Happy Christmas!

With the end of term now here I'm ready to wind down 2017 and plough into 2018 with a head full of ideas, endless 'to do' lists and an exciting project on the horizon. By far the most exciting thing to have happened to us this year has been buying our dream home. Since moving in the summer we've worked hard to get this old farmhouse habitable. (I say we but 90% of the work has been done by Andrew!) There's still a ton of work to do but we can rest over the Christmas period and start up again next year with energy levels renewed and fresh ideas.

Our biggest plan in 2018 will be to set up a business here at our new home. You may have noticed a name change on social media, something I felt I had to do before our chosen name got nicked by someone else! All will be revealed soon but for now we're working on ideas and crossing our fingers that we will be able to achieve all that we're setting out for oursevles in a very short space of time. So this space is set to change once more. Originally started as 'La Famille Brown' and then 'Rue du Belvedere' it will change for a final time as we settle into our new home and business.

We wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year, and I hope you'll continue to follow our journey here in our new little corner of South West France.

See you in 2018!
Becky x

A Whirlwind Trip Back 'Home'

I've just got back from a whirlwind trip to the UK for the wedding of a childhood friend. Now that my parents have moved it was very strange to not go back to our usual stomping ground of North West London, and I'm not sure if it's something I'll get used to. They've gained the sea which is a big plus point. The photo above looks idyllic but believe me two days later it was snowing! I haven't been to the UK for almost 2 years but it felt good to be back, even if only for a brief period, to see familiar faces and yes...do a bit of shopping. Do I miss much about the UK...not really, but there are a few things I would go back regularly for.

1. The Food
I love the food that France has to offer but living in the countryside means that there are some foods that we just don't have access to. On day one I had a halloumi burger. I love halloumi but I just haven't been able to find it here. I had a proper hot chocolate topped with marshamallows and whipped cream. We went for an Indian meal with tandoori chicken, pilau rice and all the vegetable trimmings. At the wedding we had banana custard ice cream (so good) and fish and chips (a deconstructed version of!) We've got used to being more adventurous with our cooking here but it would be nice to get hold of some particular ingredients more easily.

2. Haircuts
I've had the same hairdresser since I was about 15 years old. She's amazing and always works her magic on my thick curly hair. I have not been able to find a local hairdresser that can cut and tame my hair in the same way. I've tried a few, but they take little time and don't really have the knowledge on what to do with hair such as mine. I'm going to have to probably head down to Toulouse to find a hairdresser as good (and probably pay an arm and a leg in the process.)

3. Inspiration
I've got so used to driving to the same places, going into the same shops, and seeing the same old things. It was so nice to go somewhere new, see new independant shops and what they had to offer. I love browsing the bookshops and seeing what creatives are making. I had to find a dress to wear for the wedding and spent a whole tiresome day in a shopping centre trying to find something. I realised I'm so out of touch with what people are wearing, and is it just me or does every other person have wild colours in their hair?! It's given me the thought that future city breaks might not be such a bad idea, even if they're just to the big towns near us. I love being in the countryside, but I don't want to be totally out of touch with the rest of the world.

So now I'm home, here to catch up on emails, finish...no, start my christmas shopping and get ready for the big day that is fast approaching! How are you doing?

Book Making At The Library

Not too long ago on a sunny Saturday morning the boys and I headed off to the village library to take part in a book making workshop. It was a small little group with kids of varying ages from the village. Although more suited to older children, younger ones could attend as long as there was someone who could help them, as there was a bit of measuring and folding to do. The workshop was free and all the materials were provided.

The kids started by choosing the paper for their front and back covers. These were little pieces of marbled paper which the kids fought over before settling on their favourite colours. These were stuck on, together with a little piece of ribbon which would hold the book closed. Next was the interior. Again little squares of coloured paper were chosen to line the inside and then it was on to the main content. The kids were given a piece of A4 paper on which they drew a picture. Jacob decided to stick loads of bits on his and Reuben got into the Christmas spirit with a Christmas tree and Father Christmas. When they had finished the paper was cut in a spiral and folded so that it could be stuck into the small book. The idea was then that as they opened the book it would unravel itself to reveal the "hidden" picture.

