This post contains affiliate links and mentions a complimentary trip with Eurocamp
This May half term we drove to the South of France in search of sunshine! We spent last May half term in France but the weather in Normandy was fairly British and I’m the sort of person who wants to feel the sun on my face when I’m on my holidays. After loving our week with Eurocamp at Chateau de Lez Eaux, we decided that we’d do another week with Eurocamp this spring, but this time we’d travel further South where the sunshine was more reliable!
The region of Langeudoc-Rousillion sees on average 300 days of sunshine a year and seemed like a sensible place to go! Rather than flying to Béziers, we chose to drive and make our journey part of the adventure.
The drive to Béziers is pretty much 1000 miles door to door from our home in Manchester and plenty of people thought we were crazy driving all the way to the South of France for a week with three kids so I wanted to share with you some of reasons for doing this and what the benefits were for us.
We went in search of sunshine
As I’ve said, the main reason for choosing the South of France was to increase our chances of sunshine! We could have picked plenty of sites in the North of France and significantly reduced our travelling time but we wanted to give ourselves the best chance of having lovely weather on holiday. As such we extended our holiday by two nights so we could stop off part way down France and break up the journey – meaning we didn’t lose any time in Béziers.
Driving to the South of France was considerably cheaper than flying
Flying as a family of five doesn’t come cheap – in fact doing anything as a family of five can be expensive if you’re not careful. When I totted up the cost of flights to the South of France for May half term they came in at over £1500 (which was considerably more than the cost of a week’s accommodation plus ferry with Eurocamp!). We worked out that the cost of driving – so fuel plus road tolls (and there were plenty of those!) as somewhere in the region of about £500. This is obviously quite a big difference – in fact basically our spending money for the week. The cost of the ferry to France was included in our package with Eurocamp however it’s worth noting that with a P&O Ferry crossing the ticket price is per car so it doesn’t matter if there is 1 or 7 of you!
Taking our own car gave us the freedom to explore
Driving to the South of France meant that once we’d arrived at our destination we had the freedom to explore – we didn’t need to worry about the additional expense or faff of hiring a car (again, hiring a car for a family of five is a lot more expensive than hiring something little for two of you!)
We were free to pop to the supermarket and easily stock up for our self-catering holiday, we could visit the nearby water park (had it been open!) or explore local towns and cities on days where the weather wasn’t quite so kind to us!
We could take the bikes
Because we chose to drive to the South of France for our half term holiday, we were able to take all of our bikes with us – this meant four bikes on the back of the car on our new bike rack, and Amy’s tag-along in the boot. Now Dave and I only used our bikes once or twice when we took the kids out for a family bike ride, but I loved knowing that we had the option. The kids however were out on their bikes every day, from the moment they got up till the moment they went to bed – they didn’t sit still! Any time we weren’t at the pool or beach or exploring a nearby town, they were on their bikes with their friends whizzing around the campsite together. Had they not had their bikes with them we’d have had to look at hiring bikes for everyone (at an additional cost) or they’d have had to do without – which would be a real shame as both Ben and Chloe would tell you that being able to ride their bikes freely was a real highlight of this holiday for them.
We could break the journey up with a visit to Aunty M & Uncle Mike!
Obviously a 1000 mile drive is a long old slog so we decided to break it up into more manageable chunks doing about 5 hours of driving each day. There are a couple of options when it comes to taking the ferry to France and we did the six hour ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff when we went to Benodet a few years back. I found it really hard work – I didn’t like being on the ship for six hours, we were exhausted after driving through the night (it’s about 300 miles to Plymouth for us – much the same as to Dover), the kids were only little so needed watching constantly – I spent much of that ferry ride with Amy strapped to my back I seem to recall! Lots of people have since recommended doing that trip through the night and spending the extra on a cabin – but if I’m honest, I’d rather put the hours in in the car instead.
Luckily for us, my Aunty and Uncle live about ten minutes from the Port of Dover – so we can drive down to Dover, stay the night with them and then hop the ferry first thing the next morning. It breaks the journey up nicely and means we get to spend time with family too – win win! The ferry from Dover to Calais is around 90 minutes so by the time you’ve got on the boat, found somewhere to sit, had a snack and a couple of games of Uno or OK Play, picked some perfume up in the shop or had a wander out on deck . . . it’s time to get back to your car!
We made another stop part way down France, staying with Eurocamp at Les Alicourts in Loire. We did look at booking a hotel but found that this was quite expensive and using Eurocamp for a stopover meant that we had a better night’s sleep than if we had all been packed into one room. It meant we didn’t need to worry about security for the bikes and all our stuff in the car overnight and we were able to make use of the facilities at Les Alicourts. (Two nights – one there and one back – cost us around £120)
Did we make the right decision?
The drive to the South of France took us three days in total – and with hindsight we think we could have probably done it in two – mainly because the kids were so good but also because driving in France is just so much easier than driving in the UK (something I’ll write more about in another post). We said that next time we’d still stop in Dover with Aunty M, but once we got to the other side, we’d do that in one big hit and then stay an extra night at our destination.
So yes, flying would have been much quicker, but it would have cost us three times as much plus we’d have had to consider spending even more on hiring bikes and a car for the week. The drive really didn’t feel as arduous as you might thing and simply became part of the adventure.
We’d definitely do a road trip again and next time we’re even thinking about going that bit further to Italy or Holland!