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Driving Through France - Relaxed

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Driving Through France - Relaxed

My wife and I intend to drive from England through France and down to Spain (Tarragona) for a holiday in September. We will cross from England using the tunnel.

We are in no great hurry. We want the journey to be part of the holiday.

Can anyone suggest a suitable relaxed route and a handful of "un-missable" spots/towns/cities on the way down?

Our tendancy is to omit Paris and avoid toll roads.



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Bradford, Yorkshire
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1. Re: Driving Through France - Relaxed

Good idea to regard the journey as an integral part of the holiday. I find the journey is usually very rewarding, especially places you happen upon as you travel.

How many days are you to thinking of to reach Tarragona? And obviously the same question for the reverse journey? Time and daily distance is the base to work on. You will be driving the best part of 1500km in france and spain, each way.

Also what kind of place do you like? 'Un-missable' usually gets responses of the well known tourist magnets and big cities. Maybe you want cultural / historic places that are more locally french or have something unusual to offer, more off the tourist tracks? Do you want to visit a known wine area, etc?

What type of accommodation do you prefer?

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2. Re: Driving Through France - Relaxed

We aren't fixed on the timing. It seems like 3 days for the trip would be possible, but 4 or 5 days would surely be more relaxed?

Coming back we will probably take less time (eager to get home...).

As 50+ year olds we are more interested in cultural and quiet rather than clubs and tourists!

We aren't too fussed by wine regions (although we DO enjoy the produce).

As for hotels, we are looking for good value rather than "quaint" and expensive. Do the Logis de France meet our needs?

Thanks for any comments.


Bradford, Yorkshire
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3. Re: Driving Through France - Relaxed

Hi Steval50

Yes, the distance from the channel can be done in 3 days / 2 stops, but you won't experience very much. I wouldn't rule out the autoroutes entirely as they can kill distance and make more time to see what you realy want to.

Big question you are asking, here goes with the answer, as condensed as I can manage.

I assume you will be taking a day to reach the channel, crossing under, and then stopping overnight not too far inland, say about an hours drive.

From there I would use the autoroute today A26 & A5 for Dijon - 500km / 4.5 hrs driving. You can hop off at Reims (cathedral, glass of champagne at a pavement cafe) and at Troyes (half timbered buildings from middle ages). An alternative to staying in the big city is Beze northeast of Dijon, pretty town where a river source forces its way to the surface, and caves with an underground lake.

This morning visit Beaune (Hospices de Beaune)and use A6 autoroute to Lyon then A47 350km / 4 hrs to Le Puy (Notre Dame statue made from captured Crimean war cannon high on a volcanic plug with spiral staircase inside, noted cathedral, small church atop another volcanic plug). If you have time using 'N' roads through Roanne adds 1 hr.

If you didn't have time yesterday do Le Puy this morning, then head for Albi or Gaillac 300km / 5 hrs via Mende and into Millau itself(view of the longest, most beautiful, most spectacular road bridge, visitor centre underneath). Autoroute saves 0.75 hrs, but still turn off into Millau for the view.

Today travel to Foix (visit the castle, climb the tower) 200km / 3.5 hrs via Castres to Carcassonne (spectacular citadel, spend some time here) then Mirepoix (middle ages square with overhanging half timbered buildings).

Today go to Tarragona 300km / 5 hrs. Through Ax-les-Thermes (small spa town) up the mountains (8,000 ft?)to Andorra, and drop down into Spain.

Well you're there!

Coming back in less days will mean autorouting it, or long driving days with little time en-route.

From Tarragona kill a lot of the mileage today by taking the autoroute via Perpignon (time to visit Palace of the Kings of Majorca?) to Beziers and Millau (driving over that bridge) then onto D920 to stay at Aurillac (main town of Cantal)650km / 6.75 hrs.

Today A75 & A71 then D765 to Blois (town on slope of the River Loire with chateau in town centre) 450km / 5hrs. Worth adding 50km / 0.75 hrs to see Vichy (old spa pavillion and park, riverside gardens, architecture).

Calais is about 500km. Fastest via Paris, see Amiens (nice riverside) but that means using the Perphique, or via Chartres (noted cathedral) and Rouen (main historic Norman city) bridge is busy at peak times.

Then tunnel and back to Clitheroe, you're home.

Not short, but I hope it will be useful.

Yes the Logis hotels would probably suit you. I use them frequently and they are good value, although there is a wide price spread I find that you get what you pay for. They are independently owned, very french, will always have a regional menu, plus other set menus and a la carte. The web gives guide prices for rooms and menus. Check the symbols for parking, and note if there are periods or days of the week when the hotel and/or restaurant are closed.

If you need any more info on places, or hotels I've used, let me know. You could use the direct message facility, then I won't miss your posting.

Have a realy enjoyable time.

The Tyke.

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4. Re: Driving Through France - Relaxed


Thanks for a splendid detailed reply. I'll study it carefully and ask further questions if necessary.


5. Re: Driving Through France - Relaxed

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