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chris76

first trip abroad

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Ferry versus Tunnel costs - hidden extras.

Do factor in the waiting time and the catering, gifts and machine games cost.   A friend with kids always now uses the Tunnel as he has saved tens of pounds each way on the essential ferry meal & snacks over the cost of a decent pack up on the Tunnel. Also heard of a couple who's dogs had serious both ends mal-de-mar+ etc whilst cooped up in the car on the ferry deck - they didnt enjoy the 2 days of onward journey even with the car windows fully down. We just prefer the short coffee break with the dog at our side on the Train and use our annual Aldi shopping savings to pay for the Tunnel.

 

Given the original topic has moved on a bit . ...

 

As regards where to go then after you've done a bit of basic research the beauty of any Touring outfit is surely your flexibility.  

Like a site, area, location, neighbours and the weather is set fair or to your liking then stay put.

Dont or your bored or even too hot - then hitch up and move on.  

With the internet these days you really can just follow the weather.

Unless your kids have a very specific destination on their list they will not appreciate hours of driving.

 

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hi val thanks for the long post,some excellent advice and yes im thinking france plus possibly northern spain would be the easier option. Although id prefer to get everything booked in one go through the club.   Iv been playing around with the prices and booking at the same time as the ferry does seem to give a decent discount. is it a set percentage off each site?

 

re- the outfit length im putting in 6m for the pick up and 8. 2 for the cruiser, i take it that includess the frame? and iv also just been inputting 3. 2m on the car as we will have bikes (should be 3m) and 3m on the cruiser because im having air con fitted in a couple of weeks. I presume its best to overestimate on all sizes or does it need to be right?

 

and yes we will start the dog process as soon as everything is booked.   We've spoke to the vet  who reckons at worse to budget £250 per dog for passports etc. so im going to guess its going to cost around a grand to take the two of them with us

5 hours ago, montesa said:

Ferry versus Tunnel costs - hidden extras.

Do factor in the waiting time and the catering, gifts and machine games cost.   A friend with kids always now uses the Tunnel as he has saved tens of pounds each way on the essential ferry meal & snacks over the cost of a decent pack up on the Tunnel. Also heard of a couple who's dogs had serious both ends mal-de-mar+ etc whilst cooped up in the car on the ferry deck - they didnt enjoy the 2 days of onward journey even with the car windows fully down. We just prefer the short coffee break with the dog at our side on the Train and use our annual Aldi shopping savings to pay for the Tunnel.

 

Given the original topic has moved on a bit . ...

 

As regards where to go then after you've done a bit of basic research the beauty of any Touring outfit is surely your flexibility.  

Like a site, area, location, neighbours and the weather is set fair or to your liking then stay put.

Dont or your bored or even too hot - then hitch up and move on.  

With the internet these days you really can just follow the weather.

Unless your kids have a very specific destination on their list they will not appreciate hours of driving.

 

yeah some good points, i think the tunnel was coming in at around 400 but like you say it could be worth paying the extra

So is there a substantial difference in the waiting times then? 

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6 hours ago, montesa said:

Ferry versus Tunnel costs - hidden extras.

Do factor in the waiting time and the catering, gifts and machine games cost.   A friend with kids always now uses the Tunnel as he has saved tens of pounds each way on the essential ferry meal & snacks over the cost of a decent pack up on the Tunnel. Also heard of a couple who's dogs had serious both ends mal-de-mar+ etc whilst cooped up in the car on the ferry deck - they didnt enjoy the 2 days of onward journey even with the car windows fully down. We just prefer the short coffee break with the dog at our side on the Train and use our annual Aldi shopping savings to pay for the Tunnel.

 

Given the original topic has moved on a bit . ...

 

As regards where to go then after you've done a bit of basic research the beauty of any Touring outfit is surely your flexibility.  

Like a site, area, location, neighbours and the weather is set fair or to your liking then stay put.

Dont or your bored or even too hot - then hitch up and move on.  

With the internet these days you really can just follow the weather.

Unless your kids have a very specific destination on their list they will not appreciate hours of driving.

 

yeah some good points, i think the tunnel was coming in at around 400 but like you say it could be worth paying the extra

So is there a substantial difference in the waiting times then? 

