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Dordogne to the North of England

(13 Posts)
Blackcathaireverywhere Sun 09-Feb-14 14:48:51

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience of driving from the Dordogne (Sarlat area), via Calais-Dover, back to the North of England?

We are obviously also doing this trip in reverse at the beginning of our holiday, but we are stopping a few places for a few days, so breaking it up seems more simple.

On the way home, I'm thinking maybe, Dordogne to Blois, to Calais to home. But that is three consecutive days of 5 hour drives, which doesn't sound too much fun. Is there a good way of doing this? Is there anywhere anyone would recommend as a nice place to stop? I did wonder if we could leave the Dordogne, drive somewhere (!) three-ish hours away and spend half a day there, then head on for another three hours. But then that still leaves a fair chucnk of the journey.

Any expereinces/suggestions (we do have 2 children, otherwise, we'd just go for it)?Thank you.

Electryone Wed 12-Feb-14 23:48:07

We drove from Glasgow to the Dordogne a few years ago (and obviously back again!), only stopping off in Folkestone. We make driving part of the holiday and although Calais to where we went made for a very long drive, it was still a good day, we took a picnic with us and had a nice lunch. Our boys were fine, maybe we have just been lucky but as long as they have the DVD player and food they are happy! We have did a longer drive in a day to, Calais to near Carcassonne in the Languedoc.

Annebronte Fri 14-Feb-14 08:00:36

Another option is the Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry, which cuts the driving down.

Allalonenow Fri 14-Feb-14 08:10:37

Or Hull to Zeebrugge ferry, also a good route.

cathpip Fri 14-Feb-14 08:22:55

We have driven from North Yorkshire to Grindelwald in Switzerland and back again for a holiday 2 years ago when the dc were 3 and 18 months. We drove to the tunnel and stayed overnight, got an early train and then just drove 9 hours, we did do 2 stops in France as all the picnic places on the motorways are lovely for a leg stretch and for the kids to have a run around! In the car we had DVD players and a cool box full of snacks, theory being it was not going to hurt them to eat crap for one daysmile. We are driving to the south of France this year, dc will be 5,3 and 4 months. We plan on doing the same this year, drive to the tunnel, stay overnight, early train and then drive with a couple of motorway picnic stops. Theory being that we stop every 3 hours for an hours break, it's worked very well for us.

Indith Fri 14-Feb-14 08:35:45

Done it loads. family in South West France and I grew up in Hull and now live in Durham so done it as a child and as an adult with my own children. We do Durham to Dover, cross around 4pm and spend the night in Calais then tackle the next drive down to Bordeaux the next day.

SquidgyMummy Fri 14-Feb-14 12:17:26

We live in the Dordogne, and family is in Kent, so we just grit our teeth and drive overnight to the channel and cross in the morning. (DS is 3 so sleeps). FWIW it's exactly 10 hours sarlat to channel tunnel.

In your case - not sure where you live, in the north, but how about overnight ferry from Zeebrugge to Hull then you could just have an overnight stop when crossing France.

clearsommespace Fri 14-Feb-14 12:25:47

Not the same journey but we always do this when we travel through France. It takes a lot of research and planning but you see lots and we've discovered regions we wanted to go back to for a longer visit.
When DCs were really little, we'd go somewhere in the morning (small zoo, lake with beach etc), eat a picnic and then drive about 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon while they were mostly sleeping.
Now they are bigger we divide the journey less but we still do divide it and find fun things to do en route. It makes the journey feel like a holiday too.

Sixtiesqueen Sun 16-Feb-14 01:35:08

Last summer we drove from Manchester to Sarlat and back. We did the Dover-Calais ferry. Like you, we broke the journey up a lot on the way there; stayed overnight in Calais, then disneyland Paris, then a great bed and breakfast near Limoges, contact me if you want details of it, it was right by the motorway but had a restaurant and a pool and there was a park nearby.

On the return journey we drove up to a place near Blois and had a day at chambord. We also went into Blois but the weather was dodgy and it was Sunday so everything was closed. Wouldn't do that again. I think it took us about 3 hours to get up to Blois, possibly less. We stopped for lunch in the way. Two nights near Blois then we carried onto Paris and went sightseeing using Versailles as a base. Two nights there.

