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5 hour drive in France, 2 young DC, WWYD regarding journey?

(45 Posts)
clara10 Wed 01-Jun-11 14:00:41

I mean what have you done?

DC are 2.9 and 8 months. We are close to Dover and are taking the ferry.
What is the best time to arrive in France bearing in mind we have a 5 hour straight drive, more inc stops? All options available regarding driving at night as we both drive, though need to check into Keycamp on arrival so sociable arrival time.

What time did you arrive in France and what time did you arrive on site?

Just trying to weigh up all options. Could arrive in France at 1am, drive through and get to site for 7am - best for DC but worst for us? Could arrive in France at 9am and get to site for 4pm - worst for DC but best for us? Or anything in between!

thirtysomething Wed 01-Jun-11 14:12:06

Need more info. What day of week/month etc as a lot depends on that re how long the "5-hour drive" actually takes. Have been stuck in non-moving traffic around Rennes for example for many, many hours on a seemingly non-busy day....

maman2tom Wed 01-Jun-11 14:14:11

When are you planning to travel (weekend? inthe summer hols?) as traffic jams can be a big problem driving during the day. Plus which way are you headed on motorways or route nationals?

You should check arrival times as the last one i went to checkin was from 4pm (and check out 11am)

One thing that is great is a DVD player for in the car!

LIZS Wed 01-Jun-11 14:14:40

Check what time the accommodation is available , it may well not be until 4pm so you'd have time to kill.

maman2tom Wed 01-Jun-11 14:15:25

x-post sorry v-slow typer!

MmeLindor. Wed 01-Jun-11 14:15:38

Get yourself one of the electronic doodads for the motorway toll. Will look for a link in a moment. Otherwise you could be held up.

I would aim to arrive in France early morning and get to destination late afternoon.

Ponders Wed 01-Jun-11 14:16:32

your suggested day journey (9am-4pm) probably not so good for you either grin

Could you do a very early morning crossing, so you'll have had a bit of sleep beforehand, & the children should still be tired enough to want to nap? Say a 4-5am crossing, arriving in France 6.30-7.30am?

The one time we did it with 2 smallish children (aged 4 & 14 months) we crossed Newhaven-Dieppe during the day - about 10am-2pm I think. But we were staying in Normandy so not much driving the other side.

What month are you going?

MmeLindor. Wed 01-Jun-11 14:17:46


You can bypass a the queues for the tolls with one of these. It gets taken off your visa account so you dont need small change.

midnightexpress Wed 01-Jun-11 14:18:37

The thought of two wide-awake but possibly cranky DC after a night of driving all night and little sleep for the adults makes me think that arriving in the morning and driving in the day would be better, even with possible hold-ups. But it depends when you're going. If you're talking first weekend in August, for example, perhaps not.

TobyLerone Wed 01-Jun-11 14:18:50

We did this when my children were 2.5 and 14 months. In a people-carrier with my BIL and SIL and their daughter (also 14 months).

IIRC we got to France v early morning, drove for 4 hrs or so, then stopped for some breakfast and to stretch our legs. Then drove for another 4 hrs or so (we went to the Dordogne).

The trip was no trouble whatsoever, and only my BIL did any driving. He was fine to carry on, and didn't need me to swap with him at any point, although I offered often. The children were incredibly well-behaved and it all went perfectly.

It depends how your children would behave in the car, I suppose. But I'd go for the first option, if it were me.

nometime Wed 01-Jun-11 14:19:14

Get to France early morning - coffee and croissant
Couple of hours driving
Early lunch - nice little Cafe
Couple of hours driving
Break - nice little Patisserie
Couple of hour driving
Check in - nice early evening meal

See a bit of theme developing here!

Ponders Wed 01-Jun-11 14:20:55

Mme's electronic doodad in English grin

MmeLindor. Wed 01-Jun-11 14:20:56

Agree. Aim to get to France at 6 - 7 am if possible.

We often left at 4am when the dc were younger. Drive for 2 or 3 hours then stop for extended breakfast break. Most motorway service stations have great play parks

MmeLindor. Wed 01-Jun-11 14:22:22

Oh, well done Ponders. Last time I looked it was only in French.

I need to stop recommending this, you lot will be clogging up MY speedy lanes.