 

just checked its 435 with 2 dogs 

 

Travel summary

Folkestone to Calais

Sun 21st July 2019

 Standard

Dep 01:15,  Arr 02:50£166. 00

x 2 Dog(s), cat(s) or ferret(s)£38. 00

Calais to Folkestone

Sun 1st September 2019

 Standard

Dep 13:50,  Arr 13:25£193. 00

x 2 Dog(s), cat(s) or ferret(s)£38. 00

Vehicle details

Car over 6ft / 1. 85m

x 1 Caravanx 1 Roofbox/Bikes

Total

 

 

i think its probably the best option, we can pack up sat morning get away in the afternoon,should take us 7 hours to get down,kids can sleep in the car/traffic shouldnt be too bad.

 

i cant seem to get a price through the cm club though it only comes back with the ferry price

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Our pet passports cost us about £90 each as we shopped around at various vets.   Some wanted £125.     I think £38 carriage there and back is a good deal for 2 dogs.   Brittany Ferries want £50 per dog (£25 each way). 

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"So is there a substantial difference in the waiting times then? "

 

Ferry, your just waiting for the chosen booked ferry so depends on port arrival time. Crossing 90 mins ? plus loading & un-loading. 2 hours frequency ? if very early you may get on the next one.

Tunnel, we have found, over two hours early then quoted £50 extra for the next train, often offered next train  at say an hour early. We have been early and directed straight through and onto next train direct. Normally three plus trains an hour.   Much more flexible if travelling any distance to port.

 

Are you correct with an outward suggested 1. 15am crossing after a 7 hour drive with 2 kids and 2 dogs - if so what are doing then ?

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Posted (edited)

Chris, given that you say you don't want to 'penny pinch' and you have got six weeks to spend in Europe why not spend just a bit more on the crossing, arrive in daylight, and have your first night or two on a campsite somewhere near the port (wherever you decide).  There are some good family sites within half an hour or so of most of the channel ports - and you could stay there a couple of nights to get used to 'caravanning in France'.   It sounds to me as if you are new to caravanning as well as new to caravanning in Europe.   You never know your children might like it so much they want to stay for longer!!  We had planned one overnight stop on a site and ended up staying a fortnight, once when on the way to Spain!

From many years of experience I personally wouldn't want to do a seven hour drive, then a crossing, arriving in France at 3. 30 am in the morning (because of the hour's time difference) with  children and dogs.   The children may sleep but the dogs will certainly need to have a 'comfort break'.  If you do decide to do it that way then depending on your route (and I'm still not sure where you're heading) then you could stop at the Aire de la Baie de Somme where there is caravan parking - though people already there may not like it if you arrive at 4. 30 in the morning and with such a long outfit  space may be at a premium.   Looking for somewhere to park in unfamiliar surroundings and with different driving rules and different road layouts won't be easy in the dark.   Before we took the caravan we were very familiar with France, and travelling, and the places to stop,  and we had a tiddly caravan compared to yours, but even so our first stops were 'just a little stressful' as we weren't really sure what we were doing or exactly how to go about it!

Hope this doesn't sound too negative, but it's meant to be practical advice from someone who's been there and done it!

Edited by ValA
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On 05/01/2019 at 16:28, chris76 said:

some excellent advice and yes im thinking france plus possibly northern spain would be the easier option

Does it have to be France? I know many folk on here love France but it's not for us, we much prefer Northern Spain (Costa Brava). Holland, Belgium, Germany and Austria are worth a look too (all pet friendly compared to the UK).

 

We stay on several French sites every year on our way to Spain (from Germany), some have been OK some have been Grim so I'd suggest you read as many reviews as you can before you book and go on the campsites own web page if you're thinking about booking through the CMC as from my experience it's sometimes cheaper to book direct with the site.

 

We never travel (tow) more than 8 hours in a day (usually 6 hours) otherwise it just becomes a chore and puts a downer on the holiday mood.

 

How wide is your caravan? Mine is 2. 5m and it just fits on the Euro Tunnel train with a couple of centimetres to spare each side of the wheels. If you have an extra wide caravan like mine and you're not happy about driving within tight limits I'd suggest the Ferry is an easier option, if you have a standard width caravan the tunnel is easy too.

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Some sites in France "OK and some grim" .  Oh dear.  Please tell us which ones they were.  

