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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, thinking of driving over from the UK to the murcia region next year and wonder which is the best way to travel, we would like to use the tunnel crossing and stopping over in France at an ibis hotel as I believe they take dogs. Any advice really appreciated. Thanks
 

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Hi, thinking of driving over from the UK to the murcia region next year and wonder which is the best way to travel, we would like to use the tunnel crossing and stopping over in France at an ibis hotel as I believe they take dogs. Any advice really appreciated. Thanks
My preference is also for the tunnel having made the trip six times.

If you are driving down from Durham, it is more economical to take the tunnel and then stop over in France for the first night. We usually use the Cottage Hotel at Calais which is only just off the motorway. Our next stop would be at Bayonne using Première Classe (less expensive than Ibis and much, much better than Formule1) which also takes dogs and again, just off the motorway. From there you have a choice, either via Zaragoza and Valencia then the A7/E15 although I have no experience of that route. My experience is using E5 passing by Vittoria Gasteiz, Burgos to the Madrid ring road (it is easy - just follow the signs for your exit). Take the M50 follow signs for R4 which then becomes AP36 (you should be round and past Madrid in about 20-25 minutes) to La Roda then A31 passt Albacete and onto the A30 straight down to Murcia.

I have included toll roads - they aren't that expensive but they are quick and not heavily used so you can make good time which is essential if you have animals in the vehicle.

To comply with the law as much as possible:
  • all animals must be securely tethered or in cage(s) so that they cannot interfere with the driver.
  • there should be two red triangles, easily available and be used if you need to stop on the road or hard shoulder
  • there should be high-visibility vests for every person in the vehicle and must be put on before leaving the vehicle
  • you should have driving licences with you (obviously) and the vehicles documents including valid MoT and insurance (preferably with the recipt for payment - this is required when you have a Spanish car and insurance to show that the insurance is valid). Your VEL must also be valid and displayed as if you were in UK
  • the usual business of all lights functioning, headlight-beam converters, tyres correct pressures and with the required tread depth, etc. etc.
  • Remember it is illegal in Spain to run out of fuel!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice......But surely we won't have to have our headlights changed for just a 3 month visit?
 

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Thanks for the advice......But surely we won't have to have our headlights changed for just a 3 month visit?
You use stick-on beam deflectors - go to Halfords (assuming they still exist). Consider you are driving on the wrong side of the road for your vehicle and UK headlights not only dip but they deflect to the left straight into the eyes of any oncoming drivers.

If you are going to be here for three months, make it less than 90 days otherwise you will be considered "Resident" and have to register as such.

Don't forget to bring a valid EHIC although, there have been some cases of it being refused by the authorities because of cheats using them illegally and the UK has refused to reimburse the Spanish authorities. Make sure you have a travel insurance effective for your fill stay because, the EHIC will not cover repatriation if you need to be shipped back to UK (either alive and ill or dead in a box)
 

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Drove from Aberdeen last year to Alicante province, took the tunnel, and stayed over in France near Poitiers. Regret to say it wasn't a very pleasant experience as our trip coincided with the start of the French school holidays and the roads were mental. The motorway cafes were filthy and non too safe either, loads of Eastern Europeans watching you arriving and scouring your motor. When we got to our place, we swore we would take the ferry the next time, so returned that way, and again to and from this year. Far easier and a whole lot less stressful. The French tolls are really expensive, then you have more into Spain although not as much. We had a Yorkie dog with us, no problems either way, a breeze. Ibis Bilabo hotel a great place, about 50E a night incl dog. Any questions, pls feel to come back to me.
 

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Where were all these east europeans then ? Why is it different tunnel to ferry as there isn't much distance between them ?
Do you mean you used different roads on the ferry journey ?
I'm lost ? :confused:

July & August are always a nightmare in France on toll roads or ordinary roads with the weekends being the absolute worst. I used the centre route through France this year from Millau up to Rouen & 40-50km barely moving traffic was common on the southern side.
 

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I agree tunnel is the best way with a dog/dogs, you can buy a harness which clips into the cars seat belt at most pet stores in UK, if you don't want your pets in a cage.
The French authorities also require you to have two breathilizers in your car, as well as the high vis vests and triangles, I think they sell the 'kits' at the tunnel terminal in UK.
When we have driven to and from UK we have made two to three stops overnight in France, it is less tiring after a very long drive, plus you can enjoy the food and wine before a good nights sleep.
When you are ready to travel back from Spain to UK your dogs will have to have a worming tablet Drontalgiven by a Spanish or French vet, before they can enter UK, i think it has to be given not less than 24 hours, and not over four days before travel, if I am wrong on the timing I am sure someone will correct this, but it should be on the defra site.
The tablet must be given by the vet, and the time, date and surgery stamp on it, they are very strict on that.
Over all we really enjoyed having our little travelling companion with us, and he is great in the car.
 

