Driving to France from the UK

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Driving to France from the UK


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Old 29th January 2015, 01:22 PM
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Default Driving to France from the UK

First of all hello to everyone, I am new to this forum

Can any seasoned travelers give some advice for the drive down?

So a few questions I have as neither of us have driven down to the South before.

We are looking to head down via the tunnel, so from there onward we are looking for the most direct and quickest route ideally? Our final destination is not too far away from Brignoles.

Is it worth investing in a toll card for the motorways and just pay for it all at the end?

We will be travelling in two small cars with a dog, so obviously we need to stop for walkies when and where possible.

In a ideal scenario I would like to be on one of the early morning trains over and just have one stop over in the late afternoon/evening so really to get the bulk of the driving done on day one. Can people recommend a good stop over point for two weary drivers and a small dog?

Many thanks, any help/advice and tips are greatly appreciated

S

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Old 29th January 2015, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveThePhotographer View Post
First of all hello to everyone, I am new to this forum

Can any seasoned travelers give some advice for the drive down?

So a few questions I have as neither of us have driven down to the South before.

We are looking to head down via the tunnel, so from there onward we are looking for the most direct and quickest route ideally? Our final destination is not too far away from Brignoles.

Is it worth investing in a toll card for the motorways and just pay for it all at the end?

We will be travelling in two small cars with a dog, so obviously we need to stop for walkies when and where possible.

In a ideal scenario I would like to be on one of the early morning trains over and just have one stop over in the late afternoon/evening so really to get the bulk of the driving done on day one. Can people recommend a good stop over point for two weary drivers and a small dog?

Many thanks, any help/advice and tips are greatly appreciated

S
Can't give you specific advice, but would suggest you stick to the Autoroutes as far as possible as you will find lots of well serviced 'aires' where you can take a break, grab something to drink and/or eat and walk the dog. If you don't have a toll card, then make sure you have plenty of cash for the tolls (which can work out to be quite expensive when you are traversing the whole of France). I suggest you don't travel through the southwest coast to avoid a very poorly serviced but still expensive autoroute. If you don't take the autoroute it can be difficult in some areas to stop by the side of the road for the breaks for your dog and also to find toilets, unless you're familiar with the route.

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Old 29th January 2015, 01:39 PM
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Oh yes, you should also try to avoid going anywhere near Paris as you will hit a lot of traffic if you do and it can also become confusing if you don't really know where you're going (even with a GPS).

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Old 29th January 2015, 01:48 PM
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Where are you starting from in the UK ?

You can do Dover - Brignoles in one go. It would take about 10-11 hrs from Calais. But if you have never driven in France before forget that idea.

Where to stop. I Personally would want to be 1-2hr north of Lyon. Getting through Lyon is the hardest part of your journey so you want to fresh for that. Avoid arriving in Lyon before 10 AM.

P.S Pay as you go for the tolls.
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Old 29th January 2015, 02:02 PM
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Yes - avoid Paris - especially morning and afternoon rush hours.

Autoroutes - for long distances we stick to them. You can pay pay by credit card - some toll gates are card only and are usually quicker. Keep the card behind the sun visor to avoid last minute scrambles. Watch the signs at the gates, some are for cards only, some for the widscreen stickers only.

Fuel is more expensive on the autoroutes - it's cheaper to leave the autoroute and find a big super market which sells fuel. A look at the map and super market sites Auchan, Carrefour, Leclerc etc, and google maps street view.

For overnight stops we tend to use Campanile hotels - usually run on a franchise basis and the manager also affectively the owner. The resto is usually reasonable with local dishes. Small charge for dogs, usually. THere are other, cheaper hotels, but you get what you pay for!

We (2) travel across FRance every now and again. We have found the best way to avoid fatigue is to change drivers every 2 hours (stop at the next aire after 2 hours!). Yes, of course, I can drive for longer, but at the end of the day we are less tired.

DejW

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Old 29th January 2015, 02:06 PM
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Take a look at Mappy - Plans, itinéraires et cartes de France. You can plan the route on there and it will give you the total price for the toll roads plus an average cost for petrol.

I drove from St Malo to Pau 2 weeks ago but I took my time by making two overnight stops and avoiding the autoroutes. As others have said though, the autoroutes are really good and there are many 'aires' to stop off at which have good facilities and lots of space for your dogs.

