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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

Heading off to Montpellier next week for 3.5 weeks. I have been playing with my navigation and looking online at which route I should take. I have found it will cost me 85 pounds in tolls and take 3 hours less if I use toll roads. I don't want to be on B Roads with lots of turns and changes as |Im towing the Smart

What do you guys recommend, should I just use the tolls?

I would like to get there as soon as possible without too much problems

Anyone recommend a site in the Espiguette area?

Many thanks

Stewart
 

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Tolls

Hi

My experience of France is limited, other than as a great big suare shaped thing that I need to transit to get to Switzerland. I have used non toll roads and found the overall journey time to be not much longer in time, and sometimes shorter in mileage.

I think for Monpellier you may find a 50-50 split of tolls and motorways works well.

Russell
 

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tolls

hi stewart, bin down to montpellier a couple of times. i personally would go straight down the motorway if u want to get there asap. the place we like is palavas its about 5k from monty but a nice place. u park right on the harbour wall where the sea comes in from the med. the motorway all the way down is fast , smooth and quiet so is not tireing
regards gary
 

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If you use non-toll, you're likely to have a longer (timewise) journey (navigating through towns en route, and difficulty in overtaking). Also be aware that non-toll roads may not be as well maintained as toll roads, so you might suffer some banging and crashing over potholes and uneven surfaces.

If I were on a strict timetable, and could afford it, I'd use toll roads every time. On our next visit to France, we'll be time rich and cash poor, so we'll be using the smaller roads :wink:

Sorry - can't answer regarding Montpellier specifically.

Gerald



 

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I don't believe you will save as much time on the toll roads as you think, and if you avoid them you will generally find yourself on 'N' roads which may go through a few villages but are certainly not 'B' roads.

If you're towing a Smart car, what speed do you expect to cruise at on the toll roads?
 

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I go to Le mans every year, and one year decided not to use the toll roads.

I found it a real pain as I was continually slowing down and speeding up for roundabouts etc.

If you are just touring or meandering from place to place I think the A and B roads are Ok but if you're trying to get somewhere I'd use the motorways every time.

You'll also use quite a bit less fuel if you stick to a sensible consistent speed on the motorway, rather constantly having to accelerate the van and Smart up to your cruising speed


Andrew
 

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Have you put a limited speed in your navigation device? Toll roads always come up quicker but your device may assume you're driving at 130kph for hours on end.

We never use them, as we generally cruise along at 80-90kph which is the speed limit on the N roads.

We do Valencia to Dunkerque in about 23 hours, generally spread over three or four days.
 

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We did Zeebrugge to Montpellier 3 years ago and did not use any Toll roads, The journey was fine on the N roads, I cannot remember how long it took But then again we never rush anywhere.

We stayed just outside Montpellier at Villagecenter La Castellas, It is virtually on the beach The site has a Bar and swimming pool also take away meals if you don't fancy cooking. We had a great time there.
 

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androidGB said:
I go to Le mans every year, and one year decided not to use the toll roads.

I found it a real pain as I was continually slowing down and speeding up for roundabouts etc.

If you are just touring or meandering from place to place I think the A and B roads are Ok but if you're trying to get somewhere I'd use the motorways every time.

You'll also use quite a bit less fuel if you stick to a sensible consistent speed on the motorway, rather constantly having to accelerate the van and Smart up to your cruising speed

Andrew
I think you have hit the nail on the head Andrew.

There are lots of folk on here that will say ...Don't ever use the toll roads you can use the N roads and not pay... But if I am on a bit of a dash to somewhere and not bimbling I will always use the toll roads. Much much easier....

I guess it depends on how much you want to get to the destination quickly...
 

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We tend not to use the Autoroutes unless we are in a real hurry (but then I tend to cruise around 90-100 kph (55-60 mph) anyway so don't make full use of the speed potential on A-routes.

A key point to note is that the French road classification does not necessarily reflect the quality of the road. N (or Routes National) are maintained by the central government and equate to our A-Trunk roads. D roads are maintained by the Départements. As the Autoroute network has grown, the government has de-classified N roads to D so they no longer have to fund upkeep centrally. This means there are a lot of very high quality D-roads. Quite a few are dual carriageways.

Generally, main roads in France are maintained to a much higher standard than in the UK and traffic volumes are lower (other than in/around towns). The French do have a love of Ronds Pointes or roundabouts however, so there is quite a bit of slowing down and speeding up on the N/D roads. In towns, road surfaces are often a bit rough (but then so they are in the UK).

Ultimately, if you are happy to pay the tolls, then the Autoroutes are great, but get a bit boring after a couple of hours. If you want to save the cost, then main roads are often very good and you see a lot more of French life.

