Travelling to France by road and sea with Allergies
Handy hints and tips for Travelling to France by Road and Sea with Allergies!
This half term the Peachicks have descended on the once peaceful village of Mauquenchy, shattering the tranquillity usually enjoyed by Nanny and Grumps when they escape to their house! Mauquenchy itself is very pretty and is one of a few small villages in the area (Seine-Maritime region of Normandy), it is not far from Dieppe (40mins drive) and Rouen (40mins drive).
This trip to France was particularly special as it’s the first time Elodie has been abroad so we packed a lot into it! Over the 5days we have been for a walk around the lakes in Forges-les-Eaux, popped into Rouen & taken Elodie to Nausicaa in Boulogne-sur-mer for an early birthday treat!
Waiting at Dover for the Ferry…
We managed to get a really good deal on our Ferry tickets with P&O as if you book until the end of February (to cross before mid-March) you can get a 5 day return for just £75 (or 3days for £65). Using the discount codes on their website you can have your choice of crossings as long as you leave France by the end of day 5 (day 1 is the day you arrive in France) and with crossings about every hour you can tailor your journey to suit. We left home around 4am Sunday morning and arrived just in time for a very yummy roast dinner at midday! P&O also have a Twitter account from which they regularly tweet updates regarding their services.
We always travel by Ferry with P&O from Dover to Calais, although we have tried a few other operators and journeys. The port of Dover was fairly quiet but we have been there in the middle of summer and found it pretty organised. We showed our passports as we collected our tickets on the way in and a very cold looking (but very chirpy for 630 on a Sunday morning) man was walking up and down the lanes giving out leaflets and information on the latest changes to the EU driving laws. You can find more information on the AA website here.
After a 90min crossing to Calais we then drive the 185km down the coast to the house in Mauquenchy in Normandie. The whole journey takes us about 8 hours in total and although we have the choice of other crossings (Portsmouth, Newhaven) that are closer to both us and the house we find that this works out the most cost effective for us in both time, money & conservation of my nerves even when taking petrol into consideration.* The Peachicks sleep in the car on the way to the Ferry (about 2hrs 30mins), have breakfast on the ferry and then sing/sleep/watch dvds for the rest of the drive (just short of 2hrs).
The port of Calais has been in the news a lot recently and yes there is a huge migrant camp as you enter the port (visible from the road) but the situation appears to be very well managed. As you head towards the ferry & eurotunnel ports there are masses of police vans with flashing lights along the road and some exits are closed. We were put on an earlier ferry as we arrived earlier – thankfully so as passport control takes a while, you have to show your passports at 2 different booths and then the local police have a nose in the car (with ours just a glance in the window – with other less full cars an open of the boot too and with the beat up old transit van a pull everything out the side door and climb in kinda look!!) As we had the Peachicks with us we took the decision to travel through Calais at busier times (9am & 7pm) rather than in the middle of the night and it hasn’t put us off travelling this route.
*My car, Roxy, is fairly efficient to run so if yours is less so this could well not be the case for you!
We sailed on the Pride of France, which has a lovely Family Lounge at the front of the boat with lots of comfy seating in the form of benches, cushions, sofas & chairs arranged around small tables. There is a couple of tv screens which were showing Tom & Jerry cartoons and also information about the crossing/driving in France and other useful things. Food and drink is easy to find with the Family Lounge bar and Starbucks** well stocked – although we didn’t really ask about allergy friendly options as we only bought a couple of coffees! There are other dining options but we haven’t tried these out – maybe next time!
**I really should say a massive thank you to the staff of the bar who very helpfully provided us with plastic cups & serviettes when Elodie became a bit sea sick about 20mins from Calais!
P&O also do other crossings to other parts of Europe which are on our list to try soon money permitting!
There are also a host of places to see and things to do on the trip down from Calais – Boulogne is a Peachick favourite with its large hypermarket, beautiful sandy beach & Nausicaa (Review of our visit coming soon!!) – including Aire de la Baie de Somme a lovely rest stop with toilets, café and walk around wetlands to see the ducks!
Here is a few photos of the Peachicks’ French Invasion along with links to read more!