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11 minutes ago, moorgate said:

Some sites in France "OK and some grim" .  Oh dear.  Please tell us which ones they were.  

Is that not the same anywhere you go?:unsure:

 

There's good, bad, excellent and diabolical in any country you care to name - including the UK

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36 minutes ago, matelodave said:

Is that not the same anywhere you go?:unsure:

 

There's good, bad, excellent and diabolical in any country you care to name - including the UK

That’s true

50 minutes ago, moorgate said:

Some sites in France "OK and some grim" .  Oh dear.  Please tell us which ones they were.  

I can’t remember what the really bad ones were called, I don’t mind if they’re cheap and bad as we only stop over en-route but last year I booked one through the CMC Les Ranchisses I think it was called, £65 I think I paid for one night in July, for the price it was terrible, if it had been £20 a night it would’ve been OK.  

I pay a similar price for sites in Spain (60-80 Euro) and they are much better.

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2 hours ago, moorgate said:

Some sites in France "OK and some grim" .  Oh dear.  Please tell us which ones they were.  

I have found some better than others but "grim",  in almost 40 years we have found 3 diabolical sites and they were all in Spain

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Posted (edited)

I really don't understand quite why the C&MC recommend some of the sites they do as 'overnight sites' - they are definitely not those which many of us who 'tour' without booking in advance would choose.     Years ago I took it up with Hazel in the Overseas Holiday section as they had recommended an overnight site to a first-timer travelling down the A75 and it was 62 kilometres away from that route, on mountainous roads, by-passing about half a dozen more suitable, and far cheaper sites.

To be fair Les Ranchisses is not the sort of site I would even consider for an overnight stop.   Firstly because of the price, second because it's not on any of the main routes we would use from Spain back to Germany.   Thirdly it's a 'resort' campsite, with a pool complex, bar, restaurant, and lots of mobile homes - and there is usually entertainment at night where on my overnight stops I want an early night and a good night's sleep.   But it does score 9 out of 10 on another caravanning forum where people look for recommendations and gets quite a few 10 out of 10's.    I think I remember Brorussia complained about the Sanitaires but when we were there they were cleaned twice daily (and steam cleaned too, so we amongst the cleanest we'd met).   However, I agree that £65. 00 is a lot to pay for an overnight site so I suggest the OP carefully researches his overnight stop as a little searching by BroRussia would have found Les Chataigniers at Laurac or La Turelure at Uzer in the same area as Les Ranchisses, but at around a third of the price paid and there are many other even cheaper sites along the D104.   Don't just take C&MC recommendations as they are not based on anything other than they offer sites which they have a contract with!

Edited by ValA
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1 hour ago, ValA said:

I really don't understand quite why the C&MC recommend some of the sites they do as 'overnight sites' - they are definitely not those which many of us who 'tour' without booking in advance would choose.     Years ago I took it up with Hazel in the Overseas Holiday section as they had recommended an overnight site to a first-timer travelling down the A75 and it was 62 kilometres away from that route, on mountainous roads, by-passing about half a dozen more suitable, and far cheaper sites.

To be fair Les Ranchisses is not the sort of site I would even consider for an overnight stop.   Firstly because of the price, second because it's not on any of the main routes we would use from Spain back to Germany.   Thirdly it's a 'resort' campsite, with a pool complex, bar, restaurant, and lots of mobile homes - and there is usually entertainment at night where on my overnight stops I want an early night and a good night's sleep.   But it does score 9 out of 10 on another caravanning forum where people look for recommendations and gets quite a few 10 out of 10's.    I think I remember Brorussia complained about the Sanitaires but when we were there they were cleaned twice daily (and steam cleaned too, so we amongst the cleanest we'd met).   However, I agree that £65. 00 is a lot to pay for an overnight site so I suggest the OP carefully researches his overnight stop as a little searching by BroRussia would have found Les Chataigniers at Laurac or La Turelure at Uzer in the same area as Les Ranchisses, but at around a third of the price paid and there are many other even cheaper sites along the D104.   Don't just take C&MC recommendations as they are not based on anything other than they offer sites which they have a contract with!

Where would you recommend we stay on route to Spain this year ValA? 