Philip
 

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We go to France a lot and French autoroutes are great to drive on with lots of nice aires that you can stop and have picnics or lunch n the motorhome at. Also I think that it's an entirely different experience to driving on our overcrowded motorways as the French ones are usually fairly empty compared to ours. If you have ever been on the Cannock Chase toll part of the M6 then that is what's its like on a French autoroute nearly all the time. Apart from the odd accident we have encountered they all seem to run like a dream.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the replies

We have been to France a number of times but all always used the Autoroutes. Having read the many threads on here where people have advised it's just as quick on the non-toll roads, and being a canny Scotsman I thought I might give it a go.

From all the feedback, I think we will use the Autoroute and get there less stressed.

Thanks again,

Stewart
 

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Hi French non toll roads can be very variable. Whereas the old RNs were replaced by toll roads they now seem to be updating the RNs to dual carriageway some with seperated junctions.

Try viamichelin and the options box to assess the different times using your route. ie. non toll and toll. Although no campervan option, I invariably use the small car & caravan to similate my driving speed.

On some routes using the non toll option there are some bottle necks or even little twiddly roads where using the toll road for a short time is a definite advantage. Don't forget that many of the autoroutes are non toll around major towns,

cheers alan
 

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Hi Stewart and all!

If I were going to Montpellier, and I can only find the one on the Med., I'd use the A75 from Clermont Ferrand. The next 300+ km are TOLL-FREE. A beautiful surface, wonderful scenery, some excellent engineering solutions, including the world famous, British designed Millau Viaduct. OK, so there's a toll for crossing the viaduct, but the rest of the A75 is free.
 

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It is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other!

We have done both, the autoroutes are smooth, easy with regular aires for stopping without problems, the traffic (away from Paris) generally flows freely. But you have to pay for them and fuel is more expensive that at hypermarkets. You do of course maintain a steady speed without lots of acceleration and braking - all of which costs fuel and money!

The N (or even some D) roads are well maintained and smooth, with places to stop between towns, often with limited facilities for picnics. They do link towns and may go through small towns or villages - some of which can be tedious with more roundabouts than you would imagine (they obviously bought a job lot of them!). Their traffic lights are clearly visible with repeaters at a very convenient height - but these cannot legally be relied on as they are not the prime lights!

Going through towns allows use of hypermarkets for food and fuel (and sometimes with emptying facilities), it allows use of bakeries for croissants and bars for coffee (makes an excellent breakfast and they expect you to take the coffee in to the bar). But driving through these towns can be an "interesting" experience - navigation can be fun as signposts (which are numerous) are not always exactly as or where you expect them!

In the end why not combine a bit of each? Use the autoroutes for some parts but the major roads for others - it will probably work out the cheapest way of doing the journey! And even more will give you some great views of French civilisation.

Not as straightforward a choice as one would think!

Dave
 

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Roads

JeanLuc said:
We tend not to use the Autoroutes unless we are in a real hurry (but then I tend to cruise around 90-100 kph (55-60 mph) anyway so don't make full use of the speed potential on A-routes.

A key point to note is that the French road classification does not necessarily reflect the quality of the road. N (or Routes National) are maintained by the central government and equate to our A-Trunk roads. D roads are maintained by the Départements. As the Autoroute network has grown, the government has de-classified N roads to D so they no longer have to fund upkeep centrally. This means there are a lot of very high quality D-roads. Quite a few are dual carriageways.

Generally, main roads in France are maintained to a much higher standard than in the UK and traffic volumes are lower (other than in/around towns). The French do have a love of Ronds Pointes or roundabouts however, so there is quite a bit of slowing down and speeding up on the N/D roads. In towns, road surfaces are often a bit rough (but then so they are in the UK).

Ultimately, if you are happy to pay the tolls, then the Autoroutes are great, but get a bit boring after a couple of hours. If you want to save the cost, then main roads are often very good and you see a lot more of French life.

Philip
Well pointed out, and also worth buying an upto date map. The old N4 is now the D1004 and N1004 in places - yet it is the same road as it ever was.

Russell
 

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I'm with Penquin on this one. A mix of Autoroute and N or D roads is the best choice and on the trip you are planning the A75 is a great option as it is toll free. We will be doing a similar trip from Cherbourg to Beziers and will go via Le Mans, Tours, Bourges, Clermont and down the 75. Using only autoroutes is the most boring way to see France and we only use them if stuck for time.

Noel
 

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Are you worried about the size of your rig on the N roads? If so don't be and if you have the time I would recommend them rather than the M ways. Far better cafes and the opportunity to get a little bit of local shopping done,however if time is short and money is not use the autoroutes.
 
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