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forget the breathyliser bit , this crazy law only ever said one , no french person has one as there is no penalty if you don't ; it was just an attempt to make money by a politician

and which route ...depends on what time of year and if you want to enjoy the trip or just get there ....as regards paying tolls france is expensive and spain less so

if you want to go in cold weather I would suggest making a holiday of it by getting to the Med asap , then cruising down the spanish coast stopping off where you fancy ; best way to do that is boulogne , rouen , N154 to orleans , route national almost to montlucon , motorway to clermont ferrand and then free motorway via the millau viaduct to the Med
 

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The Eastern Europeans were all hanging about the car parks at the rest areas in the motorway service stations, not in there using the services or having coffee, up to no good I'm afraid. We saw them peering in to newly-parked cars and caravans that the owners had just decanted from. It wasn't a great experience, and not just us that noticed this either. The Gendarmerie were moving them on and questioning them etc. We couldn't get out of those places fast enough, a case of in the services and one riding shotgun in the car.
 

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We have done 6 trips between UK and Spain driving through France (SWMBO gets seasick) and we have never experienced anything like that.
 

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Last year in holiday season i.e. July and August there were a lot of people around who seemed to be of East European origin but they didn't linger for long. Obviously Paris was the biggest attraction with shanty towns springing up, but heh didn't something similar happen in London too? Police "encouraged" them to move on sharpish.

We have done trips down through France to Murcia for 8 years and lost count of the number of times. The dog and horses have even come too. In a way there is no "best" route. We now prefer to use the western routes as the N road from Poitiers is free and rarely suffers from snow, or even congestion, problems. Then instead of going down to Bayonne from Bordeaux swing down to the motorway going to Pau. This avoids the lorry convoys which build up on the other route. Once in Pau we go to Oleron and on to the Tunnel de Somport. It's single carriageway but with passing places. It's lower than some other routes so is clear of snow for longer in the year. There is a new section of free motorway about 15 miles after the Somport tunnel and more is under construction. This route takes you to Zaragoza, Valencia (good services on both sides of the motorway) and then Murcia. (Follow signs for Almeria to avoid the pay motorways). Timewise it may add half an hour to the journey but no more and there's no queuing at the toll booths.
With regard to the dog, we've not found a chain that refuses dogs either in France or Spain. Hoteliers expect people to take them with them and as the floors are tiled there's no lingering odour. The only place a dog isn't allowed is a big commercial centre. The dog, and the horses, only get their passports checked by the ferry companies, and the stables we stop at overnight. Nobody else is routinely interested.
Service areas: can be a destination in themselves especially French ones as they have far better leg stretch opportunities than in the UK. All have picnic tables, which you can share with others if need be. They may not serve hot food, only sandwiches which you can heat in a provided microwave if you wish. We never leave our vehicle unattended if travelling together in Spain, France or the UK. There are plenty of horror stories out there and if travelling with a dog he needs the standing around time.
Tips for travelling:
If you can, drive through France on a Sunday as lorries aren't allowed on the road. Spain's traffic is also lighter.
Stop for lunch about 13.30 when the French have finished and the tables have become free.
give yourself a long afternoon break. The sun is at it's warmest, in summer, at 17.00 and the days are long, so driving till 9 or 10 is no problem as the glare gets less.
If staying at a French budget hotel you may well not meet a human receptionist till the morning as you will have been given a digital code for car park and room entry. Spanish arrival time is also commonly around 9.
Don't be afraid to check out the campsites too they often rent out mobile homes by the night and Zaragoza's is right at the top of the A23. Dogs are not allowed inside those mobile homes but can be taken on site and join you on your terrace.
 

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excellent post ccm47. The only things you left out is that you won't be able to get a drinkable cup of coffee in any of the service areas. Even when you stumble across one with a proper machine they still unfortunately manage to turn it into something undrinkable.
Additionally , for anyone continuing into the night, just remember that everything shuts at 10-10,30p.m until 7a.m.
& if you decide to pull off just as the sun sets don't forget that next year Ramadan will be end of June(28th?) until 27th of July & all the souls who haven't eaten/drank all day will be making a bee-line for the service areas !
 

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Coffee at a services? I wish!My OH refuses to let me buy it, saying I'm being ripped off and just have a beer (always available).
Ramadan? In June? My goodness I don't even know which day of the week Christmas will fall on this year, let alone when the festivals will be next year.
 
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