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Subject Topic: Caravanning France - Questions
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Message posted by Median on 05/5/2014 at 6:27pm
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We are taking our recently acquired caravan from Leeds to the Dordogne (Flowercamping - Les Iles) this summer (July/August). In the past we have camped and just driven until we got to our destination stopping only for fuel and coffee. However this year we have a 2 year old and a 2 month old, not to mention the caravan.

So just a few questions ...

1. Best route? Should I avoid Paris? Happy to pay tolls for an easier drive.
2. Crossings? Planning Dover-Calais, is this the best option?
3. Stopovers? How many and where? Should I book?
4. Breakdown cover? Caravan cover? Should I?
5. Top Tips?

I await your wisdom!

Don't forget to leave a review of the French and other European campsites you have visited!


Message posted by exessexmum on 05/5/2014 at 6:55pm
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Leeds to Dordogne with two tots?

I'd do two stops. One at Dover and one around the Loire area.

Yes, avoid Paris,do the nice route lots of us take -

Day 1. Leeds to Dover (overnight) or just the other side of the channel.

Day 2.Calais-Abbeville-Rouen-Evreux-Dreux-Chartres-Orleans (overnight)

Day 3. Vierzon-Chateauroux-Limoges-Brive -and on to site.

Nice easy drives, not too far and you have stopping places on the motorways every 10kms.

Crossing, up to you, but maybe ferry would be good with littlies as you get to stretch legs for a bit. no point paying for expensive western one from Leeds as you just come down the motorway.

Breakdown cover -absolutely 100%. Any will do, just make sure they cover the van and car and will bring both home.

Top tips -check the top tips post at the top.

You'll love it, we first did the Dordogne when our three were 2 5 and 6 and we had a great time. We're back there in three weeks and can't wait!

-------------
Amanda

2014
Whit -La Grand Dague, Dordogne
Aug Ranc Davaine, Ardeche
2015
Easter - Koningshof
Whit-Tunisia
Summer -Australia & Dubai :-)

Message posted by djnight.1 on 05/5/2014 at 7:45pm
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Hi Median,
We fully agree with exessexmums itinerary we are in Barnsley and travel down for the evening ferry fist night in France. Second night we go to camping De Sologne at Salbris then steady days drive to the Dorgogne. Happy hols.
dav/jan

Message posted by dolly21 on 05/5/2014 at 8:16pm
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I'd recommend looking at the ferry from Hull. It's great with little ones as you board late afternoon, then can have dinner and settle into your cabin. You then arrive at Zeebrugge at about 9am. Zeebrugge's not far from Calais. You can then get to the Dordogne in 2 dates, or more comfortably in 3 days. We usually stop mid afternoon on 2nd day and find somewhere for 3 or 4 nights just to relax before we get to our final destination.

Caravans are free on hull - Zeebrugge at weekends, if you book through the camping and caravanning club( and probably other clubs - others may be able to advise). This route definitely means you avoid the worst section of the drive - the M25!!

Don't forget to leave a review of the French and other European campsites you have visited!


Message posted by ingin69 on 05/5/2014 at 9:28pm
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In addition, Definately get breakdown cover which includes the caravan

-------------
Mark

Message posted by Median on 05/5/2014 at 10:35pm
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Thanks for the replies so far, breakdown cover is a bit of a no brainer in hindsight. In the past (before kids & caravan) we were happy to take chances, not a good idea now.

I think the cost of Hull-Zeebrugge will prove prohibitive, which is a shame as it looks like a good option otherwise (went on line and it was over 700, unless I'm missing a special offer - CC member, not C&CC).

Any recommendations for sites on the French side? At the moment still unsure whether to get an early crossing and stop once or a later one and stop twice.

I agree about the dolly21's comment about the M25! Getting out of the UK always seems to be the worst bit (.....pun alert.....) after that it's plain sailing.

Message posted by Val A on 06/5/2014 at 5:29am
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The problem with early crossings is that when you actually get there it's never as early as you thought it would be as you 'lose' an hour when you go on to French time.  We've tried an overnight stay with our son, and then an 8.30 crossing, which made it 10.30 planned arrival time at Dunkerque, then the extra hour, and then a late disembarkation, and it was 12.00 before we were out of the port. 

If you stay overnight near the port then you can set off, like we do at 7.30 in the morning, putting you four or five hours ahead!

Les Erables at Escalles is often recommended by those staying near the port but we stay overnight at the free Aire de la Baie de Somme (service area).  This has a cul-de-sac especially for caravanners and not accessible to HGV's and is used by many caravanners for an overnight stop.  It's about an hour and a half from Calais, and just the right distance from the port for us.


Don't forget to leave a review of the French and other European campsites you have visited!


Message posted by oxter on 06/5/2014 at 9:18am
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Early start on 2nd day best achieved by the evening crossing and pick a site on your route say an hour or so from Calais Dunkerque. (This avoids some rather poor quality sites near the port)

You should be still fresh on the first day and your holiday is started! You are in France.

