Road Trip to France

Thanks to Jason and Michelle for sharing the tales of their family holiday….

Me. “I’m bored of Aeroplanes and Airports”

Michelle.   “Well, why don’t we look at taking the Stag to France? But I want to go to the South because the weather is better!”

Me “Err, OK, are you sure?”

So that’s how it all started. I didn’t think Michelle would go through with it but she kept “reminding” me to look at holiday places.

I had better introduce myself. My name is Jason (stagstan on the Forum) Michelle is my long suffering Wife, Luke is our eldest Boy (8) and Zak is our youngest (3) and “Staggy” is our Stag. (the boys named him that)

We settled on Port Grimaud, it has a nice little Marina, it’s close to St. Tropez (a place Michelle has always wanted to visit) and not too far from Monaco (where I’ve wanted to go for a long time) A route was planned- Home to Lille for our first overnight stop over, then, down to a town called Valence just south of Lyon, then onto Port Grimaud. Hotels booked for the trip down then it was just a case of waiting.

We decided on taking the Chunnel due to the ease of use. We also decided to have an extra stop over close to the tunnel because that’s nearly a 4 hour drive for us. So, July 23rd arrived, we collected Luke from school, a quick change and some tea then off to Kent, isn’t the M25 a wonderful Motor Way? On the drive down my speedo became quite erratic, so a phone call to Faversham Classics saw a spare one bought. We awoke to a damp day but that didn’t matter as it was now holiday time proper. The Chunnel terminal was busy but we were able to get an earlier crossing, but a point’s failure put us back 2 hours so we didn’t gain anything, and didn’t lose any time either! While waiting in the queue for the train a very nice German Gent came up to us to talk about my Stag, which he really liked. Turns out he was on his way home from the Aston Martin centenary and was in his 1978 V8 Volante!


At our Hotel ready for the off!

Eventually we boarded the train and set off, 45 minutes later we leaving the train and heading off for the motorway and to our first stop. Lille was about an hour’s drive. Hotel found (satnavs are great) showers taken, all of us fed and watered and day 1 of the holiday was over.

Day 2. This was going to be a long day. Lille to Valence is almost 500 miles. We took plenty of stops along the way and the Stag performed perfectly. At some point a UK registered Aston Martin DB9 Volante came past us, the driver hooting his horn and punching the air as a sign of respect. They know a stylish car when they see one these Aston owners!!

The Hotel in Valence was very welcome, the further south we were travelling the warmer the weather. As we’re all used to air conditioning in our modern cars driving in 30 plus heat all day is very tiring. Again, showers drinks and food was required. A quick check on the Stag shows it still had a very slight leak into the “vee” from around the water pump area. The water pump having been rebuilt about a month before, the leak looks to be coming from the gasket, as it was using hardly any water (header tank fitted) I wasn’t too worried. Day 2 over.


Luke. Bored!

Day 3. This saw us having a leisurely cruise down to Port Grimaud, just 200 miles. To get to the Port you have to drive through Grimaud Village, which means driving up a hillside pass, a very twisty road which me and the Kids loved, however Michelle didn’t like it at all because of the drops off the side so no photos taken as she was too scared to take her hands off the seat!


Zak, enjoying sunny top down motoring.

Onto the Caravan site, not too big and a really nice Caravan complete with air con!


Stags’ well-earned rest

I’ll not bore everyone with what we did on holiday, after all it’s about the car, but we did have a great time. One of the days saw us in St. Topez, which totally disappointed Michelle, she thought it was quite shabby and Torquay was better! I tried to park in the marina to get some photos of the Stag with boats in the background but the traffic was awful.


St. Tropez Marina

The South of France is a very nice place to go for a Holiday, we loved it, a close town to Grimaud is St. Maxim, again another day spent there looking at the boats and just relaxing.

The day came to start our journey home, the route we planned was Monaco, Turin, Reims then home. We left Port Grimaud around 7am and set off for Monaco. 1 ½ hours later we were looking for somewhere to park. Never having been to Monanco before I didn’t know where to go so we settled on the first carpark we saw, Casino Square under gorund.

Now, Monaco is my kind of place, if only I was a millionaire!!

Having parked up we went looking for a coffee. Monaco doesn’t open until 10.00am!! Anyway, having found some breakfast we went and walked the F1 track. If any of you are familiar with the F1 track the hill from the pits is a lot steeper than it looks on T.V!

After having a little walk around we collected the car and drove the track (well, you have to don’t you?) We pulled up in Casino Square for some quick photos

Then, we made our way to Turin. The roads from Monaco to Turin are great, not a lot of traffic, lots of scenery.

Overnight stay in Turin then we make our way to Reims via the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Again great roads and great scenery. However, the Mont Blanc tunnel itself was like the blackwall tunnel only longer and cost 45 Euros to use!!

This photo is on the French side of the tunnel with the Alps in the background

As we got close to the middle of France the temperatures started to rise, however, the Stag temp needle stayed firmly in the middle of the gauge, cant say the same about the passengers though!


Me and the Stag on one of our many stops

An overnight in Reims then off to Calais. About 40 miles from Calais we pulled in for fuel when we heard a noise from the engine, I (stupidly) put this down to the Viscous Coupling and decided to “nurse” the car home. The train was on time and a few hours later we were home. The next day I removed the right cam cover to find a very slack chain! The curved guide had worn through, if id have known this I wouldn’t ave driven home, live and learn. Anyway that was soon sorted.

We (well me) enjoyed the holiday so much we’re looking at doing the same next year but not to the south but more towards Switzerland, we’ll see.

If anyone is thinking of taking their Stag to France or anywhere in Europe, my advice is just do it. I took just a handful of spares, fuel pump, belts ect. And don’t forget your  breathallisers!

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