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Driving to southern France. Stopover or plough through?

52 replies

Pippapotomus · 04/01/2020 11:35

This summer we are driving to the Ardeche. Three dc in the backseat,who will watch a dvd if they can all agree on one but will need a run around every so often on the way.

I’m wondering whether to have a whole day of travelling, or leave the afternoon before we had planned, then have an overnight stop.

We have driven in France before, but only to Paris and back. (We will be going via euro tunnel due to dd1 spectacularly vomiting all over a restaurant on a ferry bound for Calais last year. Seats,table,walls and windows were covered)

OP posts:
snowgirl1 · 04/01/2020 11:51

It's about 8 hours in light traffic from Calais to the Ardeche, possibly much longer if the traffic is heavy. This website www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/ is really handy for seeing whether the day you plan to travel is a light traffic day or a heavy traffic day - hopefully you're not planning to travel on 'black Saturday' (1 Aug this year) when traffic is really heavy.

We've driven to the Ardeche - we stopped over, but we often stop over for 3 days when we go on driving holidays in France and make it part of the holiday. Guess it depends whether you think one really long day travelling is worse than two short days. We've also taken the Eurotunnel over to Calais after work, then stopped in Calais for the night and headed off early the next morning - doesn't require any additional time off work, and means it's a few hours less travel the following day.

Pippapotomus · 04/01/2020 12:08

We’re going at the end of August on a Sunday, hopefully roads will be quieter with no HGV traffic.

Leaving home on the Saturday afternoon could be a good plan.

OP posts:
Growingboys · 04/01/2020 12:16

I would stop over. We did this last year, to somewhere maybe an hour or two less far away than the Ardeche, and managed it, but god we were tired, particularly on the return journey when we'd got up early and hadn't had much sleep. I remember driving round the Peripherique and thinking I can barely keep my eyes open.

slothbyday · 04/01/2020 12:19

We tend to do hotel at the tunnel, get early morning tunnel (5am) then get 3 hours drive in and stop for breakfast and a run about. (Kids tend to doze for this period)

Then another 3-4 hour run (films on!)

Then stop for quite a while for a break and hopefully crack on to destination for the final stint.

Depends if the kids are good travellers - ours know the routine and we crack on. They are worse having been cooped up in the car and then penned into a hotel room for the night than being stuck in the car for a longer period and being able to run around and explore final destination

daydreambeleiver · 04/01/2020 12:21

We stop over south of Paris but I'm 3 hours north of the ports in England !

inwood · 04/01/2020 12:23

We always go straight through but we are only an hour from the shuttle. If we further we'd probably stop.

Branleuse · 04/01/2020 12:35

I personally would stop over halfway or at the very least share the driving and take regular breaks. Its close to 1000km just from Calais, and depening how far you live from Dover/Folkestone too, thats a fuck of a long drive.

Havent been to Ardeche in decades, but have driven down to Toulon and we stopped over close between dijon and lyon, and it was hard enough being a passenger on that long a drive with kids, let alone driving. AND we are all used to long journeys

bowchicawowwow · 04/01/2020 12:43

We do it most years, albeit in a campervan. We get a late ferry crossing and stop in St Omer, then get going at first light the next morning, heading as far south as we can before it gets too dark. Furthest we have gone in one blast is St Omer to Chalon Sur Salone. We didn't go that quick and suspect you can get a bit further much quicker in a car!

Branleuse · 04/01/2020 13:59

My personal limit in a car with kids is about 5 hours.

AnnoyingSatsumaInMyStocking · 04/01/2020 14:22

We did it once to the coast at Le Lavandou and DH said never again!
Early tunnel and overnight stop at Macon. Easy drive the next day via Avignon (which was horrifically busy). But the thought of the drive home hung a cloud over the holiday, even though we stopped off overnight en route and in Paris for a night.

