Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

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Devils Advocate
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Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:32 am

Time has come to pay the casa a visit after an extended absence catching up with lots of jobs and work on our house in the UK and also to be fair a few annoyances we had when there last.

One of the main reasons though we've not exactly rushed back is the hassle,stress and the all round horrible experience at the airports at both ends and the logistics of pickups and drop offs at both.

So we are driving across this time. This will be a first for OH so I would like to make it as hassle free as possible.

The last 3 times I've driven to Andalucia has been with mate's, with Mrs DA flying out next day and me collecting her.
It's always been a mad none stop sub 24 hour 1650 mile blast arriving at the house shattered and not wanting to see the car for a week or so haha.

That won't do on this occasion, so my initial thought is to shave what looks like about 3-400 miles off and opting for the Portsmouth St Malo ferry. I just don't fancy the 24 crossing to Bilbao/Santander and the normal Calais route is out of the question this time.

Anyone done this St Malo route and have any comments please? Is Portsmouth terminal easy to check in to etc? It's an 8 hour crossing so want to find out if it's possible to book a cabin also, maybe arriving at St.Malo early morning with a bit of sleep to be had during the night and maybe a nice on board meal if we've not had something at Portsmouth.

I reckon then the Spanish border is easily reachable without going silly the next day and hopefully we could book a nice place to stay for the night . Maybe a nice town with some nice venues. Day 3 again will be easy to hit Andalucia I'd hope without any heroics too. I just don't want to put her off doing it again that's all as I'm finished with the crap you have to suffer at airports now.

I'll be planning then booking in the next few days so any further tips, suggestions and advice are more than welcome and appreciated.

Thanks as always guys.
Last edited by Devils Advocate on Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Enrique » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:21 am

Hi D.A.

I book direct with Brittany Ferries as have Club Voyage Card

http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/ferry ... gKN-vD_BwE

I always use the A3 down to the Portsmouth area......picks up M27 and M275 into the port area.
As you come towards the port area you will see sign..... Cruise and Cross Channel Ferries North End 2, left had lane.
Ferries painted on the road as you come down to a roundabout and then enter the Port area.
Check in is easy and clearly marked for the Ferries.
The St Malo to Spanish boarder is a comfortable day run. I've done this route.

My preferred crossing is Portsmouth to Santander.............the circa 22hr crossing is a good chill time.
Drive 3hrs to Lerma the first evening and then 8hrs on the second day........we are about 2-3 hrs inland from your location.
Last edited by Enrique on Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:31 am

Thanks very much for that Enrique, reassuring to hear from you it's a fairly simple task to board etc. at Portsmouth. I'll also make sure I use the route in you suggest too.

Probably the only thing to decide now is where to stop for the night after the drive from St. Malo, I was guessing Burgos sort of area but now will maybe look at little towns nearer the border for the overnight stop. As I say I just don't want to stop driving then crash out, it'd be nice to stop driving earlier, get showered etc, then explore a nice little town in the evening and make it part of the holiday.......which town though?

Appreciated Enrique!
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby El Cid » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:42 am

I have done it a few times, but some time ago. The ferry has loads of cabins. The ferry port is pretty good as there isn't a massive amount of traffic like Dover etc. The food is pretty good, when I did it there was a very good buffet. The great thing about this route is that you get a decent night's sleep and the ferry docks early so you have all day to drive.

We usually stopped well over the border just before Burgos at a hotel (El Molino) in the Pancorbo Gorge. We liked it as it has a private garage so the fully loaded car is safe. Next day an easy run down to the coast.

Which car are you bringing?

Sid

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:53 am

Thanks Sid, that's superb info. Never thought of calling you about this as I didn't think you'd have done this route.
You make the journey sound a very laid back affair too which is great to hear and what I'm after on this occasion, the more the good lady likes it the more times we'll do it!!

I will also certainly check out the place you mention for the overnight stop, again that sounds great too.

As for cars I did mention a couple I'd like to maybe go in but never even got a response :mrgreen: So I guess that means it'll be the Beemer on foreign trip duties this time around lol.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby markwilding » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:17 am

Many years ago I used to cross to Northern France and drive down to Bilbao. Driving down the west of France is much easier and traffic is much lighter than through France from Calais. As Enrique and Sid have said France is easily done in a day even if you stop a couple of hours for lunch.

It is Motorway most of the way but come off around Lucon close to La Rochelle, a beautiful little area with plenty of decent places to eat before re-joining the motorway again.

There are many places to stop on the first night but my advice would be to stay right on the French-Spanish border in either Hendaya on the French side or Hondarribia on the Spanish side. Hondarribia is a practically nice fishing town because of its typical Basque buildings especially in the town's tree lined main street and is very famous in this area for its cuisine.

http://www.hondarribiaturismo.com/

It's a good 2 hours before Burgos so it would mean another overnight stop around the Madrid area, Maybe Toledo or Segovia.
Last edited by markwilding on Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:30 am

Haha, that's always the problem on here with asking for advice, you get so many great idea's thrown in to the mix it makes it even more difficult.........in the nicest possible way.

Mark, the idea of coming off the M'way in France is superb and something I'd really love to do for her. ie. stop in a proper little French village high street for lunch and soak it up for an hour or 2. I also like the sound of what you say about stopping on the border too, although after googling El Molino as Sid suggested that looks spot on.

I remember the last few times I've driven there, albeit from Calais and I never seemed to have my hand out of my pocket at toll booths..............is this St. Malo - Bilbao route as fraught as that?

Again, very much appreciate the input, very, very helpful.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby ashtondav » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:35 am

Portsmouth to Santander.............the circa 22hr crossing is a good chill time.


But it's not 22 hours. It's more like 27 hours. At least it was last time I went - which was Portsmouth/Bilbao. Even glued to my box set of Madmen, that's a lot of chillin'

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby markwilding » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:44 am

On the French side there are tolls but not as many as the Calais route, The point you join the motorway north of Bordeaux until Bordeaux definitely has as well as the stretch between Bayonne and the border and then from there to Burgos. but from Burgos down they are avoidable.

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:50 am

Mark, your suggestion of coming off M'way at Lucon? If I did that for lunch would I just join back on the same junction or can I continue on an A/B road that still carries on towards the border near Bilbao?.........just google mapping it now.

Many thanks.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby markwilding » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:19 am

When I used to do it, that's what I had to do as there was a little stretch of motorway that was missing. The road was single carriageway but good and passed through some nice towns. It shouldn't be necessary to go back, just carry on and join the main Paris- Bordeaux motorway further South.

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:33 am

This is sounding better and better, nothing like the quite boring Calais-Bordeaux jaunts I've done previously. There look's to be some stunning towns and places of interest en route, including your suggestion of Lucon and that area. I'm now considering 2 stop overs and doing it properly. Very interesting picking up these ideas and starting to plan the trip!

Thanks once more Mark
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Enrique » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:49 am

Hi D.A.
Recommended route round Madrid

A-1 down from Burgos, M-50 round and pick up the R-4 (toll) for the first part of the journey south, you can use the A-4 south but the first part can be very busy.

http://www.radial4.com/home.php

Guide time round Madrid is 30mins, North to South
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:00 pm

Enrique wrote:Hi D.A.
Recommended route round Madrid

A-1 down from Burgos, M-50 round and pick up the R-4 (toll) for the first part of the journey south, you can use the A-4 south but the first part can be very busy.

http://www.radial4.com/home.php

Guide time round Madrid is 30mins, North to South


Bloody 'ell mate incredible bit of mind reading there, that was something I was just looking in to now, ie avoiding Madrid, had hassle's there on all the 3 previous trips with horrendous traffic.

That toll road looks the answer to this issue, just reading the link you kindly posted but can't see a price. Not bothered as I will for sure use it, just out of interest really.

As an aside, for toll roads I may face both in Spain and France do I need to get some sort of card to use or can I still just pay cash?

Again, super duper helpful Enrique!!
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Gasman » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:19 pm

If you have never been to St Malo before, you might like to think about a small visit while you are there - it is mostly rebuilt but a stunning walled town with lots of atmosphere. Have you considered stopping off in Biarritz, or even better St Jean de Luz, just before the border?
You shouldnt have any problem with a Visa or Mastercard on your way down through France, motorway tolls, hotel stops, most restaurants, etc. Some petrol stations have 24hr accessibility where out of normal hours you have to shove your card into the special pump - some of these are fussy about which card they will take (eg foreign ones!!!) but if you are travelling in normal business hours you shouldnt have this problem. Note that in France fuel is MUCH more expensive on the motorways ... you will be advised to fill up at your lunch stop or hotel stop - supermarkets have the best prices and are usually very accessible on the edges of town.
Hope Mrs DA enjoys the journey!

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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Enrique » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:28 pm

Hi D.A.
I pay cash as the R-4 , it has two toll stops, first one South is around 1.95€ and the second after a long drive is around 10€

There are two service stations on R-4 but the attached Restaurants are closed........as you can see from Webcams the traffic is very light.

My rule is if you can see the the service station from the Motorways then its worth a stop, have in the past followed signs to an unsighted service station and ended up after a bit of a drive to one on an industrial estate.

If you miss one there is usually another with in a few km, so don't panic............ :D
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:44 pm

This is great guys and very helpful information, it's also much appreciated.

Gasman, many thanks for your nice wishes. Some of the suggestions you make look simply stunning , especially St Jean de Luz now I've looked at them, and funnily enough reading reports on Tripadvisor re the Portsmouth-St Malo trip so many people say they wish they had have had more time to explore St Malo, it get's glowing reviews. I'm now weighing up the option of staying there overnight on our return journey and spending the following day there before our boat sails back to Portsmouth. Great info. once more :thumbup:

The only cards we have are debit Visas so hoping for no hassles there, I take it the French toll roads still have "manned" booths to pay cash if needed?

Enrique, many thanks on the update there on the Madrid Tolls, that seems like a huge bargain to me..........does that completely clear you of the Madrid grief?

With regards to the filling stations.The last few trips have been a nightmare in gas guzzling petrol 4x4's I've taken to Spain for use with our house. I've seemed to have spent more time in filling stations than driving, probably 6,7 or 8 fills or more on these trips.

Hopefully the range and economy of the BMW diesel will limit this hugely. I'm reckoning on 600 miles to a tank with a circa 1300 mile trip. However your advice is noted as always.

Many thanks to all once more.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Enrique » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:55 pm

".does that completely clear you of the Madrid grief?"...........Yes

If you look on Google maps you will see the R-4 joins the A-4/E-5 well south of Madrid........

The M-50 is the outer ring road round Madrid.
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Devils Advocate » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:00 pm

Yep, just getting my head around that now mate, and thanks again for the info. That certainly takes a possible big stress point from our journey. So glad I posted this now because as I thought the advice and knowledge received so far is incredible!
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Re: Andalucia via St Malo ferry.

Postby Gasman » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:19 pm

DA said - I take it the French toll roads still have "manned" booths to pay cash if needed?
Yes, as far as I know it is only Portugal that has the silly no-people gantry system on some of their toll-roads. You may need to watch the overhead lane markers carefully though as you approach the toll booths as some are card-only, or Via-rapid-transit only. Get in the right lane!!

Using your debit card on the tolls is so much more rapid, and you get a little slip to say what you have paid as proof of payment - cash is a fumbly business and centimes can be a pest and more often than not you dont get a receipt.

Your new plan of staying near St Malo on the way back sounds like a good idea. Cheers!


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