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Getting from the UK to France, with car... cheaply

 
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paul
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:26 pm    Post subject: Getting from the UK to France, with car... cheaply Reply with quote

I might be going to France this summer. If I do, I'd maybe want to take a car across with me. What's the cheapest way of taking the family (myself, my wife and 2 toddlers) and the 4WD across? John, you're knowledgeable about this area, aren't you...?

And any idea how long it takes to drive down to Nice? (yeah, I know there's an airport there....)

Thanks

Paul
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John_from_Eurapart
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cheapest way would be to go with Norfolkline prices start at 19 each way. You can either book direct or to get a free bottle of wine book Norfolkline with Ferrysavers. The Dover to Dunkirk route is not the quickest crossing that is by the Channel Tunnel. The tunnel is selling crossings from 49 each way which is very cheap compared to a few years ago.
The downside of a journey by car to Europe is the journey to Folkestone or Dover. Ways around this include sailing from Hull to Zeebrugge overnight, but it is not the cheapest option.
Travel in the UK is best done very early in the morning in order to clear the M25 car park before 7 -7:30 am.
French Autoroutes are excellent but will set you back 88.50 euros from Calais to Nice. They can be a pleasure to drive on compared to the British Motorways although there are some bottlenecks on the French system as well. Around Lyon is one such area. Try to stay away from Paris as you are likely to get delayed. Take the A26 / A4 through Reims to avoid it.
Via Michelin comes up with a driving time of 17 hours 20 mins from Kendal. However there are no allowances for stops in that figure and it assumes you travel by the Channel Tunnel. It gives tolls including the Dartford Tunnel and tells you where the speed cameras are.
I personally have not driven that far, but my brother makes a similar trip every year.

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paul
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, John... I hadn't thought about Hull to Zeebrugge but that does sound appealing because it would mean less time for the kids to have to be couped up in the car... do you know how expensive it is?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The service is operated by P&O. The ships sail overnight. The crossing is 171return for car plus passengers or thereabouts. Cabins bring the total to over 400. There are reclining seats on board but they don't provide a good nights sleep and are no good at all for very young children.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has the quality dropped since P&O took over from North Sea Ferries (assume they took them over)? Used to be very nice many moons ago, but we're talking at least 16 years ago. Also about the only boat I can travel on where I don't get seasick.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, John. Although I'd like to travel cheaply, I'm starting to realise it's not my prime concern. My main stumbling block is making the journey as comfortable as possible for the little ones (and us, I suppose). If we can avoid them sitting in the car for a lengthy journey somehow, that'd be great. Can the Eurostar/Eurotunnel or whatever it's called take passengers and cars all the way to Paris, or would you have to start driving as soon as you hit France (Calais?). Going all the way to Paris would obviously mean less of a drive through France. Also, does anyone know much about the Metrorail? Looks ideal, but expensive.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trev,

P&O did take over North Sea Ferries but are themselves in the process of being taken over by a Dubai based company.

Paul,

I think you mean Motorail which can be booked through RailEurope. Cars are loaded onto the train near the port in Calais. As you point out it is expensive but would get you to the South of France refreshed. The Eurostar is a high speed train that runs from London through the Channel Tunnel to Brussels and Paris and in the Summer to Avignon. In the Winter it runs a service to the French Alps. It does not take cars.
Eurotunnel operates the Channel Tunnel and the shuttles for wagons, buses and cars. You simply drive off the M20 check in, go through UK and French Passport controls and customs and drive onto a car shuttle you drive off in Coquelles near Calais straight onto the A16 autoroute. There is no motorail service from the UK to the South of France at present.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, John... I have to say the Motorail (thanks for the correction) option sounds attractive. It is expensive but then I guess I would be saving a) on fuel, b) on vehicle wear and tear, c) on a night's accommodation, d) and perhaps, most of all, start the holiday not feeling like I'm completely exhausted and already dreading the journey back!

Your last sentence concerns me, though... you say there is no service at present. Is that just because it's out of season...? I'd probably be looking at around Jully/August time... will it be running then?

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Paul
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does only run in the Summer, it starts in May.
What I meant was actually, that you can only load your car at Calais at present. The UK rail loading gauge isn't big enough for the trains in the UK.
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