As we near the end of our campervan adventure, I am struck by what an incredibly varied couple of months it’s been. We only had a vague idea when we set out of what our days would actually involve: we had booked some campsites, and some connecting ferries, and pencilled in some places we really wanted to see along the way, but actually some of our very best experiences have been the ones which we happened upon unexpectedly – particularly where culture has been concerned.

By culture I suppose I mean the experiences we’ve had which have been man-made – not the natural phenomena of lakes and forests and seas, but the art and architecture, and the history that goes with it.

From his vantage point up in the Integra Orson has been fully involved in all of these explorations, getting increasingly interested in the weird and wonderful happenings around him.

There was the museum of Egyptology in Turin, where Arthur led us round excitedly and Orson peered into stone sarcophagi and glass cabinets with wide, questioning eyes.

Then in Les Baux de Provences the history and culture whipped around him with the hilltop wind as we explored the magnificent ruins of the chateau.

Further down the hill we had come across a quite different cultural experience at Carrieres de Lumieres, a limestone quarry turned immersive art experience. On the walls all around us were projected iconic images – from cult 1960s artists and then Picasso and his forebears. For me as a seasoned visitor of art galleries this was all pretty mindblowing – I can’t imagine how it might have appeared to Orson’s seven month old eyes.
He generally is getting a wonderfully warped vision of life in the outside world, from cutting edge technology to the 12th Century Abbey in Beaulieu-Sur-Dordogne. I love being able to hold him close, and to share his wonder so completely.
One of the things that has especially come to captivate him on this trip is the depiction of other babies. A lot of the time that’s been baby Jesus, who he’s gravitated towards whenever we’ve been near. It’s been pretty adorable watching Orson trying to strike up conversation.
And today we immersed ourselves in art at the other end of the historical spectrum, exploring the Machines de l’Ile de Nantes. We happened to time our visit alongside a school trip – a bit overwhelming for my home-educated boy but with the major advantage of demonstrations of all the machines. My favourite was the heron, which Orson loved too. There was definitely something daunting though about the huge wooden creature flying overhead, complete with its four adult operators.
It’s only as I write all this down that I realise quite how much we’ve experienced on this trip – and this is just a fraction of it! There’s going to be a lengthy period of digestion once we return home that’s for sure, and I’m looking forward to recapping all our adventures with Arthur.

Orson is of course too young for a conventional debrief – but I have no doubt these experiences will stay with him too for many years to come.

Sophie is travelling in Europe for eight weeks with a VW campervan, two small children, and a collection of Integra baby carriers. You can read weekly updates about their babywearing adventures here, and find out more about what they’re up to over at Raising Revolutionaries