Driving to Dordogne is hell?

(16 Posts)
UriGeller Tue 04-Mar-14 11:23:59

We've always flown but last year (with a 2yo and a new baby) airport delays, queueing, flying, queueing, airports, carseats, luggage etc etc was painful.

This year (with 3.5 and 1.5yo) we thought we might load up the truck and drive, it seems like a fun thing to do, we also have relatives in northern Spain wed like to see and so DP has booked a few weeks off work.

But everyone we've spoken to has looked at us like we're mad! We've even been told its "hell"! From door to door we reckon it'll be about 15 hrs journey and we'll get at least one big driving break on the ferry but we'll have the option of overnighting somewhere along the way if its all tooo much! <dramatic hand on brow>

I'm really interested to hear if you've done the drive with small children, was it hell?
And any nice spots you know to camp or hotels on the route would be appreciated .

whereisshe Tue 04-Mar-14 11:27:21

We haven't done it with kids but we've done that drive. It really depends on when you go. Some weekends the traffic is insane (all of northern Europe trying to get south at the same time), but avoid that and it's fine. We went eurotunnel and stopped overnight near les mans. We also went via more scenic roads and made the drive part of the trip. It was nice.

whereisshe Tue 04-Mar-14 11:29:43

We stayed in the best western at Yvre-l'Eveque.

TheTerribleBaroness Tue 04-Mar-14 11:38:43

Yes, I live in the Netherlands so we drive everywhere and have done it lots. If you have children who sleep, try to drive at night. If they don't sleep, get a DVD player or tablet to fix to the headrests so they can watch television. Be prepared to stop regularly, sometimes every two hours and make it a long stop. Let them run around with a ball or find a service station with an outdoor play area. If need be have two overnight stops on the way home and visit local attractions so you only drive a morning or an afternoon and then have an extra bit of holiday visiting a castle or gardens somewhere else.
As long as you are flexible it will be fine. And think of all the cases of wine you'll be able to bring back. smile

noramum Tue 04-Mar-14 13:29:33

We drove not to France but from London to northern Germany which is a 13 hour drive plus tunnel.

We did this when DD was 18 month for the last time. I don't really want to do it again.

We had an overnight stay as, despite all good entertainment in the car, even a DVD player, DD hated it. She hardly slept so we took lots of little stops to get her out and stretch the legs. I was never so glad to see the hotel we pre-booked wisely.

I think it depends on your children and how much they like driving. I know friends drive to the UK from southern Germany and drove from London to Spain and back but their two boys sleep a lot and just watch one DVD after the other.

maillotjaune Tue 04-Mar-14 13:37:54

We have driven from London to all sorts if places in France - most commonly in or near the Dordogne as FIL lives there for half the year, but have gone as far as Perpignan which is only just short of Spain.

Have done since DS1 was born. We ALWAYS stop overnight somewhere, but either
- get to Calais and stay in the Ibis Tunnel Sous La Manche then do the drive in a day; or
- take the Friday off if we can, drive to somewhere like Beaune, Orleans or Rouen depending on the direction we're going in, then have a shorter drive on the Saturday.

It's fine as long as you have entertainment (music, books, DSs depending on age) for the children.

PortofinoRevisited Tue 04-Mar-14 17:28:42

Depends when you are planning to travel. Some Saturdays in August will indeed be hellish but otherwise, the motorways are good, there are lots of aires to stop at. We drive to southern France nearly every year from Brussels and have done the Dordogne. I would recommend going via Rouen rather than round Paris. The Novotel at Rouen Sud is great and has a pool, good kids menu/family rooms. I would also recommend getting a toll doodah. linky then you get to go through express lanes and your card gets charged at the end of the month. There are height restrictions though...

Creamycoolerwithcream Tue 04-Mar-14 19:23:00

We did it with DS1, we do live in the South east but the French bit of the journey took about 8 and a half hours. We got the early morning ferry and arrived about 8 pm and had 3 shortish stops.

maillotjaune Tue 04-Mar-14 19:44:52

I second Portofino's recommendations of Rouen Sud Novotel and the toll thingy which saw us glide past queues of hundreds last year when we had it for the first time.

