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driving to South France

(118 Posts)
kiwibella Sat 15-May-10 09:37:05

I'm trying to budget our travel expenses for getting down to Southern France in the half term. I reckon the tolls will be about £50 each way but uncertain about petrol costs. Actually we have diesel Ive read about filling up at the supermarket instead of services but any experiences or prices would be very helpful.

RunJHC Sat 15-May-10 21:35:57

Hi we drive to the Alps quite a lot and tolls each way from Calais via Reims/Dijon are about 70 euros, which obviously at the moment is about £70, so it might be more than £50 depending on how far south you're going...

RacingSnake Sat 15-May-10 22:10:48

Going to do this in the summer - any hints or tips would be much appreciated.

SuzieHomemaker Sun 16-May-10 12:47:09

We've been doing this for years. It is a great way to get to your holiday. Our top tips:
- get good maps - we use Michelin
- plan your journey in advance, dont rely exclusively on satnav. Know which cities you are heading in the direction of.
- share the driving
- take lots of breaks - we have a strict rule of taking a break every 2 hours.
- use the motorways, allow around £80 each way for tolls. If it costs less you've won!
- dont worry about buying fuel at supermarkets. There is a difference but that may be used up in trying to find cheap fuel.
- in peak season stop for lunch early as motorway service stations get very full
- if you are pressed for time buy picnic stuff in service stations (they have it and its normally good quality). Restaurant meals will tend to take 1-1.5 hours.
- DVD players are great for kids
- Book any overnight stops in advance - dont think that you will be able to just turn up - we have made this mistake and wound up sleeping in the car.
- enjoy it!

Fenouille Sun 16-May-10 13:18:22

- viaMichelin website will do a price calculation for tolls and fuel cost (you can set car type, fuel consumption).
- Bison Fute provide information on road congestion. Worth checking to leave earlier/later to avoid the worst of it.
- Radio Traffic have traffic news in English during the peak holiday season. In most places its on 107.7 (the music's generally crap but the traffic info can be invaluable).

SuzieHomemaker Sun 16-May-10 13:59:57

We talked about this over lunch. These are the top tips from our children who have between them 35 years of self-drive holidays:

- DVD players (ideally one per child) with headphones. Make sure they are working each and every time you set off.
- Toilet breaks - one goes, all go
- Blankets/pillows in the car so children can make nests
- If old enough allow children to have their own water bottles - no sticky/fizzy drinks.
- Use travel sickness tablets if there is the slightest doubt and take them before the journet starts.
- Make sure children get a run around regularly during the journey
- Get children to take off shoes/socks as soon as they get in the car and put them somewhere that parents can find them.
- Get children to wear comfortable clothes suited to where breaks will be taken.
- Dont let children buy toys in the service stations - set a rule and stick by it.
- Dont worry about children sleeping in the car. They will probably still sleep at night.
- Dont allow books to be read.
- Take water free hand wash, wet wipes, toilet roll & kitchen roll all are useful on the journey. De-odouriser will be useful if there is a disaster
- Take spare t-shirts
- Dont forget car chargers for games consoles
- Make sure the first aid kit is accessible
- Pack an overnight bag for overnight stops
- Keep the children informed so they know how long the journey will take. Explain why it is necessary, what they will enjoy when they get to the destination.

This has got the children thinking so there may yet be more tips to come!

kiwibella Sun 16-May-10 21:20:46

thanks so much, these tips are amazing and will be noted and used!
I've tried to use the Michelin site but got a bit lost (confused???) so will have to play with that some more.

Drayford Mon 17-May-10 00:18:18

the AA site used to have info about petrol prices, try googling them..

Portofino Mon 17-May-10 09:41:55

if your french is up to it this is a useful site. You can also subscribe to a Toll thingy for your car. You pay 10 euros, they send you the RFID thing for your car, and you drive straight through the fast lane at the tolls. Cost is charged to your credit card. It really does save time stuck in queues at the pay stations.

Portofino Mon 17-May-10 09:44:17

PS I always recommend the Novotels for stopovers too. Family rooms, pools, playgrounds, kids eat breakfast free. Food is nice and reasonably priced. Accor Hotels You can choose a hotel from the map, or on a predefined route.

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 17-May-10 09:48:14

Be aware that petrol stations are not as frequent on French roads as they are on our roads. (I think it's better on the motorway network.)

I have a bit of a thing about running out of petrol blush but have come very close to it on a couple of occasions in France because of the relative lack of garages! And some garages are automated ones and only work with French bank cards for some reason.

So my personal rule, as the driver, is always to start looking for a garage when the petrol tank is half empty, as this should give you plenty of time to come across one.

fatsatsuma Mon 17-May-10 09:49:06

Portofino I've heard about the toll thingy you mention, but can't find it. Do you have a link? My French isn't great but I'll have a go!

