European Roadtripping

European Roadtripping

LONDON to FLORENCE

through FRANCE, SWITZERLAND and Northern ITALY

BY CAR

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

First stop after the tunnel, is some light wine shopping / tasting or lunch
Approx Hour 5
 
Depending on how you’ve planned your timings to hit what, this could be a lovely late lunch stop, and some wine tasting thrown in. Close to the main road and with plenty of wine growers to walk into whenever, no appointment needed. Settle in and taste everything or just grab some lunch in a cafe / bistro. We went to Montrachet, but there are a lot of villages to choose from.
You can also order any of the wine. This is one we bought some delicious white from:
 
WINE SHOPPING
Sylvain Bzikot, 2 rue de l’abreuvoir, 21190 Puligny-Montrachet
0380219427
sylvain.bzikot@orange.fr
 
NIGHT STOP
nr Champagne
 
Very close to the main road that draws out through the flat, Northern France, this is a perfectly decent spot for the night. We didn’t go out of our way, it was handy to drift off the road when we were done with driving and didn’t want to meander for too long, or spend a fortune. This was convenience above all and worked out perfectly.
 
 
Le Château de Courmelois
 
A larger building houses the majority of the guests in this B&B that was once a grand home and now is a little faded but the owners were charming and helpful and all was perfectly clean and decent.
 
We stayed in the separate building, called the family rooms, which are more of an apartment of their own. Big enough rooms with comfy beds, a full kitchen downstairs with a sitting room, TV etc, it would be a perfect place for a family with small children or babies that want to stay private and create their own supper.
 
1 Rue du Château, 51360 Val-de-Vesle, France
Phone: +33 7 67 67 65 06
 

Delicious French Village Dinner

In a neighbouring village, to our cabin nightspots, we were told to head here for supper.
Starving we ate our way through a lot of the very lovely menu. Lots of sliced potatoes with cheese, some delicious slow cooked lamb with wild mushrooms, pasta with more cheese and incredible carafes of wine for remarkable value.
 

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.

The cabins at Repaire Des Sources
 
Arriving in the night, mid-December, and after a quick trip for an amazingly fortifying dinner (above) next door, we holed up in these so happily.
 
A field alongside a guesthouse with regular rooms for rent should you rather, houses 4 of these beautifully built  and impeccably thought out wooden cabins.
Super snug, there’s not much more space in them apart from the double bed, bedside lights with a table and a kettle with tea and coffee making kit and a heater.
 
We were here in December, so a different experience to a summer field in the sunshine, plenty of mud to wade through but so warm and delicious inside, I’d come any time of year.
 
The children loved the adventure, and particularly the goats and chickens that thronged round them when opening the door in the morning.
 

Repaire Des Sources, France

Le Repaire des Sources
120 rue du puits
01250 Journans

Phone :

06 61 86 86 59

LUNCH IN ALSACE
Just the French side of the border, in Alsace, and not far off the track, we wound our way up a mountain road for a lunch of real, hearty mountain food. I’d given my husband the remit of checked table cloths, and wooden cabin vibe, and this was heaven. 
 
The children ate fast and then went up and down a mountainside slide, and played in the garden. The menu du jour was fresh, hearty and fantastic. I had a crisp, green salad dressed perfectly, and a plate of potatoes with melted cheese, the local special of the day.

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.

Auberge de la canardière

29 la petite liepvre
68160 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France
Coordonnées GPS : 48.205571,7.126515
03 89 58 76 13

Lake Lucerne

SWITZERLAND

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. 

 

Hotel-Restaurant Rössli

Lussi Tavola AG
Dorfplatz 1
6375 Beckenried

T: +41 41 624 45 11

ITALY

Never stopping here for long as it is the last leg of our journey, and we try to power through the northern stretch to get home, but we have stopped off at both of these very different, equally stunning spots.
 
 
LUNCH IN THE LAKES
Villa D’Este, Como
 
Sheer Italian lake lunch luxury, staying the night here would have cost us a few return family flights, but you can turn up for lunch to enjoy the devastating beauty of it all. Built right by Lake Como, this 16th Century Villa is now an Italian state museum and the Renaissance terraced gardens will make you swoon.
 
 
Fat chunks of fresh pasta with the freshest tomato sauce, doughy pizzas and pillowy mozzarella were all of the highest order. This is not a spot for scrimping, or saving pennies, everything was eye-wateringly expensive but we were armed with a hunger for some luxury and an idea it would be so. Walking through the fountains and looking over the lake were worth every euro we spent.
 
Villa d’Este 
Cernobbio
Lake Como 

 

NIGHT SPOT in the NORTH

Piacenza

Locanda Melograni, Piacenza
 
After stopping too long for ice-creams in a square at lunchtime we’d not quite made it to the end of the road, so we hurriedly flicked through the local B&B info to find something with a family room that would have us.
 
Arriving on the Eve of Christmas Eve after 3 days in the car, the excitement was raging but we weren’t expecting much of our pitstop desperation.
 
We didn’t expect to find this charming spot off the road from Piacenza.
We all gasped when we were lead into our room by the owner. A miraculous combination of old school elegance with homely charm. Impeccable detail and real comfort without a whiff of excess.
Vintage linens draped over the double bunk beds, with a cascade of plump and downy pillows. The children fought over where they slept and why we were leaving in the morning. 
 
The kitchens were closed that night so we had a lovely pizza they pointed us to nearby, but the cooking is renowned for it’s gluten free brilliance, should you be looking for that.
 
The rest of the building, looking onto a grassy courtyard, had rooms dotted around and a couple more rooms similar to ours with a living space and the shower within.
 
Breakfast was in the main building, pastries, cereals, hams and cheeses or whatever we could ask for, as well as fresh juices and coffees. 
 
Fabulous value, we paid c. €100 for all of us with breakfast, but it was December.
 
Località Maruffi, 55, 29020 Gossolengo PC, Italy
Phone: +39 329 571 7171
 
 
Best Lunch in Florence
 
Should you be passing, this is the spot for an unassuming, small brick walled osteria, menu that changes every day and just the best tuscan food I can remember. 
Osteria Del Cinghiale Bianco

TUSCAN HILLSIDE DESTINATION

Casa Fabrecchi

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

Casa Fabrecchi

CAR KIT

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:

Charcoal capsules

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.

Anti-Nausea Seabands

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:

The Vital Boost Box Set

Vital Balm Day cream

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.

WAKEcup Coffee Cup

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:

Sandwich Bag 10 pack

 

Copper Water bottle to refill and prevent the plastic water overload we used to have on long journeys:

Copper Water Bottle

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:

French market bag

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:

Irish Silk Pillowcase

ENTERTAINMENT DEPT:

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:

Vertellis Our Moments

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.

Fantastic Mr Fox Audiobook

With Narnia a close second and as they got a bit older:

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe Audiobook

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:

Sticker Atlas of the World

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.

Telestrations

Dobble is a fast paced, word-free, deal of a memory card game, that any age can play whether they can read or not:

Dobble card game

Avocado smash for the 5’s to 10’s where they can get their pent up energy out by banging cards down:

 Avocado Smash

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.

Kids Headphones sharing jack

 

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:

Scan Jam music player

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.

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