Planning a trip overseas, (France/Spain)

NB:  This information was updated on 16/11/2009.

Toll each way will be approx. 125.80 EUR for a car, Toll 166.30 EUR  for a car/caravan, and Toll 97.20 EUR for a motorcycle.

For 16 days we did the journey from (Hampshire, South East of the UK) to Torrevieja (South East of Spain, near Alicante). 
You will need to make sure that the vehicle has been recently serviced and there is at least 4,000 miles of life in your tyres.

From departing the Channel Tunnel there is a route that is called the E15, which takes you all the way to Alicante.  Basically follow this route all the way, as below.  However best to avoid the Périphérique near Paris at peak times!  That road is a little crazy!

I also noticed that the drivers in Spain and France (France in particular in the wet) are not as careful as us here in the UK.  The roads in Spain and France are much better than UK roads, less potholes, less rubbish on the roads, no cats-eyes, and a much better more grippy road surface is to offer there, especially in France.  French roads are absolutely brilliant (Spanish roads are vastly improving as the years go by), the quality of the road surface and road markings are superb, also the white lines seem to have a rough texture, so they are not so slippery in the wet, (unlike the UK).  I felt that the lanes in France were a couple of feet narrower than UK motorway lanes, and in Spain they were about the same width.  In a traffic jam, this certainly makes filtering between the traffic on a motorcycle harder than in the UK.  Don't let the good roads make you go too mad, YOU may be in control, but there are plenty of speed merchants over there that drive far too fast and close for their car and their driving ability.  Also they all seem to drive very close in bad conditions, such as heavy rain and fog which is a recipe for disaster.  To prove this, on the way down there were about 3 accidents through France, and near Paris we were shoved off the motorway by the police, and we had to navigate through Paris and get back on the motorway the next junction up (that was fun!!).  Also on the way back there were several accidents, causing the Tunnel and another on the motorway also causing that to be closed, so on the return journey we had to navigate through the centre of town.  Please be aware that a larger majority of other road users over there do not seem to read the road ahead, evidence of this was such:  I had a car in front of me, and a car decided to overtake me approaching a traffic jam, hence I am in a lane behind traffic preparing to slow down, the car then completes the overtake, moves in front of me, then decides "damn, there's a car in front", and moves straight out again carving up the road user now occupying space in the lane he just moved out of.  The majority only seem to show evidence of looking one car ahead, so please be warned, that type of manoeuvre happens dozens of times!  There seem to be plenty of big bikes in France, and loads of little bikes in Spain, lots of 50cc scooters and 125cc bikes everywhere, so the Spanish seem to be more bike aware than the English in my opinion.

This journey can be done in 2 days on a motorbike, but I'd recommend doing it in 3 days, as approximately 1,200 miles (1,900Km), is rather a long way.  It's up to your preference, so 2x600 mile or 3x400 mile days.

Be prepared for very strange weather, fog approaching the mountains, also heavy rain in places.  When it rains, it seems to explode in to torrential rain, so have waterproofs at the ready if riding on a motorcycle.

The speed limits in France on the motorways vary, but chiefly it is 130Km/h (81MPH) in the dry and 110Km/h (69MPH), good idea!  Their roads are more interesting that our motorways, more countryside, mountains, and they appear to be much more bendy than our motorways, the sharpest gradient was about 4%, and in France this is signposted (though not in Spain), some bends were surprisingly sharp for a motorway, but signposting in France was very frequent and clear, so there were no excuses for missing anything.

Toll Costs:
Toll each way will be approx. 125.80 EUR for a car, Toll 166.30 EUR  for a car/caravan, and Toll 97.20 EUR for a motorcycle.

Of course, one does not need to use the Toll roads, but they are quicker, easier and a much better quality of road, however many of France and Spain's non toll roads are of a much higher quality and the majority of roads here in the UK, however much more congested in places, and will add 33-50% onto your journey time.  This annoys me, as I'd like to know what our Government here in the UK spend the huge amount of tax they rake in on petrol and our annual road licence fund, as our roads do not seem to show much for it, we have breaking up road surface, potholes, you name it, all hazards to two wheeled road users.  In my opinion I feel that we in the UK have a much more inferior road network than those in Continental Europe, many of their motorways may be only 2 lanes, but where it is needed they are 3, 4 and 5 lanes, shame really, as here in the UK our road network could do with some REAL investment like they appear to have done in France and Spain.

If you want any more information regarding this, let me know, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions.


The house, the beautiful sunset, and beach a mile or so away.