The boys were more than happy with the finished result. Reuben did really well all by himself and though Jacob found bits tricky, and lost his concentration a little towards the end, he stuck with it and finished his book! What do you think? 


Our Broody Hen

So...we have a broody hen. This is not our first broody hen, but our first met an awful fate after being discovered and eaten, along with all her eggs, by Mr Fox. Our chickens are free to wander about as they please (though for how much longer I'm not sure as they continuously dig up my newly planted flower beds) and as a result they often lay their eggs wherever they choose. When they start to get broody this means that one day they disappear altogether to sit on their nest of eggs and wait for them to hatch. We lost our first broody hen for weeks until one day we noticed that she was coming back on a daily basis for food. One day I watched, waitied, and followed her back to her nest. We were content knowing where she was and kept checking on her, until one day we found a nest of empty egg shells and not to far away a pile of feathers. That was a sad day.

So this time we're taking no chances. On finding our second broody hen we waited one evening until dark and then moved her to a safe place, creating a new nest for her where she can wait it out. She's sitting on 23 eggs! How many of those will hatch I have no idea but once again we're excited by the thought of baby chicks to look after.

Do you have any tips for looking after chicks? Send them our way! We'll let you know if we get any baby chicks.

La Goutte Végétale - Air Plant Kit

One of my favourite plant fairs is coming up this weekend. Now that we have land this is the first time that I'll actually be able to buy things that I like and have a place to put them.  I consider myself a true beginner gardener. I have lots of ideas and to date I've been a bit of a 'stick it in the ground and see what happens' kind of gardener, but here I really want things to work. Our house is South facing so anything I plant at the front of the house has got to be able to take the full force of the Summer heat. I'm starting to think about the beds directly in front of the house and what might look good in them. I know I want a bed full of lupins and succulents around the pond, and I'm also quite keen on grasses. I'm also desperate to get my veg patch started so that it's ready for Spring next year.

At this particular plant fair there is usually one of Reuben's favourite stands. For years he has walked passed and asked us every time if he could have one and for his birthday this year I finally got round to ordering one. La Goutte Végétale provides little air plant kits in beautiful glass bowls. The kits come with little packets of nature to create your arrangement, and one sunny afternoon Reuben sat to arrange his display and knew exactly where he wanted each little component to go. He wanted to create a little pathway with the slate pieces and have the stick coming out of one of the holes. He placed his plant towards the back and has been watering it with the little water spray once a week.

These are such great plants for kids to look after and I've decided Reuben would make such a good flower arranger! We don't have a great history with house plants so I'm hoping we'll do better with this one. I think you've got to try pretty hard to kill an air plant!

Do you have any favourite house plants?

Welcome Home Chickens!

The chickens are in! Of course I am more than excited that we have now officially moved into our new house, but I am also so thrilled that the move means our chickens have the freedom to roam as they please. We gave them as much space as we could in our last home but here they really are happy hens. We've bought them a new house and have added an important new friend. Red is a beautiful cockerel gifted to us by some friends. He has settled in well with the ladies and we're hoping it will mean little chicks at some point in the future. We're getting used to his cock-a-doodle-doing in the morning and evening (and hoping the neighbours won't be too disrupted by the noise.)

We've decided to let them be proper free range hens with no restrictions. However...I am not happy that they have already destroyed one of my newly planted flower beds. They seem to have a love of fresh soil, perfect for scratching around in and digging up, but it does leave a bit of a mess. So if anyone has any tips of how to keep chickens away from much loved plants do let me know! We will soon be adding some more hens and I quite like the idea of keeping quails as well so watch this space!


