According to police report, a family on their way to the French Riviera for their holidays left daughter in layby and drove more than 45 minutes before an alert on French radio made them realized they had forgotten her.
The parents, who are French, twigged she was missing only when an alert was issued on the radio, officers said.
The child was found by other holidaymakers in a rest area off the A7 “Autoroute du Soleil” – or highway of the sun – near Loriol in the Drome region of southern France just after lunch on Sunday.
All she could tell them was that she had a brother and a sister and that she was “going to the seaside” when she saw “Daddy’s car pull away”, a gendarme said.
It was only when they heard the alert – 45 minutes after the child had been found – that the parents called the police and turned around to drive back up the motorway.
David Cameron left daughter behind after pub visit
According to the officer, “The family had passed Aix-en-Provence [150km away] and were going towards Saint-Raphaël and none of them had noticed she wasn’t there.”
The parents were being questioned on Sunday evening by officers at the police station where the child was being looked after.
“We are going to listen to what they have to say and talk to the prosecutor at Valence to see if this should be taken further,” the officer added.
Millions of French families take to the roads during August’s annual holiday rush to the sea and mountains, putting often unbearable strain on the country’s motorway system and their own nerves.
Even the British prime minister, David Cameron, is not immune to misplacing a child, having left daughter Nancy, then aged eight, in a pub following a Sunday lunch in 2012.