Day 40 - The Journey to Nimes

We all slept in til 9:10 AM...Honestly we could have slept longer, but the hotel stopped serving breakfast at 9:30 and we were hungry.

After a very expensive breakfast (this is France after all), we decided to check out the pool and spa, since we had seen some fancy pictures online when booking the hotel. The kids really wanted to go swimming and we figured after yesterday they deserved some time to stretch out and play before we put them back in the car for some more driving. 

We took a taxi to pick up our car a bit after noon.  We are going to have this car for 3 months, now through Spain.  It is a manual Renault Captur, much fancier than the Skoda, and has built in GPS which actually works well!  This car isn't really a rental, it's actually a short term lease directly with Renault.  It's a brand new car, and is part of a buy-back program we had read about as a cheaper alternative to renting if you will have the car for more than a month or so.  The process of getting the car was amazingly fast and smooth, and it was nice to not try to be sold extra bells and whistles and insurance like they did in Ireland.  It was just pick up the keys, a quick demo of the car, and on the road we were.  We had to remember how to drive on the right side of the road again, but that didn't take too long:)

If we wanted to get car seats through Renault, it would have been ridiculously expensive, so I buckled the kids in with the seatbelt just over their laps and I sat in between them at first.  We had done our homework on where to get car seats for a good price, and we headed to a store called Auchan to buy them.  Auchan is a very large supermarket, it is a bit of a mix between Target and Costco in the US.  The trip to the store was successful, except for when we ran into a problem with the credit card machines not accepting our credit cards (a lot of credit card machines in Europe now require the card to have a chip, either chip and pin or chip and signature) and no one in the store spoke English, not even at customer service. 

Eventually a girl who understood some English and worked at the store came to our rescue and told us our cards would not be accepted, but that we could use the ATM. Problem solved :)

We ate lunch at Auchan too and bought a prepaid SIM card so we could communicate with our host in Nimes. 

We then began our drive to Nimes, which we expected would take around 7 hours.

 Kids strapped into their new car seats

Kids strapped into their new car seats

Alas, we found out the hard way that apparently August 1st is the day the entire country packs up and goes on vacation!  At the very beginning, thanks to bumper to bumper traffic, it took us 2 hours to drive 12 miles (20 km)!  Eventually we were out of the traffic and drove deeper into the countryside where the highways are still grand, but you see lots of farmland, cows, and very old, historical buildings on either side. 

We only stopped to get gas and grab a very quick dinner before hopping back in the car.  At this point our arrival time was going to be near midnight according to the GPS!  Yikes, but at least still before midnight.  That was all good until we hit the craziest thunder and rain storm!  I even saw lightening just spark in mid-air right by us...gulp gulp. I was glad I was not driving.  It was almost impossible to see where we were going.

Mother nature's madness added to our time of arrival.  Thankfully, our host is extremely kind and she just told us to be careful and drive safe and that she would wait up for us. 

We finally arrived around 1:30 AM!  Our host, Roselyn was waiting for us, and every time I apologized she just said, it's not a problem :) 

She showed us the house and give us some instructions, a bit in French a bit in English, and then we said good night.  

The entire family was out like a light a bit after 2AM.