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Road trip through France

(19 Posts)
Dotty342kids Wed 05-Sep-12 20:33:25

Hi all,
We're thinking of doing a road trip by getting ferry down to Santander in Northern Spain, then driving our way back up to Calais.
So, all the way up through France, stoppign off and doing 2-3 days in maybe three or four different places (to include an overnighter in Paris) en route.

We're not sure whether to do it by a company like keycamp or independantly.
Has anyone done anything like this?
If you've travelled through France where were your "must sees" and what do you wish you'd done / wish you'd visited?
DC's will be 10 and 8 by the way and would rather do active things than city things!

Furball Thu 06-Sep-12 06:47:08

We are interested in doing this too. so I'm just tagging on to your thread for ideas smile

PresumedInnocent Thu 06-Sep-12 08:28:00

Have a look at Sawdays Special places to stay in France. I tend to look there now as opposed to motorway hotels for stopovers and there are some lovely chambre d'hotes and small hotels.

frenchfancy Thu 06-Sep-12 19:09:54

Sounds like a great trip. If it were me I would make sure you take in the dordogne, La Rochelle (and Il de Ré) some Loire Chateaux (I like Villandry for the gardens).

For the kids (and you) I would take in Futuroscope and the Puy du Fou.

loopsngeorge Thu 06-Sep-12 22:32:55

We did this driving to the Costa Brava and back. We visited the Auvergne as i'd always wanted to go there and although the scenery wasn't quite as spectacular as I'd imagined, the volcano theme park was good and DS aged 7 loved it.
Carcassonne was a highlight and I'd definitely recommend stopping there. On the way back we stopped at a village called La Canourgue just north of the Millau bridge. It was only just off the motorway but it was absolutely lovely and apparently its the "gateway to the Gorges du Tarn" and there are lots of canoeing and watersports activities available.
We finished off with a few nights at Disneyland Paris and the last night at Le Touquet from where it was a short drive to Calais.
I loved the trip but DH who was doing all the driving found it a pain to be constantly lugging bags to hotel rooms and thought it was too bitty. It was quite labour intensive researching all the places to stay as well! Very easy though to book hotels through eg. Hope that helps a bit.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 06-Sep-12 22:35:24

Carnac is worth a visit.

Huelgoat is amazing.

Went there when I was 13 and would love to go back.

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 06-Sep-12 22:38:10

we did this using Sawdays and their 'special' places were mostly a bit odd. I wouldn't use their guide again (except for the Chateau in Burgandy where you had to share a meal with the hosts and speak French which was actually quite nice)

maillotjaune Thu 06-Sep-12 22:39:34

Canoe on the Dordogne (lots of places, think it's the Vezere valley?) or the Dronne (Brantome).

Visit a cave or other prehistory stuff in Dordogne.

If you're anywhere near Saumur there was an amazing zoo in an old disused quarry - 4 years ago but should still be there! Can't remember more than it was to the south of the city.

Dotty342kids Fri 07-Sep-12 12:51:54

ooh, thanks! You've all given me some interesting ideas to be starting off with.
Any more recommendations for particular places to visit or stay would be gratefully received.

Peeenut Sun 09-Sep-12 17:57:38

W've done road trips through Europe for years smile Next year are planning the same journey as but in reverse. We've done a mixture of booking chalets, mobile / canvas tents, Theme parks, nice hotels and cheap hotels. You came want to look a Canvas, Vacansoleil, Venue Holidays. Once you've found a good place it's worth looking at the actual campsite website to see what they offer. When pricing look at how much deduction you take off if booking your own ferries.

I use a site like AA Route Finder, put in the start and end points then research where's interesting on the way and look for appropriate accomodation and deals. is great for petrol and toll estimates but its been playing up for me recently.

We're booking a campsite in Noja, not far from the Spanish ports for a week.
I would recommend south of Biarritz around St Jean de Luz, it's only a few hours from Santander and beautiful.

