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mcbrucer

Driving down to Spain!

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Hello everyone!

For our summer trip into Europe this year, we'd quite like to head down to sunny Spain (there's a site near Pals that we particularly like the look of ) but its a long way and I'm looking for some guidance to help with planning our route. ..

Our usual plan goes something like this:

1. Travel down to Kent the evening before, staying overnight at the Black Horse.

2. Up at the crack of dawn and onto the first ferry / train possible. ..

3. Drive for 5 or 6 hours and then stop overnight at somewhere we prebooked with the CC.  

4. Repeat step 3 until we get there. .!

 

However, with such a lengthy trip in front of us, I'm wondering if there isn't a more efficient way of approaching this. What if we could do something like this?

1. Travel down to Kent the evening before, straight over the channel and into France all in one go with no stopping overnight.

2. Get as far into France as possible and then stop for a few hours rest in an aire(!!)

3. Back on the road and repeat step 2 until we get to Spain. ..

 

Now, I've heard all sorts of horror stories about Aires and we've only ever stopped in them for an hour or so during daylight hours but are they really that bad? I assumed that it might depend on location but really would appreciate your advice on the topic. ..

An alternative might be to stopover at proper sites but I'm thinking that the problem there might be with late arrival, particularly on the first night.  Again we would appreciate your advice on this also. ..

Many thanks in advance!

Robin.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, mcbrucer said:

Hello everyone!

For our summer trip into Europe this year, we'd quite like to head down to sunny Spain (there's a site near Pals that we particularly like the look of ) but its a long way and I'm looking for some guidance to help with planning our route. ..

Our usual plan goes something like this:

1. Travel down to Kent the evening before, staying overnight at the Black Horse.

2. Up at the crack of dawn and onto the first ferry / train possible. ..

3. Drive for 5 or 6 hours and then stop overnight at somewhere we prebooked with the CC.  

4. Repeat step 3 until we get there. .!

 

However, with such a lengthy trip in front of us, I'm wondering if there isn't a more efficient way of approaching this. What if we could do something like this?

1. Travel down to Kent the evening before, straight over the channel and into France all in one go with no stopping overnight.

2. Get as far into France as possible and then stop for a few hours rest in an aire(!!)

3. Back on the road and repeat step 2 until we get to Spain. ..

 

Now, I've heard all sorts of horror stories about Aires and we've only ever stopped in them for an hour or so during daylight hours but are they really that bad? I assumed that it might depend on location but really would appreciate your advice on the topic. ..

An alternative might be to stopover at proper sites but I'm thinking that the problem there might be with late arrival, particularly on the first night.  Again we would appreciate your advice on this also. ..

Many thanks in advance!

Robin.

 

 

if you want to get there quicker and with less effort, why not take a ferry from Portsmouth down to Santander or Bilbao? 

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I did try that but fear we might have missed the boat this year. I can't get a round trip booked in at all, only 1 way (forget which).

Also, we're a family of 5 and the cabins are all 2 or 4 birth so that jacks up the cost quite a bit!

 

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I don't know where you live Robin, but from here I can get to Portsmouth for the 1445 ferry to Caen  (no cabins needed) then overnight in the caravan at one of the  French sites near that ferry port.  

From there it's about 660 miles to Pals which I can still manage in two days  - so just one half way overnight stop.  Book that campsite if you wish although I don't because I can never predict how far I will get. Take care.  

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Why not combine your Plan A - and Plan B.

Drive down to Kent and get a ferry at whatever time and then stay at Les Epinettes, or Bien Assises which accept late arrivals.   Carry on down and stay somewhere around mid-France.   You don't need to pre-book because sites along the main routes are set up for daily arrivals and departures.   Carry on further south and stay near the Med for one night - and then carry on to Pals arriving the following lunchtime.   We've done that trip many times in the past - and have come back with just one overnight stop at La Grange Fort and then back to Calais - but wouldn't do it again.

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We are off to San pere pescador june/july. We are getting the train and my mate is taking the ferry,but we both arrive within 15minutes of each other late afternoon on Friday. We are planning to drive until about 2000-2200 then park up in a service aires. Then the next day we plan to  get as close as we can to where we are staying(within 100k) then again park up in a service aires,and on sunday morning rool on into the site about lunchtime. We have heard lots of horror stories,but have never met someone who as actually encountered anything first hand.  

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This is a journey that we've done many times over the years.     Our itinerary usually went something like this.    Arrive in Calais either on ferry or tunnel by 19. 00 hrs.    Drive 66 miles to Baie du Somme and stay overnight in the services.    Next day drive 270 miles to Bourge and stay at Camping Robinson.    Then 254 miles to Millau - several sites there but we used the municipal at Aguessac.    Leaving around 200 miles to destination.

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Jaydug's advice is absolutely what we would do!   The Aire de la Baie de Somme is these days probably the only one that we would have chosen to spend an overnight stop and even then it's because we arrived much later than Jaydug - if we arrived at 7. 00 pm we would have found a campsite for the night - there are plenty of them which will allow for a late arrival provided you advise them before you arrive.

If you want to stay overnight on Aires, and plenty do, make sure:

  1. You choose a well lit Aire with plenty of other vehicles parked up for the night.   Do not pick a 'Picnic type Aire' thinking you'll have a quieter night.
  2. You don't leave any valuables, keys, camera, laptops, money, antique paintings, suitcases full of euros,  out where they are easily stolen - opportunist thieves will only take what they can see.   Tuck everything away in the safe parts of the interior of the caravan  
  3.  Your car alarm is switched on.
  4. You haven't been drinking when you go to sleep so you don't wake up feeling woozy and convinced you've been gassed.   

Whilst there is no doubt that many of the stories aren't true, it can (and does) happen so be sensible.

 

 

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I know most of the horror stories are anecdotal but I wouldn't stay overnight on an Aire (especially around Lyon), ADAC (German AA) certainly don't recommend it. Nearly every French town has a 'Camping Municipal' or other sites which accept overnighters and they are cheap as chips.

We travel to the Costa Brava every year and if you're going in the main German/Dutch school holiday period to any of the sites from Roses down to Platja D'Aro all the best pitches will have already have been booked (we booked whilst on-site last July). You'll still get in at most sites if you haven't booked but you won't get a prime pitch.

We set off from Monchengladbach in the west of Germany (near the Dutch border) so we're lucky enough to not have to pay for ferries but its still 1300 Km one way and those road tolls aren't cheap and neither is fuel (we're 5 tonnes GTW) .  If you drive for more than 8 hours you're asking for trouble, make the stopovers part of your holiday.

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Can of worms subject. ..........I am not repeating everything I said over last three years about our neighbours on a rally in France and the subsequent interest of French and Swiss Police. .....

But, twice when we have stopped in Aires de repos we have been disturbed and in one case the 'disturbers' were chased by a Lithuanian Car Transporter driver who had seen them lying on the floor between the car and caravan. ....the Aire de la  Baie Somme is the only one I would have any trust in frankly. Sites every time now.

geoff

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I know people who have stayed at Gypsela, they reckoned it was a bit noisy due to the main Torroella to Begur main road as from personal experience it is quite busy all day long

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