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Driving in France on Black Saturday (peak summer holiday travelling day)

(42 Posts)
HereComesYourMam Mon 15-Jun-15 14:30:27

We're going to France for two weeks at the end of July. After spending a week in the Dordogne (near Montignac/Sarlat), we'll be driving to Arcachon, west of Bordeaux. I'm starting to get a bit worried about the traffic though... we'll be making that journey on Saturday 1 August, which will be one of the busiest days of the year in France (hadn't really thought it through when I booked it).

I don't suppose anyone with local knowledge has any tips on how we might be able to avoid the worst of it...? Or could maybe even put my mind at rest that it might not be too bad...? <clutches at straws>

I'm not keen to go completely cross-country as DS gets a bit carsick on windy roads...

iwantgin Mon 15-Jun-15 21:34:44

Same here. I regret picking that date.

Lookng at your route, OP, it isn't so far. I suspect that you might be okay. Just allow longer than you think.

Perhaps post on Trip Advisor Aquitaine destination forum and see if you can pick up any tips on there.

Methe Mon 15-Jun-15 21:37:54

We always travel on a Thursday to avoid the weekends. I've heard bad things about driving on Saturdays in August sad

Sarlat is lovely smile

Sea bands are great for travel sickness. I had to wear them in the dordogne last year because of the windy roads. You can get the, for kids too.

HereComesYourMam Mon 15-Jun-15 22:36:30

Ah - good idea iwantgin - I will try that, thanks.

Yes, Methe, Sarlat IS lovely! Hm might look into the bands... I remember trying them for morning sickness and not being convinced but I have heard other people say they're good for children's travel sickness - thank you for the suggestion.

clam Mon 15-Jun-15 22:44:28

We ended up travelling to France that weekend last year, and I googled like mad to try and pre-empt any hot spots. In the end, we organised it that we spent that Saturday in Paris (travelling in from outside by train) and then continued our journey south/east on the Sunday. Barely saw a car! Our friends, travelling to the same destination, didn't do the Paris stop, and had no problems.

iloveaglassofwine Mon 15-Jun-15 22:45:33

We're driving from near Sarlat up to Caen that day too. We'll just set off early and allow plenty of time - not much else we can do really. I'll also have my list of I spy answers ready for the extra hours it might take to entertain my 6 & 3 year old grin

dreamingofsun Tue 16-Jun-15 14:53:57

if you are driving north you are going to be ok though as everyone floods south don't they? if you can start really early you might beat the rush.

AlternativeTentacles Tue 16-Jun-15 14:55:43

We are on our way TO Sarlat that day - get off the ferry at Calais 5am, then head straight down avoiding Paris. Can't wait. We shall wave at you if we see you.

Ruthiebabes Tue 16-Jun-15 17:57:11

We travelled on black Saturday a few yrs ago from Le Mans to La Rochelle.. Traffic v v heavy.. Go very early or late eveningsmile

HereComesYourMam Wed 17-Jun-15 12:59:32

Thanks for all the advice/suggestions! I think we need to assume it'll be bad then, and plan accordingly. We'll try leaving early, and I'll do some research on places we could stop off at if the traffic starts getting heavy.

Bought some v funky kids sea bands from Boots - DS will like wearing them anyway!

AlternativeTentacles will look out for you smile. If you don't know the Sarlat area already, I really recommend the hanging gardens at Marqueyssac - beautiful + amazing views (+ good for kids).

ZenNudist Wed 17-Jun-15 13:02:38

Groan,yet more things to think about for a driving holiday to France.

Think I might fly in august instead!

thatsshallot Wed 17-Jun-15 13:05:56

We drove from near Chartres to Sarlat the sat after that last year and the A20 was hellish but everything else was absolutely fine - might be worth having a couple of N route maps up your sleeve. Also as PP recommended a selection of pit stops if necessary - it's amazing how even 20 mins outside can really make a difference.

We're doing probably the worst and driving up from South the last weekend in August - no idea what I was thinking, esp as School have just announced the whole of the following week as inset days

Enjoy - beautiful place

Magicalmrmistofeles Wed 17-Jun-15 13:09:16

From experience it will be hideously busy. ARe you going on toll roads? Be prepared for queues and if you can, get one of these:

www.saneftolling.co.uk/subscription

HereComesYourMam Wed 17-Jun-15 13:26:18

Magical that is such a helpful link - thank you! We'll definitely register for that.

iwantgin Wed 17-Jun-15 14:36:24

We have the automated toll tag -but didn't get it from Sanef.

Ours is from APRR - iirc it was only 10 Euro to start - deposit, if you like. Then per month of usage it is 1.70Euros. So if you are in France July and August - you will be charged for those two months.

I find it really does save time, and it's good to see the statement which is viewable online about a month afterwards.

Website is in French - but I think you can translate parts of it into English.

Methe Wed 17-Jun-15 14:36:29

We've got one of those. Makes life much easier!

Methe Wed 17-Jun-15 14:39:14

The sanef one. I've just had my bill from ile de re at half term £91.

They take it out at the end of the month after your return, or split if you've traveled over two months

Sherborne Wed 17-Jun-15 14:49:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

doradoo Wed 17-Jun-15 14:56:51

We came back that weekend last year - driving home to Germany from the Med. we left the coast at about 5am - and the queues on the Autoroute du Soleil were horrendous at that time (not where you're going I know) but I assumed that a lot of people had driven overnight on the friday to arrive as early as poss on the Saturday - but even that early in the morning the tailbacks were extensive.

If your accomodation is sorted and you don't need to shop etc when you arrive, I'd be inclined to leave later on the saturday to miss the bulk of the rush. And / or split the journey - so find somewhere en route to spend a day.

We got the autotag - or tried to - it was delivered after we'd left for France wink - not going this year so we wont get to use it!

castlesintheair Wed 17-Jun-15 19:06:23

I live in the Centre of France and last year we drove on that day (yes you'd think we'd know not to) to Narbonne. It was pretty horrendous, think it took about 15 hours. We left at 5am too but so did the rest of France! However whilst we were heading south, going east-west might not be so bad if you leave early. Check out the route nationales if you are planning to take the autoroute, so you have a back-up.

sunseeker66 Thu 18-Jun-15 15:44:53

Eeeeekk we are driving this day too from Valence to Noyelles-Goddault where we stop before Calais the next day. Hope it wont be too bad.

iwantgin how long did it take for the tag to come from APPR, I am just in the process of ordering one, we go in 5 weeks? thanks

iwantgin Thu 18-Jun-15 16:43:49

I don't remember very well as it was three years ago but it didn't take long.

You should be okay.

sunseeker66 Thu 18-Jun-15 17:32:13

Thanks gin. Fingers crossed it comes in time.

frenchfancy Fri 19-Jun-15 06:56:57

Your biggest problem is going to be the Bordeaux Periferique, where you are going south along with the rest of the world. It is very difficult to avoid, but I would expect that part of your journey to take an extra hour or 90 mins.

Branleuse Fri 19-Jun-15 07:24:16

Id just avoid paris. But then we always avoid driving through paris as itz always tailbacks, not just that day. It looks quicker when you check distance but it never is

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