last couple of weeks, we decided it was time to put a more serious and educational slant on our travels. So the compass is aligned and it’s off to Normandy to learn about the D-Day landings in WW2 followed by the Somme to explore the history of WW