TheSteveMilliband Tue 04-Mar-14 19:49:06

Did this trip wih a 5 month old and 2 year old. It still gives me nightmares! Would be fine if you have good travellers, but ds2 cried constantly in car, slept for 1/2 hr at a time max - grimhmm. However, stayed at lovely chamber dhote near Paris called la martiniere (owned by the ogniers) which was lovely. Stayed at Novotel on way back, more expensive and not nearly as nice. Check out trip advisor smile

cathpip Tue 04-Mar-14 19:59:53

We always drive, the first time we went the dc were 3.5 and 1.5. We drove 6 hours from North Yorkshire to the tunnel, stayed overnight and caught early train and then drove straight to the Swiss alps, about 9 hrs. We did the return journey in one go, we had DVDs, tablets a cool box of food between them that they could help themselves too and we did do a few leg stretch stops. It went very well, but then our dc are used to spending 3/4 hours at a time in a car as we live a fair distance from all relatives. We are travelling to the dordogne this august, the only foreseeable problem this time round is that we will have a 4 month old dc3 with us, here's hoping he's a good sleeper!!!

howtodecide Wed 05-Mar-14 19:27:05

We often drive, but I would also consider the train...... We took the train a couple of years ago to Italy and last year down to Carcassonne....it was great! You need to book at the right time though (about 3 months before) as it can be expensive!

UriGeller Thu 06-Mar-14 11:46:32

Thanks everyone, Baroness, the thought of being able to bring back Lots of wine will definitely sway DP!

We are up for it. The kids are good travellers as we live far from my relatives too. They are snoozers on the road. I think we'll break the journey on the ferry and head Rouen way for an overnight.

Portofino, we'll be travelling midweek and definitely not in August (!) to avoid the crowds but the toll sounds great and ill definitely check out the Novotel at Rouen Sud. Thanks!

dowhat Fri 07-Mar-14 16:59:19

We've driven to Sete, so beyond Dordogne twice now, once with 3 and 5 year old and last year with a 3 month old, 4 and 6 year old. It was fine. We stopped near Orleans on the way there and on the way back. The traffic was awful the first time we went - think we must have gone on a French bank holiday, but as long as the kids have DVD players, iSpy books etc it's fine. And there are play areas at all of the service areas. We'll be doing it again next year too!

princessalbert Fri 07-Mar-14 17:43:15

I don't considerate hell.

However, I haven't driven with young DC - ours are older teenagers now - so it's a lot simpler.

If you aren't tied to high season - then it'll be a breeze. Significantly cheaper too.

Plan to take an overnight stop - I think 5 or 6 hours is enough driving per day- even if you are sharing the driving. Youcould stay somewhere like Rouen? Or a little further down - Blois or Le Mans? Saying that I love the roads in France - much quieter than in UK. Avoid Bank Holidays and Saturdays in popular areas as much as you can.

My way of making it less hard work is to plan in these stops - and take it easy.

you can get an automatic toll booth chip - go on the APRR website - and you pay (I think) 10 euros up front, and then it stores your credit card details - and get billed for the tolls you use the following month. It's much quicker than stopping and paying cash. It's also good fun waiting to see if the barrier will actually open before you hit it. ;)

we have done the driving to France in summer now for the past 6 or 7 years - and I love it. It is so nice to be able to load up the car - with everything you think you might need and not worry about luggage weight restrictions. You can bring all kinds of good French stuff back- wine (of course) I like a particular washing liquid. ;)

We bought the DVD players which attach to the back of the seats - but they have been barely used. But if your DC like to watch shows then they are excellent for keeping them quiet.

I always make a lot of sandwiches - and pack them in a cool bag with frozen bottles of water. These keep us all occupied for the first part of the journey. No one goes hungry, but we don't have to stop.

Enjoy the planning.

princessalbert Fri 07-Mar-14 17:43:46

Goodness me.. Lots of spelling errors.

Sorry.

I was getting all excited about France smile

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