When our friends told us they were getting married in France, Sam and I needed little discussion to know we were in, straight away.
Literally, I think by the next day we had our flights booked and a babysitter sorted for the older children.
As it fell over the school Easter holidays, we initially thought of extending our trip into a family holiday. But seeing as April is not really swimming or beach weather yet in France, we decided to save our money and Sam’s annual leave until the summer when we will be doing a longer trip abroad.
Children at weddings is not ideal. It’s hard to be sociable in between fielding conversations between small, impatient people. And by the time it gets to the dancing portion of the evening, after the drinks have been freely flowing for a good while, the dance floor suddenly becomes a complete hazard for the three foot high crowd.
So, Arlo and Rory were to go and stay with the grandparents. Otto, who still breastfeeds a lot at night time, was to come with us.
A baby on a trip like this is a completely different story. He can’t talk, or move, and he’ll be perfectly happy tucked up in a buggy whilst we have late dinners and drinks with friends. A baby in this situation is actually pretty relaxing.
As our trip grew nearer, Sam and I started really bloody looking forward to it. Going from three children to one is just incredibly low hassle. WE outnumber him. There are always enough hands.
We flew into Toulouse, picked up our hire car, and began the 1.5 hour drive to our destination. The wedding was to be held in a STUNNING chateau in the Lot et Garonne region of France. The nearest town, where ourselves and many of the wedding party guests would be based, was Nerac.
We spent the first two days just driving around the various tiny French towns in Lot et Garonne and the nearby region of Aquitaine, and I was in complete photo HEAVEN. Everywhere we turned there was a photogenic wall, a beautiful house, and an abundance of wysteria. There was so much rustic charm, I felt like I was walking around in a literal postcard.
(I had to refrain myself from asking Sam to stop at EVERY street to take a picture. Every other street would have to do).
Lot et Garonne and Aquitaine
We visited too many places to mention, but they were all stunning – my highlights were Auvillar, Fuerces, and Moirax.
One of the nicest things we did on our little French trip (with the exception of the wedding, of course!) was to visit a nearby Michelin Star restaurant that Sam had found during his research. Normally, I wouldn’t think about taking a baby to a fancy place, just for fear of ruining someone’s once in a blue moon special treat meal by having a noisy baby there. And it’s not even as if he’s a newborn. He’s a chatty, messy eater.
But a quick google of the restaurant put our minds at rest. We saw photos of people dining outside, and it all looked a little more casual than I was expecting. And the 27 euro 5 course lunch menu was just too good a bargain to resist. So we decided to give it a go.
We arrived to find a gorgeous courtyard, surrounded by pretty spring flowers in bloom and rustic buildings that had come to characterise my picture of rural France so far this trip.
We had two hours of excellent food, gentle sun, and a jovial baby. We left feeling very much in holiday mode. If you are ever in the Lot-et-Garonne area, I can highly recommend checking out Auberge Le Prieure in Moirax.
Our wedding outfits
I think this was the most amount of time I’ve had to get ready for a wedding in recent years. Usually, I’m either dividing my time getting the children ready, or rushing to get there after dropping the children off. I even curled my hair for the first time in about three years, whilst Otto obliged with a long nap. So, obviously I made sure that Sam knew we’d be setting aside some appointed photo-taking time once we were all in our outfits.
I was so pleased to find Otto’s blazer at H&M. Not only was it a really reasonable £6.99, but it’s such a soft fabric – I really hate constricting and unnecessarily fussy clothes on babies, but I still didn’t want to miss a perfect opportunity to dress him up like a little old man. It has to be done.
True to form, Otto remained a complete gem on holiday. Although I do think he must have wondered where his brothers were. He’d take a shine to any older children that he chanced upon. On the plane journey out, there was a boy of Arlo’s age in the seat in front of us – Otto spent the whole time desperately vying for his attention and play peekabo from between the gaps in the seats.
It sounds awful to say, but needs must when you are part of a big family – at home, if he’s not crying or in immediate danger, Otto does tend to get left to his own devices a lot more often than was the case when Arlo was a baby. So, it was really lovely to be able to focus our time and attention on him during this trip.
I remember the first trip we took with Arlo (at a very similar age) was a shock to the system. All I could think about were the differences between holidays pre-children, and holidays now. I was very focused on his delicate routine (mainly because missing the afternoon nap meant missing out on the ONLY time I could actually be off-duty). Plus, most baby-related tasks fell to me by instinct and without discussion, because I was the one who knew the ins and outs of his routine and day-to-day care. If you’d asked me then, I would have declared that going away with a baby is NOT GREAT.
But we are so used to dividing and conquering now that we have MORE children than grown ups in the family, that our instincts when it comes to sharing the load with Otto felt a lot more balanced on this trip. It was relaxing, enjoyable, and just nice to be together in this way.
Going away with a baby is great.
I made a vlog-style video of our trip, which you can watch below. It was quite weird talking to camera without the children around to hide behind! Sam even got a little bit more involved than he usually does: