Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

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Devils Advocate
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Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:24 pm

Thought I'd post to say we are home after our drive through France to and from our place in Andalucia. I suppose it was a good call to try the driving method for this visit as we'd have been in trouble with the collapse of Monarch midway through the holiday!

I also want to say thanks for all the info. and advice I gleaned on here about the trip. We'd never done it before and all advice was very welcome. We also acted on a lot of it, especially when it came to routes and places to stay, so thanks to all.
We arrived in St Malo on the Tuesday at 8.30 am, and by 11.00am we were having a lovely breakfast in a beautiful little village called Derval near Chateaubriant and stocking up for a picnic at the little shops we'd have later on in the day.

Our overnight stay was at Royan as suggested here, a nice hotel was found on the esplanade via Booking.com (what a great app) and we had a nice overnighter there.........shame everything was closed for the season though. The town was like a ghost town when we ventured out :D

Next night was another tip from on here, we found a simply beautiful typical style hotel overlooking the bay at Saint Jean de Luz, a really stunning location and one I'd love to spend more time in.
Final stop was in the Basque town of Brinas in La Rioja. Again it was totally beautiful town sitting next to the Rio Ebro, so tranquil and quiet. Hotel was amazing and the evening meal in the local Basque restaurant was memorable.
A fitting finale before the 9 hour drive the next day to our place.

The trip went perfectly apart from one satnav glitch on the first day that sent us miles off course and caused a minor bun fight in the car :mrgreen: I relied on my roadmaps after that one.

Contrary though to what I was told I thought the French main roads were far busier than I was led to believe. I simply could not engage cruise control until I got on to the Burgos-Granada stretch such was the intensity and volume of traffic, mainly HGV's.

The stay at the house was very nice apart from suffering 2 separate punctures which justified the decision to take the spare.
Also as well as being fortunate to have gone in the car this time instead of Monarch we were also glad we were in it as our Spanish vehicle we have there had obviously had some "furry friends" camping in it for a few months, what a job to clean that out.......I don't think the OH would have been too keen on using it after that!!

Briefly the journey home consisted of 3, but more equally spaced legs than we did coming to the place.
We made a first stop at Aranda de Dueno, south of Burgos, pushing on to a fabulous experience staying with a French couple who advertise their stunning rural home on booking.com. A total pig to find and even worse to get out of but it was worth it for the memories. A totally superb stay in idylic surroundings with a stunning Table d'hote we had with them. The chap was also in to classic cars and hifi like myself and we got on like a house on fire. What a night.

Last leg was to Ouisterham near Caen for the ferry home. We stayed at a hotel not 300 metres from the port. Not the best of the holiday but brilliant for the 7.00am check in we had for the ferry.
One sinister point there though which the locals are very worried about was the recent arrival of "asylum seekers", however that's another story.

I was sad not to have more time there as I said I'd like to see some of the WW2 history there. We did cross the "new" Pegasus bridge and we made a point of visiting Sword beach, a truly thought provoking experience.
Mrs DA was touched by all of this too and we have vowed to do a week there very shortly, dedicated to seeing more.

All in all a superb and memorable trip with so many weird experiences along the way.........not least the day we had 32 degrees in Madrid an -1 degree not 18 hours later further down the road, incredible.

Thanks again guys for your your input for this trip, it really made a difference and gave us a base plan.
Cheers

PS M50/R4 was a cracking piece of advice, thanks. As suggested we never saw more than 5 cars on the latter lol!!

PPS. Out of interest we covered 3,350 miles in total and car returned an incredible 53 mpg, fully loaded and not hanging around.
Last edited by Devils Advocate on Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Wicksey » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:03 pm

Devils Advocate wrote:The trip went perfectly apart from one satnav glitch on the first day that sent us miles off course and caused a minor bun fight in the car :mrgreen: I relied on my roadmaps after that one.

Contrary though to what I was told I thought the French main roads were far busier than I was led to believe. I simply could not engage cruise control until I got on to the Burgos-Granada stretch such was the intensity and volume of traffic, mainly HGV's.


Interesting to hear of your trip DA.

Our satnav goes a bit mad on occasions. Is yours a Tomtom .... I do wonder about their maps sometimes. Just got back from a weekend in the UK and after stopping for fuel the satnav was convinced we were then going in the opposite direct to the way we should. I had to clear the route and start again, although generally it is very useful.

We haven't done the route to France for a few years but we always used to find the driving much more manic in France the moment we crossed the border. A recent drive up to Toledo was a bit of a shock as to both the volume of traffic and the speed now in Spain, compared to previous trips some years back. Sounds like you enjoyed the experience though and it all went well.

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:19 pm

Hi Wicksey and thank you.
The SatNav we used was a Garmin loaded with the latest European maps. It was manic as we left it on out of interest when we finally decided to go our own way and it just continually wanted to send us off the beaten track. I had to rely on it for getting out of Brinas as road signs were appalling. Again it sent me across god forsaken tracks which I did because I was snookered for a way back to the main route. Glad it did in a way as it sent us on a minor route to Burgos which zig zagged the Compostella walking path, amazing to see all the "pilgrims" making their way along it!!

I found picking my own route on the map more accurate, and double checking it on google maps was a good idea too, the google route planner always seemed to agree with me. :mrgreen:

Traffic as I said was probably worse in France than on our first leg to Portsmouth, however with driving back at the weekend and with a different route to Caen taking in Poitiers, Tours and Le Mans is was a cracking and effortless drive with cruise control enabled pretty much all the way to the ferry.

I think I'd drive every time now, unless the incredible happened and the house sold and we had to go out at short notice!
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Gasman » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:53 am

DA - we do some touring about here in Spain and in Portugal and have never had a SatNav - Google maps routes do just fine, and you can choose in Options whether you want to go on toll roads or avoid them ... and it has been great in tiny rural roads and even getting you back on track when you have made an error. I must admit we turn off the sound as the awful pronunciations give one a headache and MUTE is much more peaceful. Of course loaded into your phone the maps have to be read and consulted by the passenger/navigator on MUTE and it does use up the battery so plug the phone into the dashboard to keep the charge up. Roaming is now available all over EU but we tend to download the map area to OFFLINE before setting off in case of problems with the GPS, and to save a few megas on the phone internet.
Glad you enjoyed St Jean de Luz. The world is your oyster for the next trip - well France is anyway - how about the central route over the central massif next time and take in the Millau bridge. Orleans en route, head south there, stop off to sample Roquefort cheese near Millau, visit the Templar forts in Aveyron, Toulouse and the Canal du Midi, Tarbes and Lourdes, St Jean at the border, and head on down.
And I agree - Booking.com rules !

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby katy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:59 am

Hi DA. Sounds like a great trip :thumbup:

I have stopped using sat nav and just use my phone. Two seconds to just speak in another direction if using google maps app. Better if there are two of you as you can tap in what's nearby etc. but if I am alone I clip it to dashboard. Has so much additional information too. We went to a wedding in Netherlands, two cars. The other car using sat nav had a few blips and final destination sent them to a field whilst phone took us right to entrance gate.

Google app also gives up to date info on traffic hold ups etc such as asking if you want a detour to avoid it etc.

Just noticed Gasman has wrote the same.

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:35 pm

Hi Gasman, Hiya Katy and nice to see you here again. hope all's well with you and yours.

Yes guys, I think the phone has now taken over on long trips. As already said I found Google maps to be superb as a route planner and coupled with Booking.com you have the facility both to find your way about accurately and also pick and choose a nice place to stay at very short notice, and quite often on a discounted deal.

I like your suggested route for next time too Gasman, we will certainly be touring France a lot more now, especially now we are confident with the Ferries and know the ports inside out.

As an aside on the Final leg from inland La Rochelle area we went through Poitiers, Le Mans etc. on a more inland route than what we did when disembarking at St Malo. We actually passed a sign telling us we were in the Central Massif which surprised me, I guess it was the Northern most point we fringed?

Enjoyed the trip so much the fortnight we had at the house seemed an anti climax and we were raring to get stuck in to the return leg.

Funnily enough I thought three nights each way would give us loads of time to explore. We did see and experience some wonderful places but we now know 3 weeks or a month would be far more realistic to enjoy the country, without lugging cases in and out of hotels every night.