Pippapotomus · 04/01/2020 17:06

Ah, that's what I'm dreading @AnnoyingSatsumaInMyStocking, having the holiday spoiled by a ball ache of a drive.

DH and I can share the driving, we're taking my car.

Do French travellodge equivalents need to be booked?

OP posts:
GiantKitten · 04/01/2020 17:17

We once did Perpignan to Lancashire in a day, with just one 16-yr-old. That’s 1000 miles, & I wouldn’t recommend it Grin

We went EV across the bottom & then N via Lyon, Dijon, Troyes, Reims etc which I assume I’d the way you’d go too? The Perpignan to Calais leg wasn’t that bad, tbf - took about 12 hours iirc, & we stopped 3 or 4 times. It was June though, not August, so the motorway was probably quieter.

I think with 3 kids I’d break the journey!

GiantKitten · 04/01/2020 17:17

“EV” = East

Berthatydfil · 04/01/2020 18:45

It depends on where you are starting from I think. We live in Wales so it’s about a 4 hr drive to the tunnel so we have to have an overnight stop.
If you’re closer and do a really early crossing it’s doable.
We stay at budget hotels like ibis Mercure formula 1 comfort hotel campanile etc. We don’t have breakfast but if you have one with a kettle you can do instant porridge and a coffee or go to a supermarket for croissants etc which works out cheaper. They are set up for stop overs and you can usually find them close to the autoroutes if you search your route.

Lordfrontpaw · 04/01/2020 18:48

It really depends when you start. We used to drive from mid Scotland to the south of France and have a break in Normandy after a night sailing.

kirsty75005 · 04/01/2020 18:56

Sunday in summer you should expect heavy traffic. Not as bad as the Saturday, but significantly heavier than an ordinary day. (Bison futé's summer predictions has the first three Sundays in August classed either "difficult" or "very difficult).

Is your car air conditionned ?

I'd definitely split it, even if you are close to the tunnel, tbh. It's a really long drive, the traffic is likely to be heavy, and there are lots of nice places to stop along the way.

Branleuse · 04/01/2020 19:18

I dont think you need to book necessarily. Even in Summer. Not for overnight stop places.
You could always drive till you feel done with it, or find somewhere nice and feel like stopping, and then look for the closest cheapish hotel.

GiantKitten · 04/01/2020 19:53

Once you’ve made up your minds to have an overnight, you might prefer to choose somewhere you like the look of & book ahead, rather than just stopping when you’ve had enough; then it’s something to look forward to & an extra bit of fun for you all.

(But in that case I’d pay a bit more to stay somewhere nice, rather than a just-off-motorway motel place. We have stayed in those & they were pretty depressing)

GiantKitten · 04/01/2020 19:54

(One had ants Hmm)

Branleuse · 04/01/2020 19:59

Id probably stop around dijon. That gives you 4 hours driving from calais, and then another 4 hours the next day. Decent hotel breakfast and then leave and youre there early afternoon

Flyingarcher · 04/01/2020 20:06

Campagniles are very good and you can get an evening meal and buffet breakfast. The problem is if you drive all the way there, then you are knackered but still have to sort out unloading the car, beds, general mayhem. I'd really stay over.

TheresWaldo · 04/01/2020 20:43

Dijon area is a good stopping point. But don't stay at the Novotel - its fecking awful! I have stayed at many fine Novotels and normally recommend them. But not that one.

TheresWaldo · 04/01/2020 20:47

Where are you going in the Ardeche? It's worth noting that the roads can be winding and high and that some roads are better than others, especially if you have kids that get travel sick. Mine could do 10 hours on the autoroute but less than 30 mins on bendy roads.

Charlottejbt · 04/01/2020 20:47

Dijon Campanile is fine, I've been there loads. The Chateaubriand is cheaper but grimy. I might try an Airbnb next time.

GiantKitten · 04/01/2020 21:58

I was going to suggest looking at Airbnb, but I don’t know how easy it would be to get just one night in France in August?

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