We’re going at the end of July, we’ll leave on a Friday afternoon and drive to a very good French site near Vittel  http://www. camping-portedesvosges. com/index. asp?clang=english but we need somewhere with nice with facilities for our 2nd night somewhere near Montelimar/Orange and somewhere just South of Lyon on the way back.

Not worried about the price as long as it’s nice.

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Up and down the Rhone valley we have found Campng  Les Lucs at Tain l'Hermitage very sound. It was a municipal  site but maybe is privatised now. It's quite small so do book that one.

IMG_0561.JPG

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Think it is still a Municipal. ..highly recommended by Alan Rogers.

 

geofff

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What sort of things are important to you (obviously the sanitaires are one - but should they be just immaculately clean or have toilet seats, separate male and female areas, and soap and towels (as some people would like).  Pool?  Large pitch?  Bar? Restaurant?

 

It's a very long time since we went down the Rhone Valley, so perhaps others can come up with some suggestions because my criteria is always 1.   As short a distance as possible from my route and 2.   Cheap - and as long as the facilities are 'adequate' that will do me!  We often choose municipal sites for that reason - and also because they are usually within walking distance of a decent boulangerie and restaurants for a choice of somewhere to eat.

 

I 'googled' Montelimar, then 'nearby' and 'camping' and from those selected I would perhaps choose the Aire Naturelle at Malataverne,  or possibly Camping Les Collines at Saint Paul Trois Chateaux,  because both would fit my criteria.     I wouldn't choose the municipal site which comes up because the review scores aren't so good!

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25 minutes ago, moorgate said:

Up and down the Rhone valley we have found Campng  Les Lucs at Tain l'Hermitage very sound. It was a municipal  site but maybe is privatised now. It's quite small so do book that one.

IMG_0561.JPG

Looks ok that Moorgate, would probably book one a bit further south on our way down though 

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6 minutes ago, ValA said:

What sort of things are important to you (obviously the sanitaires are one - but should they be just immaculately clean or have toilet seats, separate male and female areas, and soap and towels (as some people would like).  Pool?  Large pitch?  Bar? Restaurant?

 

It's a very long time since we went down the Rhone Valley, so perhaps others can come up with some suggestions because my criteria is always 1.   As short a distance as possible from my route and 2.   Cheap - and as long as the facilities are 'adequate' that will do me!  We often choose municipal sites for that reason - and also because they are usually within walking distance of a decent boulangerie and restaurants for a choice of somewhere to eat.

 

I 'googled' Montelimar, then 'nearby' and 'camping' and from those selected I would perhaps choose the Aire Naturelle at Malataverne,  or possibly Camping Les Collines at Saint Paul Trois Chateaux,  because both would fit my criteria.     I wouldn't choose the municipal site which comes up because the review scores aren't so good!

1: Modern clean toilet/shower facilities (non of that standing up to poo malarkey, my knees aren’t up to that) don’t mind mixed blocks but toilet seats would be nice (strange France is the only country in Europe that appears not to have these)

2: Decent Access, Les Ranchisse is well off the beaten track, I had to tow my beast of a caravan up a really steep mountainous road for miles

3: Large Grass or Hardstanding are fine, Les Ranchisse was just mud

4: On-Site bar/restaurant, after a long drive I don’t want to be out and about looking for something to eat. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy

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2 hours ago, Borussia 1900 said:

Where would you recommend we stay on route to Spain this year ValA? 

We’re going at the end of July, we’ll leave on a Friday afternoon and drive to a very good French site near Vittel  http://www. camping-portedesvosges. com/index. asp?clang=english but we need somewhere with nice with facilities for our 2nd night somewhere near Montelimar/Orange and somewhere just South of Lyon on the way back.

Not worried about the price as long as it’s nice.

 

So you already have a planned itinerary for a trip to Spain in July. Respect! Like you we don't usually have to bother about booking ferries for trips on the Continent so we aren't under any pressure to decide early and seldom even know which country we want to visit until about three weeks before we leave and stops en route are generally arranged spontaneously as the situation arises. We're off to the Canary Islands in two week's time (without the caravan, of course) and apart from booking the flights we haven't got a clue where we're going to stay yet.

