Calais to Dijon was just one continuous downpour. It was a bit of a miserable start to the holiday because the sun had been shining when we left Dover. It just gave Ella an excuse to moan more about France; bear in mind here that her French teacher has a lot to answer for.
Monsieur Bearnard (who did just shy of 3000 miles with us) had to be anchored to the dashboard by way of satnav cable, once secured he smiled the whole way, through downpours, air conditioning, arguments and eventually through extreme heat (the car registered 46 degrees after we left it parked for an hour in the sun).
We broke up the Dijon to Turin journey by stopping off at Chambery, which is now in France but apparently used to be Italian territory. I'm afraid I was rather tired by this point and only half listened to M explain the reason why. Very charming it was too. Once again we managed to stop during the deadly quiet break from 12-2. One tiny cafe was open and welcoming so we dashed in to shelter from the rain and had fun trying to order lunch. Ella's school French doesn't seem to have included the word for tuna which is what she accidentally got inside a baguette, thankfully she likes tuna. Thon baguettes in France and 'Tonno pizze' in Italy. The cafe also had a large selection of Macarons which the kids have never tried. Coffee and chocolate flavours were chosen and scoffed in a nano second (after the pic).
The rain totally spoiled the view of the mountains on the way to Turin. We had to hope we'd see more on the way home. As we arrived in Italy the weather improved and we were all really pleased with the comfort factor of our hotel. The view was amazing. We were half way up a mountain and that last photo is the view to the right of where E and J are looking in the photo above. Snow topped mountains.
For the ridiculous price of €70 we had a room with a double and twin beds, air conditioning, a superb bathroom, a small fridge, a balcony and the best breakfast in Italy. We liked it so much we booked the same hotel for the return journey.
It is worth mentioning here that there are quite a few tunnels that go through mountains on the way to Italy. One of them, the Frejus tunnel (galleria) is about eight miles long and costs a whopping €43 to drive through. By the time you reach the end you can smell the fumes in the car and it really isn't a pleasant experience. The fun part was looking out for the small sign that told us we'd crossed from France to Italy.
Although a lot of the roads are literally on stilts above huge valleys with seriously big sheer drops it doesn't feel unsafe because the barriers are quite substantial. It's the minor mountain roads, ie. non motorway roads which have what might as well be Lego barriers. They certainly didn't impress me!
E and J insisted on pizza for our first meal in Italy. M decided on pizza too. We were first in this particular restaurant and the chef, once told that we were English, came to speak to us in his best English (which was as bad as our Italian). He said something like, 'I cook fish for you, si?' M said, well it's our first night in Italy and we really just want pizza. Cue crestfallen face. M apologised for that and then the chef came up with fifty different types of pizza's only to be told that the kids really only wanted plain old marguerita! Poor bloke. There were three staff and they each came and stood by the table as if about to perform an act. A vaguely English sentence would be spoken and then they eagerly awaited our reaction/reply. They were on more comfortable territory when we asked if we were saying the few Italian words we knew correctly. The female waitress, who was clearly oblivious to the fact that Jake was only 13, gave him much attention and credit when he spoke and said only his accent had been 'perfect'. She couldn't keep her eyes off him.
Everywhere we went the Italians seemed fascinated by the children. One woman serving gelato (jake insisted we buy this every day) just stared and stared until eventually she said to me, in very halting English, you're children are very 'belle' beautiful. How touching. I must add here that this was after Ella's hair went from lilac to green after swimming in the sea and a rich chocolate brown dye was hastily purchased and applied which brought her back to her natural colour (thank goodness!)