Of course there is the Eurotunnel, possibly the most eco-friendly way to cross the channel by car. It’s just about 35 minutes which is faster than the ferry crossing from Dover to Calais.
But then the question was, which route is best to avoid Paris to go South. Also, part of the consideration was that I prefer not to drive long distance like I used to. This meant taking more breaks and more overnight hotel stops.
In the end taking the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Saint Malo seemed the best option, as Saint Malo is further down the French coast.
From there it is a drive to Bordeaux, stay in the region of Saint-Émilion, or more precisely Libourne, and then the final stretch from Libourne to Argelès-sur-Mer on France’s Mediterranean coast.
Finally the car was packed! I collected all sorts of nibblies, fruit and nuts ready at hand, a car essential oil diffuser with various essential oil blends to keep me alert for the long drive, such as Peppermint oil, Eucalyptus Radiata, and the blend ‘RC’, plus the blend ‘Stress Away’ (just in case …). I also had natural power drinks which I prefer to coffee to avoid caffeine jitters.
Thankfully the sun was out, very low traffic and on the whole a really joyful drive through the English countryside.
The route led through the new-to-me Hindhead Tunnel. In the past one had to wind up around very hilly country roads. As you can see from the picture, the traffic was really light, plus, the tunnel cut off some significant travel time.
After a wonderfully stress free sunny journey, it was nice to roll into the car-waiting area for the ferry in good time, actually early, which then meant I was one of the first to drive onto the boat. Evening is approaching.
Some steep ramps later, and skilful directions from Brittany Ferries staff, the car was securely parked on deck 5A.
Of course it was great to watch the ferry depart Portsmouth Harbour, which is a British Naval base.
Next was to find the overnight cabin, and then it was time to find the onboard restaurant for dinner. I was actually quite impressed by Brittany Ferries. Having been on various car ferries in the past, this boat resembled more a small cruise ship. Tons of entertainment areas, for live music and dancing, cinemas, massage rooms, etc. I could have had a manicure done there, too.
I was also impressed with the fresh food and presentation.
Such as this delicious salmon dish … and with wine, of course! Clearly a taste of French cuisine!
The cabin for the night was reasonably comfortable with bathroom and shower facility. However, I only managed to get one hour sleep. I guess I was too excited to be on this trip.
There were of course continuous updates from the other family members, especially from the Sydney team as they made their way through the mountainous Pyrenees.
With the boat arriving relatively early at Saint Malo, it meant getting up early ... Sadly taking pictures from inside dirty ferry windows meant the photos are also grubby ...
Sunrise over the waters … through dirty ship windows … but it was still spectacular, definitely better than the picture reveals!
Hello France! … and time to get back into the car.
… and I am back behind the steering wheel, this time minding that I drive on the right side of the road and go around roundabouts the opposite way to the UK.
So, the adventure will continue on day two.