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  #161  
Old 14.01.2014, 11:09
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Re Strasbourg: this has improved massively over the past 4 years. But we tend to make sure we plan our trip to avoid any rush-hour traffic around the city.

Also, last time we went (July/Aug '13) I noticed that the number of payage booths was greatly reduced - making the journey much smoother (although no less cheaper).

It has also taken us consistently 8 hrs to drive from Basel-Calais, including a 1 hr break, cruising at 140 kph.

Edit: do we get to vote for our favourite route?
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  #162  
Old 14.01.2014, 11:12
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Further to the Basel - Metz - Luxembourg - Belgium info....

1. There are only two (French) tolls on this route. One is ticket-based and one is a simple toll.
2. As you pass through Luxembourg, there are two fuel stops on the highway you're following....don't miss both of them!!
3. Speed cameras. France is polluted with them, obey the slower limits when passing cities (90/110) - but there are some on the full speed stretches of the highway....
4. Speed cameras. Switzerland: Basel. Obey. Limits.
5. If you're headed to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge then watch yourself as you enter Brussels - you want to get on the ring and traffic chokes there. More than once, I've had to dive into the turn for the ring road because I have been hoofing it....
6. Belgium and Brussels. Belgian drivers seem to be trained differently to everyone else.......and the Brussels ring is busy all the darn time. Factor in the chance of delays there.

The ports of Zeebrugge and Rotterdam can be done in a day from the northern parts of Switzerland but if you're coming from the south and/or don't want the pressure of rushing for the port, I'd recommend splitting your journey somewhere south of Luxembourg.

Why?

Well, in short, the food's better than Luxembourg and Belgium!! You can then also explore lovely cities like Metz and visit the French hypermarket before moving on.

This also gives you more space for pee-stops if you have kids with you - it's pretty boring as a kid stuck in the car for 8 hours!

You may want to have some "safety zones" programmed in your GPS. These are speed camera sites but in a borderline legal way.
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Old 14.01.2014, 11:31
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Been a few years now since I last drove this but my preferred route was always:

Basel - Colmar - St Die (pass not tunnel) - Luneville - Nancy - Luxembourg - Namur - Lille - Calais

Distance: 733km
Time: about 7 hours without pushing it (Google claims 7'16")
Tolls: None

Cheap Fuel: Luxembourg. At least always used to be.

Pros: No tolls. Cheap fuel at Luxembourg. Never had any problems with delays.

Cons: Twisty section from Colmar to St Die (although I found this made a pleasant change from all the motorways). Belgian drivers.
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  #164  
Old 14.01.2014, 12:09
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Basel - Colmar - Strasbourg - Metz - Luxembourg - Namur - Lille - Dunkirk (French Tolls ~ €20 )

If I leave Basel at 8 am I have no problem with traffic delays.
I can catch the 16:00 ferry from Dunkirk to Dover with DFDS ferries.

Why drive to Calais? It is an extra 35 Km and the time savings on the
ferry are lost on the autobahn. I eat a sandwich for lunch and take a
meal on the ferry. This gives me a 2 hour break, which I don't get if
I use the tunnel shuttle.

I buy fuel in Luxembourg, near the autobahn, at
Deliway Shell garage (The shop is closed at night)
2 Route de Longwy
8080 Bertrange, Luxembourg (About €1.30 / liter!)

Returning, we stop at a cheap hotel near the autobahn,
Hotel IBIS Luxembourg Sud Mehr Infos
Rue de Turi
3378 Livange, Luxembourg
+352 26 52 01

On the way back we visit a big French
Hypermarché 20 Km north of Metz,
Auchan Metz
Voie Romaine,
57280 Semécourt, France ‎ +33 3 87 34 56 56 ‎ · auchan.fr
.
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Old 14.01.2014, 12:16
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

on the topic of conveniently-placed French hypermarkets:

1. Carrefour at Mulhouse: http://goo.gl/BIJL3Z
2. E. Leclerc at Hauconcourt: http://goo.gl/uu1jtv

The Leclerc is right at the exit of the A31. It's a little less of a schlep and really on the way.....best one I've found in terms of location and it is chuffin' massive.
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  #166  
Old 04.05.2014, 23:14
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Avenches - Vallorbe - Pontarlier - Salins-les-Bains - Dole - Reims - Calais

