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Driving from Nice to Calais via Reims - how does this sound?

(8 Posts)
lechatnoir Wed 13-Jul-11 21:56:01

We're meeting up with friends at a villa Nice soon & I've planned a leisurely drive down but I'm strugging with the return journey as there's a fixed time we need to be at the Eurotunnel. If anyone has done much driving in France or knows the route, any thoughts on how realistic this is:

Saturday: early supper, kids in PJs then leave c.7pm. Drive 225 miles to Valence for Novotel/ibis type stopover. We regularly drive 275 from London to the north this time of night and usually reckon 4 hours so this should be fine.

Sunday: Drive with lunch/snack/toilet stops to somewhere south of Reims c.350miles c.5-6 hours driving then more leisurely B&B stoppover

Monday: Drive remaining 200miles with lunch stop in time for 3:30pm Eurotunnel.

Doable with a 2 & 5 year old without killing each other grin?

MidnightHag Thu 14-Jul-11 08:30:34

This sounds very leisurely, but then, your DCs are much younger than ours. Driving in France is much easier than the UK particularly if you stick to the autoroutes. Apart from August they are seldom very busy.
We drive to the Alps from the Reading area every year. We leave at 7 am, go thru' the tunnel and get to Dijon for a stopover at about 4 pm. We leave Dijon at 9 am and get to La Plagne at about 3 pm.
Coming back, however, we do it in one go! Leave hotel at 8 am. Drive all day with only short stops for loo, petrol and sandwiches. Get to Calais 8 pm/9pm. In bed at home before midnight.
You might need some in-car entertainment to keep the DCs happy.

Gipfeli Thu 14-Jul-11 08:48:21

We drive from Basel (in Switzerland right near the border by Alsace) to Calais via Reims at least once a year with the kids (who are now 7 and 5 but we've been doing it since they were born). We do that bit, 750km, in about 8.5 hours allowing one 1h stop for picnic lunch and playing and then a short other stop for petrol and yet more for loo breaks and faffing. It's a nice easy drive and there's never "traffic" as such.

The kids sleep (7yo rarely now but did when younger), colour, play with lego, small toys, sing, talk incessantly (ds particularly loves the captive audience in the car) but generally seem to enjoy it.

Presumably you know this but in case you don't - with the Eurotunnel booking, if you miss your booked time slot they'll put you on the next available train within 2h. So in practice you can arrive any time between 1:30 and 5:30. Generally we book a crossing at about 6:30 and have always gone on an earlier one. I find it just reduces the stress in not having to worry about "what if we're delayed".

Tip: Get a "bug remover" windscreen cleaner since the windscreen very quickly gets covered in dead insects on a long drive at speed. The solvent ones do a good job at getting rid of them without leaving smears.

Another tip: Having bought said bug remover do not then put it in the boot first and then pack all the luggage on top of/in front of it.

biba2 Thu 14-Jul-11 12:39:21

We used to live in Nice so have done that drive many times. You will have lots of time, I much prefer to break it down like you are planning than just to do it, but you may want to go for just 1 overnight stop, the motorways are a lot quieter than the UK, plus you can drive a bit faster as well, 130km/hr which I think is about 80mph? So the miles soon pass by!

lechatnoir Thu 14-Jul-11 14:25:39

Thank you for your tips & hints. Given we can stay in the villa until Sunday morning & it sounds doable in 2 days, we've decided to just have 1 stopover somewhere north or Dijon south of Reims.

Will definitely invest in a bug remover & thanks for the Eurotunnel tip which I wasn't aware of - definitely takes a bit of the stress off knowing it's not a disaster if we can't time our arrival precisely.

Abra1d Thu 14-Jul-11 14:38:51

You don't need two overnight stops. Even when we used to drive down to Spain we sometimes managed on one. Driving in France is usually much faster.

MidnightHag Thu 14-Jul-11 15:23:58

If you're looking for a hotel the Ibis at the centre Clemenceau in Dijon is good, reasonably priced and only a short walk from the centre of Dijon, which is well worth a wander around. smile

revolutionscoop Sat 16-Jul-11 12:10:56

A DVD player in the car is indispensable!

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