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Dordogne/ France experts - advice needed

(9 Posts)
mollythetortoise Wed 14-Sep-11 21:09:01

we are hoping to go the Dordogne next summer via ferry. Ideally we would like to do a overnight crossing so we have all day to get to the Dordogne. Has anyone done this or is an ovenight stop essential?

I reckon we could manage 400 or so miles ok

What is the best crossing?
We have done the Brittany ferries overnight portsmouth-caen a few times and we'd happily do that again but is there a better crossing/port that would mean less driving?

any advice gratefully received!

nomiddlename Wed 14-Sep-11 22:21:06

The least stressful for us was the Eurotunnel just before midnight and then driving down just past Paris (perhaps Orlean) before stopping for a sleep until around 6am.

We just stopped at a big Aire and wrapped up in duvets and fleeces in the car and then grabbed bacon baguettes - yum.

DH drove nearly all the way and we got there in plenty of time. On the way back, we've always just got up and left the propert about 6:30am and driven up (around 8 hrs). We are always early from the bookde time but they've always just shoved us on the earlier tunnel and we sleep in the tunnel before driving off the other side.

Next time, we're going further south so will stop overnight in a campanile and then stop at eurodisney for 2 nights on way back.

mummytime Wed 14-Sep-11 22:50:35

I would also suggest using the tunnel and stopping off near Paris for a good nights sleep (I would recommend a Hotel or a camp site if you will be camping in the Dourdogne). You will then be convenient for the best of the motorway network for your journey south. I also sleep better when not on a boat.

Tangle Thu 15-Sep-11 12:34:48

We did Portsmouth-Caen overnight a couple of weeks back to get to Charentes (just W of the Dordogne) and the timings worked out quite well - we stopped for a meal on the way and got there about 2.30 in the afternoon. What didn't work quite so well was the VERY excited 4 yr old, who didn't go to sleep very quickly on the ferry, and the hard bunks. I'm not sure any of us got a huge amount of sleep but we got enough and didn't feel too tired to drive the next day.

When I was growing up we used to catch an evening ferry, drive for <1.5hrs from Calais and do an overnight stop with a little tent, then carry on the next day to get to (usually) the Loire in plenty of time to stick up the big frame tent and get all unpacked and ready.

I think a lot depends on where abouts you are in the UK and which option you feel will work best for you and your family. We're <1hr from Portsmouth but >2 from Dover, so if we try and get to the Dordogne in a day from home on the Chunnel it's too much with a young child and our own tent to pitch, and we haven't got the tents sorted to do an overnight the way my parents did (they also had a trailer to pack the carpet and the kitchen sink - I kid you not!).

That said, you can do an overnight with Canvas or Eurocamp quite cheaply, and that might be an alternative worth considering if you decide the Ferry isn't the right solution.

mollythetortoise Thu 15-Sep-11 17:07:23

thanks everyone - looks like caen to Dordogne is do-able in a day if 8 hours driving. I think we could manage that from a overnight ferry. We live w.london so only 70 miles to portsmouth, not too bad..

proper lunch on way and good rest sounds the best plan and toll roads too.

thanks all!

mollythetortoise Thu 15-Sep-11 17:14:20

thanks everyone - looks like caen to Dordogne is do-able in a day if 8 hours driving. I think we could manage that from a overnight ferry. We live w.london so only 70 miles to portsmouth, not too bad..

proper lunch on way and good rest sounds the best plan and toll roads too.

thanks all!

mollythetortoise Thu 15-Sep-11 17:29:28

thanks everyone - looks like caen to Dordogne is do-able in a day if 8 hours driving. I think we could manage that from a overnight ferry. We live w.london so only 70 miles to portsmouth, not too bad..

proper lunch on way and good rest sounds the best plan and toll roads too.

thanks all!

Jumbs Thu 15-Sep-11 22:28:19

LD lines might be worth a look, portsmouth - le harve. We took that route to drive to pyrenees last year. MUCH cheaper than brittany ferries.

We had Tangle's problem of the overexcited children who wouldn't go to sleep tho. They were soo excited about the prospect of sleeping on a boat!

GnomeDePlume Sat 17-Sep-11 22:24:30

Personally I would go Eurotunnel. That though is because I simply wont sleep on a ferry. My DCs are now older but we have been going through the tunnel since they were little. We time the journey so that we hit the tunnel at early lunch time (we start from the midlands). Have lunch on the train then straight out onto motorway.

A big argument for the tunnel is the number of crossings. If you miss one then they will put you on another. Also if you arrive early you can quite often get on earlier.

We drove down to the Dordogne this year and overnighted at a Eurocamp site nearish to Pont L'Eveque. Not a straightforward route but we were staying with Eurocamp in the Dordogne so the overnighter made sense.

Our experience is that driving in France is so much less stressful than driving in the UK.

8 hours is a major drive. Add to this stops and you will be spending a long day in the car. An overnight stop will make the whole thing more pleasant for everyone.

Do take a break/change drivers every 2 hours. Ignore claims that you can drive for several hours at a stretch, that is 'white line fever' talking. Without a break the driver is a menace to themselves, their family and every other person on the road. Here endeth the lesson!

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