Help me with my trip to France

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by Mitch, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Mitch

    Mitch Deleted User

    Hi all, my travelling has only been in the UK up to now. But we've decided we want to go into Europe next year. We'd like to do a few holidays through out the year but we thought we'd start with a week in France , next February half term.
    We will leave North Wales on a Friday night and have to be back on Saturday night the week after. Were taking our kids and our dog.

    Here's where I need the help, I'm up to speed on insurance, vehicle spec and maintenance stuff, breakdown cover.
    But having never undertaken a European trip I need to know :

    How far could I go into France in the time we have ?
    Are there any landmarks that we should try and take in (like that huge bridge:) ?
    What will we need legally for the dog ?
    We don't mind snow or sun so open to suggestions on which direction/region to head for ?
    We don't want to be in a different palce every night ? (Maybe 3 or 4 over the week)
    What's the recomended crossing ?
    Any books I should use?

    Thanks for any advice offered, I'm sure it's been asked before and I'm not lazy I just thinks it's best to ask those around you that have more experience or skills, you can then avoid some mistakes.

    Cheers, Mitch:Smile:
     
  2. highwayman

    highwayman Funster Life Member

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    Hi Mitch
    To answer your questions we'll need to know what's a comfortable days milage for you? calais to southern france or Spain can be done in a day if you want-to, but you'll miss alot if you do.
    We use Eurotunnel to cross cos it's free with tesco vouchers :thumb:
    Your dog will need a passport to cross and a vet check to return.
    If you want to use Aires? we use 'all the aires' from vicarious books (see ad on here)
    Millau bridge is in my opinion too far away for a one week trip, for a week i'd stay a bit closer up this way (sez a bloke who did spain and back in seven days)
    That'll do for me, i'm sure other-more knowledgable people will answer you soon.
    :thumb:

    regards...nige
     
  3. Diabalo

    Diabalo Funster

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    Mitch

    We have done France the last couple of years and it is a doddle.

    Distance is all down to how far you want to go in a day, the roads are very good once out of the main cities, we tend to use the toll roads which are quicker. I work out to do about 50 miles an hour on average but you wn't want to spend all your time driving and the further you go the further you have to come back.

    Dover is the shortest and probably the cheapest but I live in Kent and you are in north wales.

    You will need a passprot for your dog, and will also need to get your dog looked at befroe you return I believe.

    Have fun
     
  4. Mitch

    Mitch Deleted User

    I knew it was worth asking, useful stuff already.
    I'd be happy at 50mph and love driving, I guess I need to think about how may hours I want to do a day, but want to spend time enjoying the holiday, not just driving.
    Cheers, Mitch &Hayley (who just lost a bet as she said you'd all just laugh):Smile:
     
  5. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Hi

    France is a BIG country, with your limited time and travelling with kids you don't want to spend all of it driving.. IMO.. The south of France is too far for a weeks holiday.
    There are very few sites open in Feb, but that's not a problem, the French aires are great, .. my suggestion is to stay on the Normandy coast.
    Visit Le Touquet Paris Plage aire, a large grassy aire with large tress, close to the town and beach, great for the kids. Adjacent to the aire there is a basket ball court, football field, table tennis and kids play area, good cycling tracks and lots to see and do. €6 per night but no EHU out of season.
    Further along the coast is the medieval town of Honfleur, a large aire very close to the town with 16a EHU .. €6.50 per night.

    We spent the last eight months in France, exclusively on aires, if you need any more advice about where to go or aires to visit please ask..

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    just re-read your post and we wouldnt laugh at a serious question, :thumb:
    as everyone has said already.....its up to you...how many hours driving, what do you want to see.
    we took 4 days to get to barcellona via southern france but that was 6 hours driving per day(on a deadline) so not much in the way of sightseeing.:Angry:

    i would be seeing a vet immediately about the dog as i believe it takes a few months to get the passport and you MUST take fido to a vet in europe to get the required tests and papers signed just before you return to england.

    i also understand it can cost several hundred pounds to get all this done.:Eek!:

    i'm sure someone else will be along to either confirm what i'v said or shoot me down in flames.....:Rofl1:

    for your first trip to france i would try somewhere like the coastline down from calaise towards the normandy beach's ....easy driving and quite in feb + not too far if anything goes wrong.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  7. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Hi Mitch

    You will have to get a move on for the pet passport - it takes at least six months!

    see <here> for full details.
     
  8. N Luyetund

    N Luyetund Deleted User

    Pappajohn's right...it will cost around the £200 mark to get the dog its passport... and maybe a bit more if, like us, it doesn't take the first time... that means another injection and blood test... and further delay.

    You may have left it too late 'cos you can't bring a dog back into the UK until 6 months after the date of a positive blood test. When coming back into the UK the dog needs to be checked by a vet in France... within 48 hours of the ferry time but not less that 24 hours before that time... that can take 2 days out of your week if it's all done at the ferry port.

