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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following retirement in a couple of months we are planning to drive to murcia in September taking a car full of stuff from our UK house to our Spanish home. Having searched the net for advice we decided there were 3 options, send over items and fly, ferry to Spain or using the Michelin guide 3 routes down through France.

However I recently came across a few sites listing horror stories regarding robberies being targeted etc which have certainly taken the romance away from the idea of taking a nice drive down stopping off as and when and simply taking our time to get there.

Not sure how prevalent the threat is ? Most of the sites seem to based in 2012 not sure whether things have got any better?

The sites also listed risks with the Spanish ferry option.in particular around Madrid

The other option is to box up the items send them across, fly over and rent a car for a few months as car hire rates outside peak months become more reasonable, although pre-retirement we always talked out taking our time, discovering new areas on the drive down to our new Spanish home so this would certainly not be the preferred option. Another query on this option with our UK car in Spain I also read we are more likely to be routinely stopped by the guardia civil due to the British plates although again sites listing this problem were certainly not recent.

I have learned a great deal from this forum and advice would be welcomed
 

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Myself and my wife have driven a few times to Southern Spain from Norfolk generally taking 3 days, two nights to do it. Very rarely take the same route as we like to explore. However I can confirm robberies can be an issue as it happened to us 2012. Just South of Barcelona we stopped for a snack/toilet break and when returning to car,in a very busy car ark, we stood outside the car to stretch the legs. My wife put her handbag on back seat and the car remained unlocked. As we stood right next to the car we were approached by a person asking for the international dialling code for the UK as we were distracted for a few seconds his accomplice opened the rear door and removed said handbag. We realised what had happened within 30econds and I tried to track the chap down but to no avail. Although traumatised at the time we have made the same journey since.

The internet is full of horror stories but thankfully this type of thing is relatively rare.
 

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We have done the road trip between UK and Spain with no problems whatsoever. In six journeys we have encountered no problems. We use the tunnel and drive down through France on the western side Rouens, le Mans, Tours, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Bayonne (overnight stop) then across the border > Vittoria-Gasteiz, Burgos, Madrid then, for us R4> A4/E5 to Bailen, A44 Jaén, A316, N432/a to home. You would probably need to take R3>A3 from the Madrid ring road. Most of the problems that we have heard of have been nearer the Barcelona end of the A7 which runs down the east coast of Spain rather than down through the centre.
 

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We have done the journey many times over the past 20 years, from Norfolk to the Costa Blanca. We were robbed on one of our first journeys by being flagged down and told the car was on fire, the lessons learned on that occasion have prevented it from ever happening to us again.

1. Never stop for anyone, particularly on the motorway, particularly on free motorways with no pay-stations (we were robbed on the Autovia round Valencia).

2. Avoid motorway services, if we have to stop for toilet breaks, make sure one person stays with the car, preferably keeping the car locked.

3. We use F1's or similar for overnight stays, we pre-book before we go and make sure only to book if they have a car park that is locked at night (we check on Google street view if it's not clear on the website).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your replies feel a bit more comforted now.

Probably going with Poole- Cherbourg then down western France.

Any advice on spare wheels current car doesn't have one just one of those kits. We will obviously have European breakdown assistance.

Thanks again
 

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Simon,
There are just so many towns and villages in France with motorhome parking up spots, it would be difficult to choose one over another. Most of them are free both in town and the villages perhaps with a charge for electricity and/or disposal points. There are also motorhome stopovers at farms and vineyards. The camping club websites are good at recommending these.
What all of them want is for you to spend your euros in the local commerces. A write up in the Aquitaine monthly paper last year suggested there is an average spend per unit of 50 euros a night i.e. evening meal, wine, and breakfast.
Like Baldilocks we use the western route down to Bordeaux but after that we swing left when on the rocade and head for Pau. The junction before the A65 takes you down the very straight N524 road. We then join the motorway at Aire Sur L' Adour. It saves tolls and time. Once through Pau, go out to Jurancon and simply follow the signs for Zaragossa. Once in Saragossa head for the Camping Ciudad de Zaragoza. Its municipal, has a really nice atmosphere, especially at the on site restaurant and the facilities are modern and clean. Motorhomes and Caravans park in one area, tents in another, and mobile homes are nearest to the road.
From there you basically turn right and head on to the motorway down to Teruel, Valencia and Murcia.

The pros of using this route after Bordeaux is that no tolls are payable except on the A65 and the Spanish ones have been completed once out of the highest parts of the Pyrenees. If you fancy a night in the Pyrenees you can choose one of several sites both in France and Spain, or just pull over into a layby or picnic site. Whilst lorries certainly do use the route its not as busy as the convoys en route to Bayonne and not being busy means its less likely that you will be targeted by criminals. Though of course today's safe area may not be tomorrow's.

The cons: you need a good gearbox as you will be on mountain roads for a good couple of hours, mainly in France, and will need to change gears a lot. You will also pass through the Col du Somport tunnel, which is 11km long, and you MUST keep back from the vehicle in front by a specific amount otherwise your number plate appears in lights above you, and I assume you could be fined on exit.

We have only ever been stopped by the authorities twice on this route, both times it was French customs on the way back who have an office in one of the villages. The first time the chap hadn't spotted our UK number plate. We simply had a pleasant chat about why we'd gone to Zaragoza shopping for the day. The next time was because we happened to be following another UK registered vehicle that they were interested in. As soon as they realised we were separate, we were on our way I.e. within 2 mins.
 

