5 September 2011


The journey to France is troublesome.  In the sense that we are constantly trying to find the best way to do it.

It’s 600 miles door-to-door and the travelling problems are all on the UK side of the channel.  The journey from home in Derbyshire to Folkestone to catch the train is the difficult bit.  All because travelling on the UK motorways is a total nightmare, a complete unknown. 

According to Google it takes three and a half hours from here to the tunnel but it can take much, much more than that.  All it needs is an “accident” caused by someone doing something stupid and then you have a huge traffic jam and you miss your train.


We organised things differently this time, setting off on the Friday night, aiming for the just-before-midnight train and having a hotel booked near the tunnel exit in Calais.  Then after a relaxed breakfast we would continue south and be chez nous by mid-afternoon – much less exhausting than trying to do it all in one go after a day’s work.

The traffic going south on the UK motorways was foul.  But moving.  Until we got past the Dartford crossing and onto the M20.  Not far from the tunnel there was a short section of badly organised roadworks funnelling three lanes of traffic into one lane in a very short space and suddenly there was chaos.  At 11.00 pm it looked like we would miss our train, a massive hold-up being caused by a careless lorry driver stuffing his lorry into the side of a car as he changed lanes without looking or giving the car the chance to get out of the way.  It was only by a difference of seconds that the hapless car driver didn’t happen to be us.


However, we eventually made it across (or rather, under) the channel to France and from that point onwards all our travelling problems evaporated.

We decided to use a slightly different route, avoiding going through the centre of Rouen and crossing the Seine via the Pont de Bretonne, which we have never done before.  Yet another spectacular French bridge to add to our list of really good bridges crossed in France.


The temperature rose steadily as we got nearer to the Loire.   On leaving Calais it was 18°C and by the time we were passing the florist’s shop in Montbazon, it was 32°.


Le Grand-Pressigny was in full bloom, full fruit and looking beautiful.  The apple trees in the car park by the château were full of fruit, as were the blackberry bushes and the vines.

lgp2 lgp10

We had a wonderful two weeks and I will be telling you all about some of it as soon as I can.

Things back home are as hectic as always so you will have to be patient… !!


  1. I could not agree more, travel on the UK side is soooooo unpredictable, I am always worried that I will miss the ferry or train.
    I always travel over the Pont de Bretonne, it is gorgeous. This time when I return, I plan though to use the route through Orleans as I gather the tolls are very much cheaper, I may though still go via the bridge and Yvetot afterwards. Not yet planned!! Diane

  2. Hello:
    We do so sympathise for we are so aware what a nightmare road travel is in the UK compared with much of Europe where the congestion of which you write is seldom to be seen.

    Certainly all of the motorways in Hungary are relatively free of traffic and so, unlike your journey from Derbyshire, it is possible to plan a trip, say to Romania, almost down to the last five minutes.

    But we are delighted that you were so well rewarded on arrival at your home in France.

  3. Hi Jean - glad to see you back here. I think we can all relate to SE England roads... what more is there to say! It does make the difference on French auto routes seem all the more extreme.
    Your photos of LGP look beautiful and it must have been a treat for you to arrive there.

  4. Glad you had a good break.
    The UK side of the journey is usually awful. This time we were in a traffic jam on the M25 at around midnight and it wasn't due to an accident! Who would expect that? Just road works and lane closures.

    The jams are worth it on the journey to France - whether they are worth it to get back I'm not so sure ......

  5. Diane - it was after speaking to you about the Yvetot route that we decided to try it, so thanks, it was a very good suggestion. It was good to get off the motorway onto the ordinary roads for a break, too.

    Jane and Lance - it's the standard of driving, mostly bad manners and deliberately taking stupid risks that causes the havoc. The traffic can flow perfectly well if everybody behaves themselves, even when it's busy. We saw one guy looking down to his lap, presumably texting, as he drove along at 80mph in a 70 limit, weaving inbetween the other vehicles. Madness.

    How lucky you are to have such pleasant motoring in your part of the world.

    Craig - unless you have driven in France, I guess most people wouldn't know what I mean.

    Gaynor - we were relieved as usual to arrive in one piece. Even when you try to travel at the "best time" you can still come unstuck.

  6. Hi Jean - yes, having lived there for 5+ years we became all too accustomed to the sedate auto routes! But actually Scotland isn't too bad either - much quieter than southern UK.

  7. Trying to squeeze three lanes into one is a huge design fault. No wonder motorways are both painfully slow and experience lots of accidents.
    Thankfully you three made it chez-vous, and had (I trust) a grand time.

  8. Oh dear! The roads..... What can I say? But glad to hear you're back home safe and sound!

  9. It always struck me that the route through Rouen was Joan of Arc's revenge...

  10. Craig - the last time I was in Scotland the roads were lovely. The A1 getting there was not so good though!

    Colin and Elizabeth - the roads and the weather - terrible !!

    Fly - Too true!

  11. Here I am surfacing from ?*@*? and just to say sorry I missed you both in France...but when I was in UK and had achieved well over 2000 miles between France and visiting friends and relations, I only had one meltdown. however, we were still moving. That was on my the second heading south across the Dartford bridge journey I made in July! I was in UK for 4 weeks sandwiched with 1 week in Greece....oh how so lovely! I miss UK but when I come off the ferry and feel the winds of France I feel so at home.... and when I buy the chocolat chaud with the prune tartellette I know I am in heaven! No complaints for me on either side of the Channel!

  12. I don't drive Jean but can certainly appreciate the worry of missing connections and then the relief of gliding effortlessly through . Love your bridge pictures but my fave was of that little lane. I could imagine myself wandering happily down there.