MarshaBrady Mon 17-May-10 09:51:59

How many hours/days does it take?


Webuyanycardotcom Mon 17-May-10 09:55:20

If you go to Paris and then head south there are no tolls once you are past Paris. Depending on where you are heading, you may get to go over the Millau bridge which is spectacular.

We went last year and went south on the toll roads and north on the Millau bridge route and the journey home was much prettier and just as easy as the toll roads.

We had 2 days of driving each way and the dds were fine with a DS, books, pens/paper and comics. We had lots of snack type food and just went with the flow really, stopping when someone needed the loo or if we decided we wanted to eat. We had to change clothes when it got hotter and lots of water to drink was a must. We too had invidiual bottles that we refilled.

We camped overnight (were camping anyway) and it was really easy to find somewhere to stay - we literally pulled off the road when we'd had enough driving and found the nearest site.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 17-May-10 11:08:11

We do the toll thingy. We use liber-t. Very very easy, we sent off for one and it arrived within the week.

Also recommend lots and lots of tissues. dd had a most mega nose bleed on the way down a couple of years ago due to needing airconditioning in the car all the way. We were on the autoroute and took a while to find somewhere to stop. It looked like she had been slaughtered!

the only thing I don't like is the toilets <british emoticon>

Ruthiebabes Mon 17-May-10 13:31:07

Portofino... I have just suscribed to the toll.. I hope!! I stumbled my way through the website with my limited French!!

Where abouts in the car do I put it, and will it be obvious as to what lane I need to be in at the tolls???

We are travelling from Calais to Charente Maritime on the 1st weekend of August and apparently the traffic will be very busy.. a black day apparently!!!

jenpet Mon 17-May-10 13:34:23

if you look at type in where from and where to it will give you a fairly accurate cost of petrol or diesel, a breakdown of all the tolls (as well as detailed route planning)...I live in France & have no sense of direction whatsoever, but find it much easier to find my way around here than in the UK...

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 17-May-10 14:27:40

Put it near your rearview mirror but remember to remove it when you leave the car. The lane is generally on the left. Great big Liber t sign over it.

Tis quite fun as mainland europeans act as though we may have got in the wrong lane when we go, they hang back (probably muttering silly Brit) and its very smug making as the barrier lifts and you sail through.

fatsatsuma Mon 17-May-10 14:42:50

Portofino and OhYouBadBadKitten I've also stumbled around the liberte site with my patchy French!

I'm a bit confused about which option to go for. We are going to be travelling all over France during June, July and August, but it seems that there are different schemes for different areas and different types of user. Any advice in working in all out would be very gratefully received!

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 17-May-10 15:51:57

could have sworn I'd replied to this!
we use sanef liber-t. The website seems to be down though confused here we paid a deposit. Then in each month thatwe use it w have to pay a small rental charge, plus the tolls. They are charged to our credit card.

hope it helps a bit.

OllieWollieWoo Mon 17-May-10 16:20:36

Avoid Paris ring road would be my big tip (no idea which route you are thinking of) ! We drive to France every year, DH a confident/good/experienced foriegn driver etc etc but every year we see accidents/near misses/bad driving on the Paris ring road. Last year 2 cars going at high speed were mm's away from crashing as one drifted out of his lane and we were right behind. Horrible! We took a different route on the way back that avoided Paris - added an hour to the journey but far more relaxing!

Fab tips by other posters. The DVD players are a must - I always buy a couple of new films for DC to watch and take a few favourites too. Last year I also got them a pack of small cars each to play with - big hit! This year they have got one of the those magnetic playmobil mini sets - castle with knights - probably be a nightmare if they drop them and can't reach them tho!

We invent silly games - last years favourite was "campervan or caravan" - you had to say which you thought would come past next! Or guess the number of bridges til the next mway junction! (DC are 4.5 and 3 so easily pleased!).

OllieWollieWoo Mon 17-May-10 16:21:34

Ruthibabes - we are going to the CM in a months time! Love it!

Missus84 Mon 17-May-10 16:25:32

We did this a few years as children - ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre, then driving down to Perpignan. After the disasterous first year my parents always drove overnight, so we'd just sleep in the car.

mummytime Mon 17-May-10 16:35:50

Don't stop for lunch at lunchtime. Services heaving between 12 and 2, empty the rest of the time. Get a nice plastic table cloth so you can picnic like the french.

WorzselMummage Mon 17-May-10 16:37:36

What'd the youngest child you recon could withstand the drive ?

I thought about driving down next year but DS would only be 2 1/2 so maybe to young ?

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