Driving in France on 'Black Saturday', will it be hellish?!

(20 Posts)
MegBusset Tue 25-Jun-13 13:40:55

We are driving from Calais to just north of Paris on Saturday 3rd August, which is known as Black Saturday as it's the busiest day of the year on the French roads.

Has anyone done this before, will it be awful?! At the moment we're booked on a ferry that will arrive in Calais at 1.40pm (local time) but contemplating switching to an earlier or later ferry if that might help. (We're driving from Norfolk that morning so will have to be an afternoon ferry.)

Nicolaeus Tue 25-Jun-13 13:44:55

I've never done that drive but the worst of the traffic will be leaving Paris and arriving in touristy destinations (Bordeaux, Britanny, the south coast, the alpes...)

Arriving in Paris tends to be particularly bad on Saturdays and Sundays from 4/5pm until 8pm ish.

I'll see if I can find a map of which roads will be black

HollyGoHeavily Tue 25-Jun-13 13:48:02

Oh shit! We are driving from St Malo to Disneyland Paris on that Saturday - I had no idea it was such a notorious day it even had its own name!!!

Nicolaeus Tue 25-Jun-13 13:50:58

Ok, quick google and I haven't found maps, but in general they say it will be black in the direction of departures (so leaving large cities) and red for arrivals (all those people who went on holiday in July and who are coming home).

Take lots of water and food!

To be honest, the worst traffic jams are late in the evening (say Friday departures) and early the Saturday morning. Last year we left Paris at 1pm on the Saturday and were surprised at how little traffic there was.

Although that is from a departure point of view.

For arrivals late afternoon is the worst.

http://www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/diri/Accueil.do?langue=en

Have you checked out this website? That will be where the black comes from....it might be possible to find alternatives. Also listen to traffic info, and dive off mway if necessary.

To be honest, I would think that Calais to north of Paris should be ok. People aren't holidaying in Paris, so if you arrive late afternoon, I would think it would be ok. Avoid the Boulevard Peripherique.

On those black days, going round Lyon, or heading through Peages en route to the Med, that will be where most problems are to be found.

We will be travelling south on the following Saturday. We are overnighting somewhere south of Calais, and will leave about 7/ 7.30. Lyon will be our problem area, as will Grenoble and the Route de Napoleon. We will have maps, sat nav etc at the ready.

God luck!

Bramshott Tue 25-Jun-13 14:02:10

We almost always travel to near Limoges that weekend (although usually the Sun rather than the Sat) and rarely have any problems. If you are stopping North of Paris I would have thought you'd be fine. Definitely avoid the peripherique though (not sure if you are going that far in).

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 25-Jun-13 14:09:18

Don't go onto the peripherique, that will be horrendous.

I think if you are stopping north then you should be ok, although it will be busy and I would expect delays. It will be heading south out of Paris that will be the absolute

We will be coming back up the other way on the Sunday and Monday, but staying east so we're hoping it won't be too bad.

GobbySadcase Tue 25-Jun-13 14:11:23

Thank God we're going home on 31 July.

cantdoalgebra Tue 25-Jun-13 14:19:36

I have travelled on this day and yes, if can be dreadful - think siting on the motorway with the engine off for ages - make sure you stop at any available loos!

coffeeinbed Tue 25-Jun-13 14:25:17

Get a telepeage device
Saves tons of time

MegBusset Tue 25-Jun-13 16:16:04

Thanks.

We aren't going anywhere near the Peripherique, thank the lord. We are going to Berny Riviere here.

Where do I get a telepeage wotsit from?

cheerup Tue 25-Jun-13 21:04:19

I woulnd't bother with a SANEF tag for the peages for just one trip (and I think just one peage). It's only just over a two and a half hour drive from the Chunnel and you shouldn't need to go anywhere near Paris itself on the way. I don't think you'll have too many problems (famous last words!)

Ceri253 Sun 30-Jun-13 19:53:30

We did this last year having never driven in France before. The earlier you travel the better and there's hardly any services with shops or food for sale so take plenty of water and snacks. Most services are simply a parking space, a toilet (not always a seat and you may need your own toilet roll) and sometimes some picnic benches. Petrol can be few and far between too so fill up when you can! There's only one toll to the north of Paris so no need for tag. The stops where there are facilities will be packed with long toilet queues and very expensive food! If you have to travel that afternoon I would suggest taking your time and making the trip itself a holiday by taking longer breaks at the picnic areas, play some games etc. good luck!

5Foot5 Mon 01-Jul-13 22:09:23

We found ourselves doing this a few years ago. Actually we had driven to somewhere just outside Paris on the Friday night and then we were heading away from Paris towards the Dordogne on the Saturday. It was, how can I say it, hectic. Lots of slow queues.

On the plus side at one of the motorway toll booths they were giving out goodie bags! I think ours contained a hi-vis jacket, a can of Red Bull, some gaffer tape and a colouring book.

doradoo Sat 12-Jul-14 09:40:16

Ordered my 'bip and go' for the peage - been checking Bison fute - but couldn't see which weekends they're suggesting are bad this year....

Anyone got the dates for the really bad saturdays this year?

Don't do it! We spent 7 hours getting from Nice to Lyon last year, a journey that would normally take just over 4 hours....

doradoo Sat 12-Jul-14 10:08:00

Two years ago we drove it - from Germany down to the med - and are off again this year - on Saturday - have found the page on BF now - not black but a red day...

We hit trouble at Lyon so trekked accross to Clermont Ferrand and down from there. Have been playing with routes but the direct one is 200km shorter for us.

CampingClaire Sat 12-Jul-14 10:23:30

Haha...we did Troyes to Orange last year and it was hellish!! about 12 hrs in total but most of it at a snails pace in a Land Rover with no aircon!! All the comments are making me smile remembering it!! Lyon was the stuff that nightmares are made of (minor bumps causing lane closures every couple of miles) and it was a weekday that we travelled... To make matters worse we then drove along the bottom east to west about ten days later and that was on a Saturday!! Believe it or not, we were still on talking terms when we eventually arrived near Bergerac.
I'd agree that I'd get a Sanef beeper if going further south...it can make a huge difference at the paege queues! it's just a short journey that you're doing so pack cold drinks, snacks, wet wipes and a sense of humour.

Chewbecca Sat 12-Jul-14 21:45:31

It is bad, we've done it (accidently) before. However, most of the French will be heading south and will head off first thing so you should be ok.

The only thing I'd do differently to normal is make sure you have a full tank of petrol before crossing the channel and I would not expect to use the service stations at all, many petrol/service stations have hour+long queues running back onto the motorway to just get into the parking!

Have a fab holiday!

doradoo Sun 13-Jul-14 08:14:04

We're not crossing the channel as are driving down from Germany - so currently planning on leaving super early - around 4am from which gives us 13hrs or so to get down - what should be a 10hr journey.

Fingers - and everything else crossed - and let's hope DS's passport arrives before Sat too!

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