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11 - 21 June 2016 - European Tour through France to Spain


It’s been a few years since we took advantage of the 24 hour cruise ferry service to Spain from Portsmouth to access further-flung driving in some great parts of Europe. On that occasion we stayed in northern Spain taking the return 24 hour service. In 2016, we’ll motor one way through France to Spain, driving outbound from Caen/St Malo and heading south, letting the Ferry take us back north to Portsmouth on Tuesday 21 June. 

Provisional itinerary:

Sat 11th June:

Arrive Portsmouth for 23.00 sailing. I intend to organise an evening dinner gathering close to Portsmouth for 7.30pm for those that wish, or meet at the port.

Sun 12th June:

290 miles, initial 100 via motorway, through northern France to Montlucon. Fast, flat, open driving through Normandy and the eastern Loire, with motorway option if the lazy lunch puts us behind!

Mon 13th June:

The fun really starts. The best driving that the Limousin and Auvergne regions have to offer. First the Millevanches National Park, then along the banks of the Dordogne, before a final run into the hills and to the overnight stop in Aurillac.  

Tues 14th June:  

Heading north east initially along the ‘route des cretes’ to the Auvergne National Park’s highest pass at the Col Font de Cere. By-passed by a tunnel, the twisty bits are left for us! Then we turn south for lunch near the eastern end of the Sarrans Lake, before continuing slowly but steadily south east through the countryside to pick up the motorway. Then a run through the Gorges du Tarn to Florac, and run east across the top of the Cevennes National Park to St Jean du Gard.

Wed 15th June:  

Turning west through the southern end of the hills of the Cevennes, before joining the motorway and a drive across the Millau viaduct. Then off the motorway once more, heading south west through the Languedoc-Roussillon. It becomes increasingly hilly, with a couple of relatively lightweight passes to negotiate before a coffee stop on the Lac de la Raviege, and a final run down off the hills to Carcassonne.

Thur 16th June:  

A day off the explore this spectacular walled city, or a chance to take a trip along the Canal du Midi.

 Fri 17th June:  

Heading south initially before turning west, we have a day driving deep gorges and some balcony roads of the eastern Pyrenees; heading further into the Pyrenees national park before our overnight stop at Luchon, gateway to the ski resorts.

Sat 18th June:

We continue west through the Pyrenees and do the two big ones – the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aubisque – both regular features on the Tour de France. Then it’s a few dozen scenic miles in the foothills once again before a rise into the mountains and our hotel in Larrau.

Sun 19th June:  

From Larrau we continue west, driving along the Spanish border, rising above the treeline before descending through the Nive Valley and crissing the border into Spain, for the final few miles to Pamplona.

Mon 20th June:  

A chance to leave early and explore the local landscape, or leave late and explore the historic town centre. Either way, the ferry leaves Santander at 15.15.

Tue 21st June:  

Arrive back in Portsmouth 1.30pm

We expect the trip, including the return ferry crossing, 9 nights’ accommodation for 2 people and a few dinners thrown in to cost around £1250, which is in line with the typical budget of previous trips.


If you are interested, please contact Richard Hampton as early as possible via for the joining details. We will require an initial deposit of £750 per car with your completed booking form.  

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