through FRANCE to SPAIN
When driving through
France, don't forget to carry a yellow fluorescent jacket...
All vehicles driving on French roads are obliged to
carry a yellow
fluorescent jacket, that must be put on if the driver has to get out in
an emergency. (In Spain, it's one per passenger). 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.
: default speed
limit on single-carriageway French roads is now 80km/hr
ROADS SOUTH LEAD TO SPAIN
long drive from the UK to Spain, and drivers heading south need to
establish their priorities in terms of time, speed and cost. Motorway
tolls between Calais and the Spanish border can vary between zero and
over 100 Euros, (over 160 € for campervans) depending on the route
chosen. Yet unless time is no object, paying a few French motorway
tolls makes sense ; it will even normally work out cheaper on fuel than
slavishly avoiding all tolls, given that stop-start driving through
urban areas is very heavy on ruel consumption.
Trying to avoid all
tolls is generally a pointless exercise even for motorhomes or
campervans; driving hundreds of kilometres on
slow roads with numerous towns and villages to negotiate is not the
best way to cross France, unless you want to keep stopping to visit the
sites on the way. There are more economical ways of driving to Spain
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.
the fastest routes UK to Spain:
route or western route ?
are recommended for visitors travelling from the UK to the Costa Brava
anywhere on the Spanish Mediterranean coast north of Valencia. They
cross into Spain south of Perpignan, at the border at Le Perthus / La
Junquera and continue towards Barcelona.
are recommended for travellers aiming for central or southern Spain
Routes to southern Spain via Bordeaux
and Irun are actually shorter
than those via Lyon
and Perpignan. Western routes cross into Spain
south of Biarritz, at the border at Irun and continue towards Zaragoza,
Burgos or Bilbao.
indicated below are from Calais to the Spanish border.
Times are liable to be considerably longer on peak holiday Saturdays
(July August), particularly on routes E1, E2 and W2
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.
See Route guide
Calais, Reims, Dijon, Lyon, Mediterranean
Toll May 2019 ~ 109.80
1253 km Driving time: about 11h 45.
► All motorway, via Paris.
Leave Calais on the A 26
following signs for Reims as far as Arras. Then follow down through
Clermont Ferrand, Beziers, Perpignan. Motorway toll-free from Clermont
Ferrand to Béziers, except for toll on Millau viaduct.
guide - Calais, Rouen, Orleans, Clermont-Ferrand route
Toll May 2019 ~ 81.80
1162 km Driving time: about 11h. (Fastest
no delays round Paris)
- W1 ► 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 detailed map, showing Route
guide UK - Spain via Rouen and Bordeaux
Toll May 2019~ 95.20
1081 km Driving time: about 10h.10.
use Portsmouth Le Havre or Portsmouth Caen ferries for 150 km less
driving in France (and less driving in the UK too if coming from west
or northwest of London, as well as avoiding M25). Check with Brittany Ferries
► Like W1
but via Paris
and Orleans, not Rouen
Toll May 2019~ 94.90
€ Distance, about 1098
time: about 10h30.
But beware of delays round Paris
routes to Spain,
► then ► from
8 km longer than E2, but less tolls and no Paris. Leave Calais on the A
16 , 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
Toll May 2019
: ~ 62.80
1164 km Driving
time: about 11h 30.
- E4 ►
The fastest eastern route with
see Route guide - to
the Mediterranean without tolls Same as E3 except for Orleans
to Clermont Ferrand. But it will take about 3 to 4 hours more driving
than any of the other
routes. After Béziers, follow the old routes nationales to
Spanish border. Rather slow after Perpignan, and not for HGVS.
Toll costs and
driving time depend
on how many time-saving toll sections you
prefer to take.
over 1200 km. Driving
time: about 13h
- W3 ► A fast
western route with
few tolls: Calais
- Irun via Rouen, Orleans, and A10 to Poitiers, then N10
to Bordeaux: tolls depend on what toll sections you prefer to
take. It is possible to avoid tolls after Bordeaux, but this is slow
and not worthwhile unless you have all the time in the world.
For detail see Calais
to Southern Spain via Bordeaux with few tolls
Toll May 2019 55.10
about 1080 km. Driving
time: about 11h
- W4 ► Calais
- Irun with
few tolls via Rouen,
Chartres, then N10
to Tours, and A10 to
Poitiers, and N10 to Bordeaux:
shortest route, but longer in time than W3, Note:
Chartres to Tours, 120 km, mostly single carriageway. For more details,
notably regarding toll motorways south of Bordeaux, see Calais
to Bayonne / Irun without tolls
Toll May 2019
Distance: 1030 km Driving time: at
33.... up to an hour and a half more if you avoid tolls
between Bordeaux and the Spanish border.
- Irun with
few tolls via Rouen, Orleans, Vierzon, A20,
Bordeaux: more motorway than W4 but most
economical in tolls. A good balance between distance, speed and tolls
Toll : 36 €.
1112 km Driving
time: about 12h. 50.
Note: Motorway tolls
are based on May 2019 rates for cars.
For Car + caravan; add about 50%; for truck / HGV toll rates (class 4)
: approximately three times the rate for cars.
Since the savings on
fuel and on distance make the shortest routes an attractive
proposition for HGVs (trucks), (notably N141 or N 10) they
are not necessarily recommended
for cars on weekdays. But HGVs are banned from the roads on Sundays in
France, and there are far less of them on Saturdays.
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