Distance: 789km
Time: 8hr 55mins including breaks/fuel (April 2014)
Tolls: Dole-Reims 29 Euros; Reims-Calais 22.20 Euros

Cheap Fuel: Pontalier is where we fill up: LA MAISON DU PNEU MARIOTTE (Siligom) (Diesel only), 19 Rue Pierre Dechanet ZA des Grands Planchants, Géant Casino, 66 Rue de Salins (D72) or E.Leclerc, Route de Dijon Houtaud. In Calais we use the Total station RUE MARCEL DASSAULT, 62100 CALAIS as it's near the ferry port and just off the A216 into Calais.

Pros: Mostly motorway except for the Avenches to Dole section. Little traffic and only two tolls to deal with. We go to Dole rather than Beçanson as we would hit the rush hour and have to crawl through the city to reach the motorway.

Cons: The Avenches to Dole part of the journey takes around 2 hrs 30 mins, even though it's under 200km. Quite a few villages to go through which slows you down and the road into/out of Salins-les-Bains is both steep and twisting so not that good for caravans or heavy loads.

Additional info:
Re fuel prices just for info: At Pontarlier we paid 1.316 Euros per litre at the Siligom station going out, 1.298 at the Leclerc coming back. Total station at Calais for their Premier diesel 1.344. Motorway prices were between 1.44 and 1.47 per litre. Petrol is about 19/20 centimes more expensive per litre in France.

Last edited by Medea Fleecestealer; 05.05.2014 at 09:39. Reason: Add info on fuel pricing
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  #167  
Old 16.07.2014, 00:18
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

Has anyone any tips for a route towing a trailer? I am planning on towing a small unbraked trailer (legal max 80 km/h - ugh) to the N.West UK and am not sure which route to take. Normally I go France autoroute and cough up the tolls for a stress free fast trip rather than the more stressful Belgium route with lots of crazy drivers, but as I can only go around 80 maybe another route is better??
I am also toying with driving up DE/NL to Rotterdam and taking the ferry to Hull for a rest and that the trailer is secured away on the car deck for the night, rather than in a car park in Dover.
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Old 16.07.2014, 10:05
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

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Has anyone any tips for a route towing a trailer? I am planning on towing a small unbraked trailer (legal max 80 km/h - ugh) to the N.West UK and am not sure which route to take. Normally I go France autoroute and cough up the tolls for a stress free fast trip rather than the more stressful Belgium route with lots of crazy drivers, but as I can only go around 80 maybe another route is better??
We use the French motorways even without a trailer. Easy, empty roads and plenty of places to stop (and drive off again without having to reverse the trailer!)

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I am also toying with driving up DE/NL to Rotterdam and taking the ferry to Hull for a rest and that the trailer is secured away on the car deck for the night, rather than in a car park in Dover.
I'd do this.

We use the overnight ferry to Harwich sometimes and it's a great part of the journey and means you can avoid the M25 etc.

I've pulled a large trailer a few times across the continent and didn't choose any particular route.
Although once, a tunnel fire in Austria meant we were re-routed up some very remote, and very high mountain pass which was fun with the trailer!
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Old 16.07.2014, 12:46
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

As you are limited to 80 Kph, the Rotterdam to Hull route looks good. Get a cabin and have a good nights rest.
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Old 16.07.2014, 13:06
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

The Rotterdam or Zeegrugge route to Hull is a nice trip. P&O even optimistically call it a "mini cruise" - the trip over night takes 13 hours! They sail with above average ships and the cost/distance ratio is better than most UK ferries...
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Old 16.07.2014, 17:18
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

What are the roads like on the German/Dutch route to Rotterdam? Are they good quality motorways or are they more like dual carriageways? And if they also have lots of traffic its vastly more tiring. I seem to remember the start of the German side was like that when I used it once if I remember right.
And I wasn't very keen on the luxembour/Belgium route to the channel for these reasons.

The french motorways on the other hand are just stereo on & cruise control engaged for most of the way, and then you grind to a halt in UK with the traffic.

