I've just spent the last two hours surfing the net, trying to find prices for (a) flying and (b) going by car to France in the summer. It's a tricky one - on the one hand, you have eco-hubby who hates flying, on the other, me who will be bored witless after about two hours of the 20-odd car drive from Gateshead to the southwest of France. Throw in the delights of entertaining a two-year-old en voyage, and the fact that there's not a lot of cash spare for the trip in the first place, and it becomes a tough call.
In fact, we've done both in the past. I tend to fly when it's just me and M, and we're being met by my parents at the other end. She's entranced by the weird vehicles they have at airports (those things that pull the aircraft around, and deliver baggage), and by the fact that you can see your suitcase being put on the plane (our flybe aircraft is usually one of those tiny ones with propeller engines and two seats either side of the aisle, so there's not usually a lot of baggage to hoy onboard).
The downside is the airport delays (eight hours at the two-shed terminal that is Bergerac airport was a low point), and the hell that is trying to carry a knackered toddler and hand luggage through the airport to the baggage hall after the flight, when the airline won't give you your pushchair back. Luckily, there's usually a horde of very nice retired folk on the flights out and back to the Dordogne, who are more than happy to help grab bags from carousels, amuse small children in the waiting areas, and help carry pushchairs up and down steps.
As for the road trips, well, it's just a very long way from up here, requiring much sitting in cars. There are advantages - ferries are exciting (especially the SpeedFerries one that zips you over to France so fast you bounce across the waves), and there's usually an overnight stop at a random hotel (which from M's perspective involves pain au chocolat for breakfast, which is always A GOOD THING, and has been talked about ever since).
But oh, the tedium! Broken by a bit of navigation - which I'm pretty good at, I have to say, although I'm not helped by the fact that the French seem to have an aversion to putting road numbers on their signs, and expect you to navigate by knowing the city 200 miles away which the road is pointing towards. There's the odd moment of excitement which culminates in a three-point turn, but in the main it's just miles and miles and miles of roads. France is big, let's face it.
Actually, I think I'm the world's worst passenger - all I want to do is read (but it does make me travel sick after an hour), I can't get Radio 4 very well the further south you go in France, and games of all descriptions (especially I spy and its ilk) bore me to tears inside the first five minutes. I may, in fact, be a worse passenger than the two-year-old. Oh dear.
So, suggestions please. My journey (if it turns out to be by road), would be enlivened by somewhere other than the Hotel Ibis in Chartres to stay (rooms ok, food abysmal), and something to occupy me (and the two-year-old), when I'm not driving.
Answers on a postcard. Please...