through FRANCE to SPAIN
When driving through
France, don't forget to carry a yellow fluorescent jacket...
All vehicles driving on French roads (and in Spain) are obliged to
carry a yellow
fluorescent jacket, that must be put on if the driver has to get out in
an emergency. The jacket must be stored in the car, not in the boot,
and be easily accessible. Failure to carry the obligatory jacket may
lead to an instant fine of up to 130 Euros, if stopped by police.
► See French rules of the
for full details on French driving regulations.
►ALL ROADS SOUTH LEAD TO SPAIN ......
There are four main routes south through France, and all of them lead
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.
to Mediterranean Spain:
: 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
routes: Distances from Calais to the Spanish border at Le Perthus
- 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.
1238 km Map, showing motorway hotels -
Calais, Reims, Dijon, Lyon route
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
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
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
to northern and western Spain,
via southwest France.
: San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid, Portugal, Asturias, La
The border crossing is at Irun.
- 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
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
Motorway tolls on routes through
France to Spain: January 2015
+ caravan; add about 50%).
Truck / HGV toll rates (class 4) : approximately three
times the rate for cars.
motorway toll costs:
a) Eastern route - for
Mediterranean destinations, via border crossing at Le Perthus
- Le Perthus via Rouen, Chartres & Clermont
Ferrand: 57.50 € (cheapest
- Le Perthus via A26, Reims and Lyon:
- Le Perthus via Paris, Orleans
& Clermont-Ferrand: 73.70 €
Havre - Le Perthus via Chartres, Orleans
& A 71. 54.80 €
border motorway toll costs:
b) Western route - for
northern Spain, central Spain and Portugal via border
crossing at Biriatou / Irun. (See below for
- Irun via Rouen,
Alençon, le Mans, and A10 to
- Calais -
Irun via A 26, Paris, Orleans and
- Irun via Rouen,
Chartres, then N10
to Tours, and A10 to
Poitiers, and N10 to Bordeaux: 37.60
€ - shortest, (but
Chartres to Tours, 120 km, mostly single carriageway)
- Irun via Rouen, Orleans, and A10 to Poitiers, then N10
to Bordeaux: 51.60
all dual carriageway or motorway)
- Irun via Rouen, Orleans, Vierzon, A20, N141,
€ - most
economical in tolls
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. Here are more details
the routes from Calais to the Spanish border at Biriatou / Irun. After
Bordeaux, there is only one route.
hotels on these routes
- The fastest route
(no.1 above - about 10h 50 under normal driving conditons),
is almost all motorway via Rouen, Alençon, le Mans, and then
the A10 (toll) as far as Bordeaux.
- Route 2 above is about ten minutes longer on
normal days, but could be quite a bit longer than the route via Rouen
on busy traffic days, or if you hit the Paris area around rush-hour.
- The shortest route
(no 3 above), but not the fastest nor the least stressful.
About 12h 30. After Rouen, follow
Chartres, then to take the N10
from Chartres to Vendôme and Tours, then join the
(toll) as far as Poitiers south, then the N10 again to
Bordeaux. The N10
from Chartres to Tours is largely single carriageway.
- A faster variant of no. 3,
and a bit longer: as above as far as
Chartres; then follow Orleans and join the
A10 (toll) as far as Poitiers south, then rejoin the N10 (free, dual
carriageway) as far as Bordeaux.
most economical fast route - about 12 hr 50. (Compared to
the fastest route, 53 € less in tolls, for about 2 hours more
in time. Compared to the shortest route, 20 minutes longer, less single
carriageway, 3 € less tolls).
As route 4 as far as Orleans, but then at Orleans, take
> A20 in the direction of Toulouse. At Limoges, follow N141 for
Angoulême, where you join 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.
: for cars, 53 € difference between the
and the cheapest routes: for camper vans the difference is about 85
and for HGVs and trucks, about 170 €.
The shortest route
..... Since the savings on
fuel and on distance make the shortest route an attractive
proposition for HGVs (trucks), it is not necessarily a route that is
for cars on weekdays. But HGVs are banned from the roads on Sundays in
France, and there are far less of them on Saturdays. Routes 3 &
4 are recommended as offering a good balance
between speed and toll costs.
Beware of the "cheap ferries" scam
Some internet sites that announce "cheap" ferry prices are actually
than the Ferry companies themselves. Avoid dodgy websites; click to book directly with ferry