After my successful solo trip to London with the baby (you can read about here), it really got me fired up for more adventures and reminded me of how spontaneous I used to be. I would call people up and say what are you doing for the next two days? they would say nothing Id say we’re going to Newcastle or Cambridge or wherever, pack a bag I’ll pick you up in an hour. I would take myself off for adventures on my own find myself driving to Brighton to get a body mod and to explore the area as it was new to me. I miss being like that the reason I’m not is that I got into a relationship and now spend my time waiting to do things well no more! I’ve had a taste of who I really am and I’m not going back! I know I can’t just jet off whenever I please right now but best believe I’m going to work towards making it happen with the baby strapped to my front and my partner alongside or solo, No More Waiting!
Operation Get Abroad
The day after my little London excursion I looked into places close by I could take the baby overnight Paris, Amsterdam, Antwerp, but the ferry costs last minute were crazy and the Eurotunnel was insane I could have gone to Barbados for what they were asking. I looked at the ferry and train and where we could drive from there. Ghent looked like a great destination all reviews said it was underrated and is a must for cultural explorers. I asked Tyler if he was working the weekend and he said no so instead of the Bubba and I have solo adventures it would be the three of us. I booked a hotel in Ghent then went to book travel but there were no trains coming home after 11.40am on Saturday which changed my plans completely. I cancelled the hotel and looked at the map to see if there was anywhere closer we could go. It was either Calais, Dunkirk or Lille I chose Lille it kept coming up as a very underrated city and a must-see, a place with lots to explore. I booked the Calm aparthotel in the centre of Lille it had secure parking and the rooms were sufficient for our needs with a kitchenette perfect for heating up the baby’s food pouches.
The night before we were meant to go Tyler said that to drive in France that we needed a European car kit, which we didn’t have. It was now 11pm there was no getting one now so I went online to see when the shops were open and which had what we needed. We aimed to leave Ipswich at 8am to get to the Eurotunnel in time to check in and board. After comparing what felt like millions on different European car kits from different shops I opted for one from Argos that’s located in a Sainsbury’s on the other side of town as it opens at 8.30am and I can buy online and pick up in the morning. The kit didn’t come with breathalyzers so I order those from Halfords in Ashford as by the time we got there the shop would be open and it’s close to the Eurotunnel rather than waiting until 9am for our local one to open and risk missing the train.
Tip: Always check what you need for the country you are traveling to before you travel even if you are booking last minute. Here is a list of everything you will need if driving to France, follow this link to check out the RAC guide.
Let’s Get Travelling
On the day of travel, Tyler had PT session in the morning and would be home before 8am to get us. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue and not a cloud in sight, the sun was out and there was no chill in the air. It actually felt like spring. The early morning start was difficult with the Bubbas cluster feeding but I managed to boob him and feed him a food pouch, wash and dress him and sort myself all before 7.30am. Unfortunately, the best route out of the village was closed due to construction so we had to take the long route which also had roadworks. Once around the roadworks, we hit a backed up the road, there had been a bit of a pile-up probably due to the ice on the road. I directed Tyler to another route we could take which is a single track road and due to everything happening in the area there was actually quite a bit of traffic on this road too. At one point we hit some black ice and slid across the road but luckily Tyler managed to regain control of the car and stopped us hitting the bank. I was not going to let these little setbacks ruin this day or stress me out I just let it go and concentrated on the gorgeous cakes at the other end.
We collected everything we needed from Sainsbury’s and made it to Ashford in good time, picked up the breathalyzers and added the bits from the car kit to the car.
The Bubba had woken from his nap and was hungry so I gave him some fruit melts by Kiddylicious, I chose these as there were no added nasties it is pure fruit.
Tyler and I tried them and they were pretty much fruity skips. They melted in your mouth which for us was unpleasant but for the Bubba very nice he couldn’t get enough.
Our First Eurotunnel Experience
We made it to the Eurotunnel 30 minutes before departure like they suggested but once we were through all the checkpoints the board said that our boarding was closed. Great! Still staying positive we carried on and was let on no problem. In the future, we will definitely aim to have at least 45 minutes for check in as it was so busy.
The train itself was a double-decker train that we drove into there were footpaths either side, Windows and a few toilets dotted about. It was very warm inside but what do you expect there’s not a lot of fresh air in a tunnel under the sea. The journey itself to Calais was only 30 minutes which was just enough time to breastfeed the baby. He loved being out of the car seat and so close to so many buttons. The whole process was so easy and comfortable, the Bubba had very little disturbance and there was no luggage stress.
We are in France Baby
As light began to shine through the train window the excitement built, We’re in France Baby! We strapped the baby back into his carseat which he protested against and then spent the next 15 minutes scowlling at his Dad before falling into an angry sleep. His fists were clenched and he had the biggest frown on his face.
Driving to Lille was rather easy and luckily the Sat nav worked but if it didn’t I would have used Maps on my phone as I can use my data abroad no extra cost with EE. The dual carriage way was great sign posted clearly, the scenery reminded me a bit of North Dakota lots of fields with the odd farm house then a shopping complex.
When we got to Lille that’s when the fun started there were roadworks all over so the route the sat nav was trying to take us was impossible we had to try and find another way. Now considering neither of us speak or read French this was difficult, we had to go by the map and hope for the best. We made it in the end it took longer to navigate Lille than it did to actually get there. I ran into the hotel to check in and ask about the parking while Tyler waited in the car outside so he could move it if he needed to which he did. The car park was in the next street along but we had to navigate the roadworks again as Tyler had to move the car while I was in the hotel as he was stopping the buses from getting through so went around the corner. The car park had a concrete spiral staircase which immediately I wanted to capture, it was the perfect place to test out my new mirrorless camera. These ended up being my favourite images from the trip.
We stayed at Calm aparthotel the room was perfect for our needs and the staff were very helpful and advised if we come back to book direct with them as they will provide better rates.
Tyler fell asleep while I fed the baby a boob and a food pouch, we then went off exploring the area. There are so many cafes, shops and the buildings were beautiful. I love how big the doors are as if giants live inside, some had great big knockers shaped like animals or faces and the painted in a spectrum of colours.
As we walked around I just kept saying we need to come back there’s so much here and I’d like to see the cultural side to. The shops were amazing but I’m not one to shop on a regular. The designer interior shops were incredible got my creative spark firing. This is definitely a place to come and spend your birthday money you wouldn’t be disappointed there are so many different styles of clothes, shoes, bag, household accessories, pretty much anything you want is here. The shops are open until 7pm so plenty of time to relax in a cafe and eat a lot of cake.
The best of all was the patisseries we went to one that was established in 1677 called The Méert these cakes were out of this world I bought five different ones and ate them back at the hotel they were all a dream the best one tasted like an extremely high end kinda bueno it had so many different layers and the flavours were on point. This place is a must if you go to Lille and love cake like I do.
We looked for somewhere to eat we passed a few places because it seemed everyone was smoking. We ended up in a cafe around the corner from our hotel unashamedly we ate burgers and chips this burger was one of the best I’ve eaten. It just feels like the simplest of foods in Lille were cooked with care and skill, No limp patties and soggy buns here.
It was a short trip but I loved it. The Bubba enjoyed being fussed over by strangers and the carrier meant that he was warm due to daddy’s body heat and he could see everything that was happening. I didn’t feel that we struggled with a baby in tow at all I condensed everything baby related into a small backpack so we were carrying the big baby bag around which would make it easier to get about the crowds.
Lille we will most definitely be back we enjoyed our taste of France, we will attempt to learn French so that we can communicate more and not be stereotypical Brits abroad just shouting and gesturing our way through conversations.