Routes through France to Spain

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Choice of routes to Spain French motorway tolls Alternative routes via Bordeaux

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There are four main routes south through France, and all of them lead to Spain.
They all include long stretches of toll motorway, but three out of four also include long sections of road that are not toll roads.
    While it is of course possible to find a route south through France from Calais to the Spanish border avoiding all tolls, this is generally a pointless exercise except for very slow-moving vehicles, as it would involve hundreds of kilometres on slow road with numerous towns and villages to negotiate.

Routes to Mediterranean Spain:

Destinations : Barcelona, Valencia, the Spanish Costas from the Costa Brava to the Costa del Sol.
The Spanish border crossing is at le Perthus, south of Perpignan
Recommended routes:
  • a) All motorway, avoiding Paris. : Leave Calais on the A 26 following signs for Reims. Then follow down through Reims, Troyes, Dijon, Lyon, Valence, Montpellier and Perpignan, to the Spanish border at Le Perthus.
    Distance:  1238 km      Map, showing motorway hotels - Calais, Reims, Dijon, Lyon route
  • b) All motorway, via Paris. Leave Calais on the A 26 following signs for Reims. Then follow down through Paris, Orleans, Clermont Ferrand, Beziers, Perpignan. Motorway free from Clermont Ferrand to Béziers, except for toll on Millau viaduct.
    Distance: 1174 km   Map, showing motorway hotels - Calais, Rouen, Orleans route
  • c) Mostly motorway, avoiding Paris. Leave Calais on the A 16 following signs for Abbeville. Then follow down through Rouen, Evreux, Chartres, Orleans, Clermont Ferrand, Beziers, Perpignan. Motorways free from Abbeville to Rouen, and Clermont Ferrand to Béziers, except for toll on Millau viaduct.
    Distance: 1172 km   Map with hotels
  • d) The fastest route without any tolls: see To the Mediterranean without tolls  Distance, a little over 1200 km. But it will take about 3 to 4 hours more driving than any of the other routes

Routes to northern and western Spain,

 via southwest France.
Destinations : San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid, Portugal, Asturias, La Coruña .
The border crossing is at Irun.
Recommended routes
  • a) Fastest route - all motorway or dual carriageway except through Rouen. Leave Calais on the A 16 following signs for Abbeville. Then follow down through Rouen, Alençon, Le Mans, Tours, (or Rouen, Chartres, Orleans, Tours) and the A10 to Bordeaux, Bayonne and the Spanish border. See tolls and details below
      ►  Map, showing motorway hotels on these routes
  • b) The fastest route without any tolls: see Calais to Bayonne / Irun without tolls  Distance, about 1100 km. But it will be over 3 hours more driving than the motorway route
  • c) Alternative good routes -  See tolls and details below
For quiet B&Bs near A10 or A20, check out the B-and-B in France website.
►  For nice places to stay in northern Spain, check Small hotels in Northern Spain

Motorway tolls on routes through France to Spain:  January 2012

(For Car + caravan; add about 50%).
Truck / HGV toll rates (class 4)
: approximately three times the rate for cars.
Calais-Spain motorway toll costs:
a) Eastern route - for Mediterranean destinations, via border crossing at Le Perthus
  • Calais - Le Perthus via Rouen, Chartres & Clermont Ferrand: 53.00 € (cheapest fast route)
  • Calais - Le Perthus via A26,  Reims and Lyon: 96.70 €
  • Calais - Le Perthus via Paris,  Orleans & Clermont-Ferrand: 70.90 €
  • Le Havre - Le Perthus via  Chartres, Orleans & A 71.  49.60 €

Calais-Spain border motorway toll costs:
b) Western route - for northern Spain, central Spain and Portugal  via border crossing at Irun.   (See below for details)
  • Calais - Irun via Rouen, Alençon, le Mans, and A10 to Bordeaux: 72.00 € (fastest)
  • Calais - Irun via Rouen, Chartres, then N10 to Tours, and A10 to Poitiers, and N10 to Bordeaux: 14.70 € (shortest, but Chartres to Tours, 120 km, mostly single carriageway)
  • Calais - Irun via Rouen, Orleans, and A10 to Poitiers, then N10 to Bordeaux: 42.10 € (almost all dual carriageway or motorway)
  • Calais - Irun via Rouen, Orleans, Vierzon, Limoges, Angoulême, Bordeaux: 27.20 €

TIP : Alternative routes through France to Spain via Bordeaux

Though it is usually easiest and faster to stick to French motorways and pay the toll, this is not necessarily true when driving from Calais to Southwest France and the border crossing to Spain at Irun. The choices come after Rouen or Chartres.
  • a)  The shortest route, after Rouen, but not the fastest nor the least stressful, is via Chartres, then to take the N10 from Chartres to Tours, then join the A10 (toll) as far as Poitiers, then the N10 again to Bordeaux. The N10 from Chartres to Tours is largely single carriageway.
  • b) The fastest route, is almost all motorway via Rouen, Alençon, le Mans, and then from Tours the A10 (toll) as far as  Bordeaux.
  • c) A shorter fast route, is to continue on the N154 from Chartres towards Orleans, then take the A10 (toll) as far as Poitiers , then rejoin the N10 (free, dual carriageway) as far as Bordeaux.
  • d)  For an even cheaper fast route at Orleans, take the  A71 > A20 in the direction of Toulouse. At Limoges, follow N141 for Angoulême, where you can then take the N10 as far as Bordeaux. All but about 40 miles of this alternative route to Bordeaux is on motorways or dual carriageway, but there are no tolls after Vierzon.
Map, showing motorway hotels on these routes

Savings on tolls: for cars, 58 € difference between the fastest and the shortest routes: for camper vans the difference is about 85 €, and for HGVs and trucks, about 170 €. 
NB: The shortest route..... Since the savings on  fuel and on distance make the shortest route an attractive proposition for HGVs, it is not necessarily a route that is recommended for cars. Routes c and d are recommended as offering a good balance between speed and toll costs.


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