Our ferry arrived in Calais around 8.15pm French time on Tuesday evening. Jim drove for a couple of hours until we stopped at a motorway aire just south of Arras. Not the most scenic location for the official first night of our trip, but we were all feeling very sleep deprived and needed to call it a night, ready for an epic drive the next day.
On the Wednesday I think we covered about 700km in ten hours, driving all the way to Annecy in the Alps. In the middle of a heatwave. At one point the outside temperature reached 43 degrees.
I think we were all a bit delirious from the heat. We stopped for supplies at a supermarket along the route and could barely drag ourselves away from the store’s air conditioning. At some point we also realised that the fridge in the van was on the blink.
We’ve been to Annecy before and it’s a beautiful place. However, we arrived very late, with two hungry, tired children, so this time we only experienced the delight of the local McDonalds (two Happy Meals in as many days – parent goals) and a cramped campsite on the outskirts which cost ten euros for a very short stay. On a more positive note, Jim did manage to get the fridge working on electric hook up. He also had the pleasure of ‘servicing’ for the first time, which among other glamorous tasks includes the toilet-emptying part of van life. Then we left for the last leg of our journey to Tignes.
It was never our plan to drive to the Alps so directly in such a short space of time. We had always aimed to leave the UK two days earlier on the Sunday and take a scenic route down, avoiding toll roads and taking us through Belgium and Luxembourg. However, the van needing last minute work delayed us by a couple of days. This wouldn’t have made much difference – except that
Jim’s our main reason for heading to the Alps was to watch stage 19 of the Tour de France in Tignes on the Friday.
We’re used to driving Alpine roads but the two hour drive to Tignes definitely felt different (unnerving) in a seven metre campervan. I should probably get used to it! As we made the final winding climb to Tignes, yellow Tour branding was suddenly everywhere and there were campervans already parked up at the side of the road to secure a view. We thought we’d best join them and found our own pretty amazing spot about 3km from the finish line, perfect for watching the race the next day. We had arrived!