Through France to Spain in 3 days, via Somport Tunnel

Travelling end of February.

Almost Toll free (approximately 6Euro, just North of Abbeville, to allow us to stop at Baie-de-Somme).

Day 1.

Take Saturday 23:30 Channel Tunnel, drive to Baie-de-Somme (approximately 65 miles).

After rest, drive to Poitiers, Futurscope Aire, 300 miles.

Day 2.

Drive to Oloron-Sainte-Marie, 290 miles, stay at Aire in Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

Day 3

Drive through Somport Tunnel to Benicassim, 340 miles.

Winter Route to Spain or Portugal

Based on travelling approximately 300 miles per day. We have travelled this route several times, in January.

If the daily distances are more than you wish to do, I have included possible stopping places which would reduce the daily miles, but of course, increase the time taken to get there.  

The route is chosen on the basis of:

- avoiding tolls
- places to stop over which are open, and, in our view safe.
- avoid high ground which may be affected by snow.

I give here, the "bullet points" of the route. It is quite possible to make more frequent stops, if 300 miles per day is more than you wish to drive. In our experience, in January, this will mean stopping at Aires, which may have minimal or no services available at this time of year. If the weather is favourable, we often stop off at St Jean-de-Luz or Bidart for a rest from the driving.

Our journey starts near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Day 1 will obviously vary, depending on your start point. 

Day 1.

We have 350 miles to travel, to either the Tunnel or, the Dover Ferry. It is our usual practice to take a crossing, late in the day and then, depending on how much we feel we need a rest, to stop at the Aire at Gravelines (N 50.98822, E 2.12246), or, if we feel up to driving a little further to Aire Baie de Somme (N 50.16756 E 1.75595), on the A16.

Day 2.

Approximately 290 miles to travel, destination Montoire-sur-Loir. 

It is a good, fast road, A16 - A28 - D6015 - A154. The only "difficult" section, is to transit Rouen. We have never found a toll-free way to bypass Rouen, but, by following my wife's Golden Rule ie "do not cross the river", we manage, to go via Pont de l'Arche (at which point, we do cross the Seine) to join the A154.

The Aire at Montoire-sur-Loir is located within walking distance of the town centre, where there are bars and cafes, if you want to "de-stress" after the drive. There are a small number of free EHU points. There is street lighting.

To reduce the daily driving distance, possible stop-overs are available at Forges Les Eaux (Aire N49.61035 E1.53978), North of Rouen, there are no services between October and March. Alternatively at Pont de l'Arche (Aire N49.30552 E1.1737), south of Rouen.

Day 3

Montoire-sur-Loir to Moliets Plage. (Aire N43 51’ 5.8” W1 23’ 6.7”) there is street lighting, and, a public toilet.

Approximately 340 miles. 

A good fast road, N10/A10, Angouleme then Bordeaux. It matters little in our experience which way you go on the Bordeaux Ring Road, to the East of the city, or, to the West, either way, then A63 to the Castets exit, then D947 - D42 - D142 - D652 - D117 to Moliets Plage.

In my opinion, this is the most boring section of the route, certainly once you are passed Bordeaux, flat and heavily wooded, and, in our experience, in January, raining!

We have used an alternative stop-over at Lac de Ville St Girons (N43 54.178’ W1 18.572’) , on an occasion when torrential rain slowed our progress. The Aires information implied that showers etc were available, but, on the occasion we stayed there the Aire was under a metre of water, and, we spent the night in the car-park!

Day 4

Moliets Plage to Burgos, approximately 204 miles. 

At Burgos, (N42 20’ 24.5” W3 39’ 20.0”) there is an ACSI Campsite, with heated facilities (very welcome in January!)

A good road, D117 - D652 - D15 to rejoin A63 at Magescq, and on to Irun, then, crossing into Spain the road continues as GI636 then after San Sebastian, the A1 to Burgos. This is a major crossing point into Spain, heavily used by Lorries, and, with some steep climbs, going may be slow. Although I have said we avoid tolls, we do usually take the toll section to by-pass Irun and San Sebastian.

Day 5

If we are heading for Portugal (Algarve), or the Atlantic coast of Spain (Cadiz), after Burgos, we make for Caceres (N39 29’ 17.5” W6 24’ 45.0”), where there is an ACSI Campsite open all year.

If we are heading for the Mediterranean coast of Spain, after Burgos we head for Zaragosa and then to Tarragona.

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