View Full Version : Calais to San Sebastian

27-03-2011, 07:42
Hi really need some help to get to San Sebastian in 2 weeks time. This is our very first camper van trip (we have a T5 Reimo conversion) and we can't wait. I have spent so much time looking through the forums here, and I confess my head is swimming with so many ideas and places to visit. Here is our challenge and i'd really welcome some ideas and past experience... We arrive in Calais midday and want to get to San Sebastian in Spain with two overnight stays on the way. We have 9 yr old girl and although i've read much about Aires and France Passion, we would really like to use stopovers where there are at least basic shower / loo facilities as well as usual water/hook up. So, any recommendations on 2 stopover places that fit the bill please ? Looking at maps it seems Rouen (1st) and Poitiers (2nd) are rough stopover points.

27-03-2011, 09:00
That's a long way with a child and only 2 night stops.All that fuel and just just flash past everything? I would plan much longer and allow time to stop when you see a nice town/village/ riverside /castle/vineyard etc. Bon voyage.

27-03-2011, 09:24
:) thx Rickboy for the advice... it does seem a long way. Maybe we've bitten off a bit much on our first trip. Unfortunately we only have a 2 week break and wanted to spend most of the time further down in Spain. Sounds like maybe should look at 3 nights through France...? San Sebastian we love (our honeymoon spot) and the ferry to Santander was ridiculously expensive (800). Hence the route down through France...

27-03-2011, 10:13
I agree with Rickboy - we had our first Europaen trip last autumn and took a week to get from Calais to San Sebastian, and it was not nearly enough. Mainly on back roads and using Aires/FP. However if Spain is your destination - go for it. It is a long way but assuming you both drive 2-3 nights should do it. Plan another trip some other time to see France. Can't help with sites, though, as we are converted to Aires/FP - even if we did do without a shower for a week:D.

27-03-2011, 10:58
Have you thought of the LD Lines new ferry service St Nazaire -Gijon ?

I would formulate an outline plan but be very flexible if not taking any more ferries and just see where you find that you like,fuel is too expensive to go chasing rainbows, the main advantage of a camper is flexibility .
Kids and most ladies do not like boy's expeditions ,if they don't enjoy the trip it may be your last!!!

Dad choose campsites with a swimming pool and friends for your daughter,Happy child =happy Mum & Dad and remember she will be choosing your old people's home down the line.


27-03-2011, 12:10
Rickboy - the idea of the ferry is great.. daughter would love that little trip and removes some long driving too. Just checking availability and prices now. Now I am thinking Calais then down around Honfleur and Southern Brittany for 2-3 nights. Ferry across to Gijon and we are there.. . good points about the boy vs girl thanks. All we need is calm sea and sunshine.. :D

27-03-2011, 16:31
just checked this out and works well... thanks all the hints :cool:

27-03-2011, 16:39
Don't be too ambitious on your first trip and be a slave to driving.
If your companions enjoy the trip they will be only too keen for the next,maybe more adventurous outing.
There is lots to see and learn.
I always think of the holiday starting as soon as I close the front door of home and try to make the journey enjoyable and part of the holiday.
Try to stop at places that interest to your companions even if it means shopping.

27-03-2011, 16:45
Enjoy your trip.Just wish my children were 9 and I was still their hero!!

27-03-2011, 17:12
Rickboy - all ferries booked thanks for the tip... agree with everything you say, possible exception of the shopping !! muchos gracias ;)

27-03-2011, 17:18
De Nada

Rickboy (Rickardo)

30-04-2011, 06:16
we've just got back from this trip and i wanted to share some experiences, especially for other first-timers as we were. Thanks to Rickboy for the hint on using the St Nazaire to Gijon ferry, this was a golden nugget :D

We have a VW Reimo Transporter conversion, and went with our 9-yr old daughter. The kit we took with us was as follows:

Storage boxes from 'Really Useful Box' company - very strong (sit on) and sized to fit our limited van spaces perfectly; Reimo 'Tour Easy 2' driveaway awning - invaluable; Portaloo (avoid night-time walks for the girls).


Day 1 - Eurotunnel to Calais, then down coast road, stop off at Cap de Gris Nez. First 2 nights in Camping Champ Neuf in Baie du Somme area - fantastic area (good tips on this website) with huge beaches, walks all close to camp site. Camp site has a 'natural' area which we used, but also had an indoor heated pool, playground, bouncy castle and nice bar / cafe area with Wifi. From here we visited St Valery sur Somme (mentioned a lot on this website too, which was very pretty).