The speed limits with a trailer are I believe:
CH: 80kmh
DE: 80kmh (unless specially approved for 100)
FR: no special limit under 3500kg
UK: 60mph = 96kmh
Going FR means I could go about 100kmh (need to check the tyres speed rating) which would be a big plus over dawdling at 80... But I'm new to towing a trailer so I hope 100 is not OTT.
Trailer would be Humbaur Steely 750Kg
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Last edited by Glendyn; 16.07.2014 at 17:19. Reason: added link to google route
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  #172  
Old 16.07.2014, 17:21
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

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What are the roads like on the German/Dutch route to Rotterdam? Are they good quality motorways or are they more like dual carriageways? And if they also have lots of traffic its vastly more tiring. I seem to remember the start of the German side was like that when I used it once if I remember right.
And I wasn't very keen on the luxembour/Belgium route to the channel for these reasons.

The french motorways on the other hand are just stereo on & cruise control engaged for most of the way, and then you grind to a halt in UK with the traffic.

The speed limits with a trailer are I believe:
CH: 80kmh
DE: 80kmh (unless specially approved for 100)
FR: no special limit under 3500kg
UK: 60mph = 96kmh
Going FR means I could go about 100kmh (need to check the tyres speed rating) which would be a big plus over dawdling at 80... But I'm new to towing a trailer so I hope 100 is not OTT.
Trailer would be Humbaur Steely 750Kg
For a little thing like that no problem doing a 100, but allow room in front, heavy braking with a trailer can cause sweaty armpits (especially if you have 2 horses in the trailer )
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Old 16.07.2014, 17:32
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Re: driving to UK

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9hrs to Calais, 8 if you're quick. I stayed in Calais at IBIS/ETAP by the ferry terminal. Much easier to approach London in morning, so get 7am ferry. Don't forget toll costs (expensive).

I would recommend stopping in Lille or even better Bruges if you can find a hotel for an evening.

I was thinking of doing this journey also on boxing day BUT..... French fuel automats do not always take foreign credit cards or any cash. This means you could potentially be left without fuel if the filling station is closed. As my car drinks lots of fuel, I can't take the risk the journey unless someone can assure me that the filling stations will be open 24/7 over Christmas...

dave
toll costs? Which toll costs?

Also, I guess they accept Euros, right?
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Old 16.07.2014, 17:56
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Re: driving to UK

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Also, I guess they accept Euros, right?
A lot of automatic filling stations in France only take cards. Some petrol stations are attended during the day but are automatic at night.

Never get stuck in the middle of France, at night, with a near empty tank of fuel as there are too many factors against you.
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Old 16.07.2014, 19:06
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Re: driving to UK

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A lot of automatic filling stations in France only take cards. Some petrol stations are attended during the day but are automatic at night.

Never get stuck in the middle of France, at night, with a near empty tank of fuel as there are too many factors against you.
And in Belgium all the auto tanks (that I found) that take cards at night do not accept Swiss 6 digit pin cards.... I had to sleep in my van and wait until the morning to pay at the counter one night.
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Old 22.07.2014, 13:48
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Re: driving to UK

I can tell you that for a normal car, missing out Luxembourg and Belgium for Calais/Dunkirk costs €38 in each direction. The present price of diesel in France is close to that of Luxembourg so it's actually not too bad. Péage is cruise control-friendly.

If I was towing then I'd not worry about countries that much but Brussels ring is horrible.

The P&O overnight ferries are really nice. A selection of restaurants and bars, cinema and rooms from simple to posh. If I am going north in the UK, I absolutely avoid driving in the south....!!