Paris to Calais - a longer drive Than I thought, we left paris at 9.30am and got to Calais at about 12.50 with a stop for a picnic. Just enough time to get some wine shopping done, then on the ferry at 3pm. We arrived in Dover and drove about half an hour to a really cracking bed and breakfast with family rooms (I'm fussy, this place was excellent and they even directed us to a nice pub with a great playground). The family room consisted of a main bedroom with a smaller bedroom in the corner. It was perfect, the kids had their own tv/DVD and we weren't all in the same room yet they couldn't get in or out without going past us. It really was perfect. Again, message me if you want details.

LePetitPont Sun 16-Feb-14 11:54:26

No experience of doing this with children (9 weeks preggers though, so got this fun to come!) but we drove from north Leeds to Le Bugue in September. On the way out we set off about 8, got the eurotunnel about 3.30 then overnight stop near rouen then drove down to the dordogne the following day, arriving 5 ish.

On the way home, we did an overnight stop in blois, then tunnel and an overnight stop with friends in Tunbridge wells then home.

Lovely to see the friends but found the two night approach to getting home really dragged it out. And it turned out you could fly to bergerac from Leeds Bradford - so that's our plan for this year!

Sixtiesqueen Sun 16-Feb-14 16:49:39

Sort of depends how long your kids can tolerate in the car without a major stop. Mine can do 3-4 hours maximum.

Personally I could drive all day but its the kids that limit you.

Blackcathaireverywhere Sun 16-Feb-14 22:53:18

Oh I've only just seen all these responses - after two days of no response, I gave up! Thanks so much for your thoughts...the dilemma between 'is two nights too long and drawn out' and 'discovering new parts of France and making the journey part of the holiday' is still unsolved!

We are definitely going to do Dover-calais because I'm not that thrilled with being on a boat and it is so cheap!

We've been looking around Blois and maybe Amboise and maybe a chateau visit...

Any good Dover or Calais recommendations? I will message you Sixtiesqueen!

Indith Mon 17-Feb-14 11:25:44

In Calais we've used the Premiere Classe. Cheapish, basic but comfortable. They do interconnecting rooms which is great with the children. There is one main outer door and then 2 doors into separate rooms so you don't need to worry about the kids having their own door out to the corridor. Premiere classe is not the same standard everywhere though, we stayed at one in Rouen which was horrible, the (non smoking) rooms stank of fag ash, I had burn holes in my sheets. Makes me shudder to think of it. Ibis and Campanille are always a decent standard, just a little more expensive. Rouen is a good stopping place on you way back up though, nice run to Calais in the morning.

When ds1 was a toddler we split the journey more and we camped on the way there and back for a few days around Amboise/Blois areas. These days I def prefer to just get it done. Lots of story books on tape and away we go. For me the main thing is not having to rush for a ferry and the worst drive is the English side as we are shit for stopping places!

So we leave early morning and just keep bloody driving til lunch. Stope, eat and then get to Dover. We book for around 4/5pm to allow for traffic/The Dartford crossing being crap but can arrive by lunchtime if all goes well so we book a flexible ticket in case there is room on an earlier ferry. France is better, you just see how far you can get. There are regular stopping points on the motorway with a basic loo and picnic tables and often a few paths through a field or bit of woodland so the children can run around. Coming home we stop at Rouen for the night, the run to Calais from there is decent so you can cross in the morning and then you don't have anywhere other than home to get to so no rush. My parents these days tend to stay at a travel lodge on the English side and then get an early Ferry so they can disembark in Calais and just drive off and feel the holiday has begun. I don't mind the journey, we just get on with it and when time is at a premium I'd rather have the journey done and dusted so we can enjoy the holiday. This year though we are bombing down to Bordeaux to see the family then coming back up and have a week in a gite in a little fishing village not too far from Calais so that will be nice.

We have 3 children and I must say, sometimes sitting a child in front and the non driving adult in the back between the others is good for everyone's sanity! Also a good position to hand out sweet, water bottles etc.

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