It is possible or sensible to go from London to the Dordogne without an overnight stop?

(26 Posts)
HairyMaclary Sat 06-Apr-13 20:26:40

So we have booked out first non uk camping trip. We've done it loads here but the weather has got the better of us and after a couple of difficult years we really need some sun. We have booked Les Valedes after a recommendation from a friend and then discovered it is an MN favourite!

However DH thinks we should go non stop, preferably overnight, he and I will share the driving and we'll arrive at about noon. I think this is nuts, we'll be exhausted, I haven't stayed up all night since I was about 18, the DC won't have slept properly and it's actually dangerously silly. He thinks we'll get the cheaper Eurostar and save a night in a b&b on the way down and back up.

Those who have done this sort if trip before, isn't doable or isn't a silly idea? Any ideas in cheap stopovers if we need to?

TheRealMBJ Sat 06-Apr-13 21:02:33

I think it is nuts.


Sorry

TheRealMBJ Sat 06-Apr-13 21:04:55

To clarify, have only ever been to the Lot by car, spread over 2 days (from North York) but did not need to camp and had no children.

I was fucking exhausted and in a our mood for 2 days (but I don't cope well with tiredness)

cathpip Sat 06-Apr-13 21:06:46

We drove to the tunnel from Yorkshire, stayed in the travel inn and then got a 6am tunnel in the morning and drove to Switzerland. It took 9 hrs from the tunnel, our dc were 3.5 and 18 months, fine in the day but not overnight

conorsrockers Sat 06-Apr-13 21:09:04

It's only, what, 9 hours? It depends on what your kids are like I suppose. We just got back this morning from driving over night from the alps with three kids. 13 hour trip - only stopped for petrol. We also drive to Scotland a lot overnight. It's what the kids are used to ... we have done it with ours since they were tiny. Why are you so concerned?

PhyllisDoris Sat 06-Apr-13 21:09:07

We're starting from about 1hr west of London, getting ferry at 2.15am, and planning on arriving at Figeac before lunch. It can be done - we've done Nice in a day, but its long drive. Plenty of DVDs for the kids, and stop to stretch legs every 2-3 hours. So worth it when you get there!

Millais Sat 06-Apr-13 21:09:38

We've done it with two drivers but the dcs all slept and the non driver also slept in their break. If we stop over we tend to book Etap basic hotels as we don't hang around, just stop, sleep and leave again. They are usually at junctions so no wasted miles looking for them. I do prefer to stop over especially if the weather isn't guaranteed as tempers fray while putting up tents!

PhyllisDoris Sat 06-Apr-13 21:11:38

PS if you want a cheap overnight stop in France look at Formule 1 hotels. Basic, but clean and cheap and usually just off the autoroute. You can all share a bedroom.

Indith Sat 06-Apr-13 21:15:54

All my childhood we used to get up early and leave Hull in the wee small hours and drive to Bordeaux so I'd do it!

2 drivers, swapping frequently. We'd leave at 5am and drive to Dover in one go. The ferry was a break for everyone, we had lunch (early lunch) on the ferry. Then drive to Rouen or Orleans depending on traffic etc and stop for dinner there, have a long break and a play in a playground (usually stopped at L'arche as it is nice food and has play areas). Then drive to Bordeaux. There would of course be mini stops too for toilets etc. We'd arrive in Bordeaux around 11pm.

Stopping overnight can be nicer, from London to around Rouen and spend the night in a hotel then do teh rest the next day. But if you do it all in one you have it all DONE and can enjoy the holiday.

swlmum Sat 06-Apr-13 21:22:02

We've driven lots of times to southern France and Geneva in a day from London. We've only usually done it though if we've been to the place before and/or got friends or relatives already there. If we go somewhere new prefer arriving in the afternoon and usually have a leisurely first day driving, stopping somewhere with a pool (but cheap) on the way and then a fairly leisurely drive the next.
Would also not try and do it in a day if it'sa Saturday in July or August as the roads will be horrendous.

hettie Sun 07-Apr-13 07:22:58

I consider myself fairly hardcore in turns of driving on through.... BUT...are you used to driving at long periods at night/or being awake for long periods of the night? If not you might have trouble keeping awake/safe....You may save 60 euros on a motel but better to be safe (and arrive in a nice mood for the first day of your holiday grin)

hillbilly Sun 07-Apr-13 07:46:48

I wouldn't do it although of course it's possible. Hettie makes a good point about whether or not you are used to doing a drive like this.

We are also going the Les Valedes from London and we will split the journey, stopping of somewhere around Orleans (not decided yet). Our kids are not used to long drives and do not sleep well in the car either. Others have mentioned cheap hotels en route and you can also find beautiful B & Bs which quite often have inexpensive family rooms here www.sawdays.co.uk/

Good luck whatever you decide and maybe we'll see you there smile

How much is ferry compared to Eurostar? IMO ferry is better because it gives everyone a break and adds to the fun and excitement of the holiday. Can be much cheaper too. You save some time crossing on Eurostar but usually lose it because you need to stop for the meal/break from the car that the ferry gives you anyway.

We have tried a 10 hour drive from Calais to where we go in France every year in one go and failed! That was overnight though (rationale being the kids would sleep and not need to stop), but DH and I both hit the wall completely (not literallygrin) at 4am and had to pull into a motorway hotelsmile. I know people who do it with little ones though. It also depends on how tired you are to start with, DH and I are usually sleep deprived as a general state of being so the prospect of staying awake all night is not good! Daytime would make more sense but you will need lots more stops for the DC's and mine bicker and someone would end up being murdered if we were all awake for ten hours in a car in one go.