Summer Merit Badges

So Summer is here and the kids have had their first taste of freedom having broken up over a week ago now. In between working and getting our new house ready I can already feel the days flying past us. I always have dreams of quality time with the kids but the reality is the days somehow never seem long enough and before I know it it's the end of the summer. Undeterred however I have been thinking of activities that we can do together as a family but that can also keep them occupied when that frequent phrase...I don't know what to do...pops up.

Inspired by finding my old Brownie and Guide sashes, I decided to set the boys up with their own merit badge challenges. I found these fantastic badges and have set them these 10 challenges...

Reading: both of them have to read books over the summer in English. Reuben is on chapter books and I've just bought Jacob these to get going on.

Writing: Jacob will be concentrating on his letters and numbers whilst Reuben keeps a diary and writes a story.

Music: both of them will learn a piece to play on two different instruments. They have a choice of the piano, ukulele or recorder.

Swimming: we will set them swimming challenges suitable for their ability. We will also have a family picnic at their favourite wild swimming spot.

Bug House Building: both of them have to build a bug house and fill it with stuff they find around the garden. They then have to find somewhere to put it on our new land.

Fire Lighting: outside they will learn how to prepare, light, maintain, cook on, and safely put out a fire.

Canoeing: we will all go on a family canoe trip. Reuben went last year but we'll take Jacob along for the first time.

Cooking: we will over the weeks teach them how to prepare a starter, main course and pudding. They will then have to make this three course dinner for us by the end of the summer. (They've already had a go at a salad starter!)

First Aid: our new house is currently full of hazards so we feel it's important that they learn basic first aid skills so that they know what to do if there is ever an emergency.

Growing: they have both choosen something to grow from seed. Reuben chose pumpkins and Jacob carrots. (I was a bit worried about the carrots having never grown them before but thankfully we found tiny shoots yesterday!) They can also find an empty bed in the garden and choose plants to fill it with.

I'll let you know how they get on over summer and you can follow their progress over on Instagram. What badges would you choose to challenge your kids with?

We Bought A House!

It was hard keeping this quiet and it's very exciting to finally get it out here! WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! We've had major grins on our faces for a while now as we've found it hard to believe we have found a house so perfect for us. We have the keys in our hands and can finally breath a sigh of relief as it's ours...officially ours. Every property we've lived in until now we knew wouldn't be our forever home. We always knew that one day we would outgrow them and move up the property ladder. We knew long term what we wanted was space, and most importantly land, so that the kids could run wild alongside the chickens. So we're really considering this purchase to be our forever home. The home the kids will grow up in and where they'll always find us once they've flown the nest.

Andrew and I don't mess around with decisions like these. We know what we like when we see it and we don't hold back once we find what we want. This house had apparantly been on the market for a while. Had we looked at it 2 or 3 years ago it would have been way out of our budget, but little by little the price has been dropped, so that when we found it it was within our budget. Believe me when I say there are bargains to be found in this corner of France. We had only looked at two properties before this one and within minutes of looking round we knew we had found 'the one'.

So what have we bought? It's a house of two parts with an older part and a new extension built in the 90s. It has numerous outbuildings including a garage, (for the camper) a swimming pool, (never in a million years did I think we'd end up with one of those) and a barn to the side of the house ready to be converted slowly but surely into a guest house. The house comes with 5.5 hectares of land. Yes...that's a lot of land, but we have ideas, and it will be more than enough space for a veg patch, our chickens, and numerous other animals that I have decided I want to keep. It's on the edge of a village not far from where we are now so the kids can stay at the same school. There's no passing traffic and the house backs onto our woodland ready to be explored. Reuben has his metal detector at the ready!

I'll try not to bore you too much with house renovation details (unless you're really interested) but I will do a little video if we ever get round to finishing all the work that needs to be done. I hope you'll join me on the next part of our adventure of moving house and putting down Brown family roots in South West France!

