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Alternative driving route

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Any reason not to do this or experiences to share?

Feb half term and I think I'm going to go:

Friday overnight Portsmouth-Caen with family after work - Cabin - From midlands so avoids M25

Caen at dawn Sat- Aosta via Le Mans-Tours-Bourges-Macon.
Avoids Paris itself and Paris to Alps traffic - until Macon anyway - It's only about 45km more and same cost in tolls.

Back on the following sunday via traditional route on Eurotunnel.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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It depends on your priorities, I guess, and whether you have any hope of a decent night's sleep on the ferry (I never sleep much and end up driving off feeling as if I've been up all night- though as I live 10 minutes drive from the Portsmouth ferry port it's not a bad option for me). From Caen on the route you suggest there's a couple of hundred miles (ish) off motorway which will slow you down. But Paris - Macon on the A6 is dismal, and well worth avoiding. Which you can, of course, do by crossing to Calais instead. The secret of avoiding the worst of the traffic is in the timing, I reckon, rather than the route.

The western channel crossing is a fair bit more expensive, of course.
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Yes we did midlands-calais-morzine last year and it was fine...but that was travelling on an obscure day between xmas and new year with an overnight near Troyes. I'm concerned it may be hellish going Sat 4am and wife won't travel through the night. We've all been on overnight ferries before and slept well....albeit that was summer conditions.

And the cost isn't too much different if the overnight is on the boat rather than halfway down France, just a long days driving.
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I came up most of that route in reverse back in July and it was very quiet.
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Quote:

And the cost isn't too much different if the overnight is on the boat rather than halfway down France, just a long days driving

no, indeed - if you can profit from the rather short night's sleep on the ferry.
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@MHskier, sounds like an intriguing variation. If you go ahead with it I'd be interested in hearing how it goes.

FWIW, my observations are that (i) the ferry could be pretty rough at that time of year, though the Caen ferries are a late departure from Pompey (23:15 is it?) so I guess it will be straight to the cabin and bed anyway; and (ii) the section from Bourges to Macon looks like it would be almost all on N-roads, rather than autoroute. Might make it even more of a slog than the Calais-Alps trail (though it's got to be a more interesting drive than just pounding down the Autoroute Anglaises).
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

And the cost isn't too much different if the overnight is on the boat rather than halfway down France, just a long days driving

no, indeed - if you can profit from the rather short night's sleep on the ferry.


was going to say...
the ferry can easily break the trip into you screaming WHY!
Ive done Plymouth to St Malo a few times (not ski related) & an overnight crossing followed by a long drive is not much fun when you have had little sleep
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Google maps shows Bourges to Macon as being ~100kmph mid day on a sat so not too bad and yes a break from mway boredom won't hurt. Thanks for all the comments.
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@MHskier, I think the drive from Caen to Aosta could feel a long way in one day after only a few hours sleep on the ferry. It depends how easy you find it to sleep on a ferry.

When we drove that way for skiing we took the 8:30am ferry to Caen on the Friday and stopped in Auxerre overnight. However that involved driving round Paris in evening rush hour which I would not recommend. The route you are looking at might be ok but possibly the Bourges to Macon part will feel slow. We have also done a more southerly route via Clermont Ferrand (in order to do the whole journey by motorway) but that only works for resorts accessed through Chambery and you will be needing to be further north to join the A40.

Generally speaking i would say the Brittany Ferries crossing is enjoyable in winter. It doesn't tend to be that busy and the prices are more reasonable.
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I do tend to sleep fine on ferries and any excuse to have a friday night G&T when we get onboard :->
Looks like that Bourges to Macon section might be a good time to let Mrs MHskier do a stint as well.
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MHskier wrote:
I do tend to sleep fine on ferries and any excuse to have a friday night G&T when we get onboard :->
Looks like that Bourges to Macon section might be a good time to let Mrs MHskier do a stint as well.


In that case I think your plan sounds a good one. snowHead
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MHskier, we always did the Portsmouth-Caen (or Le Havre) route for our Easter ski trips.
Kids thought it all part of the adventure.
Get yourself a cabin - can sleep 4 with 2 bunks - and you should sleep fine. We did.
Set your alarm for 30 mins before arrival (or whenever cafe opens) and dash to collect coffee and croissants for mini breakfast.
Then you're on the road by 7am.
We did the route round Paris via Versailles - never had hold-up at Easter, might be different at Half Term.
And no problems with road down to Macon.
But this was some 20 years ago - things might have changed.
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Quote:

Set your alarm for 30 mins before arrival (or whenever cafe opens) and dash to collect coffee and croissants for mini breakfast.


There's no need to set your alarm on Brittany Ferries, they wake you up in plenty of time with some annoying plinky-plonky music over the in-cabin speakers, which you can't turn off. It's like something out of Tenko and I usually wake, bleary-eyed expecting Captain Seito to announce we are prisoners of his imperial majesty or something.
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I've done Portsmouth-Caen overnight quite a few times. If you're going to be driving when you hit France, my big tip would be;

GO TO BED EARLY.

Don't sit in the bar until 1 or 2am. You will regret it.
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Ingemar_Skidmark wrote:
Quote:

Set your alarm for 30 mins before arrival (or whenever cafe opens) and dash to collect coffee and croissants for mini breakfast.


There's no need to set your alarm on Brittany Ferries, they wake you up in plenty of time with some annoying plinky-plonky music over the in-cabin speakers, which you can't turn off. It's like something out of Tenko and I usually wake, bleary-eyed expecting Captain Seito to announce we are prisoners of his imperial majesty or something.




Tenko, what a blast from the past. You ar showing your age with that fantastic reference Very Happy
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

There's no need to set your alarm on Brittany Ferries, they wake you up in plenty of time

Annoyingly early, in fact. I wouldn't bother with coffee and croissants on the boat, I'd stay in my bunk as long as possible then stop an hour or two down the motorway.
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

There's no need to set your alarm on Brittany Ferries, they wake you up in plenty of time

Annoyingly early, in fact. I wouldn't bother with coffee and croissants on the boat, I'd stay in my bunk as long as possible then stop an hour or two down the motorway.


+1 there is a services with a Paul café at Alencon (between Caen and Le Mans). I also recall the alarm being on the early side and you have to leave your cabin at least 20 mins before arrival in Caen.

The Le Havre crossing gives a longer night's sleep but that is the economie ferry and if you are driving via le mans it would add time to your journey in France. Therefore probably best to stick with the Caen crossing.
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@MHskier, Hull/ Zebrugge or Rotterdam overnight alternative and down the Rhine, to Frankfurt/ Basel/ Martigny? Depends where you live in Midlands I guess....
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Did a variation on that route driving a van towing a rib with 4 laser sailing dinghies down to an event in spain. Only observation is that you board late, short sleep and get in about 6am and then have a long drive but if its a comfortable car then probably not too bad. We couldn’t do much above 50mph and at the end of a long day had to negotiate narrow streets with limited ability to back up if we got it wrong.
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@MHskier, unfortunately, whilst it seems like a good plan, and I have done the Le Havre overnight dog-friendly cabins a few times your troubles will only really start around Macon as you're going to be travelling on one of the busiest Sats of the season.

I think the question should be how to find the best route from Macon to Aosta which I think is going to be a tough call.

Travel Thursday PM if you can, get close to Aosta Friday and hole up, then early Sat morning to Aosta
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Interesting idea, but you've still got 8/9 hours driving from Caen.

And price wise it sounds no better than Le Shuttle + hotel in Saint Quentin.
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Markymark29 wrote:
@MHskier, Hull/ Zebrugge or Rotterdam overnight alternative and down the Rhine, to Frankfurt/ Basel/ Martigny? Depends where you live in Midlands I guess....
Hull is pretty convenient for us (other end of the M62) but it looks like it doesn't get into Zeebrugge 'til 0930. As an early riser I'd like to be driving well before 10am
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@Higs, Rotterdam ferry berths about 8am
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Markymark29 wrote:
@Higs, Rotterdam ferry berths about 8am
True. But it adds ~90 minutes to the drive.

(What I really want is someone to start a (cheap) Liverpool - Le Havre overnight ferry with comfy beds and great food that berths about 7am)
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bug, I thought I had already sorted my outward journey out for feb half term, and now this has gone and thrown a spanner in the works!!!!!

we live in bath, so below are my options

original plan was to pick my daughters up from school on the Thursday afternoon, bonus inset day on the Friday!, drive to Folkestone jump on the train, overnight in saint quentin, then leisurely drive on the Friday to Albertville where we overnight again before heading up to les menuires early sat morning. hotels are all booked, though can cancel if need be, but not got round to booking the tunnel yet.

now I am thinking of the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to caen, my OH isn't going this year so this would be a definite non starter, as she gets sea sick crossing bridges!!!!!

both myself and my 2 daughters can generally sleep anywhere, so ferry with a cabin would not be an issue.

I have looked into the different routes via Michelin route finder, and it works out over 150km shorter going the ferry route, caen to Albertville via paris. Though slightly more expensive even taking into account no need for a hotel on the Thursday, this is only £57. although it is an extra hours driving time on the Friday, compared to the other option, but I would have done a lot of extra driving the night before.

it is really tempting to go this route, but my concern would be if there is a problem with the sailing that evening. at least with the tunnel unless it is a major f!!!k up, there are other options.

but option 2 means a leisurely drive from bath to Portsmouth, to catch the night ferry, instead of navigating the m4/m25/m20 on a Thursday afternoon/evening, and arriving at the overnight stop around midnight!!!

decisions, decisions????
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So we’ve booked that up. Staying away from m25 that Friday night was the big influence for me.

Hull is never an option as were Herefordshire. Portsmouth only 2hrs away then a relaxing nightcap and early to sleep.

Fingers crossed the weather plays nicely for the crossing.
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@MHskier, If you're only two hours from Portsmouth that's a very sensible choice. The UK motorways (esp the M25) are the worst part of driving to the Alps. Enjoy the trip (it is part of the holiday, after all) and let us know how it went.
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