Ella Murdoch, her husband Kyle, their two girls, Lily (7) and Maggie (4) and their son Charlie (2).
Ella planned their trip, booking all the villas and flights online through the sites directly. They flew Alitalia Airlines from Beijing to Paris and stayed in Paris for three nights in a private apartment. Next, they took the TGV fast train to Saint-Remy-de-Provence and drove to another private villa in Bergerac, located in the Dordogne region of France. They stayed there for a week with their extended family of 20, who flew in from the UK, Australia and New Zealand. They then took another flight to Birmingham, UK for a family christening in Stratford. Next, they spent a few days in Avon, staying with family. From there, they took a flight to Dublin, Ireland on Air Lingus, and a hired car, journeying to County Wicklow for a family wedding. They stayed in a house in the country for one week. They then flew back to Paris, staying at the Explorers Hotel and spending time at Eurodisney. For their final week, they were in Rome, where they stayed at a private apartment. The total cost (which includes flights, accommodation, food and sightseeing) of the trip for the family was RMB 150,000.
The Worst Part
Alitalia Airline lost the seat part of their double buggy on the first flight of the trip, which meant their 4-year-old had to do a lot of walking.
The greatest discovery was finding the perfect Mediterranean beach in Camargue, a southern region of France. The kids had a ball trying out their French. Also, in Rome, the kids ventured into a mosaic artisan shop. Lily was thrilled to sit at a workstation, where she delicately knocked splinters of colored
stone with a special mosaic mallet. The kind local Roman craftswoman
took the time to explain to them about the family business, the process of mosaic making, how and where they source their materials. It was a lovely memory and Lily still talks about it.
This trip to four countries in Europe was especially geared for the kids. Ella and Kyle included the children in the purchase of fresh produce at the supermarkets and outdoor markets in France. In Rome, the kids loved the pastas and pizzas. Since it was summer, they were never too far from a swimming pool. Lilly and Maggie were curious about the history of castles and Roman ruins. Ella and Kyle let the kids buy a small memento of each place as a souvenir. Plus, Ella and her daughters collected their tickets to sights and bought postcards to stick in a scrapbook later.
Ella speaks French, so she was able to translate for the family. In Rome, they were able to figure most things out and used amateur dramatics for the rest. The hardest to understand was the Irish accent. When in Ireland, the family was often confused about what was said to them (even though it’s all English), but the Irish friendliness and their every laugh made the miscommunication all the more fun.
The family recommends staying in a villa in France. They allow you to have your own space and feel part of the local environment. Their villa had bunk beds for the kids and a swimming pool. There are many websites to trawl through for villa accommodations, and they’re easy to book online. Plus, the owners, who all write or speak some English, are very willing to help.
In Rome and Paris, Ella recommends private apartments, which can also be found online. This option does require a certain amount of trust though: in that, the owners are going to be waiting for you at the front door upon your arrival to hand over the keys and take the time to show you how all the essentials work, like the washing machine, air-conditioning, and TV remotes.Ella also recommends renting a car. It was easy to book online prior to the trip and relatively hassle-free.