With a Swiss credit card, I've had no issues with unattended chip+pin French pumps.
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Old 15.08.2014, 12:09
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Re: Driving to/from UK: Routes, advice, discussion

Thanks for all the suggestions and help for my trip with a trailer. I considered the Rotterdam Hull route, but in the end I went through France as I could legally sit at 100km/h with the trailer which I couldnt do elsewhere, it was cheaper, even with B&B after Channel crossing.
And I just won't drive in Belgium any more.
I used Dodgyken's route in post #1, leaving the a35 at Selestat, and cutting the corner via St Die, Nancy, St Dizier, Reims. It was good with lots of dual carriageway sections in the corner cutting and didn't go over the hills like a previous corner cutting route I'd tried.
Speed: 80 in CH, 100 in FR (unbraked trailer)

Time:
Joined A3 at Horgen at 07:00. Made 18:00 Ferry from Calais. Stopped for breaks fuel lunch etc.
Fuel: Paid only €1.27/litre for Diesel at Carrefour Chalons en Champagne.

Tolls:
Tunnel on the Selestat St Die section approx €8 (10km)
Short Section of Peage by Reims €3.50
Autoroute Reims-Calais (Autoroute des Anglais) €22.20 (267Km)
Took the DFDS Dover Calais, and even with cheapest booking stated that I could take ferry before or after free of charge.(assuming not full of course)
Overnighted B&B near Ashford.

Toll and Fuel automatic machines paid with normal Swiss Maestro Card (not credit card).
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Last edited by Glendyn; 15.08.2014 at 12:35. Reason: Added link to google maps route
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Old 23.09.2014, 23:21
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

Hi Dodgyken

Thank you for this very useful thread.

Travelling with my family while doing the route from Basel to London, so planning to stop for the night about 1-2 hours short of Calais. Do you have any recommendations for where (which town) would be a good place to stop for the night?

Thank you.

Navin


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(Mods can this be a sticky? And used only for the routes?)

Add routes (direction CH to UK).
Include: distance, time taken, likely choke points, cheap fuel, speed cameras, dates of use, costs, etc etc

Basel - Colmar - Selestat - Luneville - Nancy - St Dezier - Chalon - Reims - Calais

Distance: 685km
Time: 8hr (towing a large/heavy trailer) (Nov 2013); 6.25hr (car) (Dec 2013)
Tolls: Car - 8eur (Tunnel); 3.5eur (Reims) 21.50eur (Reims-Calais)

Cheap Fuel: N333 (Vitrimont) just after Luneville - TOTAL Access; N44 just after Chalon - TOTAL Access (Both adequately signposted); On the Rue Yverant Tourmaniantz (Calais) - either a TOTAL on the right side of the A/N216 or a Carrefour on the left side.
Pagny sur Meuse - a La Favourit stop with TOTAL fuel (very cheap); a restaurant and what appears to be a motel type place.

Pros: The N4 and N59 are both recently renovated and in sections added to - reducing the number of potential delays. 110kmh for most of the way. Regular cheap fuel stops off the Autoroute.

Cons: The section from the N4 to the A4 (N44) has frequent single carriageway sections which could lead to delays. The route is littered with speed cameras so excessively high cruising is not possible - watch out for the 70 zone camera just after the Tunnel

Summary: A good route to use to avoid Strasbourg (a major traffic choke point). The single file sections are relatively short and interspersed with regular dual carriageway. The route is visually far more enjoyable - and the section to Reims goes a lot quicker than expected.
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Old 24.09.2014, 10:35
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

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Hi Dodgyken

Thank you for this very useful thread.

Travelling with my family while doing the route from Basel to London, so planning to stop for the night about 1-2 hours short of Calais. Do you have any recommendations for where (which town) would be a good place to stop for the night?

Thank you.

Navin
I stop at the B&B chain of hotels basic but comfortable and clean, breakfast is not bad as well.

The ones I us on the way back about 2hours from Calais is SAINT-QUENTIN
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Old 24.09.2014, 10:57
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Re: Driving to UK - Routes

We do the same route as Padda, but prefer to go via Besançon and pick up French M-way there. For overnight stop, if you fancy visiting Rheims centre and cathedral- the Best Western in middle of town is excellent, with safe parking. But it is 3 hours from Calais. For a midway stop, the Cheval Blanc in Langres is great, old Inn but modern bathrooms and decor and great food (they will valet park your car)- again, probably too far from Calais. In Calais, as we are often with a dog, we stay at the friendly but simple Hôtel de la Plage (used to be Kyriad) where dogs are welcome, simple, clean, friendly staff and good food + v. good value.
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