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France advice please...

(15 Posts)
LittleRen Mon 09-Oct-17 15:37:04

Ok so we're currently a family of four, soon to be five... we have been invited to a wedding in August next year, near Aquitaine in France. Normally we go on two holidays a year, that may change when we add a baby into the mix... usually one holiday is in Tuscany as we just love it there and the one year we didn’t go we really missed it. We were hoping to hold off RSVPing to this invite until next year after we've had the baby and decided where our holidays will be but for some reason they are pushing for a response now (the excuse is that they need catering numbers, but I don’t believe that…).

We have never really holidayed in France and so far things like Eurotunnel and some flights haven't yet been released for Aug 2018. So I’m looking for some planning help here, ideally if we go we would like to make it into a holiday rather than dragging three children (aged 5, 3 and 8 months) over there for a long weekend. What is the best way to get to the Bordeaux region of France – is it best to get a longer ferry closer to the destination, or the Euro Tunnel and then have a longer drive in France? Also can anyone recommend any nice areas near Bordeaux where we could move onto after the wedding.
I did seriously think about driving onto Tuscany after the wedding so that we can combine the two, but the thought of that long drive makes me shudder a little, but I do know that it’s possible with lots of planning. I would love to drive to Tuscany (we always fly and hate the hassle of car hire, child seats etc) but going via Bordeux is far less ‘direct’ than going straight to Tuscany. We have a big car so can cram lots of luggage in there so that isn’t an issue, but I’m not sure how the 8 month old would cope with car travel for that long.

The only other option is to leave the two older children with my Husband’s parents and fly over with the baby, but there are barely any direct flights anyway (we are close to Manchester) and I am not sure that would be an easier option.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Branleuse Mon 09-Oct-17 15:46:29

can you not fly into bordeaux? Its a lovely area

LittleRen Mon 09-Oct-17 16:14:02

@branleuse it's definitely an option, but there are no direct flights (there may be one direct flight from Liverpool but can't tell yet as too early) and would also mean car hire. Fairly happy to do this if we need to as we do it when we go to Italy... we never fly direct when we go there and then we have to hire a car but I thought it may be easier to drive to France, I'm really not sure though as never done a drive holiday before.

Can you recommend any areas to stay in the region?

EmilyAlice Mon 09-Oct-17 16:19:38

I would take the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen Ouistreham and drive down. You could go overnight and do it easily in a day or during the day and stop for a night. About six hours non-stop to Bordeaux. There are masses of lovely places on that coast. You have the beautiful Basque coast, the beaches west of Bordeaux, the Charente, the Ile de Ré, and on up to Brittany. All lovely.

Branleuse Mon 09-Oct-17 16:58:56

What sort of scenery and things do you like? There are beautiful beaches not too far away, or you could go inland and have lakes and hills. The dordogne is beautiful and not too far

Heratnumber7 Mon 09-Oct-17 17:01:44

Drive. It means you can stretch your legs whenever you need to.

Arcs Jon is near by and is v nice. The biggest sand dune in Europe is close by too, and worth a visit.

Trottersindependenttraders Mon 09-Oct-17 17:11:50

We are also near Manchester and for the past few years have been to the Dordogne for our holidays. We usually do Portsmouth - St Malo on the overnight ferry and then do the drive in one. French roads are so much better than here and even with stops, this year we did it in 8 hours so I'd imagine that Bordeaux could be 6 hours (someone will come along and correct me or confirm this shortly).

To us it's not a chore, it's part of the holiday. Arrive in Portsmouth early, wander round, have tea, board ferry, have a glass of wine whilst we set off, good sleep, breakfast and off we go.

I think Flybe may fly to Bordeaux and their timetable should be released any time soon. Car hire costs in France have always put us off flying and hiring a car.

I'd have thought your hosts might want to back off until you've had the baby and know what day it is again.

