This summer I fulfilled one of my ambitions and drove from the UK to Ibiza. Ever since we started going to the White Isle years ago I’ve wanted to do a road trip as part of my holiday, but there was always a reason why we couldn’t do it. The kids were too young. The kids were already in situ (well I wasn’t gonna drive there on my own!). The car was too small (remember what happened when I drove my convertible mini to the Alps?…), etc, etc. Anyway this was my year. My dad had given me his old Citroen C8 and instructed me to drive it to Ibiza and leave it there – so what else could I do?
Midnight in Paris
We took the 7pm Channel Tunnel on the first Sunday in August and were in Paris by midnight. The Eiffel Tower was sparkling in all its glory and we found a fab (if slightly overpriced) bistro overlooking the tower and had a very late supper with a splendid view and ambience aplenty. As the clock struck 2am it was time to leave Paris. So we jumped in the Grandad car and headed south, driving through the night.
Theme park fun
Next stop was a theme park a few miles outside of Lyon called Walibi. We’d driven through the night and slept in the car park at the end of the journey, so we were a little shabby when we arrived at Walibi. However that didn’t stop us from having fun. The sun was shining and it was a glorious day. We did rollercoasters a plenty – although I’m sad to say I am starting to turn into one of ‘those mums’ and actually refused to go on the main attraction ‘The Eqwalizer’ because I was too scared… it was a sad moment for me and the kids were more than a little disappointed in this performance… However they did go on it and agreed that I would have hated it! Walibi also has a water park in the middle of it called Aqualibi. It was an el scorcio day so we paid the extra €6 for an hour’s reprise in the water only to discover that the boys couldn’t wear their swimming shorts and instead had to purchase some speedo-style swimming trunks. My little boy was far from impressed and would allow no holiday photos of the day to be taken from this point forth!
Sushi in Lyon
One of our all-time favourite restaurant chains is Planet Sushi. They used to have an amazing one in Ibiza (which has sadly closed down) and there are several that we’ve frequented in Lyon and Paris over the years. So once we’d exhausted the fun and ourselves at Walibi we headed to our hotel – Le Patio Des Terreaux – in central Lyon, freshened up and headed to the – apparently first ever – Planet Sushi, where we had a delicious sushi extravaganza before crawling back to our hotel for a game of cards and a nightcap on the charming terrace before going to bed.
Camping and kayaking
The next morning we failed to wake until noon. Then it was into the car and off to the Ardeche – about a 3-hour drive away. Upon arrival we checked into the campsite, put up our tent and went for a swim before donning our glad rags and heading into the lively town of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc. We enjoyed roaming around the night market (on Tuesdays and Thursday nights in summer time) before heading to the lovely bistro Le 14 for delicious French food. The following morning we were up with the lark to book and then go on our 12km kayaking adventure. A BBQ, pale rose and cards rounded off our excellent camping and kayaking adventure.
South of France
The following morning – limbs a little achy – it was time to head to the south of France. Luckily for me it was my birthday so I was sent off to the campsite spa (far more glamorous than it sounds believe me) for a facial while the others packed away the tent. Then it was a 3-hour drive down to Marseillan for lunch. After a few drinks and a snooze on the lovely sandy beach it was off to neighbouring Cap d’Agde for a night out, comprising of cocktails by the marina followed by a delicious seafood birthday dinner extravaganza at Les Halles.
Barcelona & Figueres
Having spent a lovely and relaxing afternoon and evening in the South of France, there was no time to hang around if we wanted to keep to our itinerary. So it was once again up with the lark and a 3-hour drive to Barcelona. We made a pit stop in Figueres for a bit of tapas and to gawp at the beautiful Dali museum, sadly the queue was too long to go inside although the outside is more than worth the detour – booking in advance it seems is key. Fully satisfied on the food and culture front we headed to Barcelona in time for a mid-afternoon swim in our hotel pool. Two action-packed days in Barcelona ensued. We rambled up and down La Rambla, enjoyed Gaudi in all his glory, ate delicious food, drank delicious wine, swam in the sea, shopped till we dropped, in fact apart from dancing till dawn, we did everything on my Barcelona to-do list. And on the last afternoon we drove to a charming (if slightly nudist) beach about 20 miles south of Barcelona for some proper Costa Brava recreational fun.
We were booked onto the 10pm night ferry from the port of Barcelona to the port in Ibiza Town on the Sunday night – one week after our adventure commenced. It was an 8-hour night crossing so I was expecting restaurants, bars, a disco, maybe even a casino and therefore saw little point in paying extra for an overnight cabin as assumed w would be partying all night long… so I simply reserved us 4 seats in the quiet lounge for once the partying was over. Sadly there was no partying. The highlight of the in-ship entertainment was an old X-Men movie in our quiet lounge – yes it was on mute (it was after all the quiet lounge…) but did have subtitles. Anyway despite my disappointment at the lack of boat party fun – the crossing was smooth, the X-Men movie entertaining, and we all managed a few hours sleep. Before we knew it we’d arrived in Ibiza ready to start the next part of our holiday!