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Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

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south wales
posts: 156
reviews: 2
Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

Hi All

Well on 11th of september me, hubby, 2 1/2 yr & 4mth old (at the time of travel)daughters are staying at p&v resort cap esterel for 2 weeks.

We have now decided to take our own car and drive, but have no idea on how to start booking ferries and which is the best to use, how far are th portsa away from south of france.

We live in wales, so will have to travel towards London way I expect, but any info would be great.

Reason for taking our car it's a 7 seater so plenty of room, can fill care to the top with baby stuff etc, as mother and father in law came back from brittany today and said how expensive baby essentials were.

Can take our time, chill whilst travelling with kids rather than being stuck in airports etc which we were dredding



Surrey England
posts: 2,069
reviews: 61
1. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

Hi there,

It is a long drive to the south of France but perfetly doable with young children.Probably your best bet is either Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais (about 35 mins) or P&O or SeaFrance ferries from Dover.You can then do the whole journey on the autoroute but don't forget toll charges,or opt for a more leisurely route.

When our children were very small we did this journey every summer with just one overnight stop but you may prefer two depending on your arrival time in France.

I would suggest staying overnight at the channel port and catching an early shuttle or ferry and then putting some miles behind you in the earlier part of the day.Make up a surprise bag for your two yr old with little amusements for the journey such as little dolls/cars,picture books,finger puppets.Gosh, it's over 20 years since we did this and I forget what else.When they were a little older we had magic slates and audio books,crayons and coloring books for the overnight hotel.

It is the best way to travel with young children as you have complete independence.You will have a great time.

posts: 16,302
reviews: 81
2. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

You may already know this but there is a lot of driving involved. South Wales to Folkestone (Eurotunnel) or Dover (Ferries) is a long way. After crossing the channel giving time for a short break for the driver you have approx 600 miles to cover to Cap Esterel.With 2 young children you will need one overnight stop and more likely two. Pluses:-

a) French Motorways (Autoroutes) are a lot less stressful to drive on than in UK.

b) If you haven't already got one get a satnav with Western European mapping to take the pressure off you. With 2 young children to keep entertained over what in all could amount to 18 hours' driving it will take the pressure of map-reading off you the mother.


c) do not leave anything in your vehicle overnight as cars which are obviously from GB are magnets for break-ins.

Good luck.

posts: 21,907
reviews: 71
3. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

This site shows a great 'interactive' map of various Ferry Routes around Europe.


The Cheapest Ferry Crossing, undoubtedly the Shortest, is from Dover across the Channel, you could go to Calais (with Seafrance or P & 0), or to Dunkerque (with Norfolk Lines) or to Boulogne (with Speedferries) but as you will see from the map, Dover is not the only exit point from the UK.

From South Wales, you could perhaps consider avoiding London altogether, and going from Portsmouth, Poole or Newhaven. Longer Ferry Journeys it's true, but perhaps less driving to start off with, And the distance you have to travel across France to your ultimate destination, will not be affected that much.

Anyway, from where you live, you will be best placed to pick your UK port of departure, but just to show you that there are many options!

You could even cut the driving down further, by taking a ferry from Wales to Ireland (eg Cork), and then another to Roscoff!!

posts: 413
reviews: 9
4. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

The service areas in France are much better than the UK. Most of the larger ones that we have stopped at have some sort of play area for kids and good changing facilities. We have done the journey several times with our now 4-year old. We usually take the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam and return via Eurotunnel. Our halfway overnight stop is usually spent at a lovely motel in the town of Tournus north of Lyon. It has an excellent restaurant attached to it and is child-friendly. On our return home we tend to stay at the Campanile hotel in Calais and then get an early train to begin our long drive north. Our son loves watching films so the dvd player has proven a hit with him!

south wales
posts: 156
reviews: 2
5. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.


Thank you so much everyone for replying to my post.

Been looking into the autoroute like people have sugested and it looks a good route, picked up a map for france toady and will be getting a sat nav ready to go.

We are gonna stay overnight close to the port which will make stuff easier, I am thinking of taking the toddler to euro disney on the way back, she's been to florida in october, but know she loves mickey mouse etc on tv and everytime she see's euro disney advertised her eyes light up, so somehow are gonna try to do that aswell.

I'm gonna look into all the routes you have all mentioned but my main desire is to spend as little time on a crossing as possible because I get travel sick on boats, so could be opting for eurotunnel.

Will let you know how I get on.

Thanks again


posts: 16,302
reviews: 81
6. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

Good decisions all round. Eurotunnel is for you. Not nice to have an iffy crossing of English Channel especially with 2 kids in tow.When tunnel first started they provided facilities eg guys with drinks but they have gone. But you are only on there an hour and travelling time is only 35 minutes.

Don't think because you have a 7 seater you will have plenty room for nappies, luggage etc for 4.You will fit it all in but not easily.Bon voyage.

Kamloops, BC...
posts: 9,751
7. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

Re EuroDisney - spend the money on a DVD player and buy some Mickey Mouse and Disney cartoon dvds - they'll keep your little one happy in the car every day - the trip to EuroDisney will keep her happy for 2 or 3 hours and then she'll fall asleep - it will be a very expensive nap.

The trick with something like the DVD player is that it be used exclusively in the car. Don't succumb to playing DVDs in hotels or at home when you get there. It belongs in the car and that's that. Your car trips will be much more enjoyable that way. A quiet car is an enjoyable car, don't you think?

posts: 53
reviews: 5
8. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.


I appreciate what you say about sea-sickness, but we always cross the channel with Speedferries on their seacat. It is quicker than a ferry but not quite as quick as the chunnel but loads cheaper! We have found that the chunnel is a rip-off quite frankly - I am sure there are lots that would disagree but hey..!

Driving in France is a doddle..the roads are quieter, especially on the Motorways - you will notice a big difference especially in September. We often give the motorways a miss and look out for good A roads, which saves money on tolls. If you do motorway all the way south you could end up digging into your spending money! Also you will see the real France, the villages are beautiful, it feels like stepping back in time.

Like a previous reply said, the motorway service areas are better than ours, but beware because not all have all the facilities, some are just toilets and picnic areas.(called Aires I think from memory)

Have a great time.

posts: 17
9. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

My boyfriend and me are hoping to do a similar trip on similar dates and I'm researching ferries at the moment and the norfolk line is by far the cheapest but it goes from dover to dunkerque which means its a little bit further to drive but from the maps it doesnt look particularly far from calais so i think that is probably the option we will go for. you can go from portsmouth or southampton but i havent really looked at them as they are more expensive as they take 8 hrs and if you want the over night ferry cabins can be pricey... might be worth a look though?

posts: 21,907
reviews: 71
10. Re: Driving to south of france from uk, advice needed please.

Dunkerque is not so far from Calais that it really makes a big difference to your total drive once heading south in France.

Norfolk Line is very good value, and the ferries are very nice, even though they are predominantly organised for heavy freight carriage.