Driving to South West France? Easy Tips For a Perfect Road Trip

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So you’ve booked your holiday and are planning how to get there. For many people it’s the age old juggling act of getting to your destination as soon as possible without it feeling like some kind of endurance test.

What would be your perfect road trip?

Although we are working on our transporter, it’s not quite ready.

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So until you can utter those immortal words “Beam us up Scotty” then we will just have to choose more traditional methods to make your road trip more interesting.

It needs to :-

  • Be quick but pleasant
  • Keep tedium to a minimum
  • Have elements of fun for everyone
  • Provide unique memories

Can it be done? Well here are a few suggestions to consider for your next road trip to South West France.

Crossing the water

Euro Tunnel: Folkestone to Calais (35 mins crossing then 9 hour drive to Bijou Barn)
This is by far the quickest way to cross the Channel but being cooped up in the car can be restrictive so we try to make it different by taking a picnic in the car to have whilst on the train and watch an episode of our favourite sitcom for 30 minutes. It’s quite relaxing and we arrive feeling revived and ready for the next part of the journey.

Ferry: Dover to Calais (90 mins crossing time then 9 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
I have always enjoyed the ferry as it gives you time to stretch your legs, wander about on deck and have a bite to eat. These ferries have come a long way from when I used to travel on them, as a child. They are more luxurious for a start, with much better facilities to make the journey more pleasurable.

Why not upgrade to Club Lounge where you can enjoy a free glass of champagne, soft or hot drink? You can also order a light bite from the special Club Lounge menu, then sit back, relax, take in the view or read a free newspaper.

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You can also enjoy a meal on board in a lovely restaurant with table service by friendly staff.

Ferry: Newhaven to Dieppe (fasted crossing time of 4 hours then 7 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
Although the crossing is longer, the driving time is reduced. The onboard facilities include a lounge with magnificent panoramic windows with sea views, a bar, restaurant, shop and a children’s play-area. There are also quiet lounges where you can relax and sleep, plus spacious outdoor decks and 50 en suite cabins.

Cruise: Portsmouth to Bilbao ( 24 hour crossing then 5 hour drive )
If you really want to reduce your driving time, then take the crossing to Bilbao in Spain. The ship provides much more of a cruise experience with several accommodation choices,
fine dining and restaurant options and children’s entertainment. Not to mention a movie lounge, wifi, heated outdoor pool, shops lounges ad sun decks.

For more information about times, prices and availability, look at direct ferries.co.uk or aferry.co.uk to compare fares on different routes.

There is also a great article in the telegraph giving an overview of ferry options.

Breaking up the journey

I think that for most people, breaking up the journey makes for a much more harmonious experience, especially when you are on holiday. So have a think about what is best for you and your fellow travellers.

Hotel Les Trois Mousquetaires – Aire sur la Lys
Situated just of the motorway about an hour south of Calais. I used to visit this hotel, now called Les Saveurs du Parc, with my parents, nearly forty years ago and it always signified the start and the end to our summer holiday. It offers a great place to stay with wonderful food and wines.

les trois mousquetaires

Chateau de Cocove near Ardres
There is something very french about staying in a Chateau. The setting is wonderful and its very relaxing to have a refreshing drink in the garden and unwind before dinner. Again just a short distance from the motorway and 40 minutes from Calais.

chateau cocove

Hotel Jehan de Beauce a bit further south in Chartres
If you want t break the journey a bit further south, then Chartres is a good point. Just south of Paris, the Hotel Jehan de Beauce is located in the centre of Chartres, so ideal for dong a bit of exploring. The hotel’s art deco style is impressive and offers a certain element of luxury, a very fitting start to your holiday.

hotel jehan de beauce

Samsaget Hobbit House Dordogne Aux Fontaines d’Eyvigues
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hobbit house? There are some truly inspired and very unusual accommodation options these days, all over France. This is a great stopover as you are near to Sarlat and Rocamadour for a visit the following day, then you can drive the last 90 minutes to your accommodation.

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Chateau de la Villette
With a central location just south of France and near Chateauroux and Issoudun so not far from the motorway. There are many friendly and welcoming bed and breakfasts in France and this option is no different but it is in a lovely setting with an option of dinner as well, so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings – perfect after a day of driving.

chateau de la Villette
Budget Accommodation in a Town or Village
In recent years, the budget chains of accommodation such as Ibis and Kyriad have really got their act together and provide a clean and comfortable place to stay, often with free parking, in some great central locations. I have stayed many times at the Ibis in the centre of Saint Omer, from where I could explore the town and eat in a lovely local restaurant such as Le Cigne. I have always enjoyed wonderful meals here and the many reviews on Trip Advisor echo my thoughts. Then in the morning I go to one of the four local patisseries around the town square, for pain au chocolat or a lovely savoury quiche.

Take a break and do something

There are so many options to choose from depending on your interests but here are a few to get you thinking.

Disneyland
Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25 year anniversary – amazing! They also have a new ride called Hyperspace Mountain.

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Futuroscope
Situated just off the motorway very close to Poitiers, this theme park is celebrating its 30 year anniversary. It’s a really cool theme park with simulated rides for a glimpse of life in the future.
There are also shows in the evening which include a performance from Cirque du Soleil – check out the video.

futuroscope

La Coupole and the Planetarium 5kms from St Omer
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this massive dome shaped building was built by the Nazis during WWII as the launching base for their V2 rockets. An impressive museum has been created where you can learn about the rocket and Hitler’s plans to use it to destroy London.

On a lighter note, there is also a 3D planetarium which uses modern technology to take you on an unforgettable journey into space inside the massive 360-degree room wearing your active 3D glasses. Follow Yuri Gagarin during his first space flight, step onto Mars with the Curiosity Rover and discover all sorts of other celestial happenings.

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Nausicaa
Situated near Boulogne sur Mer which is less than 45 mins from Euro tunnel, is an underwater world to be discovered. They boast that all the seas of the world are there to be explored. Here is some footage to “wet” your appetite.

 

The Benefits of Driving

  • There is a freedom to driving to your destination as you aren’t restricted so much by set departure times.
  • You can plan your journey to fit in with your needs
  • Fuel costs are pretty good right now.
  • You have your own transport when you are on holiday so don’t have to make other arrangements.
  • You can carry more with you and take more home too! So if you want to buy those lovely bottles of wine or that heavy souvenir – it won’t be a problem.

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for your road trip. If you need any other information then please contact me as I am happy to help.

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