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AIBU to drive to S France with 10mo

27 replies

sunsunsunlove · 13/07/2017 21:32

Am I mad?
Want to go and visit my mum in south of France. Thinking of driving instead of flying so we can take loads of stuff and have car once there. Driving from Surrey to south of France with a 10 month old?
Any tips?? Or any experience that says don't do it!! I know we'll have to stop frequently but I want to get there as soon as rather than drag the journey out too much so don't want to stop for long or overnight! X

OP posts:

NameChange30 · 13/07/2017 21:36

Hmmm. Well you're not supposed to leave babies in a car seat for too long without a break, although i think that's more important for newborns than older babies, I'd still be concerned about that.

My in-laws live in France and they have various essentials (cot, pushchair) so we don't have to take them when we go. Could your mum do the same, get the big items you'll need?

It is possible to travel light with a baby. You'll have use of washing machine when you get there. You can buy nappies there.

We got the Eurostar and TGV with our baby and luggage for the 3 of us, and it was fine. A smooth journey and we had everything we needed. The hardest bit was fighting with DH who wanted to take half his bloody wardrobe.


NameChange30 · 13/07/2017 21:38

"I know we'll have to stop frequently but I want to get there as soon as rather than drag the journey out too much so don't want to stop for long or overnight!"

This is the contradictory bit... if you want to get there quickly, you'll have to fly. If you want to drive so you can take your car and lots of stuff, you'll have to take rest breaks and probably stay overnight.


SandunesAndRainclouds · 13/07/2017 21:40

I've driven to Loire Valley with a toddler. We stopped a couple of times on the way, total journey time including ferry was 12 hours. That would be my limit with a little one. They just get too bored in the car to not stop frequently. If you don't want to fly I'd probably schedule in an over night stop.


HeyMicky · 13/07/2017 21:41

We took DD to the Dordogne at 11 months. We left after work, took a ferry and then stayed overnight close to the ferry. Then drove down slowly with several breaks. It was fine but you won't be able to do it in one day


MumsOnCrack · 13/07/2017 21:43

You can do 2hrs in a car seat but you'll need to stop etc. If you want to get there quickly then fly. We took DD abroad at 6m and she was great on the flight.


SoyUnPerdedor2 · 13/07/2017 21:45

Planning a similar trip (but from North Wales, not surrey)

If you are going to south France, sail from portsmouth/Southampton. Far less driving on the other side.

Plan your trip around his routine.
Eg breakfast at 8.
Crawling/active play for a bit.
Then in the car with a few safe toys.
Hopefully he will play for a bit then nap.

Lunchtime stop.
Feed, change, stretch. Be physical as much as possible.

Different toys.
Play in car
Sleep for afternoon nap

Repeat for tea time.

Travel in old comfy clothes.
Save posh ones for arrival.

Keep change bag easy to access!

Nursery rhymes on cd/ipod.

Plenty of water for all to drink.


Lalunya85 · 13/07/2017 21:45

How King would the pure drive take? Not counting breaks?

We drive to Germany with a 3 month old DD and 2 year old ds. It took us 16 hours because of all the breaks, the actual drive was just 9.5 hours.

It was fine! We've done it again since. We mich prefer it to flying..

Would there be another adult in the car of you?


Rinkydinkypink · 13/07/2017 21:47

We've done 12 hours including ferry with kids and it's my limit. It was tough. Could you get from Surrey to South France in a day? France is huge.


LovelyBath77 · 13/07/2017 21:52

We did this when DS2 was 6 months (DS1 was 3) but we took the ferry down from Plymouth to Santander. This was goos as it went overnight and you got there in the morning. However on the way back we drove, and it was quite tricky. We did several stops on the way. HTH.


LoupGarou · 13/07/2017 21:53

I've done lots of long drives from when DS was tiny and provided you plan your stops and take plenty of supplies (flask of hot water and cappuccino sachets for me) its really good fun.

As other have said plan your driving around his routine, there are loads of places to stop in France and often the Aires have little play areas, flowers and picnic benches and are in scenic spots.

Barry Louis Polisar has been a favourite singer of DS's since he was little, his songs are catchy, sing a long and very funny (I eat kids is hilarious) we always have his CDs on journeys.


Emmac50 · 13/07/2017 21:56

Pre baby we did that drive (valras plage) perfect place for kids btw. Husband couldn't drive so I did the full thing. I had to sleep overnight. It was extreme I started at 6am and got to Claremont ferand in 13/14hours then did the next leg the next day. I'm sure if He drove, we could have done it in 1 day. That said we had a tent to put up too

I have no advice. 10 months should be ok. Now she's 18 months there's no hope in doing this. She moans on an hour journey


allegretto · 13/07/2017 22:04

We have done the journey from Italy to the UK every year since they were 6 months. My tips:

  • you really need breaks and an overnight as France is big!
  • take a rug or similar to put down in service stations so your baby can stretch and change position (if you transfer from car seat to pushchair to highchair they don't get a break)
  • if you are on your own, clip any dummies or toys to the car seat so they are not always falling on the floor

Failing that I think there is a train you can put the car on - might be easier?

sharklovers · 13/07/2017 22:06

We've done Midlands to the Dordogne with a 15 month old in one day, took about 14hrs door to door. It was fine.


