France 2012

Easter trip to France


Saint-Germain-de-Coulamer Google Maps

6 rue Sainte Barbe, 53700 Saint Germain de Coulamer

Travel Arrangements


Wondering about getting a toll tag thing for France. It costs a bit more, but reduces hassle. See Wish I had known about it for our previous trip.

For details of ferry discounts see e-mail from Dani.


  • Webbs, Lewis, Knoxs – Folkestone to Calais – Monday 09 April 2012
    • Check-in closes 07:20
    • Departure time 07:50
    • Arrival time 09:25
  • Lewis sleeping at home, travelling to train in the morning, on the same train as the Webbs


  • Webbs – Calais to Folkestone – Sunday 15 April 2012
    • Check-in closes 13:20
    • Departure time 13:50
    • Arrival time 13:25
  • Lewis, Calais to Folkestone via a ferry, 14.20pm departure, arrival time 14.50pm

Travel Checklist

  • European car insurance
  • European breakdown cover
  • Safety kit
    • Spare bulb kit
    • Reflective jacket
    • GB sticker / magnet
    • First aid kit
    • Headlamp adjuster sticker
    • Warning triangle
  • Maps (paper or electronic)
  • Travel insurance
  • EHIC
  • Euros
  • Passports

Things to do

  • Sillé Plage is a large lake in the woods with an artificial beach, cafés, walking and boating. It is near to Sillé le Guillaume and is only 15 minutes drive away.
  • A little further away at St Léonard des Bois is a “Derbyshire style” village with restaurants, cafés, horse riding, walking, canoeing and an aerial ropeway.
  • Next to St Léonard is the picturesque village of St Céneri le Gérei much frequented by artists and with 12th century frescos in the church.
  • Castles to visit can be found at Lassay les Châteaux (North West) and Ste Suzanne (South West)
  • The old town of Mayenne with it’s river and castle are worth visiting and so is the spa town of Bagnoles de l’Orne.
  • Alencon has good shopping and an indoor swimming pool and Le Mans, about 40 minutes drive away, has shopping and the famous racing track and car museum. The old town of Le Mans, “Vieux Mans” is well worth visiting.
  • There is a garage, boulangerie and bar in St Germain de Coulamer and petrol and supermarket shopping 15 minutes away at either Villaines la Juhel or Sillé le Guillaume.

Things to take


  • Food for first day (French public holiday)
    • Steph handling first 24 hours


  • Games
  • Portable BBQ (Rich – sorted)
  • Walkie talkies (Rich – sorted)
  • Swimming towels
  • Swimming stuff

House details

  • Bed linen and towels are provided, but it would be appreciated if you could bring towels for swimming if required. There is a washing machine and tumble dryer in the utility room.
  • We will arrange the cleaning for 40 €.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with a dishwasher, fridge, freezer, range cooker, toaster, microwave and coffee machine.
  • There is a CD player in the salon and UK sky TV (free channels or bring your own card) in the second floor children’s dormitory.
  • Oil fired central heating
  • Our home telephone number is :- 0033 2 43 03 32 38 and my mobile is :- 0033 6 21 09 42 06
  • We live about 10 minutes away outside the next village and our address is ;- La Meltière, 53700 Courcité.


Details of minibus and other options

Useful website re minibuses:

General answer, backed up by most websites, as to who can drive a minibus:

Licences for drivers of minibuses that are not operated for hire or reward, (only likely to include private or family use where the driver does not benefit in any way and there are no donations, charges or fares) and do not therefore fall under either PSV or ‘section 19 permit’ operator’s regimes, are governed by the same rules as per permit buses. The minibus must be used for social purposes, by a non-commercial body and must not be used to tow a trailer of any size.
For pre-1997 drivers, the D1 licence will be accepted for temporary visits within the EU, whereas new drivers will need to hold a D1 or D entitlement, which will involve a further test to drive on the continent. So drivers without automatic minibus entitlement on their licence are not permitted to drive minibuses outside the UK without a further test.


Looks like our best option is going to be to get to Essex on the Sunday afternoon and leave from there early on Monday morning. Some of us could possibly stay in a Premier Inn to ease showers and getting ready quickly.

Cost comparisons

Item Cars x 3 Minibus Notes
Tunnel £360 £180 Rough costs
Fuel £300 £177 From Essex – 750 miles – cars doing 45 mpg, bus 25mpg
Tolls £120 £91 Estimate from Mappy, total for both trips in 3 cars
Hire £0 £620 Current best quote
Total £780 £1068 Minibus more expensive by £288 in total or £96 per car

Other costs depend on current cover – each car will need fully comp in France, recovery in France, spare bulb kit and other minor bits.