Our Grand Italian Family Road Trip has finally begun. #ItalyRoadTrip
When the lovely people at Bailey of Bristol offered us the soon-to-be-christened Margot for an Italian Family Road Trip of a Lifetime – 4,000 miles in the lovely Baileys Approach Autograph 765 Motorhome – we’d never even set foot in a motorhome before, let alone packed for a month’s stay in one. I was clueless.
But we also knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that we should grasp it with both hands. So we plotted a route to see as much of Italy as we could, and worked with the magnificent AlanRogers.com to organise all the stops on our itinerary.
Nothing was absolutely finalised until a few weeks ago – and suddenly it was real. We have a route, we have accommodation. We’re going to Italy. For a MONTH!
Day 1, and the 5.30a.m. start seemed to be okay – we napped on the ferry and planned to be at our first stop on the other side of Paris by late afternoon. *hollow laugh*
A little experience tells me how ridiculously ambitious our plan was – we were headed to a campsite near Auxerre. If you string a line across France between Cherbourg and Switzerland, then our site would be over two thirds along it. 423 miles. In one day. What were we thinking?
You’ll also notice that the route cuts very close to Paris – in fact it uses the equivalent of the North Circular around Paris. Which we timed perfectly for the evening rush hour.
Consequently didn’t actually arrive at Camping Ceriselle until almost 9 in the evening. Thankfully we called ahead, and the reception staff were wonderfully kind and reassuring, providing the campsite’s entry barrier code and pitch number so we weren’t stuck on the road for the night.
Our first day adventures included:
- Realising we didn’t know how to put the fuel cap back on; at which point it was already off, and the motorhome full to the brim with fuel. And we had a ferry to catch. And cars were waiting (im)patiently for fuel behind.
- Daughter investigating how hard she could suck her lips into a glass orange juice bottle on the ferry. Resulting in a beeyootiful purple love-bite moustache that was set not to fade for days.
- Discovering that some turnings off the motorway around Paris are height restricted. But the sat nav doesn’t actually know how tall our vehicle is.
- Subsequent route floundering may well simply take you deeper and deeper into a Paris suburb.
- Driving a very large motorhome in a Paris suburb is NOT fun under any circumstances. Add in a tired driver on his first journey in said motorhome, plus no idea where the satnav is now taking us and it becomes downright stressful.
- Gleeful shrieks of sightings of the Eiffel Tower during said detour will do little to diffuse the tension.
- Setting up the motorhome for the first time is a minefield of half-remembered instructions. Doing it in the dark is… ‘interesting‘.
- If the gas will not switch on, despite numerous pressings of the required reset buttons on the gas pipes, you might want to check the bottle is actually set to the ON position.
- If you hit an unexpected bump in the road, a warning light may come on asking you to go to your nearest dealer to get the power steering checked. Before panic sets in, try pulling over, switching off and switching back on again. After 10 minutes in freak-out-stressed-driving mode, we presumed a genuine issue would still be lit if we tried turning-it-off-and-on-again. It didn’t come back on, so we decided to pretend we never saw it.
- Oldest son WILL develop earache and temperatures on the first day of the holiday. Obviously.
- Trust in your packing. That tired and defeated default position of I-must-have-forgotten-it will only result in skanky teeth with no toothpaste; check the damn cupboards! Of course everything was packed efficiently, you had TWO checklists!
- Paris traffic, even on the outskirts, is horrideous. Remember to avoid at all costs on return leg.
- Stopping for lunch and having a kitchen at your disposal is awesome.
- Realising that this is all part of The Adventure, and that you’re finally inside an experience you’ve wanted for a long long time will continue to bring a smile to your face, even in the dark when you drop the torch, can’t find it again and you haven’t got the lights plugged in yet.
The fabulous Margot is an Approach Autograph 765, and was provided by Bailey of Bristol for the trip.
All campsites on our road trip were arranged by the magnificent AlanRogers.com. Our first leg was a stay at Camping Ceriselles – we had a very brief stopover but the site was clean and tidy, the pitches were a good size, access and hookup were easy for Margot and the toilets were basic but super-clean. The site has a barrier which closes outside of Reception opening hours, and has a keypad for access – but top bonus points for lovely Reception staff being incredibly friendly and helpful to a frazzled exhausted traveller on the phone.