I love France! I love London too, but there is just something about France! I mean, obviously I am a fan living with a French person, who is also the father of my child!

So what it is about France, that makes so many people fall in love with this beautiful country? A French person once said to me (with a very strong French accent) “It’s because us French people have a little bit of the “je ne sais qoui!” I had no idea, what he meant, but after having googled a bit, it made sense! It actually means “something (such as an appealing quality) that cannot be adequately described or expressed.” Frenchie always laughs, when I tease him about his “je ne sais qoui” – but whether it is true or not, there is just something about France!

In this blog post, I am going to take you somewhere really special!

I think most people have heard about the famous wine districts, Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, Nantes etc – but what is still a quite well-kept secret is the Vallée du Loir!  I should probably already now mention, that the Vallée du Loir is not the same as its more internationally renowned neighbour the Loire Valley. I found it a bit confusing to begin with (and so did Frenchie). Not many people know this area very well, which is why, it is still such an authentic and “untouched” area of France! Exciting indeed! 

There are many ways to get to the Vallée du Loir! The train is perhaps the easiest solution, but having a baby and also wanting to see as much as possible, made us take an alternative decision

We decided to take the ferry and rent a car, once we were in France! To get to the ferry in Portsmouth/ Caen we needed transportation. Luckily I had heard about a company, that specialises in transfer for families. Family Transfers only use large vehicles with lots of space for luggage and a buggy or two! Perfect for our needs!  (For this trip we brought our Zelia stroller from Maxi-Cosi! Zelia’s seat transforms into a bassinet, so it is the perfect 2-in-1 stroller and so easy to handle)

Plenty of space for a buggy as well!

All set…

– and ready to go! What I really like about Family Transfer is, that you don’t have to bring your own carseat! And even better – you will not be charged extra for using up to two child EU-approved seats on your transfer whether it is rear facing or forward facing. Clara was happy – she slept all the way from London to Portsmouth! 

In Portsmouth we had to wait an hour before we could get on board. Make sure that you are there at least 45 mins before boarding! (and don’t forget the passports)

Even though it might not be the most interesting place to spend time, it was very relaxing! We had a bite to eat and a cup of coffee, while Clara was enjoying a bottle of milk!

As we were travelling at night, we wanted to make sure, that it was a comfortable trip, so we could have a proper rest before the upcoming adventures in France! – And when you have a baby, there was no doubt that the Commodore Class was the right place to be! 

We were VERY pleased with our accommodation! There were lots of en-suite facilities and plenty of room! Also there was no noise and we had a lovely sea-view 

As it was quite late, we went directly to bed, as we had to get up very, very early in the morning. 

Not a bad way to wake up! When we went onboard around 11pm, we were asked, what we wanted for breakfast – and this is what was served! Coffee for Frenchie and hot chocolate for me with fresh croissants and pain au chocolate! Perfect, when you arrive around 6.45am

Good morning Caen! Time to find our car which was waiting for us outside

Bonus-info: Brittany Ferries operates the longer routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth direct to Brittany and Normandy. We travelled from Portsmouth to Caen and back. On this route, fares start from £85 each way for a car plus two, or from £30 per person each way for a foot passenger. The Commodore Class is around £129 each way. You can book online here

Welcome to the beautiful 5 Grand Rue – a chambre d’hotes in the centre of Le Lude! It took us about two hours to get here from Caen in a car. The journey wasn’t difficult, but I recommend, that you have a gps app on your phone, if your car hasn’t got one.

It is easy to fall in love with this place! And the funny thing is, that it is actually run by Susan and Simon – two very loving and helpful British expats. So no, you don’t have to worry about not being able to speak French! 

Look at this room! So elegant and tastefully decorated with PLENTY of room for a small family. (Baby cots are available too!)

The view from the window was lovely as well

If you are like me, you prefer big bathrooms! This one was huge! I didn’t take a photo of the shower – but don’t worry! You will not be disappointed! 

Love this! Tea and coffee making facilities are available for guests use on the retro styled first floor

There are five bedrooms at 5 Grand Rue – each with its own individual style and furnishing. The rooms are available from 70 euros with en-suite facilities. Bonus-info: Susan is a great cook, so if you prefer eating here, you are in for a treat! 

Time for a little nap before going on adventures

So excited to be here! Welcome to one of the five biggest and most beautiful zoological parks in France – Zoo de La Fléche

This is not an ordinary zoo! No, this is an extraordinary and very famous zoo! Since 2014, France has been following the lives of the animals and the zoo keepers at the Parc Zoologique de La Flèche on TV (every evening on France 4) Taiko, the polar bear, Shadow, the lazy tapir who loves a lie-in, and Yang, the red panda, have all become TV-stars

We started our tour at the very popular safari lodges! I must admit, that even though I liked staying at the chambre d’hotes, I was very tempted to hide in one of these lodges to get an experience of a lifetime! There are four environments to choose from: far North, Asia, Africa or Artic

A sneak-peek at the luxurious polar bear lodge, before the guests were arriving! The whole idea of these lodges is, that you can enjoy watching grizzly bears, white tigers, wolves, lemurs and… like here – polar bears walking around in your garden (while you are safe inside!)

The master-bed room! I was hoping that Taiko would swim by, but he was unfortunately sleeping while we were visiting

Everything was just super stylish and cosy! The lodges have room for 4-6 people!

Yup – I was a bit jealous of the people who had booked this place for the night! (Speaking of booking – The safari lodges are so popular, that they are booked for a year in advance! No-one gets to go in to the lodge areas except from the guests staying here, so it is very private!)

Private outdoor jacuzzi. Yes, please!

– with a view to the polar bear (who was sleeping!)

Here we are in one of the smaller lodges, where the white tigers live!

 – they were sleeping too, but luckily in a place, where we could enjoy the view of these beautiful creatures! 

The white tiger lodge had private out-door facilities too…

– with a view to his majesty! (If you look closely, you can see, that he is lying between the two trees to the left looking at me)

There he is… What a sight!

I must admit, that I am not always happy, when visiting zoological parks, because I feel a bit sorry for the animals, but this zoo really takes good care of its inhabitants. The fact, that there are so many babies being born here each year is a clear sign, that the animals are thriving! Bonus-info: The 14 hectares are home to over 120 animal species from all five continents – that’s over 1,200 animals! – including some rare breeds

Here a few shots of some of the animals living in the zoo and the surroundings as well

Feeding the giraffes is a popular event! Will you look at that tongue!

The grizzly bears were testing each others strengths! These animals always fascinate and scare me at the same time

The female was not having it! “Enough!”, she seemed to be saying! 

A short break and a bite to eat before heading over to the always entertaining lemurs! The zoo is very quiet this time of the year, so if you want to avoid the crowds, this is the perfect time to visit

The amazing lemur lodge… I soooo want to stay here one fine day

These little fellows were very tame – and a bit naughty too!

Obviously we had to try these animal masks! Being almost as tall as a giraffe with my 5.11,  I of course chose the mask that matched my height the best

Plenty of adorable teddybears for all the visiting children to take home!

This was our first day in the Vallé du Loir! There is plenty more to come! Stay tuned!

Louise X