If you were doing the shortest route to Calais, you would also pass Futurescope in Poitiers. Tickets can be got with tesco club card vouchers. Many of the big hotel chains are on the doorstep. You can do 4 star with pool, or etap, bb etc bb are good for family rooms for 4.

Another logical place would be a few days in the Loire, or the Loire Atlantic.

If they're interested in anything war related there's a few around the Calais area. We went to one of the missile places, it had some bits to do with rockets development and space travel.

Peeenut Sun 09-Sep-12 17:59:04

Apologies for typos and issuing words, I'm on an iPad.

Dotty342kids Mon 10-Sep-12 08:05:52

Oh, that's great Peenut, thank you. We've now booked a ferry (to Bilbao) and are currently thinking about doing a day or two there, then across to the Pyrenees for a couple of days, then Dordogne, then up towards Paris. Not sure if that's a very practical route or what's involved distance wise though!
Your trip sounds fab and thanks for all the tips!

Peeenut Mon 10-Sep-12 12:38:41

All details very much estimates grin but it helps give an idea.

Trip One

St Jean de Luz (beaches, French Basque + Pyrenees hills)
Begerac (Dordogne used city to navigate general area)
Paris, there's some nice areas outside of Paris like Fontainebleau.
1304 km, driving 13 hr 18 mins

If you did the Loire (used Saumur) instead of Paris, it'd be 1294 km, 14 hr 30 mins.

Trip Two
Pampalona - I think it's more of a few hours visit, or daytrip, rather than longer stay. It'd also be a nice contrast from Bilbao and the north coast.
Luz-Saint-Sauveur - many nice towns around but I think this one is in a good position to show off the area, you need to spend at least a few days here.
1675 km, driving 17 hr 40 mins

Trip Three
Clermont-Ferrand - I'm sending you there because it's onto my To Do List.
1725 km, driving 17 hr, 43 mins

Tolls, 1st came at around 55E, 2nd around 89E, 3rd 104E

I enjoyed that grin better continue planning my own now.

Peeenut Mon 10-Sep-12 12:41:53

I didn't finish off Trip Three. Paris and Calais were both included on the end.

Dotty342kids Mon 10-Sep-12 13:46:35

Peenut, you are ace! Are you secretly a travel agent?!
That is so brilliant........... I don't quite know what else to say except that I shall be rushing out to buy a guidebook to France tomorrow so that I can look up all your wonderful suggestions.

Chopstheduck Mon 10-Sep-12 14:10:13

I've done driving holidays for the past few years. We do tend to use keycamp or the like as bases, and then throw in a few hotels as well. Last year we did 3000 miles over 2 weeks.

Calais - Toulous (disappointing) - Carcassonne (for day, fab) - Perpignan - Geneva - Calais

From Perpignan, we did Girona and Andorra as day trips, and from Geneva we went to Evian, Mont Blanc and Lukerbad (biggest thermal spa in Europe).

I think having camp bases works out a bit better than driving non stop, as you can have days just sitting round the pool, having BBQs and relaxing, and the kids went to kids clubs. We've driven all over Western Europe, 12 countries I think now!

Places like residhotel or adagio are quite good too - apartment hotels that were almost like little houses, with own kitchen, lounge, dishwasher, oven, shared pool. Otherwise travelling can be quite expensive if you have to eat out for every single meal and can't even make a sandwich.

CestTout Mon 10-Sep-12 14:47:15

The zoo mentioned above is Zoo le Doue here

Second Suamur - used to live in Angers and loved going to Saumur.

Also can recommend Ile d'Oleron.

Fragglewump Tue 26-Mar-13 23:01:01

Lurking before I commit to a holiday plan at last

Portofino Wed 27-Mar-13 09:40:03

The Doue zoo is fabulous! Best zoo I have ever been to. Would second the Dordogne - Sarlat, Les Eyzies; Cognac is interesting, La Rochelle, Mont St Michel, Honfleur.

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