Early start in the morning and you can stop reasonably early on your second day and enjoy some time in site 2.

Essexmum's route would be my choice too.

-------------
playing at tinkies

Message posted by OliverDay on 06/5/2014 at 10:00am
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If you intend to overnight around Orleans then Camping Olivet is ideal.

Don't be put off driving via Paris, it's no better or worse than the Rouen route and just down to personal preference. We tend to switch between the two depending on how we are feeling and whether we want to 'see' Paris.

-------------
Ollie

2015
Provence

Message posted by dolly21 on 06/5/2014 at 10:06am
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Yes, to get a reasonable price on the Hull- Zeebrugge route you do have to travel on a Saturday or Sunday night.  We booked our crossing about a month ago and it was just over 500 return.  I have to ring C&CC though to get that price and I had to purchase a 16 ACSI guide - this brough the price down by about 200 I seem to recall - something to do with it being a package!!  Not sure if CC is similar.

At 500 we think it is worth it - it saves best part of 2 tanks of fuel and 2 overnight sites, plus a lot of difficult driving. 

In terms of site - we're still looking for the perfect overnight site - we cam back from the Dordogne in 2 days last year and stayed somewhere on the outskirts of Paris, but I wouldn't recommend it! 

I wouldn't necessarily say avoid Paris - it very much depends when you are travelling.  We usually get the Saturday night ferry from Hull and for the past few years we've gone around the peripherique at Sunday lunchtime with no problems.  Sat nav is essential though!!  It is the shortest route. I'd probably avoid it on Monday morning - we used the Francilienne last year as we arrived Monday but that was very steady.

 

 


Message posted by Median on 06/5/2014 at 10:10pm
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Looks like we've missed out on Hull-Zeebrugge as the weekends we can travel are booked up meaning we'd have to travel when it is more expensive. I may end up biting the bullet and paying, we'll see. Next year we might book sooner.

Back to plan A and Dover-Calais (and the inevitable horrid drive down to Dover). The latest plan is to stop once in the UK and twice in France, once within a few hours of Calais and then again about 2/3 of the way. Probably repeat the same stops/route on the way back too.

Sat Nav will be purchased so we shouldn't end up in too much a pickle. In the past we've relied on AA route planner and a road map but would rather not mess up with two small children and a caravan in tow.

Any more recommendations for sites?

Don't forget to leave a review of the French and other European campsites you have visited!


Message posted by Val A on 07/5/2014 at 6:26am
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If you're doing two stops in France, then Camping La Rouelle aux Loup, the municipal site at Vatan (between Vierzon and Chatearoux) is a good one for an overnight stop.  You can enter the village off the autoroute to the north, and exit to the south, and there's a fuel station and supermarket about 500 m away from the campsite, with a good range of food and cheap fuel.  It's in a nice setting, tucked away at the side of a little lake, and is a good  price for an overnight.

There are good sized pitches, the sanitary blocks are a bit dated, but OK, and you'll get free access to the municipal swimming pool nearby.

An alternative is Rochat de Belle Isle, just a bit further south at Chateauroux, with a good restaurant nearby, and access to a municipal pool with a wave machine(!) free of charge to campers/caravanners.   Of course it will depend on where you are at a time when you want to stop.

This route, which is the one we use, contains details of several of the other campsites we've stayed in over the years:  Route to the South and if you want more details of avoiding central Rouen  or with added photographs Rouen without the hassle might help.

 


Message posted by oxter on 07/5/2014 at 6:52am
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Links disabled val

-------------
playing at tinkies

Message posted by Val A on 07/5/2014 at 6:56am
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Maybe the moderators don't allow links to Dropbox documents.  Perhaps the OP could email me and I'll send the links in an email. 

Email to valdaathome at gmail.com

I've just looked into it and apparently it's a problem with Dropbox itself, where links can be compromised and security breached, so for the moment I won't try to do anything until they 'fix' the problem.  However, I'd be quite happy to email the actual documents rather than a dropbox link to them, if anyone is interested.



Post last edited on 07/05/2014 07:06:03

Message posted by dubs1978 on 07/5/2014 at 4:39pm
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if you decide to take the route through Rouen, this is a nice little stop over site just after Abbeville

Camping Le Val De Trie

It's about 2.5hrs drive from Calais if you're towing

Message posted by Argente4 on 07/5/2014 at 9:44pm
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We did Staffordshire to Dordogne last year and would definitely recommend doing two stops. We took the tunnel, just prefer it for ease and speed, but our kids are a bit older. We crossed early evening and did our first overnight at the Baie de Somme services. The caravan parking area is great, very quiet and quite a few others were there for the night as well. I will try to add a photo.
Our second overnight was at the municipal in Salbrils which meant our final drive wasn't too long.

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