Portofino Wed 01-Jun-11 14:25:49

I would go early morning - say 7 am. Where is your destination? Every year we set off from Brussels on a Saturday morning about 9.30am (so kind of Equidistant from Calais) and make it easily as far as Macon or Lyon by 4pm. With plenty of stops.

Agree that you are unlikely to be able to check in before 4pm, so don't aim to arrive too early. And second MmeLindor's suggestion of getting a Liber-T tag for the car. Can save you ages at the tolls.

clara10 Wed 01-Jun-11 14:32:28

Wow thanks MNers!

Travelling in a couple of weeks, mid June. Could travel on the Sat to arrive that evening, or would travel on a Sunday for early morn arrival as accommodation vacant.

Heading from Calais to Tours area.

Thank you very much for the toll doodad thingy!

Liking the sound of your travel plan nometime

Thank you for your help all.

Ponders Wed 01-Jun-11 14:32:28

Mine wasn't your proper Sanef site though, MmeL - that is still only in French - do you think they are hoping not to encourage us? wink

Ponders Wed 01-Jun-11 14:35:31

Calais to Tours is a doddle (& quite a bit of it is toll-free IIRC)

In mid-June travelling during the day on a Saturday should be easy, so you might as well do that really.

Have fun smile

MmeLindor. Wed 01-Jun-11 14:45:30

We are doing Geneva to Metz, about the same distance. Then Metz to Amsterdam the next day.


7am - leave Geneva

9am - 9.30am - coffee and croissant stop

12pm - 2 pm - lunch stop - perhaps leave motorway?

4 - 5pm - arrival in Metz.

If you can get off the motorway, and find a park for a picnic, it is nicer than most motorway service stations.

twooter Wed 01-Jun-11 14:48:21

I would agree with Driving through the day. We've done it for a few years ( and have a long uk journey too before we get to the ferry) . If you choose plenty of stops where there's things to do, even if just small playparks, and get a DVD player, it can be fine. It's nice to get to the campsite in the afternoon, so you can explore, and tire the children out a bit before bed. Which one are you going to?

Portofino Wed 01-Jun-11 15:21:50

A lot of the Aires along the motorway have little playgrounds. I usually pack a picnic to keep the costs down. In mid-June you should have no problem. I would go via Rouen rather than Paris though.

mathanxiety Wed 01-Jun-11 15:34:03

Drive in the day. Don't try driving tired on the wrong side of the road. Bring snacks and dvds for the 2 yo, plus sing-along cds, and take plenty of rests. Shade the back windows so they can nap.

I have done 8 hour trips in the US and an early start and several rests works well. As well as could be expected anyhow.

CestTout Wed 01-Jun-11 17:57:10

I frequently do Cambridge - Angers and back with three children. I have actually found that doing something to wear them out in the morning works quite well, ferry about 2pm, arrive in France at 4.30pm drive until 6.30pm, stop to eat, back in car and the sleep after about an hour!

Agree Calais to Tours is easy- just make sure that if you are using Sat Nav it takes you the quickest way through Rouen. By this I mean not through the small streets in the centre! Did it once and now I never use the Sat Nav! I know a very nice and clean service station with paly park for the children if you would like the details?

Tours area is lovely with lots to do for children. Saumur is worth a day out if you get chance and there is also a good Zoo nearby.

Have a lovely time.

GastonTheLadybird Wed 01-Jun-11 18:09:06

We do Calais to Tours pretty frequently as in-laws live about 30mins from Tours airport. We usually aim to get a 4pm ferry, give DD tea on the boat, arrive in France 5pm (6pm). At this point DD will be in pyjamas, watching a DVD and about an hour into the drive we will take away iPad, give her a cup of milk, do a makeshift teeth brush and the she goes to sleep.

We lift her (with varying degrees of success!) when we arrive at in-laws, she sometimes wakes up but it's only a brief thing and she soon nods off again.

crockydoodle Wed 01-Jun-11 18:15:23

First time we went to France was with an 8 month old and a 3 yr old as well as 2 older kids. The baby was no bother, the 3 yr old was harder to amuse - if I had had a dvd player at the time it would have entertained him (had one the second time).
I would get a proper night's sleep and set off early in the morning, stopping every couple of hours for playpark and food.

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