    I reckon Scotjimland has the best idea... Normandy (must go there meself one day:Wink:) something for you and the kids:thumb:
     
  9. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Hi Mitch

    Heres another list of Vets and Pets for your return.

    <here>
     
  10. Kon tiki

    Kon tiki Read Only Funster

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    Would agree with the other comments about staying in northern France if you are only going for a week. We are also from North Wales & it is enough of a drive to get down to the ferry or tunnel. France is a big country with lots of nice but at times boring countryside. I would say stick to the coast there are lots of nice places to stay many of them free.
     
  11. Mitch

    Mitch Deleted User

    Looks like the hound will be staying home with in-laws for the first trip then.
    Having said that, looking at the cost it would be cheaper to leave the kids :Laughing:
    Right, I'm going to start my research for Northern France:Smile:
    Thanks evereyone.

    Mitch
     
  12. Kon tiki

    Kon tiki Read Only Funster

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    If you have Tesco clubcard vouchers you can use these for the Tunnel. For every £2.50 Tesco voucher it is worth £10 if you use it for the Tunnel. The cheapest rate is normally £61 each way if you book it far enough in advance, so a return is £122 but only costs £30.50. Doesn't seem to matter what times you book to travel, when you tuen up you enter your booking code & it says when you are booked on the it usually gives you the option on traveling on an earlier train at no extra charge (at least that what's always happened in our case)
     
  13. Mark breen

    Mark breen Read Only Funster

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    We spent 12 days in Brittany this summer so much to see did not have time to see everything so plan what you want to see and stick to the plan.
    Remember its supposed to be a holiday,take your time drink lots of local wine and have fun with the locals.
    Regards Mark
     
  14. smifee

    smifee Read Only Funster

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    hi mitch

    if you don't need hookup every day think about the 'france passion' scheme where you can stay for nothing at cideries, vineyards, auberges, farms etc.

    i used a couple last year in the ardennes area. a ciderie & an auberge on a farm.

    i use a mix of france passion places & aires and rarely stay on a campsite.

    have a great trip.
     
  15. mani01

    mani01 Deleted User

    yes, 6 months must elapse after a positive blood test
    before you are allowed to repatriate your dawg
    under the pet passport scheme. i'm still in that 6-month 'dead period' but you can take your dog out before the 6 months is up, just time it correctly that it doesnt come back until 6 months have elapsed.

    brittany is *lovely*. turn right from calais and keep on going :)

    you can check previous average monthly temperatures and precipitation at international weather sites on the web. try:
    World Weather Information Service - Europe

    i've heard bad things about france passion sites.
    one chap reported a cold reception and disinterest in inviting him on to the site. he wasn't at all impressed. he didnt speak french so maybe that was the problem?

    i haven't used a campsite in europe yet. the aire's are great. if you dont mind some little noise (i can sleep with noise) then consider simply pulling off major roads into a residential area or an industrial area. park *sensibly* and you wont find any trouble. i parked under many a street light with the blind open thus flooding the interior with light so you dont use too much battery power for lighting when reading etc :).
    my 230v generator hardly got used at all :Laughing:

    you can get lpg gas easily (i have a gaslow system fitted and take a converter with me) and diesel fuel can be cheap if you use the large supermarket filling stations. be wary of height limitations on some.
    i used to top off the tank at the cheapest stations and pay cash for small amounts of fuel (see further down about card costs).

    i was recommended the tesco voucher and chunnel method, but i usually decide to go at a drop of a hat, i.e. "tomorrow", and from my reading of the rules of the tesco system its got to be booked days/weeks in advance with some snail mail post involved. maybe i'm wrong on that? check!
    so its no good for me then. i use the french ferry company as p+o lost my custom for good when their web site continaully played up by allowing me to the final page and then chucking me out - it was bad for months in fact. the french ferry company is dead easy to book on line and was slightly cheaper although not much in it to be honest.
    i dont look for the best deals on ferries, just a deal i like at a time that suits me. dover calais is the cheapest route i know of, but it saves you £££££'s over taking a ferry from anywhere else. again, that's worth it for me, your mileage may vary on that.

    arrive in france with enough fuel on board to get you 25 miles down the road, you'll have a good chance of finding cheaper fuel then, and look for large towns with hypermarkets at their outskirts for best prices!
    you can use credit/debit cards on most of the french 24/7 self service fuel stations. i had trouble at one in italy, and had to feed it with cash. i've not seen cash 24/7 machines in french fuel stations, perhaps they exist but i dont know of them. ensure you take at least 2 cards in case one packs up. i usually take 2 credit and one debit card. lloyds charges £1 for each transaction on my debit card, so i dont fill up with a tenner's worth, i only fill an empty tank. your cards may be free if you pay bank charges monthly. i pay no bank charges so they get away with the odd £1 from me every now and then when i'm abroad :)

    i hardly ever use toll roads with the motorhome (but do on the motorcycle). why? because its relatively expensive to peage with a motorhome! add another few hours onto your total trip and use the national roads. you'll see more of "things" and be able to stop at some nice places that you see along the way...

