Q. I will be driving down to southern France (near Narbonne) to visit family and enjoy Bastille Day. I would like to take my children into Italy, Switzerland and Germany on the return, on a trip of 12-14 days. Can you suggest places to visit that would interest my children (boy aged four and girl aged six)? Paul Saunders
A. It's a solid five- or six-hour drive across southern France to the Italian border, and when you finally cross it there is no need to go further than lovely San Remo (pictured above). Stay in the resort for two or three days, taking advantage of the ready availability of those holiday staples: beach, pizza and ice cream.
Next, a treat for the driver: swerving north through the Alps (and nipping in and out of France) en route to Turin, for a last overnight stop in Italy – and a chance to convince the children of the joys of pesto alla Genovese, which was born here. Then up to Aosta, steadfastly avoiding the Mont Blanc tunnel back into France, and instead going north to Martigny in Switzerland. Pause at the Labyrinthe maze (labyrinthe.ch), then travel down the Rhone Valley to Vevey on the shore of Lake Geneva – a relaxed place to stay, with a lakeside swimming pool well equipped for youngsters.
Exit Switzerland at Basel and make for the heart of the Black Forest, the gentle corner of Germany that is ideal for families, especially if you spend a few nights at a "hay hotel" – a barn on a farmyard. You snuggle down on the hay and enjoy days helping out on the farm.
Cut a corner by slipping across the French region of Alsace to Saarbrücken and on through Luxembourg into the Belgian Ardennes – and a much-overlooked resort, Les Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure (lacsdeleaudheure.be). It is a Center Parcs-like complex in a lovely setting. Finally, take your pick of great North Sea resorts, between Zeebrugge, Ostend and Dunkerque, which should be warming up nicely by late July.