Gruissan - Alphabet Adventures

It was tucked away in a garage all winter but as April marked the opening of most campsites around France and with a two week school holiday to fill we had an excuse to fire up our camper and head South for a few days. The initial plan was to stop in Carcassonne for a night, which we did, and explore the old city again after a whistle stop tour on our last visit, which we did not. Over winter we had managed to completely forget how to use our camper and overnight managed to kill the battery having left the fridge on the wrong setting. Luckily the lovely campsite people gave us a jump start and we disrupted everyone's breakfast with our exhaust pipe fumes. We downed our breakfast and quickly legged it to the nearest car shop where we bought a spare battery, just in case we decided to do the same again!

This time last year we were in Narbonne and for some reason, despite the fact that it was freezing and windy, we decided that this year we would go back with a bunch of friends and try again. This time we found a little campsite right on the beach near Gruissan. We were lucky with the weather in that the sun made an appearance which allowed us a bit of beach time. However, there is no denying that this part of France is windy, and no matter how much the sun shines it's not the best experience being sat on a beach while the kids dip their toes into the freezing sea and you get sandblasted away. Needless to say I think this was our last visit to this part of France.

Gruissan is a pleasant enough little town. We made it to the Saturday morning market where the boys bought shells (cause we really couldn't find any good ones on the beach) and we bought wine (local of course.) We climed to the top of the ruined castle and literally had to hold on for dear life, not sure any view is worth that amount of wind battering! I found a nice brocante shop to browse and we bought a suitable Gruissan fridge magnet to add to our growing collection. We failed to sample any of the fresh seafood as we ate mainly out of our little camper.

It was great to be back in the camper. We took the slow scenic route there and back through a national forest which was just stunning. We're planning Spain again this summer to another little campsite right by the sea. Do you have any holidays planned this year?

Lou Messugo

Museum of Writing - Figeac

Spring is well and truly on on our doorstep here in South West France. We've had some good days of sunshine giving life to seeds I planted in the garden and forcing us outside to soak up it's rays. The boys have been playing out with village kids after school and we've even had our first BBQ. This is the time when villages start to come alive again. We're spending weekends hunting for treasures at vide greniers and looking for local places we have not yet discovered. We're planning our next trip in the camper but recently we found ourselves driving to Figeac, a 45min drive from where we are, to explore the 'Musee Champollion'.

The museum is dedicated to the history of writing. Champollion was a Frenchman who in 1822 diciphered the meaning of hyroglyphics. The museum houses a collection of early examples of writing and takes you right up to present day with typewriters, modern printing presses and computers. Jacob was pretty freaked out in the first room as it contained a real Egyptian mummy encased in glass. We had to pick him up to hush his cries and distract him with the other cases of early Egyptian writing on display. We had bought the boys booklets with pictures of items that they had to find throughout the museum, encouraging them to spend time looking at the displays and find the objects. They were able to have a go at Chinese character rubbing and writing their own with help from an interactive tablet. We squinted through cases at tiny engravings on stone and wood and I got whisked back to my own school days reading Greek (I studied Ancient Greek and Latin way back in the day!)

Two weeks later Jacob came home with some pictures he had done at school. Turns out he's been drawing mummies and attempting his own version of Chinese writing. Pretty cool...and nice to know that something does actually go in on trips like these! There's so much to explore in the local area we'll be out and about a lot more now that it's Spring.

What museums have you been visiting recently?

Lou Messugo


Have you heard of soapnuts? I hadn't until a few years ago when they entered into my radar via this post. Not long after that on a visit to my local Biocoop I found them in the cleaning section and bought a bag. This bag then sat under our sink for a looooong time. Then one day our bottle of laundry soap ran out, I had a ton of washing to do, and I remembered about this long forgotten bag so out it came. Soapnuts are basically the dried shells of fruit that contain a natural soap. If you hold a soapnut and rub a wet finger on the inside of the shell you can see this soap start to form. It's one of nature's magic tricks! There are some great websites such as this one if you fancy a more detailed explanation but for me the most important question was...does it work?

