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Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Old Jun 16th 2022, 2:13 pm
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Default Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

We're planning to drive from London to near Narbonne this summer (and back again). It's our first time doing the trip by car (we normally fly) so any tips/advice would be hugely appreciated. It will be my wife and I and our four children (ages 9/7/5/0).

No doubt I've missed things but I'm wondering in particular:
  • Whether to try to do it in one go (overnight?) or break it up (and if so where)?
  • Route - thinking Calais, via the Paris Périphérique, then down La Méridienne, A71 and A75?
  • We'll likely go on the 29/30 of July and back on the 13/14 of August - are these weekends particularly bad for traffic?
  • Are there toll passes you can buy in advance? Worth it?
  • Do people think paying more for a flexible Le Shuttle pass is worth?
Many thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 2:52 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Hi - we’re leaving tonight - have discovered a route that suits us - Newhaven to Dieppe (we live in London) - takes about 5 hours. We arrive at 5 tomorrow morning and will do the 8 hour drive to Dordogne - I’m not too good at taking driving breaks so it generally takes 10 hours. I’d prefer the longer ferry ride to extra miles from Calais which is quite substantial I think. Plus Newhaven is a nice port and easy from London.
we sometimes beak the journey for hotel stop in Orleans which is a lovely city. Narbonne will take you about 1 1/2 hours longer so you could do it in one go but it depends on how disciplined you are about taking much needed breaks or maybe you share? My other half won’t drive in France - we’d both be seriously stressed if she did attempt it. Tolls are easy enough but once we had a drama when we think the strip had become demagnetised by being kept next to bank card in partners purse - she operates tolls as she’s sitting on the left. Luckily the irate person behind us spoke English and pressed to button for help and sorted us out.
download the viaMichelin app - it’s really good and gives lots of information on different routes
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 2:59 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Forgot to say the tolls we’ve used on or route all accepted UK contactless credit card - much better than pfaffing about with cash
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 3:34 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

I hate flying these days so usually always drive from Ireland past Narbonne to Spain. Normally leave from Cherbourg and take the A20 route with a stop overnight somewhere on the way (just easier). I used to drive without overnight stop, but not getting younger.
I would try to avoid Paris but hard if you are going from Calais and want the fastest route. Toll is easy with contactless credit card as bazzer70 mentions.

Last edited by Moses2013; Jun 16th 2022 at 4:04 pm.
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 3:45 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Calais - Narbonne is going to be about 11 hours on the road time, so breaks would be on top.

Even if you had breakfast before you set out from Calais, you could easily be looking at 14 hours to Narbonne after a couple of meal breaks and 2-3 shorter breaks. ..... So my question would be, are you a one or two driver family?

I'm not sure I'd try to do the whole journey in one day if I was the only driver, and definitely not if I was including the leg from London in the "one day journey" to Narbonne without sleep.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jun 16th 2022 at 3:49 pm.
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Originally Posted by ACF View Post
  • We'll likely go on the 29/30 of July and back on the 13/14 of August - are these weekends particularly bad for traffic?!
You can check traffic forecasts here
https://www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/previsions,10741.html

29 July is red (very heavy traffic) and 30 July is black (the ultimate in heavy traffic)
13 August is red and 14 August is orange (heavy traffic) in the south then green (normal traffic) as you get further north.
Might be prudent to add a few hours on to your expected journey time, at least for the outward journey.
Do you have to travel at weekends?

Last edited by EuroTrash; Jun 16th 2022 at 4:12 pm.
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 4:12 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Calais - Narbonne is going to be about 11 hours on the road time, so breaks would be on top.

Even if you had breakfast before you set out from Calais, you could easily be looking at 14 hours to Narbonne after a couple of meal breaks and 2-3 shorter breaks. ..... So my question would be, are you a one or two driver family?

I'm not sure I'd try to do the whole journey in one day if I was the only driver, and definitely not if I was including the leg from London in the "one day journey" to Narbonne without sleep.
And with 4 kids probably not as easy. Maybe better to just add a small holiday on the way and have a 2 night break at a campsite that has an adventure park or waterpark.
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 4:17 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

shuttle flexibility on the way home is well worth it unless you are staying close to Calais for a night on the return journey...nothing worse than starting driving in the early hours to find you are 5 hours early for the train
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Old Jun 16th 2022, 9:24 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Thank you all! Extremely helpful. I'll come back with further questions/comments once I have considered further.
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Old Jun 17th 2022, 2:34 pm
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Personally I would go nowhere near Dover what with all the hold ups and tailbacks
I would plump for Newhaven Dieppe which I have used before often getting the afternoon ferry (so you are not up at stupid o'clock)which gets into Dieppe about 2300 There are several budget hotels in the town which you can pre book and you will get an access code for your room. I have used both the Balladins and the B and B chain on the outskirts of the town You can then start your journey the next morning BUT bear in mind that France is a big country especially if you are driving with kids (been there got the t shirt) so ensure there is plenty to entertain them
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Old Jun 18th 2022, 5:00 am
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Default Re: Driving Advice - London to Narbonne

Hi I posted about the toll transponder on another thread. Fantastic gizmo that allows one to automatically sail through the tolls through the 30km/hr lane. It makes a huge difference IMO especially on busy roads. You don't have to be a resident of France to get it...

Below are the salient points from that.

4 kids - one a baby is tough on a long drive, I second the idea of stopping at a waterpark etc for their (and your) peace of mind!

Good luck - drive safely

Jon

A few years ago I posted about the badge that you can buy that allows you to sail through the French tolls (at 30km/hr.. Its fantastic, and beats the queues! ).. The badge also included the possibility to go through the other automatic tolls in Spain without paying immediately and also (usefully) the electronic tolls in Portugal (and Italy too). You only pay an admin charge for the (full) month you use it 1.70 euros and the normal toll charges charges are paid directly by your account. No use in a month - no admin charge. There is also a one off entry charge and delivery charge of the transponder badge.
Here are the details in case you are interested.

https://www.mango-mobilitesbyaprr.com/en/france-espagne-portugal-italie-0?promo=19RENTREE&modification=true

If the link doesn't automatically embed please cut'n'paste this to your browser

Last edited by Jon-Bxl; Jun 18th 2022 at 5:19 am.
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