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Looking to go to SW france in the summer - do we drive or take the ferry to Bilbao. What about seasickness?

(18 Posts)
littlebellsmum Tue 11-Feb-14 15:07:53

Looking to take the dc's ( 4,9 and 10) to France in the summer. Can't decide if we are better ferry to st malo and driving through france ( with stops) or to get the ferry to spain and then just have to drive back one way. Would love to hear your thoughts

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 11-Feb-14 15:54:48

How far would you have to drive in the UK to catch the ferry?.

Is the plane an option instead?.

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Tue 11-Feb-14 16:06:21

We have driven from Lancashire to Roussillon, via Eurotunnel, in both one long go (once, never again!) & with one stopover in Paris, which is almost exactly halfway for us. No small children though - I think you could still do it in 2 legs if you timed it carefully for sleeps en route.

The ferry is very expensive & the Bay of Biscay can be hideous.

When would you be going? If you can avoid the really mad holiday weekends French motorways are great, & they have lots of rest stops called Aires (anything from a few picnic tables to full-blown services) every few miles so it's easy to stop regularly

The journey can be a fun part of the holiday smile

cheerup Tue 11-Feb-14 20:56:27

Have you checked that there is cabin availability on the dates you're thinking of travelling? When I looked a week or so ago there was nothing left on either Spanish or St Malo crossings for our dates in August and there's nothing worse than considering something for ages then finally deciding only to discover it's fully booked!

mashpot Tue 11-Feb-14 21:02:54

We did the reverse, drove down to the South of France and then got the ferry back from Bilbao. Our ds was 1.5. The ferry was expensive but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pass the time (cinema, restaurants, bars and bed!) I would do it again if the costs stack up (which they can when taking int account the cost of petrol and accommodation).

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Tue 11-Feb-14 21:45:28

Just looked at Portsmouth-Bilbao in late July/early August

For ferry only it's either side of £500 (depending on date) - that doesn't include cabin/s though. Cheaper later in August. You could definitely drive for quite a bit less than that, even with tolls & at least one overnight hotel

otoh ferry would poss be quicker, but dates are restricted, with deps on either Wed or Sun, how would that fit with your accom?

Journey time either 24 hours (Wed, arr Thu, noonish) or c 36 hours (Sun dep 2230, arr 8am Tue)

littlebellsmum Tue 11-Feb-14 21:45:54

Thank you - yes, there is availability on the dates we are looking at which is good - but clearly we need to make our mind up and book, so thanks for the warning smile

We are about 30 minutes from Portsmouth. Flying doesn't work as we are going to camp and take our own camping stuff.

However i am concerned about seasickness - Mashpot, how was it when you were on the boat?

DC3 is a bit of a monkey in the car and so we would need to try and split the trip frequently.

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Tue 11-Feb-14 21:49:30

cabins are for 1-4 people, so with 3 kids you'd have to book 2 - that would be an extra £220, ie a min of £700 altogether.

I would drive smile

littlebellsmum Tue 11-Feb-14 21:53:41

Thanks - we would only book one cabin and the little one could sleep on the floor in her blow up bed - we are looking for the end of August and so it's a little cheaper. Will look at both options smile

cheerup Tue 11-Feb-14 22:48:59

We've got one cabin booked for 2 adults & 3 children on our Caen crossing. When I booked with BF they were fine when I said the two youngest (5 and 8) would top & tail.

littlebellsmum Wed 12-Feb-14 11:03:35

Thanks Cheerup -I've tried booking and am not having any problems. Just need to make my mind up - which is easier said than done smile

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Wed 12-Feb-14 11:11:48

Oh that's interesting about BF letting you have extra kids in a cabin - how sensible of them!

Have a great time anyway, littlebellsmum smile

mashpot Wed 12-Feb-14 18:54:20

It was very calm when we sailed last July, no seasickness at all. You could forget you we're on a boat. When the beds are pulled down there would be very little room on the floor for a blow up bed though...

Methe Wed 12-Feb-14 19:10:37

It is a long way. We did it last year and was on the ferry at Dover at 6am and didn't get to our stopover at Grolejac until 7pm as the traffic driving through Paris was horrific. We left Grolejac at about 10am the next day and didn't get to Argeles until after 6pm.

My children were 4 and 8 and were fine but I spent the last few days of the holiday dreading the drive back and I can't tell you how desperate I was to get home when we got of the ferry at 7pm but then we had a 4 hr drive home! And then I was at work at 7am the next day [yawn]

Diesel alone cost £300 shock

All that said we had a fantastic time and are doing the same type of holiday this year except not going quite as far down and staying in Sarlat.

2 weeks isn't long enough to go that far south when you've got 4 days travelling IMO.

Umlauf Wed 12-Feb-14 19:15:50

I live nr Bilbao so do the journey a lot. It costs us about 200 - 250 pounds to do the drive through france (including tolls, petrol and the tunnel) and the ferry is about 300-600 depending on how lucky you are when you book it.

The ferry is fantastic for children, there is a pool, cinema, kids club, games on deck etc. The Bay of Biscay is known locally as the Bay of Seasick, but you can also get really lucky with regards to seeing whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. The cheaper the cabin, the lower down, which is often much better with seasickness.

TheOneWithTheNicestSmile Thu 13-Feb-14 10:56:00

Methe, you can avoid Paris quite easily from Calais, though sat navs always want to go that way so you need a road atlas or some en route addresses to put in (depends how flexible your satnav is I think)

Anyway we've gone via Abbeville, Rouen, Evreux & Chartres - then for Sarlat follow Orleans, Vierzon, Chateauroux & Limoges.

Rouen to Orleans is mostly N roads & they can be a bit slow in places but much nicer than being stuck in Paris traffic, & there's more to see than on the autoroute (& no tolls). The distance is roughly comparable.

OP would be starting from St Malo though which is shorter & also avoids Paris

Methe Thu 13-Feb-14 18:21:34

Yes we're going to avoid avoid avoid Paris this year. All those tunnels!

littlebellsmum Thu 13-Feb-14 20:52:18

thanks all- really appreciate it. now need to convince dh that we won't go to our usual festival as it will give us more time in the sunsmilesmile smile

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