I've been using it a while now and my answer is I think so. Clothes that come out the washer after using soapnuts don't have that freshly washed laundry smell, you can add essential oils for that, but most items do seem to come out clean. With two young boys in the house that enjoy a bit of outdoor play clothes are often stained and for this I think I will need to try the natural stain removers as trousers in particular have sometimes had to go back in for a second wash. Also washing in the winter is nothing compared to the hot sweaty clothes that get dumped in the basket over summer so it will be interesting to see what happens then. But it's the start of a journey that I hope continues as soapnuts seem way more cost effective that buying laundry soap. The nuts can also be composted after use rather than sent to landfill which is always a good thing.

Are you a fan of soapnuts? Do you have any tips for using them? If you do I'd love to hear them.

Understanding Our Multilingual Children

This month Annabelle from The Piri Piri Lexicon has organised a month long series looking at the topic of 'Raising Multilingual Children'. Every day this month a different blogger from around the world has taken a letter or the alphabet to discuss the topic and today we've reached 'U'. I have chosen to write about how we as a family help to better understand our multilingual children.

For my husband and I, the idea of understanding our multilingual children falls into two categories...do our boys understand the multilingual world that surrounds them and how as parents can we understand their needs as multilingual children? Just over three years ago we moved from the UK to France. Our home life is exclusively English and our two boys get their French language education purely from what they hear at school. Their progress has been quick and it never ceases to amaze me their seamless slip into their second language.

The school holidays have just come to an end and every morning for two weeks Reuben, aged 7, had swimming lessons for the first time. On the first day I suddenly had a thought in the car...would he understand everything the instructor asked him to do? Vocabulary is a huge topic as unless they are exposed to words or specifically taught them (in both languages) how else do they learn them? I was hit by the worry that he may not understand 'swimming' vocabulary in French and hated the thought of him not understanding instructions alongside his peers who would understand everything. When I put the question to him he replied that if the words were easy it would be ok, but there might be some things he wouldn't understand. He didn't seem bothered by this prospect and in hindsight I realised my worry was a bit silly. At school they have had to learn how to deal with not fully understanding everything from day one and to date this has never hindered their learning (they've both had glowing reports!) or held him back in any way. As an adult we may be afriad to surround ourselves with a language we do not know, but not understanding everything is not necessarily a fear that our children may have and it's important that we recognise that.

As parents of multilingual children we understand that our boys may have difficulties at times speaking their two languages. We often cringe at some of the English words and phrases that come out of their mouths and hasten to correct them, but we recognise that this may be a common feature for kids exposed to and using two languages at once. We are constantly explaining the meaning of unknown English words that pop up in books, television, or in conversation, and we help translate French words into English when they struggle to find their meaning.

How do we help and understand our multilingual children?

We listen to the English language that they use, gently setting them straight when the vocabulary is not quite right or words are not placed in the correct order. Although we don't want to be doing this constantly we recognise the importance of doing this to help them progress and continue learning in their mother tongue.

We talk! As they are only exposed to English at home it's important that we talk...lots!..over dinner, with books, to family over the phone. The more vocabulary they hear in both languages the more their language will develop.

We encourage and lead by example. We show them that although our French is far from perfect my husband and I try and learn from the friends we have made and the people we talk to everyday. We encourage them to use their French outside the comfort of the school environment.

We support them, with their French at school for example. We help them with their homework when we can, which in turn aids our own understanding of the language.

Do you have tips on understanding multilingual children? If you do we'd love to hear them. Also, if you have the time do take a look at some of the other posts from the series. There is lots of good advice and stories from families raising multilingual children around the world. You can find all the posts here.

the piri-piri lexicon

Our Lego Obsession

The past two weeks were half term for us and the kids were free to do as they pleased. 95% of the time our boys get on swimmingly well. We stayed put during the holiday and although two weeks at home could seem daunting to some, the boys had their favourite obsession to keep them going...Lego. I have to admit, we have rather a lot of Lego. Every Birthday and Christmas they have acquired more sets along with inheriting my old set from when I was a child. Lego is not cheap. But the price is more than justified as it is the one toy that they keep going back to. (In our case on a daily basis.) The Playmobile box sits unplayed with, even the car box doesn't get much of a look in these days.

