“Okay, so here is the deal: we are going to Préfailles—it’s a 60-minute drive from Nantes—and we will leave at 11:00 a.m. Disclaimer: I haven’t traveled with my parents since I was a kid, we’ve never been to Préfailles and we will most likely NOT leave at 11:00 a.m.”
Poor Feng… my family is fun, but with a self-proclaimed anarchist (my mum) and an artist (my dad), don’t expect a military operation plan. Like in Latin America, we are flexible people. Stuff gets done… eventually. It can be charming or infuriating, depending on how much you care about said stuff.
And so, eventually, we did lock the door of the apartment. It wasn’t 11 a.m. but 12:30 p.m. and my mum was annoyed with me because “I was rushing.”
We all manage to fit in the car, nicknamed “the white car” because none of us knows the make or the model. It’s just that old car my dad borrows from his parents and it’s a small miracle it’s still drivable. I think it came out of a French car factory back when the unemployment rate was below 5%.
“Wait: do we have enough gas?”
We did. I checked and double checked. Running out of gas was the number 1 reason why we never reached planned destination when I was a kid.
Mark complained it was too hot (precious snowflake apparently expected air-con), my dad had to be reminded not to smoke in the car and then we ran into a traffic jam. No surprise here: we weren’t the only city people heading to the coast on a hot Sunday in August.
My dad suggested a shortcut and my mum agreed. I froze: “shortcuts” often mean “shit-I-have-no-idea-where-we-are-now”. But amazingly, we ended up on the right route nationale and there was no traffic jam.
We negotiated about twenty-thousands roundabouts (a French spécialité) and at one point, we lost track of Préfailles. “Mum! Gimme your phone. There is a Goople Maps app with a GPS.” I love technology. I found Préfailles again and a few more roundabouts later, we were parking on what seemed to be the town’s main street.
“I don’t think there is a beach…” my dad said, worried.
We could see the water at the end of the street.
“Oh… okay, then.”
The scenery was amazing. Deep blue sea, a few boat, rocky coves and small stretches of beach that probably vanish at high tide. We picked a spot and for a few hours, we did what we enjoyed most: Mark and my dad played in the cold water, Feng relaxed, my mum read a book and I went to explore the trails along the coast. We had baguette sandwiches with butter, cheese and tomatoes and I brought back cold drinks from the town.
In the evening, we decided to stop in Pornic, a bigger town popular with locals and tourists because of its casino, pretty harbour and medieval castle. The waterfront was packed with people buying ice creams and souvenirs, even that late in the evening.
A few more traffic jams later, we were back in Nantes, completely exhausted.
“So, did you like the family trip?” I asked Feng.
He looked at me, amazed. “How did you even end up backpacking in China at 16, considering your upbringing?”
I shrugged. “I did the opposite of what we usually did as a family.”