LittleRen Mon 09-Oct-17 22:36:34

Thanks everybody some great help... I was hoping to sit down tonight and look at it all but the kids have stopped that happening so I will have a proper read through tomorrow and will no doubt come back with more questions!! Thanks again!

Margomyhero Mon 09-Oct-17 22:42:46

I went to Bordeaux this summer. Had two nights there prior to a fortnight in the Dordogne.

We live in Yorkshire so have a five hour drive down to any of the ferry ports /euro tunnel. Took the overnight ferry then in the morning drive straight down to Bordeaux.

It all depends on how the DC travel, and who drives.

Friendzone Tue 10-Oct-17 11:50:31

You can fly to Bergerac from Liverpool (dreaded Ryanair) cheaply and the flights are out. It's a good airport for the Dordogne. I think Sarlat is supposed to be nice place to stay. We haven't been to France since we were kids either, so I can't really recommend, but I did quite a bit of research a few weeks back as we were nearly going to go!
Flybes are going to be released in November they say.

Heratnumber7 Tue 10-Oct-17 17:44:29

Sarlat is nice, yes. As is Les Eyzies.

Glitteryfrog Tue 10-Oct-17 17:50:20

Try Limoges - if you're east of Bordeaux it might not be too far.
Flights from - Gatwick, Stansted, East Mids etc

namechangedtoday15 Thu 12-Oct-17 22:28:30

I went to Uni in Bordeaux, its a beautiful part of the world. Didn't have a family then so can't recommend family friendly areas but definitely make a holiday of it - make sure you visit St Emilion and bring some wine home wine

skankingpiglet Thu 12-Oct-17 23:25:27

We went to Biscarrosse this summer which is fairly close to Bordeaux with a 3yo and 11mo in tow. We took the overnight Portsmouth to Caen crossing and drove down. The drive took significantly more than the 6hrs mentioned upthread thanks to the many toilet stops demanded by the 3yo and a navigation issue caused by the 3yo adding in a stop unbeknownst to us. It was more like 10hrs. Ferry crossing worked well though, I only wish it took a little longer as by the time you get the kids settled you have around 5hrs sleep before you need to get up and ready to go. Fine for the kids who can just go back to sleep in the car, a bit crap for the adults who have lengthy drive ahead.
We are returning next year and are thinking about the possibility of getting the ferry to Bilbao or train-ing it. The Bilbao crossing can apparently be a bit rough at times which is putting us off, but ultimately I think more ferry time and a shorter drive is preferable.

The place we stayed was fantastic for our younger children. They had a great time and the 3yo has requested we return next year.

profpoopsnagle Sat 14-Oct-17 17:56:08

We usually get the overnight ferry from Portsmouth into St Malo/Caen. We prefer St Malo as the journey is easier with children that age- it leaves and docks at sensible times so you do get much more of a rest. The Caen trip isn't that bad though, and as it docks around 7am, you get a good head start on the roads. The toll roads down to Bordeaux are fine, the hardest bit for us was the toll plaza just before Bordeaux but I expect we hit it at a bad time.

You can book now for fares next August, and you have to pay just a £40 deposit. If you are thinking about it I would definitely book something now as they do get full, especially the cabins. You can also travel in the daytime, if you do I would also recommend a cabin as at least you would have somewhere private to rest/shower etc. You can also book a single, or come back via a different port -St Malo return is always a day crossing so we use another.

The cheaper fares are midweek, Friday night is the most expensive (plus driving on Saturdays in France in August are the worst days!). You can also book a single, or come back via a different port -St Malo return is always a day crossing so we use another. I have a code for a 10% discount on Brittany Ferries if you are interested, just PM me.

I would have suggested a stop at Puy Du Fou on the way down/up but your children are a little too young to get the best from that just yet. We have stayed in the Dordogne which is lovely, and the Vendee which is much more beachy. I really only know about campsites, but many of them have mobile homes/chalets if you like to stay in places like that. They can be ideal when you have a young family- pool, playgrounds, other children for them to make friends and play with.

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