After a 5 hour drive, we finally reached La Rochelle and the Atlantic shore of France. On the way, we were greeted by a beautiful scenery, well maintained green lands, old and unique houses(some castles).
When you travel with kids, you discover things that you wouldn't see otherwise, like the cloud sculptures, the imaginary wolfs hidden behind the trees, the magic of bridges and many more.
The Charentes region, on the west coast of France has amazing sceneries of vast green and golden prairies, historical castles and sandy beaches.
We were invited for the wedding of my cousin who lives in Paris and is marrying a french man from the Rochelle area originally. The couple had decided to celebrate their special day in one of the castles of the region Le chateau de la Roche- Courbon. Built in 1475, the castle was owned by the Courbon family for centuries and then abandoned. At the end of the 19th century, Pierre Loti(1850-1923), who was spending his vacation in the region had discovered it among ruins. He had called it the 'sleeping beauty of the forest" and brought it back under the attention of the public. Finally, a local man bought it and his family, until today live there, in one of the tours, while the rest was transformed to a museum and reception halls.
The kids had an amazing time walking in the splendid garden, imagining the life of past kings and queens of France, discovering the donjon and the stables and the rest of this fairy place.
The day was filled with surprises, good food and wine...followed by dancing and bonding with cousins that we don't see often, uncle, aunts and grand-parents.
And my 3yr old met a little princess and even though they didn't understand each other's language, they were inseparable for the rest of the evening...laughing, chatting and discovering the world around.
PS: all this may seem very nice to you and almost a fairytale, but in reality i omitted the part where we almost lost our sanity over kids arguing endlessly during the long drive:)The part where the little one decided not to sleep the whole time and became cranky at the end, refusing to eat or do anything we suggested. Yes, also the part where, we almost stopped the car to handle a crisis situation by my pre-teen who couldn't handle the presence of her "annoying" brother anymore. Plus the time when my 9 year old puked everywhere, on his cloths and the seat, while we were driving on the highway... Other than that, it was a good trip, our patience is growing stronger by the day. We are discovering new tricks to keep the kids busy on long drives. We are trying to choose our battles wisely. We know that soon, we will remember these days with great happiness and miss even the fights and shouting and sudden crying (even the puking!).
So to be honest, it is tough to travel with 4 kids, specially when you have a young one, a pre-teen, an annoyingly curious 9 yr old and a teenager in the same group. The main point is that it is possible and most of the times fun, if you increase your sense of humor and tolerance and not pay attention to unimportant details (like how to dress for a wedding, when to nap or take a shower, how clean everything should be...)
Chaos is OK and healthy, sometimes!:)