LONDON to FLORENCE
through FRANCE, SWITZERLAND and Northern ITALY
Eating, sleeping and stopping spots for the foodies and families that need some beauty and deliciousness on their way.
We've driven this route, and similar ones to the alps, maybe 10 times now, with three children in tow.
Sometimes through the night, with sleeping children, in one fast burst, and others taking it slower and stopping for a walk by a lake, to try out a delicious looking restaurant and sometimes with targets we've picked out ahead, dotted along the way to hit.
London - Florence the routes
So I thought it would make life easier for us for next time to have it all written down somewhere, to prevent extra car squabbles about who booked what and where it actually is. And because some of you asked.
This is an opener that I imagine I will revisit and add to (we are setting off again at half term on a slightly different route to Switzerland) but it is a compilation of places we've found with our various rather rigorous requirements, that we've stayed at, eaten at and loved along this route.
Champagne / burgundy shopping
Delicious French Village Dinner
ECO-CABIN NIGHT STOP
Not far from Lyon and off the road from Bourg-en-Bresse is this newly created field with cabins to cosy up in.
Le Repaire des Sources
120 rue du puits
LUNCH IN ALSACE
Auberge De La Canardière
This was an Auberge and the rooms upstairs looked like a lovely place to stay if you were nearby and in need of a room.
29 la petite liepvre
68160 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France
Coordonnées GPS : 48.205571,7.126515
03 89 58 76 13
The beauty that emerges as you gradually head to the hills and the lakes appear alongside you, makes the route through Switzerland the one I choose always.
NIGHT STOP Lake Lucerne
This was the only hotel that was a fixed agenda on our route, that we had found before we got in the car. And it was just what we all needed after a few days of car living and familial claustrophobia. Big skies, a peaceful lake
Hotel Rössli, Beckenried
Swiss air, mountain views and a lake at your feet. Couldn't recommend this sweet alpine lodge hotel more.
Simple, comfy rooms, set in a small building, on four floors, with a small shower, and no frills, but with the most spectacular views.
Out of the car into the lake for a swim, which we had all to ourselves as the stormy sky put everyone off. There was also a boat going and frying from right outside our hotel that we could have gone for an explore on but didn't as we were too busy swimming and running and eating.
The alpine lodge restaurant was cosy enough for everyone to sit down for supper together, and the classic Swiss menu was perfect. The obvious, and adored by my kids, Weiner Schnitzel, Bratwürst as well as rösti and delicious veal in creamy mushroom sauces.
We didn't loiter, but it was a glorious pit stop for the evening and a lazy morning to lap up the lake views over croissants, eggs and many hams and cheese for breakfast before setting off again.
Lussi Tavola AG
T: +41 41 624 45 11
NIGHT SPOT in the NORTH
TUSCAN HILLSIDE DESTINATION
Our destination is usually here, to the hills above Florence. It's been our family home since the 60's, and has recently been made available to rent for the first time.
For those wanting calm, beauty and restoring. It is a classical Italian farmhouse above a village, rustic, simple and surrounded by empty hills.
Many dates are already booked for this year, but there is still a few windows in my favourite times of year - May, June and September.
Renting & Availability
Things we very much need for our long journeys to prevent us killing each other and not asking for screens for the whole day.
For travel times as well as hotel evenings to entertain. And the things that make the journey better for me.
The bonus about car travel is the extraneous packing - I am the queen of last minute extras, and all these have become staples after being shoved in sometime at the final round.
I never move from my house without a stash of charcoal pills for anyone taken down with a sickness bug, tummy ache, bad wind etc:
For the car-sick these wrist bands are a drug free way of trying to keep any travel sickness at bay. It has really worked with me and others, but is not failsafe. At £6 I think its worth a try.
A pot of this thick, skin protecting moisturiser in my bag is essential travelling to keep the dryness at bay and make me feel fresher than I probably am after all the car hours. Or it comes in a new hydration trio as a mini size with the mist and Hydration serum too:
Chic bamboo and stainless steel coffee cup to prevent endless gas station disposables. This is the mug, but there's a tall take around one too, all come with lids.
Sandwich bags, grab bags, fruit stuffers, whatever you want to fill them with, these silicone, reusable, sealable pockets are perfect for hungry, travelling hands. Less mess and less need for endless crap from the service station:
Copper Water bottle to refill and prevent the plastic water overload we used to have on long journeys:
To shove all of the above, and below, an open bag to grab things from, a French basket bag is durable, wipeable and non-precious but chic and what I take always for overflow, changes of clothes, extra snacks etc:
My pillow came with me for a while, but I've downsized to a pillowcase, and use a scarf or soft jumper to sleep on. But these silk pillowcases, they call the Hollywood skin secret, are a way of upgrading any less than lovely sleep spot, and make you feel at home:
There are many hours to while away, and we have no screens on the move policy until dark - to avoid the car sick prone - so we have tried out a few of these options, all of the below have worked for us.
A new discovery that looks like a great way of getting conversations started, and keeping the teenage/tweens talking:
Obviously Audio books are a gem - but different ages etc mean everyone's plugged in alone - these are attempts at whole car unity, a rare and precious thing!
Roald Dahl was the longest reaching for ages and the winner on how long we could listen for always.
With Narnia a close second and as they got a bit older:
Sticker books always - no mess, no losing of parts and plenty of time used up in the creating.
There are a lot to choose from, I like the Usborne ones and this is a good start on the road:
Card games and the like:
Telestrations is a brilliant drawing game - for when you're out of the car - for all ages, that's a hybrid of pictionary and Chinese whispers.
Dobble is a fast paced, word-free, deal of a memory card game, that any age can play whether they can read or not:
Avocado smash for the 5's to 10's where they can get their pent up energy out by banging cards down:
Exploding Kittens and a quiz game called Kids Vs Adults are also in our car bag.
Linkable up Headphones:
These headphones have a genius sharing jack so you can attach two children to one sound source, they can watch something together or listen, and has kept many of us happy over the years. Just make sure to buy them all different colours.
A personal music machine that doesn't rely on internet access, but plays audiobooks. I love this low-fi kit that seems to be hard to come by, and it's a snip at £25 compared to the other things we're always being sold:
Please write in the comments below with any of your ideas and tips for a whole lot of time in a car.
+No children were very much harmed in the making of this post
*Nothing here is in anyway sponsored, edited or advertising by anyone for anyone.
*Some links used are affiliate links, all opinions are my own.