Day 3 - drove to Rambouillet (4hrs) and stayed in a 'Huttopia' campsite (lots of wooden cabins, forest location. Again perfect for children with playground, bike hire, pool (natural water, but too cold for us in April). Communal dining / bar area bit like a ski chalet where you can take your own food, hang out, very comfortable. 45 min walk to forest activity centre, with tree walkway, birds of prey demonstration, deer park etc. 2 nights here. We chose off-toll route which was a mistake as the road that follows the Seine was very stop/start.

Day 5 - overnight from St Nazaire to Gijon. Left 9pm, arrived 12 noon next day. Had cabin and woke up in Spain... LD Lines do this route and it was very pleasant crossing. Mainly truck drivers and freight, but nice enough cabin and facilities. Dolphins on the way and a bit of sunbathing on deck.

Day 6 - Gijon really interesting town, with nice beaches of its own. We had booked in a 'Green' b&B for a change, in the Asturias mountains nr Infiesto (Casa D'Ayulga). Beautiful rural location with stunning views across mountains/valleys. owner keeps 2 horses and lets the children help with feeding / cleaning. 2 nights here.

Day 8 - decided to head to North coast around Llanes, recommended for beaches and find somewhere to camp. Our daughter spotted a beach called 'Playa de Poo' so we had to check that out. Arrived to find the most pretty beach I have ever seen in Europe. No campsite, but small hotel right on beach. On spur of moment I checked prices (65 Euros for 3 of us, bed only) and decided we would stay for a couple of days. This was a magical place and wonderful for kids. We cooked our own food in our camper, parked in a field next to the hotel. Look at pictures on the internet. The owners were very friendly, and the restaurant served superb (but pricey) food. So good if you want to dress up and splash out. We tried it once and the anchovies and grilled vegetables were very good. We stayed for an extra day it was so good. On last day we took a trip back towards Arriondas, up river from Ribadesella. This is a big river activity centre - we did a canoe trip down the river which was awesome. Took 3-4 hours with packed lunch stop on the river. We booked with Cangas Aventuras and i think it costs about 30-40 Euros each. Good value though and some exciting but not dangerous small rapids we enjoyed (lifejackets supplied). The same centre in Arriondas has a Go-Ape equivalent which we tried. They have a 1.2M minimum height, which meant our daughter could do it (In UK she is too young). Highly recommended ! Nice car park where you can set up for the day amongst the trees, near the river.

Days 11-13 - tried to find a good camp site along the coast around Llanes but failed. All were crammed tightly with caravans, and no god vibes. La Paz looked the best, best but didn't suit us as it was very exposed on the cliff tops and steep climbs to beach. We headed into mountains and stayed in Camping Picos Europas near Avin for 2 nights. This was excellent too with a stream and good facilities. A good base for exploring the Picos. Some stunning drives around the National Park here and plenty of places for wild camping noted...

Day 13-16 - same overnight ferry back to St Nazaire, and we stayed in Briere in Asserac for our last 3 days. I think this was our daughters favourite as we had a perfect spot next to indoor/outdoor pool, trampoline, sandy beach. The camp site was Le Moulin d'Eclis. Last day took 5 hour drive back to Le Havre and LD Lines back to Portsmouth. One memory from here was us all trying 'bulots' at a restaurant, which are large sea snails.. brief attempt from wife and daughter but they aren't cooked at all. I ate them :D

We were very lucky and had perfect weather. I'd recommend highly all the places we stayed. I chose the route and stop-overs based on the advice in this forum, so thanks to everyone ! OK so we didn't wild-camp but this was our first trip and the main objective was a family holiday. Of course too it wasn't the cheapest way to do it, but still very good value for us. Also, the whole trip we met almost zero english people and were forced to try our French / Spanish - we loved that challenge but maybe some wouldn't.

If anyone wants more details or info then please send me an email or post here.

Already mentioned on this forum many times, Northern Spain is fabulous. The Asturias are amazing and the beaches surprising.

I hope this helps some other first-timers with families.


30-04-2011, 11:01
Looks like you had a great time Noodle:wacko:
We are heading that way soon to Galicia which is our favourite part of Spain and then onto Northern Portugal.:banana::cool1:
Can't wait, just been servicing the cycles ready to go:banana:

20-06-2011, 21:24
Just back from a week with friends at Hourtin, then 2wks at Biarritz. Took a drive to San Seb' wow very busy - Like London by the sea! Very pretty bay, especially round the l/h end, but could not find anywhere to park round the busier r/h side; so gave up and moved up the coast! Hope you did better than me!