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8 hours ago, Lutz said:

 

So you already have a planned itinerary for a trip to Spain in July. Respect! Like you we don't usually have to bother about booking ferries for trips on the Continent so we aren't under any pressure to decide early and seldom even know which country we want to visit until about three weeks before we leave and stops en route are generally arranged spontaneously as the situation arises. We're off to the Canary Islands in two week's time (without the caravan, of course) and apart from booking the flights we haven't got a clue where we're going to stay yet.

We book our site for the following year in Spain when we are there, if we don't all the best pitches have gone. As you can imagine the sites along the Costa Brava are very popular at that time of year with Germans and the Dutch.

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3 hours ago, Borussia 1900 said:

We book our site for the following year in Spain when we are there, if we don't all the best pitches have gone. As you can imagine the sites along the Costa Brava are very popular at that time of year with Germans and the Dutch.

 

A number of sites that we stayed at in Spain in the autumn will accept bookings, but not requests for any specific pitch.

 

Because we don't book ahead, we take what's available when we arrive and if the place looks good and we want to stay longer, we'll move pitch after a couple of days, if necessary. Last year in Italy we had one pitch for the first three days and for the rest of our four week stay we got another one in the first row, with direct access to the beach. If we hadn't I guess we would have just moved on.

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3 minutes ago, Lutz said:

 

A number of sites that we stayed at in Spain in the autumn will accept bookings, but not requests for any specific pitch.

 

Because we don't book ahead, we take what's available when we arrive and if the place looks good and we want to stay longer, we'll move pitch after a couple of days, if necessary. Last year in Italy we had one pitch for the first three days and for the rest of our four week stay we got another one in the first row, with direct access to the beach. If we hadn't I guess we would have just moved on.

Once we've (I've) set up the Awning, the kids tent, the hired fridge freezer, the table, chairs, outdoor kitchen, Cadaq grill, sun tarp etc. ..................I ain't moving :D

The site we're on lets you book a specific pitch for the following year whilst you're there, I know many others don't. Some of the really big ones like Las Dunas run a points system so if you've been going for years you'll get the best pitch choice when they go on sale from around November, if you're a first timer there you'll get a pitch between the bins and the bogs :o

I would imagine getting a good pitch outside the main German & Dutch Holidays would be easier

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Anyway, we'll probably stay at Porte des Vosges thttp://www. camping-portedesvosges. com/index. asp?clang=englishhe first night or maybe Lac de la liez http://www. campingliez. com/en/our-campsite-p1. php we used both before and they are good.

I've reserved a pitch on a Capfun site for the second night, not really my cup of tea but we'll have 2 teenage girls with us (daughter and her friend) and they like that sort of thing.  https://www. capfun. co. uk/campsite-france-rhone_alpes-le_merle_roux-EN. html?mois=7

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3 minutes ago, Borussia 1900 said:

Once we've (I've) set up the Awning, the kids tent, the hired fridge freezer, the table, chairs, outdoor kitchen, Cadaq grill, sun tarp etc. ..................I ain't moving :D

The site we're on lets you book a specific pitch for the following year whilst you're there, I know many others don't. Some of the really big ones like Las Dunas run a points system so if you've been going for years you'll get the best pitch choice when they go on sale from around November, if you're a first timer there you'll get a pitch between the bins and the bogs :o

I would imagine getting a good pitch outside the main German & Dutch Holidays would be easier

 

I can understand that. That's why we'll wait a day or two before putting the awning up, just in case we're offered a better pitch later. However, I agree, we're not limited to German or Dutch holidays so that normally makes things a bit easier. The only time where things were a bit tight was in Italy two years ago - no German or Dutch holidays, but instead the site was overrun with Swiss. It was their autumn half term school holidays which are relatively long (six weeks) and we had no knowledge of that.

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Hi chris76.     Bishop Auckland to Dover is a bit of a trek.  Have you considered Hull to Zeebrugge?  Many people from NE England and Scotland use this crossing to avoid driving down the country to Dover.  We live near Leeds and have been very happy using Hull / Zeebrugge for many years as a drive to Hull is far more pleasant than a trek to Dover.  We take our holiday  usually in SW France and the difference  between driving from, for instance, Toulouse and Calais and Toulouse and Zeebrugge is negligible and once back over the water we only have an easy drive home.  Something to consider?  Or maybe I've 'bowled you a wrong 'un'?

John.    :)

 

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