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Simon,
There are just so many towns and villages in France with motorhome parking up spots, it would be difficult to choose one over another. Most of them are free both in town and the villages perhaps with a charge for electricity and/or disposal points. There are also motorhome stopovers at farms and vineyards. The camping club websites are good at recommending these.
What all of them want is for you to spend your euros in the local commerces. A write up in the Aquitaine monthly paper last year suggested there is an average spend per unit of 50 euros a night i.e. evening meal, wine, and breakfast.
Like Baldilocks we use the western route down to Bordeaux but after that we swing left when on the rocade and head for Pau. The junction before the A65 takes you down the very straight N524 road. We then join the motorway at Aire Sur L' Adour. It saves tolls and time. Once through Pau, go out to Jurancon and simply follow the signs for Zaragossa. Once in Saragossa head for the Camping Ciudad de Zaragoza. Its municipal, has a really nice atmosphere, especially at the on site restaurant and the facilities are modern and clean. Motorhomes and Caravans park in one area, tents in another, and mobile homes are nearest to the road.
From there you basically turn right and head on to the motorway down to Teruel, Valencia and Murcia.

The pros of using this route after Bordeaux is that no tolls are payable except on the A65 and the Spanish ones have been completed once out of the highest parts of the Pyrenees. If you fancy a night in the Pyrenees you can choose one of several sites both in France and Spain, or just pull over into a layby or picnic site. Whilst lorries certainly do use the route its not as busy as the convoys en route to Bayonne and not being busy means its less likely that you will be targeted by criminals. Though of course today's safe area may not be tomorrow's.

The cons: you need a good gearbox as you will be on mountain roads for a good couple of hours, mainly in France, and will need to change gears a lot. You will also pass through the Col du Somport tunnel, which is 11km long, and you MUST keep back from the vehicle in front by a specific amount otherwise your number plate appears in lights above you, and I assume you could be fined on exit.

We have only ever been stopped by the authorities twice on this route, both times it was French customs on the way back who have an office in one of the villages. The first time the chap hadn't spotted our UK number plate. We simply had a pleasant chat about why we'd gone to Zaragoza shopping for the day. The next time was because we happened to be following another UK registered vehicle that they were interested in. As soon as they realised we were separate, we were on our way I.e. within 2 mins.
Wow, some great information there, I am not sure about the gear changes, I am used to an automatic but it does give us options.
Certainly avoiding criminals is a nice idea but I accept that may change so we will have to have a look at that.
Thanks for such a great reply, I'm learning all the time and we haven't left yet! :)
 

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We are looking to drive over to the Costa Blanca later in the year but instead of travelling through France we are looking to sail to Bilbao then cross through Spain. I have noticed most people don't consider this option but choice to sail to France is that just personal choice or other reasons?
 

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We are doing both, we're driving through France on the way because we are taking a cat, I am dropping my wife and cat in Spain and then driving back to Santanda where I get the ferry. I am then swapping the motorhome for our car and returning via ferry again bypassing France. Our cat is a rescue and was abused and caged and absolutely hates cat carriers so we decided to drive him the whole way and also it's something we have never done before.
 

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Simon an automatic has no problem with the mountains. I have taken both manual and autos on this route, and much prefer the auto even if it did drink fuel at a rate of knots.
Whilst the ferries to Spain are nice both I and my OH were offshore yacht sailors, and after about 4 hours ( a watch period), we start looking round thinking are there any jobs we should be doing? Can we navigate and predict the weather? Which of us will steer or mind the autopilot? Stupid we know but driving gives each of us more to do, particularly if we travel 2 vehicles.
Others may wish to see if they can save some of the money charged by the ferries and enjoy driving through the countryside.
 

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Simon an automatic has no problem with the mountains. I have taken both manual and autos on this route, and much prefer the auto even if it did drink fuel at a rate of knots.
Whilst the ferries to Spain are nice both I and my OH were offshore yacht sailors, and after about 4 hours ( a watch period), we start looking round thinking are there any jobs we should be doing? Can we navigate and predict the weather? Which of us will steer or mind the autopilot? Stupid we know but driving gives each of us more to do, particularly if we travel 2 vehicles.
Others may wish to see if they can save some of the money charged by the ferries and enjoy driving through the countryside.
Hi, Well we have a manual and that is going to take some doing hence my reluctance to drive anywhere needing lots of gear changes.

We have decided to take the easy option of two French stops and then a mad dash to the finish once over the border. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Based on the west French route please could someone recommend places on route to stay which are both nice and safe assuming car is full of possessions destined for new home in Spain

Thanks
 

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You haven't given us a clue as to what type of accommodation you are looking for.
I have stayed at the Camping Bordeaux Lac, and paid about 45 euros for a mobile home for 1 night. I recall the restaurant, which had not long been open when we were there served really nice food and aiming for local clientele as well as guests. Obviously parking was secure too.
Alternatively try one of the Campaniles, they are midrange motels serving decent meals at sensible money, charging about 50-60 euros a night depending on location. Parking is free and secure, and unlike some of the cheaper chains will not be full of the French equivalent of "white van man". That said no self respecting French country dweller does not have access, at the very least, to a white van.
 

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Based on the west French route please could someone recommend places on route to stay which are both nice and safe assuming car is full of possessions destined for new home in Spain

Thanks
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We have used the ones at Boulogne and at Bayonne with a comfortable day's drive between the two both are only a short distance (a few 100m) from the motorway and you get a discount voucher for an evening meal at one of the other hotels (I think it was the Campanile at Bayonne). Leaving Bayonne, you are but a short distance to the border from where it is usually a day's drive to your destination.
 
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