    my gps is set to "avoid motorways" as soon as i enter france. your mileage may vary on the use of peage. i prefer to be a skinflint and save the money but not the time.

    my speeds. i'm slow. i admit it. i was told i'd be lucky to get more than 30mpg out of my m/home, but on some tanks i was averaging 39.9 mpg.
    that was driving at low 50's (mph) and using all the fuel saving driving techniques i could (i'm in a manual gearbox vehicle, so use your imagination - it's illegal to coast long distances in the uk, but i'm not sure about abroad <hint>). :Rofl1:

    above all dont be intimidated by anything. its one hell of a lot easier than i'd imagined. i'm planning to begin doing 4 month stints in france when cold weather arrives in the uk, which is, well, now ! (pet passport holding me back right now).

    put a notice in french "warning viscious dogs" on your doors if you are worried about attempted thefts. it apparently does make *some* difference. who knows? i had no problems even without the signs :thumb:

    if you have kids i'd suggest you ebay them before leaving. take the dog instead. oh, i think i'm joking. not sure though. :Eeek:

    cheers al
     
  16. Mitch

    Mitch Deleted User

    WOW:Eeek:
    You lot know your stuff, I'm learning loads :Smile:
    I've got mountains of Tesco points, never use the points but always use the card :BigGrin:
    "Enjoy the wine", oh happy days, I will :Smile:
    Slow and economical, I'm captain slow:Smile:

    I don't have to have EHU I'm on 3 batts and 2 x solars.
    L/H and manual.
    Thanks again for everything.:thumb:
    Mitch
     
  17. thehutchies

    thehutchies Funster

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    You don't mention how old or how many are your children but they are going to have a major impact on what you are able to do.
    We are up to four kids currently :Doh: and try to spend a month or two or three in France each year. We still haven't seen a mountain, haven't seen a city, rarely seen a beach - as others have said, it's a big country and if we were driving for eight hours a day, trying to fit everything in, our kids would, quite rightly, hate us forever!

    We are in Cheshire and the drive from home to Calais (taking the tunnel) is a long and hard day. Include the return journey and that's two full days of your holiday gone.

    I would suggest moving only twice, maybe three times, once there, using aires or campsites. Shop in the villages and small towns, enjoy the very different lifestyle and just relax!
     
  18. Brisey

    Brisey Funster Life Member

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    You are not going to be able to go too far in a week. Please bear in mind that in February it is liable to be very cold. Would suggest the following.

    Le Touquet
    Dieppe
    Honfleur
    Arromanche/ Bayeaux

    before returning to Calais for ferry home.
    There are safe aires in these locations, many campsites will be closed.
    Hope you have an enjoyable trip.
     
  19. marymo

    marymo Read Only Funster

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    We travel to france each year at easter for two weeks - stayed in Honfleur Aire last easter for 6 days - weather was useless but because aire is in middle of town there was shops etc. to go to. We also found the public swimming pool which was no distance away and was great for the kids. We usually travel on the tunnel to Calais - find it great as you don't have to get out of the camper which stops the argument with the children over whatever in a shop on a boat. Also does'nt matter what time the train goes at as when you arrive you can go to the port in Calais and stay there for the night.
     
  20. smifee

    smifee Read Only Funster

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    have used about 15 france passion sites and have always had a warm welcome.

    i have the dog with me and ask where i can walk her. always had a good response and had some great walks where i would have been doubtful about going without the advice of a local.

    there are hundreds of france passion sites so you're bound to get a few that have grumpy proprietors.

    one within an hours drive of calais is just a patch of concrete in a field but the proprietor runs a bakery with a wood fired oven. i need a good walk after sampling the wares.

    another in the jura is a goat farm. madame will show you the whole cheese making process .

    an auberge on a farm in the ardennes has a speciality of bacon omlette and within minutes of my arrival monsieur delivered a picnic table by forklift to the grassy area at the side of the van. visitors were given a tour of the new born animals in the barn.

    a great region for walking is the haute marne. between st dizier & chaumont there are 5 aires de service in a line alongside a canal. about 60k from first to last. the tourist offices have 100 circular walks with route cards.

    i'm suffering withdrawl as i can't go this year as we got a puppy in march and although she has a passport i can't bring her back until february. have decided to have june & july next year in france and watch a couple of the mountain stages of the tour de france in between cheese tasting etc.
     
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