Covid complications causing concerns

Martin and Nadine haven’t been to France since January, and Covid complications certainly are an issue and a constant worry. It seems sorting out a ferry crossing isn’t the only hurdle. Is it better to go or to cancel?

Requirements for driving in France – Breath Test Kits

On 1st July 2012, a law was introduced in France: all drivers had to carry a breath test kit in their car. Find out why and if or how that law was implemented. Read more about the driving requirements in France.

Kouign-amann vs Lardy cake

Kouign-amann is a beautiful, buttery, traditional Breton cake. During the current lockdown, unable to travel to Brittany, we have found an alternative: the British lardy cake. Read on.

Exporting a UK-bought LHD car to France

Is it possible or indeed practical to buy a LHD car in the UK, originally registered in Poland, and then import it to France? Are there guidelines to be followed?

Driving in France

In recent years, travelling across to the continent and driving in France has become increasingly easy for Brits, but there are laws and regulations to bear in mind while driving abroad.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption

 

We flew from Bristol to Bordeaux 2 days before the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland started. The whole of Europe is disrupted by the volcano and the enormous ash cloud covering the air space. We are due to fly back next Sunday, April 25th. In between, we have driven up to our house near La Roche-Bernard borrowing my mother-in-law’s car. With the easing of restrictions we think that we will be OK to fly back on Sunday. However, the situation has been far from clear for the past 3-4 days. In fact, it has prompted us to consider a number of alternatives for our return to the UK. None of them are particularly palatable!

A rather unusual journey home…

Mother-in-law's car We have to go back to Bordeaux on Saturday to return both mother-in-law and car.

If we cannot fly back then, we will need to :

  • Hire a car and drive to a channel port to get a ferry. Avis quoted us €165 for their smallest car to go from Bordeaux to Caen. That’s 1 days hire cost! Having shopped around we found a company we hadn’t heard of before: Auto Escape. They offered us the same for just £68 (and had a “no cancellation fee” policy). Whether we use them this time or not I will certainly consider them in the future.
  • Once in Caen, take a ferry to Portsmouth (£114 for 2 foot passengers and a cabin with my Brittany Ferries property owners club discount). This is a reasonable price I think.
  • Then, find a way to get from Portsmouth to Bristol (which is where our car is parked). This is a tricky route, but at least we should be able to use National Express or the rail service. I expected to find something similar to National Express in France, but strangely enough there doesn’t appear to be an option. Someone did mention that there is some competition law operating in France: it prevents any coach company from offering prices that are more competitive than SNCF – is that right?

Anyone else disrupted by the volcano?

Would be interested to know how others might have dealt with this situation. Staying longer in France would not normally be a problem for us. However, this time we need to get back to the UK on Sunday (or Monday/Tuesday latest).

It has been interesting to see the additional search queries that have brought search engine users to this website over the past week. Many search terms, such as “ferry port near brittany“, “the easiest way to brittany from england“, and even “how many hours does it take to drive to poole from manchester“, may well be the result of people looking for options to get to (or from) this part of France as a result of the Volcanic disruption.

Let us know if you have had a similar experience. How are you dealing with it? Any tips?

Update, August 2019

Since writing the above article, things have changed in France. SNCF no longer has the monopoly over internal travel within the country. There are now coach companies such as Flixbus and Ouibus  (soon to become BlaBlaBus) offering very competitive prices for domestic travel.

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