Just having a quick look on map actually and it seems a simple route. You avoid Paris and i reckon a decent stopping point will be Dijon but you can find Formula 1 motels just off the autoroutes in certain locations, check their website though.

Hope this helps a little.
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Old 29th January 2015, 02:16 PM
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Don't agree Smeggy - Dover - Brignoles is too much for 1 day (with the chunnel rigmarole) . Ok in a big comfortable de luxe car which is easy on road noise etc.

I've done Rouen / Perpignan many times and it's always 12 hours if I do it in a day. Now, age has caught up with me and I do it in 2 days.

If the OP is has a long drive in the UK I'd stay overnight in Calais and leave v early the next day.

My body chemistry likes the following for long distance driving

- start v early - no breakfast (5 am?) drive for 3 hours and then stop for breakfast and 10 mins of walking.

mid morning - QUICK coffee break

Midday - stop for 1 hour and recover a bit

In the afternoon have more stops as I get more tired.

....but that's me, and I'm not everybody.

DejW

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Originally Posted by Smeg View Post
Where are you starting from in the UK ?

You can do Dover - Brignoles in one go. It would take about 10-11 hrs from Calais. But if you have never driven in France before forget that idea.

Where to stop. I Personally would want to be 1-2hr north of Lyon. Getting through Lyon is the hardest part of your journey so you want to fresh for that. Avoid arriving in Lyon before 10 AM.

P.S Pay as you go for the tolls.

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Old 29th January 2015, 02:40 PM
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Don't agree Smeggy - Dover - Brignoles is too much for 1 day (with the chunnel rigmarole) .

DejW
I've done Lyon-Chesterfield direct before. That would be about the same. It is long and you are right quite foolish.

The most I do now direct is the Loire Valley - Alpes (Winter) /Montpelllier (summer) which is about 7-8 hrs.

I know a French Sales rep that will scare the death out of you DejW in terms of distance driven per day.

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Old 29th January 2015, 03:04 PM
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If you're not familiar with the roads, I'd break up your drive into two days.

If you can find a copy, you may be interested in the Michelin guide to the aires on the autoroutes: Boutique Michelin

We've got an old edition and it's invaluable to gauge what services are available at the next stop. Some aires even have a hotel you can use without having to get off the autoroute. (The tickets you get when you first enter the paying section of the autoroute are valid for 24 hours, so no problem making stops along the way.)

And some of the aires are actually huge and quite nicely accommodated - with shops and restaurants and sometimes even local souvenirs and products. (Mostly for browsing, but it can be fun to pick up a bottle of the local wine or cookies even if you're just driving through.) Admittedly, petrol is more expensive, but if you're in a hurry or just want to avoid getting lost on what can be some little back roads, you may choose to go for convenience over best price.

If you do choose to exit the autoroute for fuel or food, some of the exits take only credit cards, no cash. (Well, if you have a toll card, you can always use that, too.) If you'll be driving a RHD car, make sure you're set up to handle the credit card toll stations! (My husband gets a chuckle out of watching the British folks in RHD cars trying to negotiate toll booths and parking lots.)
Cheers,
Bev
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Old 29th January 2015, 04:10 PM
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Quite right Bev, I'd forgotten about toll booths and Brit RHD cars! It's a problem when the passenger is asleep.


DejW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bevdeforges View Post
If you're not familiar with the roads, I'd break up your drive into two days.

If you can find a copy, you may be interested in the Michelin guide to the aires on the autoroutes: Boutique Michelin

We've got an old edition and it's invaluable to gauge what services are available at the next stop. Some aires even have a hotel you can use without having to get off the autoroute. (The tickets you get when you first enter the paying section of the autoroute are valid for 24 hours, so no problem making stops along the way.)

And some of the aires are actually huge and quite nicely accommodated - with shops and restaurants and sometimes even local souvenirs and products. (Mostly for browsing, but it can be fun to pick up a bottle of the local wine or cookies even if you're just driving through.) Admittedly, petrol is more expensive, but if you're in a hurry or just want to avoid getting lost on what can be some little back roads, you may choose to go for convenience over best price.

If you do choose to exit the autoroute for fuel or food, some of the exits take only credit cards, no cash. (Well, if you have a toll card, you can always use that, too.) If you'll be driving a RHD car, make sure you're set up to handle the credit card toll stations! (My husband gets a chuckle out of watching the British folks in RHD cars trying to negotiate toll booths and parking lots.)
Cheers,
Bev

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