There are endless benefits of Lego, the imagination they use to create and build, their storytelling with the characters, the negotiations that go on for the smallest of parts, and the fact that it's a toy that doesn't break (aside the few small pieces that have been stood on...ouch!) There are even charities around the world, such as this one, that takes Lego donations and, in this case, sends them to Africa to give children a chance to play and develop skills. Our boys can spend hours...and hours...lost in their Lego world. I'm a little sad about the fact that they no longer need me to help them build their sets, to the point where I'm even considering going out to buy my own!

Despite the fact that Lego is our favourite toy, because we have so much of it we have imposed a 'Buy No Lego' rule in our house this year. I have to confess I've already broken it. We are hugely excited for the new Batman Lego film that I couldn't resist the new minifigures that contain characters from the film. Check out Batman Fairy above. No, not Batgirl as we originally thought but Batman dressed as a fairy! He's like the best character ever and has allowed pink to be cool for the first time ever in the eyes of my 5 year old boy. Even I'm going to find it hard to resist the new sets that have come out to accompany the film. (We have our eye on the Batcave!) We have a grand plan of sorting out all the Lego to find all of the bought sets so that they can be rebuilt to create a massive Lego city. Just thinking about this task is exhausting itself so I'll let you know by the end of the year whether we manage to achieve it.

What are your favourite household toys? Are you massive fans of Lego too?!

Our Wedding Album (Finally!)

I've started a list. Sadly I'm beyond the stage where I could include the number 30 in the heading so I've had to go with '40 before I'm 40' (eek!) Life is short, which I'm often reminded of here. I'm so proud of what I've managed to achieve in life so far but there are some things that I really really want to do before I go. It's not a list of crazy stunts, (so no skydiving or bungee jumping,) or far away exotic locations that have to be visited, (though Morocco is on there somewhere.) It contains a lot of simple achieveble things like...make pasta from scratch, learn to play the ukulele, go stay in a yurt and learn how to knit.

One thing on the list was to turn our wedding photos into an album. It's been seven years since we've been married and for seven years the photos have sat on a CD waiting to be brought to life. Last year I finally got round to doing it, spurred into action by Christmas as I thought the albums would make great presents for our parents. I used Blurb books. I've used them before to make a photo album of Instagram pictures of the boys and found the process very simple. You download the book making programme and then design your pages and drag and drop your photos.

It feels so good to finally have a printed version of what was a very special day. It's an amazing thing to have all your friends and family in one place at one time, an occasion I'm not sure will ever truly be recreated again. I'm now enthused to get round to the rest of our vast photo collection that currently sits on our computer. I'm going to work backwards and print a book for every year. Although I'm already wondering where all the photos of me are. It seems I'm always the one behind the camera. Anyone else have that problem?!


Natural Raw Soap - Eco Living

Slowly but surely we've started to introduce natural and, where possible, homemade beauty products into our home. Lip balm was the first product I made and we've been experimenting with deodorant and face cream for a while (I'll share my favourite recipes soon.) One day I have dreams of making my own soap, but for now I'm happy spending money on lovingly handmade soap by people who care and share the same eco friendly ideas that we're moving towards.

I had a friend who used to give me offcuts of soap she made for free. Sadly she moved country last year and so I had to start looking elsewhere for my soap fix. There are lots of soap makers round here and we've tried some from our nearest Bio shop and some from a local market stall. Last year however, I read an article in Country Living magazine about The Raw Soap Company who make soap out of the milk from their herd of goats in the South of England. Any soap that we buy has to be kind on our skin as we have eczema in the family and I've always had dry skin. All the ingredients that The Raw Soap Company use and natural and locally sourced which is always a plus. Do check out the article here if you have time. I always love reading stories about people doing something they really enjoy and am always keen to support businesses who work hard to produce products they clearly believe in.

