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Anyone driven from Calais to Carcassonne with 3 small children and survived to tell the tale?

(11 Posts)
cravingchocolate Wed 17-Jun-09 10:59:44

We are off on holiday next Friday and was just wondering if anyone had done this journey and if there are any tips or recommended places to stay en route. We will be driving with 3 dd's aged 6,4 and 6 months.

Also are there any suggestions of things to do and places to go when we are there?

Thanks in advance! smile

epithet Wed 17-Jun-09 11:10:33

We did similar a few years back - Dunkerque to coastal Languedoc, with a 2 y.o. and 10 m.o. Some things I remember:

1. The satnav insisted that we drive around the Paris Peripherique, which was...interesting... Have a route planned ahead if that doesn't appeal!

2. After Paris, the toll motorway was a fantastically easy and quiet drive straight down the middle of France. Big cities we stopped in were Orleans and Clermont-Ferrand. There are lots of smaller places as well. The volcanic region of Aveyron looked very interesting with lots of picturesque villages/small towns.

3. We did it all in one day, which was madness, in hindsight. Definitely break your trip for an overnight stay somewhere.

Sweetpeasmum Wed 17-Jun-09 11:27:05

We go to the coast near Narbonne every year and have tried a number of ways to tackle the journey. We've done it in one day which was not fun for us or DS. We've also split the journey; we've stopped in Paris (lots of fun) and in Bourges. Bourges is good as it is about halfway through France and has a number of hotels next to the motorway (Novotel, etc)as well as some in town. It has a lovely cathedral and a pretty town centre if you wanted to spend some time there.

talkingbook Wed 17-Jun-09 21:12:23

We went last summer and did the journey in one go.
We had decided we would drive through the night so the dc would sleep then from breakfast time onwards stop every 3 hours for a break.

Not the best plan and an overnight stop is the best option as it is a long way and took ages.

We were fine around Paris particularly as dh had borrowed a sat nav and I was half asleep but you need to be a good map reader if no sat nav.Rest of the journey is easy on the toll motorways - we did the western route via limoges.Agree around Bourges good stop over .

Once there:

Carcassonne obviously is good to visit and the older dc enjoyed climbing around the ramparts and wandering in the evening when it is lit up.

Bit of a drive but we most enjoyed visiting the Cathar castles particularly Queribus and Peyrepertuse.

Mirepoix is a lovely little town for a wander and has a very good market (Mondays).

VeraChuckandDave Wed 17-Jun-09 21:28:49

We holidayed near Carcassone with just one dc (a 4 month old ds1).

I flew with ds and dh drove with the luggage (and MIL - wouldn't recommend that bit grin). Could you do something like that to cut travelling times for the dcs?

Cathar castles - Queribus etc - are absolutely incredible (very steep climb up though). Highlight of our visit by some distance. Carcassone itself is fine but a bit tacky, imho.

Badpups Wed 17-Jun-09 23:08:34

We do the drive regularly (well from Calais to Beziers which is almost the same). Children now 6,6 & 3 but were 2 yrs younger when we started doing it.

We've always done it in one go both there and back without any problems at all.

Going down we always travel through the night so that DCs sleep and DH and I share the driving. This has the advantage that the peripherique around Paris is empty and there are few lorries on the road.

On the way back we travel during the day with stops every 4 hours or so. DCs get a bit bored and we get fed up with continuous children's music cd being played but it has always been manageable.

There's loads to do in the area. Carcassonne is a must to visit but is very busy in the summer. Narbonne also very interesting especially on market day and make sure you visit the indoor food market which is amazing. Cathar castles are interesting. The little yellow train is meant to be good although we haven't been on it yet. Lots of small farm/animal type parks around. If your family like animals then definitely visit Sigean which is a huge safari park.

cravingchocolate Thu 18-Jun-09 08:20:34

Thanks everyone - dh is now talking about doing it in one hit! shock I have agreed with him but asked him to be open minded about stopping overnight if we need to. We have sat nav and we have been on the via michelin site and printed off a route.

I like the idea of flying, while dh drives - so you think that he would let me fly with dd1 aged 6 and then drive with the other two and the luggage!? grin

Will def look at how close the safari park is the girls love that kind of thing.

Portofino Thu 18-Jun-09 08:36:06

We're doing Montpellier from Brussels in a couple of weeks so will drive down the east side of France, past Dijon, Lyon, Valence etc. We would totally avoid Paris...Last time we did it we stayed in a Novotel at Macon which was great. It's fully booked this year so will stay in another one at Lyon Nord, a bit further on. I can definitely recommend the Novotel chain for families. Indoor/outdoor play areas, pools in lots of cases, children's menus etc.

aznerak Fri 19-Jun-09 09:30:26

Hi cravingchocolate

Sorry, I missed this one!

My parents have a villa in the Languedoc so we drive down there several times a year and have been doing so since our youngest was 6 months old.

We have done it various ways - all in one day and stopping overnight! What our preferred method is, is stopping overnight driving down - it is part of the holiday and is fun but then coming home, we bite the bullet, leave at 6am and get home the same day. We always take Eurotunnel which does make a big difference timewise. Are you taking the tunnel or the ferry and which route are you taking?

Go to and wherever you arrive in France, type that and your destination and it will give you the best route. If you arrive into Calais (with tunnel or ferry) it will advise using Paris. We have done it SO many times Paris isn't a problem but it was a bit hairy first time round! Do you have a sat nav with Euro mapping? If so, it's a godsend!

Mum and Dad's villa is about 45 minutes from Carcassonne so we know the area well. If you want some ideas of things to see and do, you are welcome to look at the relevant pages on their website - let me know if you want the address - no worries if not! Just there is tons of info on activities, things to see and do etc.

You should have a fantastic time - we adore the region and never get bored!

cravingchocolate Fri 19-Jun-09 12:43:26

Hi aznerak,

Thanks for that!

Yes please to the website - I have never been to that area and would love some suggestions. I think that we are about 45 minutes from Carcassonne too.

We have looked at viamichelin and printed off the route via paris, we do have sat nav too. We are planning on getting the ferry as we are 2 hours from Dover and the girls will enjoy it, we will probably have breakfast on it and let them walk around a bit.

Do you know what kind of weather to expect next week?


aznerak Fri 19-Jun-09 18:12:53

Hi cravingchocolate
Whereabouts are you staying? I speak to our neighbours daily so if you are close to us, can update you! Weather in that region is extremely localised though so if you are not that close, my forecast could be way out!

My parents' website is Click on REGION along the top and then within that section, on the left there are buttons for each thing e.g. restaurants, beaches, etc. Also click on ACTIVITIES along the top and again there are buttons on the left with sub categories e.g. children, horse riding, watersports etc


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