Monday, January 25, 2010

An Appeal

In my recent post about accents, I wrote about my quest to become middle class. I think I've largely succeeded. If I was crushed under the wheels of a bus, a cursory glance through the contents of my wallet would reveal that I was a member of the Magistrates' Association and a friend of the Tate Gallery. I have no Nectar card.

However, there is still one glaring gap in my bourgeois credentials: I don't spend my holidays in France.

Indeed, my knowledge of France is de graves lacunes. Apart from two day trips to Bolougne and a couple of weekends in Paris, I know nothing about France.

This year I intend to remedy this state of affairs, but I don't know where to start. Like Mr T, I don't like flying and so my options are limited to northern France, but where? I will be accompanied by two young boys, my wife and her mother, all of whom have very different requirements.

I decided to start with Brittany, which I typed into Google Images. Unfortunately I didn't realise that Brittany is a popular porn star name in America, so I ended up with a very different sort of trip.

Filtering out the "adult" material helped, but I was still left with hundreds of websites, none of which answered my main question: where can I guarantee my children a magical holiday without being utterly miserable?

And this is where I turn to my fellow bloggers. If there is anyone reading this blog who knows somehwere in Brittany, Normandy or even further afield, that has sandy beaches, far from the madding crowd, and is also reasonably near decent resturants and old things, please let me know.

I feel overwhelmed and would appreciate some expert opinion.


Lucille said...

Would you consider taking the direct train from St Pancras to Avignon? We did last year and it was fantastic. Your middle class credentials will be impeccable if you do. No air miles. But you've got me worried about the Nectar card. Should I shred it immediately?

Steerforth said...

Yes, I'm afraid you do have to.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

St Malo is amazing, and perfect for kids, just perfect. Adults, too.

Grey Area said...

I no longer fly myself - which is a shame as my favourite place in France is Carcassonne, there is nothing more magical than a walled city - it's like stepping back to the middle ages ( tell the kids is a French Hogwards - they will be convinced ).

Talking class - last time I went I flew, there were two toothy blonds in the seats next to me making a lot of noise over glossy magazines -

" Oh they've put me in Tattler AGAIN!"

- was the bit that stuck in my mind.

John Self said...

Alas, you are mistaken about the shaming nature of a Nectar card, Steerforth. It is connected with Sainsbury's and therefore acceptably middle-class. It's the Tesco Clubcard you would have to be wary of.

JonathanM said...

I can happily give you plenty of recommendations for Normandy as the family (apart from me) have spent the majority of their summers for the last 15 years there. Plenty of quiet unspoilt beaches there.

Heck, we could possibly, even rent you a house.

Steerforth said...

Now that sounds interesting. I'll send you a message on Facebook later.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I've never seen the point of abroad.

But I understand that vulgar 'new money' can't get enough of it. Apparently travel makes them feel middle-class.

I say the truly posh give not a fig whether they travel or not, not since there is no longer any 'jet set' in these days of mass travel.

And that caravan holiday the other year went down a treat did it not?

;- )

Lucille said...

Only acceptably? Look - if I promise to use Ocado and a green van even if there isn't a £15 voucher, can I keep the Nectar card?

Steerforth said...

A Nectar card might cut the mustard in some quarters, but in Islington-on-the-Downs, as Lewes is affectionally known, it's a definite no-no (partly because the nearest branch of Sainsbury's is in Newhaven).

Laura, I agree. Going abroad can be vulgar, but my trip will be a mini Grand Tour - I will paint watercolours and write florid poems, whilst recovering from consumption.

katyboo1 said...

I have no idea how old the children are, but Tots to Travel, which is a web based company, offer some fabulous, child friendly houses all over France which mean significantly less luggage and a lot happier children. The houses are very middle class, in the main and in fact the one we used (too far south for you unfortunately) was very five star shabby chic. In their blurb about the house they usually give you a run down of stuff available for kids in the area.

Annabel Gaskell said...

If Brittany/Normandy don't appeal, you could try the La Rochelle - Charentes Maritim area which is easily reachable by car (although you can fly from Southampton). There are wonderful beaches, loads of Naval history, Roman ruins inland, a zoo with a very sad polar bear, a great aquarium, lighthouses, seafood. There is also a proper French theme park Puy de Fou which is very diff to Disney! We rented a cottage the year before last and had a wonderful fortnight.

Bev said...

Oooh, the Isle de Ris, near La Rochelle is wonderful for sandy beaches and chilling. Oh, and middle class French people.
Suggest Hornfleur region though for a bit more culture. We went almost opposite Hastings year before last and had a brilliant time.
Oh, and Nectar cards acceptably middle class in Hastings, Ocado definitely posh and as for Abel and Cole...

Steerforth said...

La Rochelle looks beautiful, but I think I'll build up to that. I find that if a car journey lasts longer than two hours, my sons start wailing and protesting.