At the time I read the article The Raw Soap Company didn't ship internationally but following them on Instagram they soon announced that they were shipping abroad so I placed my first order. The scents are subtle (I hate really smelly soaps,) they're kind to our sensitive skin and most importantly we're clean! I ordered the Honey & Oatmeal, the Chamomile & Calendula, and a Pure, along with a handcrafted soap deck to go in our new bathroom. They're all winners and we'll definitely be ordering more in the future.

What natural products do you use to keep your family clean?

P.S. This is totally not a sponsored post. We just really love the soap and supporting a small but successful business!

Arcachon - The Alphabet Adventures

I'm currently sat in front of the fire and looking at the snow that is forecast for this weekend. The temperature has dropped dramatically, the thick jumpers are out, and Andrew is once again talking about insulation to keep in the heat. I keep dreaming about the day (in hopefully the not too distant future) when we can get our camper out again and hit the road for another adventure. In the last October half term we took our new camper out for its very first spin. Arcachon was our destination, mainly because it was the only place I could find with a campsite still open at that time of year. Our camper is old, and reeeaaallly slow! We had to avoid motorways and our route there took us through the autumnal vineyards around Cahors and through one of France's National Parks. Taking the slow route really is worth it every now and again as it really does enable you to appreciate the countryside and discover parts that would otherwise be missed.

We've visited this area before when we camped on a campsite right on the beach. This time we were within walking distance of the beautiful town of Arcachon. The first day we headed to the beach to play in the sand and stopped for lunch in one of the many restaurants. We were immediately struck by how affluent this town seemed to be (or maybe we've just spent too much time in the county?!) The restaurant prices were certainly higher than we are used to, even at lunchtime, and the kids in the playground were way too smartly dressed!

If you're keen on walking, discovering your local area, and enjoy a good treasure hunt we thoroughly recommend Geocaching. What I realised in this trip was that Geocaching really does make you look at what's around you, in detail, it's amazing how easily you can miss things that are right on your doorstep. We made our way into the wilderness next to the campsite with smartphone in hand, narrowly escaped being run over by a group of youngsters on horseback, but managed to discover two hidden caches, which two young boys were extremely excited by (though their looking skills need to be greatly improved...as do mine!) 

The weather at this time of year meant we didn't have much time on the beach so we had a look around at what else Arcachon had to offer. The Aquarium didn't seem like much from the outside and we did hesitate as to whether to go in or not, but it was recommended in the city guide so we paid the fee and the kids were happy with the array of fish and sea life on display. We laughed at fish with human like features and desperately willed the octopus to come out of its hiding place. The boys ran away from the sea spiders and upstairs there was a room full of stuffed animals which always freaks them out.

We couldn't come to Arcachon and not have the famous oysters. A failed Geocache attempt led us to an empty oyster restaurant right on the beach. The kids played in the sand while Andrew and I devoured the best oysters we have ever tried with crisp white wine. We're big fans of oysters and if you've never tried them or are a little unsure I thoroughly recommend getting yourself to a restaurant that knows its stuff. When they're good, they're really good!

Arcachon has an amazing indoor market like so many other French towns, bursting with fresh local produce. We visited on our last day with the intention of finding treats to take home to our friends and family but ended up in the chocolate shop instead buying chocolate coins and chocolates shaped like oysters.

Arcachon is a lovely place to visit. I imagine it's packed in high season so it was nice to visit at a time that was a little quieter but when everything was still open. If you have any travelling tips for Arcachon or the surrounding area do pass them on to share. We'll definitely be back to visit again one day...and to eat more oysters on the beach!

Lou Messugo
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