In this month’s family travel snap we talk to Charles Rawlings-Way, an LP travel writer based in Adelaide, South Australia. Charles and his wife Meg have travelled and written together for years and now have two small additional companions when they go exploring.
Meg and the girls in Céret, France. Image courtesy of Charles Rawlings-Way.
What’s the story behind this photo?
In November 2014 we arrived in Céret, a medieval village in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France. We’d blocked out a month in our schedule to immerse ourselves in French culture: live in a stone cottage, hear French, speak French, eat French food, drink French wine… But with six months’ worth of rain falling in our first three days, we found ourselves immediately – and literally – immersed in village life!
This particular torrent was gushing off the awning of a patisserie: I grabbed the camera as Meg and the girls did an umbrella dance under the impromptu waterfall. We live in the driest state on the driest continent on Earth. The kids’ joy at experiencing such an extended downpour was worth clogging up several iPhones with photos. Then, of course, we disappeared into the patisseries to dry off. Any excuse…
‘Céret was almost flooding! We had to wear really warm coats, and one of our umbrellas blew inside out!’
Charles’ tips for travelling to Céret with kids
Travelling with kids gives you a ground-level perspective, plus the need for plenty of pit-stops makes you slow down and engage more directly with people, culture and landscapes. Kids are also excellent conversational ice-breakers so make the most the cultural exchanges they can help you with!
1) Visit during the off season and you’ll have the place to yourselves: park right by the beach, get a table in any café and meet the French when they’re at their least stressed (…which, in the laid-back south, is not very stressed at all).
2) It’s not hard to eat well in the south of France, but the trick is timing: patisseries here open early but close at 10 or 11am, then open up again around 5pm. Six hours is a long time to wait between croissants when you’re only four. Plan ahead!
3) Given Céret’s proximity to Spain – a bit over an hour away – we’d probably spend more time across the border if we visited again. Some village hopping along the Catalan coast would have been fun.
Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?
The north island of New Zealand is looking likely. The geysers and stinky sulphuric wafts at Rotorua; the beaches and pohutukawa blooms at Mt Maunganui; the snowy cone of Mt Taranaki… great fun for kids!
Lastly, complete the sentence:
When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always….
…take a stack of Roald Dahl books.
Charles tweets at @Crawlingsway and writes about all things Australian for Lonely Planet. He has recently shared his top ten places for kids in Australia as well as his tips for a fantastic family trip to the South of France.
For inspiration on how to keep your young explorers entertained whilst on the road – or at home – check out our Lonely Planet Kids books and apps.