Cheers guys.

PS French food really is the business :mrgreen:
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Wicksey » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:57 pm

I don't have a contract for my phone and although I tried using Google drive offline I couldn't really get it work like the satnav does so we bought a new one earlier this year having had a secondhand one for a few years. I like to look at the map and like to know where we are supposed to be going and have travelled extensively for many years just using a good old fashioned map or map book.

I find I have to double check the route it is sending me as it often takes me many miles further which it says is quicker, but using the M23, M25 and A21 to get from Gatwick to Tunbridge Wells would not my chosen route, but I have got the hang of getting it go the right way now, but it can be a battle of wills between me and 'Doris the satnav' sometimes :) It is brilliant when you do get lost though and it quickly finds us and gets us to where we are supposed to be going ... usually!

We found our recent trip to Toledo very interesting and we stayed way out in the sticks and enjoyed being somewhere flat for a change with far-reaching views across plains to the mountains. Like Spain, France has a lot to explore and the different regions have their own character, food, drink and landscape.

Although our long weekend to the UK last week went particularly well travel-wise, I am warming to the idea of doing a few road trips within Spain without the hassle of flying (and we can take our own pillows with us!). In the time it took us to fly to the UK including all the before and after security/passport control etc, we could have driven most of the way to Salamanca which I would like to see

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:14 pm

To be fair to the Satnav it did come in handy with finding the "final destination" after using Google and road maps to get there.

The Gite we booked in Saint Savinien on the way home was in a simply stunning location but jeez it'd have been impossible to find with the paper map. Miles and miles of single track lanes and literally in the middle of nowhere, albeit some of the most glorious countryside I've seen. It took a mammoth effort to get back on to the A10 after that stop over and a few cross words but well worth the effort to do :D

Toledo yes and the Spanish plain, totally different to any other part of the trip. The expanses of white/light brown earth and the horizon in sight all the time was incredible. We stayed further up the road at Aranda de Dueno, a lovely town and memorable for the half of roasted milk lamb we had there.

As stated before that was an amazing part of the journey, 32 degrees going through Madrid with the aircon working overtime, then 5 hours driving time later -1 degree with heater on full blast, fog lights and headlights blazing, all whilst we past flashing snow warning signs.

The 2 1/2 hour flight on the Airbus is obviously very handy but I'm ashamed not to have done this trip properly before.
I can't see us flying there again any time soon.....it's so nice being your own boss and in control without jobsworths barking at you to throw your bottle of water in the bin haha, and it's a true experience to boot.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby markwilding » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:27 pm

Good to hear your road trip exceeded your expectations.

I tend to use both my phone and my internal SatNat system depending on the situation.

Look out for the newer versions of incar Satnavs which incorporate both. Basically you will be able to access certain apps on your phone on the actual incar system
More info here
https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/carplay/
https://www.android.com/auto/

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:25 pm

Thanks Mark. Yes the trip well exceeded what I hoped and partly that was due to info. received on here from yourself, Enrique, Gasman and the other guys.

I think Satnav and phone technology is moving on all the time, however in a daft way I really enjoyed using the two traditional road maps, plus it got the OH really involved too. Before the trip she'd get lost coming home from work if there was a diversion.

Now she can spot the E7 with ease and can pick out Nantes without a problem :mrgreen:
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby kerbut » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:19 pm

We did the same trip last week leaving the vets (for dogs passport ) at 11.00 which is a lot later than I usually like to leave, up through Granada on the new motorway to Motril, through Madrid on the M50 to Aranda de Duro for the night, that took 7 hours. Next day from Aranda to La Roche sur Ron, a long day 11 hours, the next day was more casual visiting friends in Brittany and looking at the 2 houses we had when we lived there, final night at the Ibis in St Malo for ferry next morning. 1100 miles covered in 2 days, never again

Edit to add : I always use the R4 (and it quiet as you said ) as it takes you directly onto the M50 whereas if you take the N4 it doesnt bring you out in the same place.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:35 pm

Thanks for posting kerbut and interesting what you say there. What was the traffic like on the 11 hour leg? That does sound like a tough day.

