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Sunday, 23 July 2017

Way to go

This year's big holiday starts with a 482.4-mile journey that's  more demanding than it looks. It involves skirting two capital cities - London and Paris; also we'll be using Eurotunnel during the school holidays, the busiest time of the year, to accommodate grandson Zach's academic obligations. Passed with flying colours I'm glad to say.

Although we've done the journey before it remains something of a 21st-century adventure. We must get  from Occasional Speeder's house near Gloucester, UK,  to our hotel, Le Gerbe de Blé, in the village of Chevilly, near Orléans, France. It should take 8 hr 17 min and since most of the route is on motorways that's a fair assumption. But we'll need to stop for fuel and to eat a picnic prepared in the UK. Why must we picnic in the gastronomic paradise that is France? Because French motorway caffs are no better than those in the UK.

The following day we'll complete the route to southern France.

OS and I will share the driving. We'll use electronics to consider route options depending on traffic conditions. We hope to leave Luddites who reject satnavs  whingeing in traffic jams. Satnavs provide directions and dispense psychological aid. On long journeys it's a comfort to know exactly how many kilometres have passed. Also to watch one's ETA converge with clock time. And to be pre-instructed about taking the right lane at complex motorway junctions. Meanwhile the front passenger will smartphone traffic ahead and, if necessary, change strategies on non-motorway roads west of Paris.

Such work passes time more quickly than staring out of the car window. VR will Kindle, doze, Kindle again. Darren, Zach’s Dad, will doze and talk to Zach. Zach will electronically manage an imaginary soccer team.

2 comments:

Avus said...

I wish you a happy holiday, RR. Skirting London and Paris is nothing to beating the snarl up that is Amsterdam, but getting to northern Germany is not on your agenda!

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus: So skirting Paris is nothing. It wouldn't be if we were aiming for Bordeaux or Lyons, but I invite you to check where Orléans is relative to Paris, and Orléans is where we pick up the motorway that takes us directly to the Massif Central and thence to Béziers.

We've had almost a decade's experience in trying to resolve this conundrum. Skirting (reliably) on the east adds about fifty or sixty miles to the day's run; skirting unreliably to the east (ie, using the motorways that penetrate the eastern suburbs of Paris) and you share late Friday afternoon with a million Parisians. Skirting reliably on the west takes you through Rouen which at first sight seems crazily distant. It is the approved diversion but was screwed up for two years when one of Rouen's bridges was destroyed by a burning lorry. At present we are flirting with dual-carriageways closer to Paris; Rambouillet is the target and a satnav is absolutely vital.

Ironically on the return it is possible to drive straight through Paris.

Do you consider Cologne to be in northern Germany? During the last two Decembers we've done Christmas markets there. Here the bottleneck is Brussels and Google Maps shows roads throbbing with red (ie, heavy traffic). Fortunately, it's easy enough to pass by to the south.

This Christmas we shall definitely be doing northern Germany since we're aiming for Hamburg. This will requite a different day/night strategy but our present smartphone/satnav combination should help, especially since roaming charges in mainland Europe have conveniently been dropped this very month. Besides, making use of modern technology is more adult and, let's face it, more fun than depending on blind faith.