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Road trip food and drink in France and Spain

When you’re travelling for any length of time with children, and you’re self-catering, food and drink become one of your primary holiday challenges. It can get expensive, and, let’s be honest, a little confusing.

Having spent nearly a month in several different Spanish locations earlier this year, here are my tips for keeping sane in the supermarket, and rational in the restaurant:

  • From talking to other mums and dads, I learned that our experience was pretty common – kids go a bit weird when it comes to holiday eating, especially toddlers. Things they’ll eat at home get refused. Mealtimes are unsettled. My best advice is just go with it. Don’t let it spoil your holiday.
  • Take as many familiar snacks as you can fit in your car/suitcase. They will save you at some point. For us it was raisins and Bears fruit drop things.
  • Read the labels on things that look the same, but different, in the supermarket. For example, pouch purees in Spain all had a LOT of added sugar, unless you looked hard for the section which said sin azúcar on the packets. In France, these fruit pouches were not in the baby section, they were with the tinned fruit
  • If you need whole milk in France or Spain, you can get it. Gone are the days when you’d only get UHT. In France, look out for lait entire and in Spain it’s leche entera. It’s often not exactly in the dairy aisle either!
  • Even the largest supermarkets shut at midday on Sundays, and most don’t open at all. Don’t get caught out!
  • We loved going to the local bakeries early in the morning and choosing different breads. But, never buy for more than one day. It’s so fresh and without preservatives that it goes off by the evening. Same with croissants. Make a ‘summer holiday thing’ out of taking the kids to the bakery instead. We saw so many happy dads, hand in hand with their little ones, carrying a bag of bread back to their place.
  • Lunch is late. Dinner is late. Most mainstream resorts of course know that British people are used to earlier eating and can accommodate, but you may have to change your habits if you want to eat out (another reason why self-catering is so appealing I think!). On the plus side, multi-generational restaurant dining is completely normal in France and Spain, and nobody will bat an eyelid if you bring the buggy to dinner at 10pm
  • Don’t get stranded by siesta time, especially in Spain. Shops and restaurants close for a few hours at around 3pm.
  • Finally, the staple of harassed parents everywhere, takeaway coffee, is slim on the ground in France and Spain. Simply, they just do better coffee and prefer to sit down to drink it. You have to look quite hard for a cup you can carry out! I’d take a flask if you’re the sort that likes to slurp and push the buggy around

I’ll be honest though, despite our best efforts, me and my husband made a joint observation on the ferry home that we didn’t want to see a ham and cheese crusty bread sandwich again for a while!

This post was first published as part of my guest blog series over on Clickstay.

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5 Comments

  1. Really handy tips! I’ll have to pin this for when we head over there. Could totally imagine being stranded around 3pm.

  2. Jen Stanbrook (@lovechicliving) Jen Stanbrook (@lovechicliving)

    Great tips here, good to remember about the Sunday trading.

  3. Ok so that top photo is ADORABLE. I totally agree on self catering when you are in countries where they eat later on as it’s just not feasible to make kids wait and no where in spain or france is really going to be serving dinner at 5pm! Good tips about the supermarkets too, I think research into where you are going is so important, nothing worse than being hungry and trying to find somewhere open! x

  4. It’s so true about holiday eating. When we went away (despite being on a cruise for everything was pretty familiar anyway) E only really ate croissants, chips and cucumber. And fruit. Mmmm healthy. I don’t think it matters for such a short time though, and as long as they’re eating something I reckon it’s fine. Great tips, especially about the different dining times and siesta x

  5. Super useful post, thank you! We are thinking of doing a villa in Spain or France next year and this will definitely come in useful x

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