Personally we now prefer to make an overnight stop part of the holiday, there are lots of cheap hotels to stay in and lovely towns to explore. Reims is a fab place to stop for example. If you can find a pool like swimum says, even better as you can use up some of the DC's energy before bed, otherwise a wander round town, nice dinner and bed before an early start usually works best for us.

OrbisNonSufficit Sun 07-Apr-13 07:55:16

It's possible, but it does depend as hettie said on whst you're used to. We always split that drive with a stopover eg le mans. I grew up being subjected to marathon drives for family holidays which I loathed so I don't do it any more. Also how does your family operate on limited sleep? Ours doesn't - there would be bloodshed!

OrbisNonSufficit Sun 07-Apr-13 07:56:32

*what not whst blush

Oh, Epernay also gorgeous as a small alternative to Reims, we booked a large room in this fabulous hotel for about £100 last minute, could barely tear ourselves away from the lovely heated pool!

Quenelle Sun 07-Apr-13 08:46:50

We did it overnight many years ago. No kids, just five adults in one car. Nobody slept properly and it took about three days to recover.

We prefer to do it over two or three days now. We only get to France once a year so it's nice to see a few different places en route.

We had a small pop up tent for the stop overs last year. The municipal sites are really good, and cheap. The one just north of Le Mans was only about ten euros.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 07-Apr-13 08:53:02

You could stay in a formule one place for about 30 euros. Very basic but ok.

We drove from the alps to the midlands non stop the other week. It is doable, though we did it in the day not overnight.

HairyMaclary Mon 08-Apr-13 11:39:26

Thanks for all your comments, I couldn't get back until now.

I don't do well with tiredness and like MBJ think it will take two days of our holiday to recover. I may have come to a compromise though which is to start v early on the way down, ie 5.30 tunnel crossing and do it in one day but break the journey on the way back up.

Still under discussion though! Thanks for the comments about etap and formulae one places. I think that sounds best. Now have to look at routes so I have some idea of how we are going to get there and which hotels would be best.

HairyMaclary Mon 08-Apr-13 11:47:43

Hillbilly - hadn't seen your post! Maybe we will see you there, I think our children are similar ages, mine will be 8 and 6 when we get there, 7 and 5 now.

AM just looking at your link - looks great. Must get a map first though to plan the route!

chipmonkey Mon 08-Apr-13 12:18:41

I really wouldn't. Driving when fatigued is as bad as driving when drunk.
I always remember my father telling me about getting off the ferry from Ireland to Wales, then driving to London. He was exhausted but realised he had to pull over when he perceived the large truck in front of him to be an elephant walking along the Motorway. If he hadn't pulled over he could have killed himself and several other people.

AgathaF Mon 08-Apr-13 12:48:39

We've done it a couple of times, but I wouldn't do it again, given the choice.

happyfeet666 Mon 08-Apr-13 20:22:22

We've done that very same journey as you, although starting from Kent, to Valades. We caught the shuttle at 6ish in the morning, used autoroutes (not towing so fairly fast speed! ) and stopped every couple of hours for as long as it took to eat food, stretch legs and swap drivers and arrived at Valades around 4pm.
Our children are old enough to occupy themselves on the journey with dvds and ipods etc, so the journey is not that stressful.
It's never much fun pitching the tent after the journey though, especilally when it was 37c when we arrived!
Friends of ours who do tow tend to get the shuttle around midnight, get past Paris, then pull up and sleep in the car/van for a few hours.
As the journey to the Dordogne is do able, I'm not sure I would relish having to pack / unpack an overnight bag for the 5 of us for a stop over, the car is at bursting point anyway!

Millais Tue 09-Apr-13 23:16:35

I don't think Formule 1 have ensuites which was always a problem when our dcs were very little.

shrimponastick Wed 10-Apr-13 12:18:50

I wouldn't.

We drive down from W Yorks and use the Eurotunnel - so that is a good 4 hours drive to start with.

In recent years we have booked an early crossing - 7.00am ish - so have left home at 2.30am. DH usually does the UK drive, but then I take over in Calais.

We always plan a stop off for one night. Partly because we have missed a night's sleep really with setting off early, but also driving in itself is tiring. Concentrating on the roads and diirections.

We would swap drivers every couple of hours - but last year was dreadful and I was almost asleep on a couple of occasions.

Our DC are teens so they are no problem - they just snooze all the way.

It's kind of nice to have an afternoon/evening exploring another town enroute also - adds a bit more interest to the trip.

Lucycat Sat 13-Apr-13 16:21:13

I agree I wouldn't do it either - we have to travel from Cheshire so it's rather different for us but if you don't want to arrive knackered and then have to put a tent up then it's a crazy idea.
We are having 2 overnight stops this year - Bouologne and Chaeauroux - I like French villages so it always seems a bit rude to charge down France without visiting a few patisseries on the way smile

Think about your route too - the sat nav will want to take you via hell Paris but we prefer the Rouen route.
Whe we last visited Les Valades in 2010 we met up with friends from the year before who had driven down from Kent in one day and I've never seen anybody look so ill - he was exhausted - so much that they ended staying in a nearby B&B for the night as the couldn't face putting their tent up!

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