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To drive to the south of France on 30th July

(21 Posts)
GirlOutNumbered Sat 04-Jun-16 08:57:14

I have seen a few websites that suggest this day is the worst for traffic in France... We have driven there for 7 years and never been a traffic jam? However, we have never been this early.

We could go a day later? Anyone actually been in a traffic jam there. Am I being naive?

uggmum Sat 04-Jun-16 09:05:12

The 30th is historically a bad day for traffic.
It's worse from Paris downwards really.

I've frequently travelled from Avignon to St Maxime on that day and the traffic has been bad. It is worse at the tolls so you could consider getting a Tag which you attach inside your windscreen. This would enable you to drive straight through the booths and will save you loads of time.

I have never really been at a standstill, just heavy slow traffic.

This year we are travelling on that day but in the opposite direction so I'm hoping it won't be that bad.
Travelling the day before might be a good idea if you can.

Threesoundslikealot Sat 04-Jun-16 09:07:10

That day is Black Saturday, the day that 'all of France' drives south. There is huge uniformity in when French people take their summer holidays! Going north a fortnight later is also grim.

Yes, I've driven on that day, as have others I know. The traffic is hideous. Enormous queues at every toll and service station. If you can stay off big roads, it'll be better, but still not great, and of course small roads take longer. If you're following one of the popular routes south, then brace yourself. Go on a different day. Sunday will be a bit better but if you can go before or after the weekend, you'd be doing yourselves a favour!

Threesoundslikealot Sat 04-Jun-16 09:08:18

I would add to uggsmum's post that even cars with tags queue when it gets really bad.

stressedandalone Sat 04-Jun-16 09:18:30

We accidentally drove north through France a fortnight later. We had 24h with a hotel booked just south of Calais to drive through France from Cannes to get our eurotunnel slot, poor H only got 2h sleep (I can't drive so it all falls to him) as we queued the length of France. I wouldn't do it again. It spoilt a lovely holiday x

Krampus Sat 04-Jun-16 09:20:05

Yes, I have been stuck in French traffic on school holiday weekends and now try to avoid it! We frequently book with French and Dutch company's and many pack up on the Friday and set off that evening, rather than use their last night.

It's one of those situations where it could be fine but if it goes wrong it goes horribly wrong.

I'm a little worried becuase I have a 2.5 hour journey on the 30th (i will be out there athe week before) but will probably leave late afternoon, or early morning and find something to do before we can get into the hotel.

Most years we travel out to Europe on the Friday. So last year going to the Med we got an overnight crossing on the Thurs, made it down to the Auvergne that day. We could have got further but Clermont Ferrand was the best place for hotels, then they were thin on the ground for a couple of hours. Then next morning we were up early and had an easyish journey on regular heavy traffic to our destination. We had several hours before we could get into our accommodation so we scouted the area, had lunchk went to the supermarket etc

Other years we have been more creative about avoiding it. Evening Fri tunnel crossing, spend weekend couple of hours into France, somewhere we wanted to visit anyway. Then made it South leaving after lunch on the Sunday. We had near empty roads but the queues at tolls in the opposite direction were very long.

GirlOutNumbered Sat 04-Jun-16 09:51:46

Ahh, damn it.
Will get a tag anyway, that seems sensible. We are actually headed over the Saturday before and camping until that Saturday then going on to a holiday house. I think we will camp an extra night and go there on the Sunday. We would be heading from cahors to Provence, so guess that will be a popular route!
Thanks for info.

MrsS1980 Sat 04-Jun-16 09:56:13

The only other thing I would add is that we didn't realise last year and thought we would see how far we could get after the morning crossing and then stop at a hotel about teatime. Everywhere was full and we ended up sleeping in the car with 3 yo ds! Worst night of my life, worried sick all night about him overheating / freezing!

GirlOutNumbered Sat 04-Jun-16 10:05:06

shock I would have been terrified!!
We will have a tent with us!

NavyAndWhite Sat 04-Jun-16 10:12:08

Oh poo!
Have just booked to go camping in the Alps from the 1/8 - 10/8, travelling from here on the 30/7.

Glad I saw this thread though as we will need to book somewhere to sleep on the night of the 30/7 in France! Better get looking.

sparepantsandtoothbrush Sat 04-Jun-16 10:13:33

What should have been a 5 hour journey to the South of France took us 11.5 hours last summer. It was hideous!

GirlOutNumbered Sat 04-Jun-16 10:32:50

spare was that on the 30th or just unlucky!!?

Krampus Sat 04-Jun-16 10:34:14

At least with Cathors to Provence you won't be sharing the road with ever other Belgium, German and Dutch family.

How long does it take to pack up your gear? Is it possible that you could be on the road by 7 at the latest?
We've done it but it has to be a slick operation. Everything packed away day before except tent, sleepng stuff and coffee making. Take roll mats from underneath sleeping children and pack. Load kids into car. Pack up tent and sleeping bags. Make coffe and put into tonthermos mugs. Drive. When kids moan about food point them in direction of the apple juice cartons and bag of pain au chocolate you put there the day before.

One other option is to keep current campsite booking, use the facilities, have a nice day, leisurely pack up, have dinner at site restaurant, oids into Pjs drive 3 hours to cheap motel. Next day you're not far away and can get up late etc.

GirlOutNumbered Sat 04-Jun-16 10:38:57

Great advice thank you.
Will have a look at the motel option, that's a great idea.
Our kids live on apple juice and pain au chocolate when travelling! grin

Threesoundslikealot Sat 04-Jun-16 10:42:27

Bear in mind that the further south you go on Sunday, the more people will have broken their journey on Saturday night and be travelling on! So an early start would definitely be beneficial! Conversely, you might find that an early start on Saturday sees you sufficently ahead of the crowds from the north that it's the better day to travel. Also check out how many tolls are on your route as they are the pinch points.

Maybe look or ask on the Trip Advisor forums as people on there can be pretty expert on these sort of journeys!

Krampus Sat 04-Jun-16 10:42:52

If you need family rooms for 4 look at hotell bb website. Its a chain that don't tend to show up on booking.com sites but most have some 4 bed rooms.

sparepantsandtoothbrush Sat 04-Jun-16 10:43:53

sparewas that on the 30th or just unlucky!!?

It was the 1st August, which was the Saturday.

Krampus Sat 04-Jun-16 10:45:44

My typing is awful today.

BeauGlacons Sat 04-Jun-16 10:50:38

Just avoid the flocking days. Day before or day after.

NancyJoan Sat 04-Jun-16 13:06:21

We did it last year. Never, ever again. Sat at a stand still on Nantes ring road for hours in boiling sun.

BeauGlacons Sat 04-Jun-16 14:35:20

We've been doing it for the last ten years. We usually travel on the first Tuesday in August catching a 7.20 Chunnel. We have a favourite place in the Loire and use the route via the Paris ring road. We set off at about 6.30 the following morning for the Languedoc, near the Pyrenees. We have a couple of stops and travel quite leisurely arriving between 4 and 6. Usually come home ready for DH to start work again on 1st September.

Bearing in mind traffic, folks, etc, it is foolhardy to think you will cover more than 40-50 miles per hour. More is a bonus but don't expect it. I tend to do most of the driving.

Nearly forgot, we power back stopping at Bouyges usually.

We enjoy the sojourn. For shorter breaks we fly to Gerona or Montpelier.

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