Onthedowns · 13/07/2017 22:09

We have driven to the dordogne with our 14 month old and 5 year old no issues . Done in one day from Brighton through eurotunnel. Plenty of toys and stretched legs etc!


NameChange30 · 13/07/2017 22:27

I wouldn't call the Dordogne the south of France.
Where exactly, OP?


eurochick · 13/07/2017 22:34

I think you are a bit mad! (Also, are you me? I live in Surrey and my inlaws have a place in the south of France...).

I have looked at driving and I think google maps estimates it at 14 hours. For me, that's just too long. If you are in Surrey you are surely quite close to Gatwick? Can't you just get an easyJet flight to Montpellier or something? We do this each year (daughter is now three). Most airlines carry a couple of pieces of baby equipment for free. We managed without a highchair and just sat her on our laps.


mimiholls · 13/07/2017 22:38

10 month old will be bored to tears (literally) in the car for that long unless you do a couple of overnight stops. Then you'll have to do stops for meals/bottles/nappies. Will take days. I would definitely fly and hire a car.


Donostia · 13/07/2017 22:39

Where abouts in south of france? we do kent - north spain a lot and always have to stay overnight. there are overnight ferries that would get you further down than calais though


CarrieBlue · 13/07/2017 22:45

We've done Yorkshire to the Dordogne every year since DS was born (and before that!). We drive down to the ferry, overnight on the ferry, 8 ish hour drive the next day - at the cottage by 3pm. Took a little longer when kids were smaller due to stops to get them out of their seats but not too bad. We have music, spoken word CDs and lots of sleeping (we've never bothered with dvds or screens), picnic breakfast and lunch.


lovetowasteitagain · 13/07/2017 22:49

Might one flying, one driving be an option? Recently we were going to fly somewhere then hire a car but realised the advantage of having our own car and all our extra stuff (we were going to be staying in a 'pod' and needed to take bedding, which would suck up all our baggage allowance!). I decided to drive it for 12 hours and meet them where we were going to pick up a rental car, while DH flew with the kids. That worked really well. I ended up at the hotel shortly after they did, then we did the last 4 hours and ferry the next day.


bettytaghetti · 13/07/2017 22:58

We have quite regularly done SE London to Provence in one day (roughly level with Avignon) but I think any further really would be pushing it, and it may take us substantially longer this year since the French police will have the powers to track down UK licensed cars that are speeding (whoops!). Having your licence plate flashed up on an overhead gantry with the phrase "trop vite" was quite funny at the time, but not now they can trace us!!
If, by South of France, you do mean further towards the Med coast then I would strongly recommend finding somewhere to stop overnight close to the motorway, so that you don't waste too much time when coming off the main road. We have found Best Westerns are perfectly pleasant enough for an overnight stay, with very reasonable food, but most importantly there are several all within spitting distance of the A6/A7 (Autoroute du Soleil). You should be able to reach Valence fairly easily which would make a nice break in the journey.
Another good tip is to buy the gadget thingy that means you can go straight through the tolls, and just get charged to your account without having to find change/fumble with credit cards every time you go through the tolls. Especially if your DH is as pants as mine is for getting the passenger side close enough to the machine!


BingoFlamingos · 14/07/2017 07:36

Hey OP
Where are you actually going in south of France?
I've known people to do the Portsmouth/Plymouth to Santander/Bilbao crossings for a shorter drive with little ones.
Enjoy your trip


LittleLionMansMummy · 14/07/2017 08:20

It's too far to drive without an overnight stop. As you will know, tiredness is the biggest killer in terms of car accidents. My parents used to drive me and my sisters there every year, so my dad was a very experienced driver but my mum would never have let him do it in one go even if they shared the driving.

We drove to Limoges when ds was the same age and will drive to the Vendee in August will 9mo dd. Ds wasn't a good traveller as he'd only been crawling a short time so was very active and hence very bored. It was hard. We planned the journey around his eating and sleeping and he did sleep a lot but when awake was bored. We kept a bag of smaller toys to pass to him and stopped for nappy changes which was a bit of a feat as ds pooed a lot more than your average 9 or 10 month old!

Dd is a different character - very easily entertained and placid. Plus, she will have her big brother in the back for company and entertainment.

Basically don't set your expectations too high, take your time, do an overnight stop and take plenty of little toys. Also snacks and a packed lunch for day one. And plenty of water especially the further south you get. It's doable, but how easy will depend on your dc's character.


sunsunsunlove · 14/07/2017 16:49

Thanks Everyone. To answer some questions

I've flown before and she was great, got nothing against flying, DH thinks drive will be a fun road trip ??!! Nope!

Mum has cot and high chair and nappies etc. So we wouldn't actually need that much stuff, just nice to be able to have car.

I have looked at an overnight stop in tours.

Mum lives 2 hrs South a bit and West of Toulouse.

I didn't want to fly as mum picks up up from airport and my sister is over for a weekend just before we go so mum is doing 8 hours driving for her then we'd be over and I don't want to make her do that but car hire adds such a cost to trip.

So, I think our best options are to Drive and stop overnight, or fly and hire a car, or fly and arrive as mum drops sister at airport

I'm too worried about all the stopping and upsetting LO so think just fly!

Thanks for all advice and helping me come to a decision x

OP posts:

puddingpen · 14/07/2017 16:52

If you want a car whilst you're there I think you can justify the cost of flying and hiring one against the fuel/ tolls it will cost to get there.

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