With our nervous dog as our co passenger we decided the best option was to take the tunnel across the water to France for this trip where she could stay in the motorhome with us. Our compromise being that we would take some short stretches of toll in France to get us around some major cities and avoid some single carriage way roads.
We got through France with just two overnight stops and down to the med coast in Spain just north of Valencia with three. A couple a factors were the decider for doing this: 1) The weather in France although sunny was chilly 2) Our friends Jules and Ian who we met on our first trip in 2016 were in Spain and coming to the end of their 3 months, so we wanted to try and get together before they left.
Rather than plot our route on a map I’ve given detailed driving instructions below, which make it easier to know where to hop on/off the toll roads. Costs for each toll section is also detailed, in total for our Class 2 motorhome the cost was €57.30 when we add this to the money spent on fuel this route was around £200 cheaper than taking the Santander ferry on this occasion.
Our route largely follows the N10 from Calais to Irun, the vast majority being duel carriageway. If you can do so travel on a Sunday (we didn’t this time, but have in the past) as only a handful of trucks are authorised to use the roads making the roads much quieter.
The tolls that are worth paying:
Calais to Abbeville on A16 : €13.10
South exit from Rouen on A 13 > A154 : € 3.40
Motorway Tours to Poitier: €19.80
The A63 – the tolled motorways south of Bordeaux avoiding the long built-up area around Bayonne and Biarritz. Cost €21 Total €57.30
Leave Calais on the A16 / E402 motorway following signs for Boulogne, Amiens. The short toll section starts just before Boulogne. You are aiming for Abbeyville.
Just before Abbeville, take the free A28 / E402 motorway to Rouen.
Entering Rouen the A28 becomes the N28. Follow on down through the tunnel, then across the Seine. Join the A13 / E5 at junction 22 This becomes toll at junction 20 until junction 19. Follow signs for Paris and Evreux then Evreux & Orleans .Exit at 19 and follow the N154.
Then follow the A154 > N154 dual carriageway almost to Dreux. At Dreux, follow signs for Chartres and Orleans.
From Chartres follow the N 10 to Chateaudun, Vendôme and Tours. This is mostly single carriageway for 130 km, but there are sections of dual carriageway, notably round Vendôme. Before reaching Tours, the N10 becomes the D 910.
On approaching Tours, follow signs for the A10 motorway, and join it at junction 19. Skirt round Tours on the toll motorway, if you want to just skirt around Tours then exit at junction 23, following the sign for D910 to Montbazon. We carried on to Poitier and exited at junction 30 where you pick up the N 10 , which you now follow almost as far as Bordeaux. It is dual carriageway virtually all the way. Join the free A10 / E5 motorway shortly before Bordeaux, then follow signs for Bayonne.
The A63 south of Bordeaux follow the A63 toll motorway as far as the the Spanish border. The last 50 km of this toll motorway, southwest of Magescq (exit 11) is particularly recommended, as the Bayonne area is built-up and busy. The A63 links directly at the border to Spain’s Autopista A-8, and thereafter to the Spanish motorway network..
Note this motorway is not pay-on-exit; it is pay-at-toll-points, of which there are four. The two most northerly of these can be avoided by leaving the motorway between exits 18 and 17, and again between exits 12 and 11. Time lost: about a quarter of an hour. Tolls saved: €5.70 &€ 5.90. We didn’t do this but if you want to save a little then it’s quite easy and google maps will give you the alternative route.
As we were heading to Valencia region we followed the route toward Pamploma once crossing the border into Spain (there’s still no checks here), but you could take to route towards Burgos if heading further South.
Immediately after the Spanish border crossing on the motorway, leave the motorway at Biriatou, at Spanish Exit 1 (not French exit 1 before the border) clearly marked as the exit for N121a for Pamplona.
The N121a is a good Spanish main road, avoiding towns and sharp bends. It winds gently and easily up through the Spanish Basque country to Pamplona, a distance of just over 70 km.
Skirt round Pamplona to the east, following the signs for Zaragoza. Briefly join a free section of the toll AP15 motorway at the exit from Pamplona, before leaving at exit 81, signed N121 for Tudela, Zaragoza and Madrid.
Follow the N121 for 34 kms, before rejoining another free section of the AP15, shortly after an exit to the village of Pueyo. Leave the AP15 again after bypassing Tafalla, and return to the N121 at exit 50. Keep following Zaragoza on the N121, which after 36 km becomes the N113 . It’s all clearly signed.
After 2.5 km on the N113, at a roundabout, take another free section of the AP15. Leave AP15 again at exit 6, signed A68 Tudela.
You will now follow a route which alternates between A68 (free autovia) and N232 , as far as Saragossa. This free route runs parallel to the toll A68., which it joins just short of the Saragossa ring road. On approaching Saragossa, follow signs for A23 Teruel. Keep following signs for Teruel, leaving the Saragossa southern ring road (Z40) at exit 29, marked A23 Cariñena and Teruel.
From now on, it is hassle free driving for almost 300 km along the A23 Autovia Mudéjar motorway, a modern free motorway with relatively little traffic. This motorway crosses the heart of Spain, and between Saragossa and Valencia there is only one small city, which is Teruel, capital of the province of this name.
The A23 meets the free Mediterranean coastal motorway, the A7 , at Sagunt, just northeast of Valencia.
Night one Vendome GPS N47.79135 W1.075501 Free parking no services. Located next to a big park and a short walk along the river to Vendome.
Night two Castets GPS N43.875301 W1.135901 parking on the edge of pine forest. €10 a night with electric however when we visited it was free as the barrier was broken. There is a retail park nearby and a short area of forest for walking the dog.
Night three Carinena GPS N41.338047 W1.230032 Free aire by sports centre with services. Small town known for it’s wine making and bodegas
As we travelled from Folkestone we used the park and ride at Cantebury the night before our crossing. On previous visits it’s been pretty busy. On this occasion though we were the only ones there. It’s just £8 for 24 hours. GPSN51.261439 E1.100156