We decided to travel to Spain by car because there were severe air travel disruptions this year due to the the volcanic ash cloud created from a sub-glacial volcano in Iceland.
The volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland began erupting in March and on the 14th April 2010 the eruption entered a new explosive phase which brought the European airspace to a standstill and caused misery to many hundreds of thousands of travellers.
This is when we started thinking about documenting an alternative travel to our favourite destination of Alicante. We have driven to Alicante before but we hadn't documented it as we didn't have our website up at that time.
So here it is - how we travelled to Spain by car from the UK (Hertfordshire). We'll compare prices of a fly drive to just driving to Spain including the extra costs of diesel/petrol, hotel, food and tolls etc.
Spain by Car - the route.
We left Hertfordshire and travelled to Folkstone and caught the Eurotunnel to Calais.
From Calais we drove through France, via Paris (in the rush hour - not a good idea!)
The N1 leading into Paris and out of Paris (depending on which way you are travelling!) is horrendous at the moment. A tram line is being built and the whole of the road seems to have been dug up. On the way to Spain we were stuck in the morning rush hour traffic for an hour and a half. On the return journey we hit this road late morning and it was much quicker but still frustrating. Just to warn you!
From Paris we continued down through France on the A10, A71 and A75.
We stopped at Millau in Southern France and stayed overnight at a Hotel. You can read our Citotel Jalade review.
We took some time to see the amazing Millau Bridge in the morning.
Then we were back on the road to Spain.
From Milau we got back on the A75. We missed our exit for D13 and ended up having to take a slight detour through some farmland and into a lovely town called Nezignan-l'Eveque and we stopped right by a restaurant called The Saint Alban! (we are from St Albans)
From D13 we took the A9 and went through the French / Spanish border.
Leaving France Behind - Through Passport Control at the France / Spain border and into Spain.
We continued our Spain by Car journey by travelling all the way on the Autopista del Meditarani AP7 past Barcelona, past Tarragona. Past Valencia then we exited at Junction 65 for La Nucia.
Spain by Car - the timings
We left St Albans Hertfordshire at 1.00 a.m. on Thursday 5th August and we arrived in La Nucia Spain on August 6th 2010 at 20.30. We had driven a total mileage of 1,240 miles and were on the road for 21 hours.
We passed through 8 tolls (but we missed the tolls on the Millau Bridge)and filled the tank up once on the journey. We made a number of service stops but didn't keep a count of how many!
Spain by Car - Journey summary
Costs (Currency rate was approx £1 to 1.2 euros at time of travelling)
Total Cost in tolls outward journey- 116.35 euros / £97 (53.50 euros in France 63.85 in Spain)
Hotel Room - 80 euros / £67
Diesel - we used one and a half tanks of diesel (diesel cost in Millau 1.062 per litre).£90
Food - £100
Total on outward journey £420
Return Journey Spain to the UK by Car
Tolls on return journey 122,95 euros / £102 (was more expensive because this time we used the Millau Bridge tolls).
Hotel rooms 196,40 euros / £164
Total - £555
Total Cost £975
Miles Driven to Spain by car
St Albans to Folkstone - 96 miles
Folkstone to Millau - 584 miles
Millau to La Nucia 720 miles
Total Miles 1,400 miles
You can click on the links above to find out more information about different stages of the journey.
Cheaper to Drive or Cheaper to Fly?
Flights with Easyjet from London Luton to Alicante would have been £1,147 for all four of us.
Car Hire for 7 days would have been £115 (For the cheapest possible car. This does not take into account any insurance or child seat hire or the fact that it has the capacity to take 2 standard suitcases !).
Bringing this to a total of £1262 to fly. Driving saved us £287
It is evident that it is cheaper to travel to Spain by car than it is to fly . We could have made it even cheaper by camping rather than staying at hotels.
It does however take a lot out of you. It can be boring, monotamous and very tiring. You need to be extremely organised and the journey needs to be well planned in advance.
But on the positive side you get to see so much of France and Spain that you would otherwise miss. If we hadn't have driven would we ever have got to see the awe inspiring technology that is the Millau Bridge? Would we have experienced a French Festival in Beziers? Got lost in a French Vineyard? Been terrified on the Paris roads?
The answer to that is that 'no we wouldn't have'. We are glad we did it and we would do it again.
Maybe next time we will meet you on the road as you too travel to Spain by car. Give us a wave and a beep as we pass you by!
You can also read about our return journey where we stayed overnight at Beziers and Orleans and how we found ourselves in the middle of a French festival.
Further information on Spain by Car