We left Aranda around 8.30am, stopped off for lunch, then a coffee break then refueled and we were in Saint Savien, North of Saints by 3.30pm. I guess we touched lucky driving back through France on the Saturday and Sunday as the roads, especially on the Sunday were dead.

I tried hard on the return journey to space out the stops better than I did there, I booked (through inexperience) stops at Royan and St Jean de Luz going, they were far too close together in reality and left us a fair slog on the final leg.

Yep, R4/M50 was brilliant, I did not miss being stuck in Madrid central traffic this time.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby kerbut » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:20 pm

Although I said never again I would maybe take 4 days to do it again (the only reason I drove it was my wife refused to go Brittany Ferries Economie again as our last crossing was 29 hours). The traffic on the first half of the journey was appaling, with a 10 mile truck tailback going into Irun and another hold up which was 27 miles long from Castets to Cesters services in France but all the trucks stayed right and we went through in the outside lane. I guess you stayed in the same hotel as we always do in Aranda , the Montmaso, we also found another nice Hotel on our way down (Bookings.com ) at St Cruz del Modella near Valderpenis which we will use again.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:57 am

Never done the Santander/Bilbao crossing but 29 hours does seem like a bit too much time on board for me, plus you miss the chance to see France if driving and exploring is to be part of the holiday.

The St Malo crossing I thought was great, boarded at 8pm. got showered and fresh, ordered a bottle of vino and watched the crappiest magician and singing duo you could imagine in the cabaret lounge for an our or so :mrgreen: . Went to bed and woke up as the ferry was a few miles off docking in France...superb. Started the journey as fresh as a Daisy.

Only problem was all the cheaper rooms had gone so I had to shell out 100 quid on the 4th berth Club cabin..........but at least it had a window and coffee making facilities lol. A super trip,

Caen/Ousisterham for the return was great too, 5 1/2 hours flew by really and I was surprised a full English breakfast of very decent quality was available for 5 quid on board, not bad at all.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Enrique » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:44 am

Hi D.A.
Good to hear you've been converted to the Drive & Ferry club.......... :D

"Never done the Santander/Bilbao crossing but 29 hours does seem like a bit too much time on board for me"

Santander to Portsmouth/Plymouth.....22 - 24Hrs on the Pont Aven.....time to chill, read a book and get Sam to play it again in the Piano Bar...... 8)

Plenty to explore in Cantabria too.......... :idea:
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby El Cid » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:52 am

Devils Advocate wrote: I guess we touched lucky driving back through France on the Saturday and Sunday as the roads, especially on the Sunday were dead.


That's probably because almost all HGVs are banned from the roads on Sundays.

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Devils Advocate » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:06 am

Hi Enrique, yes without doubt converted to the Ferry/Drive club 100%. I really don't fancy flying any more and the dirge of hanging around in dire airport surroundings.

Cantabria?, I don't know whether it's counted but we spent a great day and evening in Brinas on the Rio Ebro, beautiful town with a couple of great hotels and restaurants.

Interesting Sid, never knew about the Sunday HGV ban. I wonder what is included in the ban as there were certainly some HGV's en route to the port. although far fewer than on the way there mid week.

As a matter of fact there were not many passenger about last Sunday, some stretches of the A10 to Le Mans resembled the R4 in Madrid.
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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby Gasman » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:33 pm

When we were in France, and I dont think it will have changed since, the only HGVs allowed on the road on Sundays were refrigerated, or carrying proven perishable goods. Does make for more pleasant tootling on a Sunday.

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Re: Home after the French trip and Andalucia road journey.

Postby kerbut » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:54 pm

El Cid wrote:
Devils Advocate wrote: I guess we touched lucky driving back through France on the Saturday and Sunday as the roads, especially on the Sunday were dead.


That's probably because almost all HGVs are banned from the roads on Sundays.

Sid




Except if its agricultural products , milk tankers and fridge trailers with perishables or if you are a normal trailer going to a ferry as long as the start of your journey was 10 hours from the port you are sailing out of.A trailer coming off the ferry can run home as long its no further than 10 hours driving time.
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