Driving to Marche via France - any tips on places to stay?

Amaretto Image
04/14/2010 - 19:37

At last we are heading out from Derbyshire and coming to live in our house in lovely Marche. So excited and looking forward to being there full time. We're driving down from east of Manchester on Sunday 25th April and hope to get the euroshuttle about 2pm, going to come via France as I want to avoid hours of hassle at swiss borders and can speak a bit of French (My German is rubbish) and hope to get to around Dijon around 9ish. We have our dear old mog with us who will be well freaked out by the trip and have found most of the motel type places will allow a cat for a couple of euros extra. Can anyone recommend any one motel chain over another or anywhere round there for the night? Any other top tips for the journey? So excited to be saying arriverderci Inghilterra.. Cheers Am



I used to use that route and once stayed at the Hermes Motel at Fixin (www.hermes-hotel.fr/) on the wine route a couple of kilometres south of Dijon. It was fine, simple, but a reasonable price and is a proper hotel, rather than these soulless, virtually unstaffed places that abound. It has a popular restaurant with steaks from the wood-fired grill if you like that sort of thing, and Fixin wine is wonderful, though priced to suit, as is all good Burgundy. You will of course find all the motel chains at the motorway junction at Dijon so you can take your pick from Etap, Formule 1, Campanile etc etc. I don't go that way any longer as I prefer to go through Switzerland. You speak of the often mentioned "hours of hassle at swiss borders" - I go directly through Basel at least 6 times a year in each direction and have never, ever, seen any hassle at all. Avoid Switzerland if you are in a 32 tonner by all means, but otherwise its a great route. Terry

Hi   Cheeky question along with an answer for you.  We've often made the drive from Cambridgeshire to Umbria via the tunnel and sometimes via South of France, sometimes via Switzerland (God Bless the carnet!!) and have always used the Accor group of hotels either Ibis or sometimes Etap (I think they're cat-friendly).  Next year in August we will be making the final big push journey from Cambs to our Home in Umbria (for ever and ever) and wonder if you are sedating your Mog and what you needed to do prior to taking him/her?  My poor Florence gets freaked out just going 10 miles down the road, we did consider airfreighting her as I thought it would be quicker and less "painful" for her but my lovely cattery owner says that it is quite frightening for cats and they get very cold.  She will have a lovely life in Italy (she will be 5 then) and I would hate to leave her behind.  How are you (or anyone else) going to manage with your Mog?  Very best of luck with your move - hope it goes really well x

When I left my last home in Scotland and moved to Abruzzo along with my two cats, they made the trip in a plywood "house" which I'd made. It fit in the back of the car (hatchback with rear seats down) and had three little compartments: one for a litter tray, one for food and water and one for sleeping. The last was lined with carpet tiles to cut down on noise and to give them something to cling on to when going around curves. I did that drive in more or less one "sitting"; stopping in rest areas to doze whenever I got sleepy, rather than staying in a hotel. The only problem I encountered was that the dimmer one of the two cats turned out to be a real yowler who complained constantly and loudly all the way. That got rather tedious after ten hours or so. When my partner decided to bring her cats to Italy from Holland, the box got reused, but this time it went in the back of the pickup I'd bought after moving here. We broke that journey with a stay in a hotel in Germany, but the cats remained in the box overnight. In both cases, the cats coped perfectly well with the trip. It seems to me that the key point is that cats are territorial animals, so removing them from their patch and dumping them in unfamiliar territory will always be stressful. That means I really do question whether it's kind to take a cat into a hotel room. Putting cats in a travel box, putting box in a car, bouncing them around with a lot of strange noises for a few hours, then taking them out and turning them loose in a hotel room (with God only knows what scents due to prior animal residents), then putting them back in box and putting box back in car before driving on and eventually turning them loose in yet another unfamiliar environment never seemed to me a sensible way of dealing with the moggie move. Far better, I thought, to provide them with their own little darkened cave where they could hide for the duration of the drive. Al

In reply to by Allan Mason

Al your ensuite cat box sounds fantastic and probably the best possible solution. We just won't have room for something as luxurious as that unfortunately so I think the hotel room is prob our best bet, at least he can get out to use the litter tray and we'll be with him. I suspect he will yowl all the way to Italy, he's extremely vocal on a trip to the local vet. Cedric you need to plan a couple of months in advance - they need a pet passport which involves a microchip, a rabies vaccination, a blood test to prove the vaccination has worked taken about 3-4 weeks after the jab and then they can travel. Cost at our vet was about £250. ouch. He's a very old chap but the vet says he is fine to make the trip and leaving him behind (or worse) is just unthinkable. I hope he'll have a few happy years chasing lizards in the sunshine. The vet advised against sedation cos he's so old but we are trying some stuff called feliway that you spray in the box which is supposed to make them calmer - its all in the pheromones apparantly. In fact I may spray the whole car in the hope it works on humans too! I'll let you know how we get on. Am

In reply to by Amaretto

Sure all will be ok Am.... Did drive down with 2 x 18yrs young cats 5 year agao and Dylano of course.  Did not stop over night tho' as thought best to get it over with asap......Both cats travelled well, settled down in baskets and slept most of the time......Enjoyed chasing lizards for 3 years and soaking up the sun, then both cats (they were sisters) died within 2 weeks of each other.  No regrets....

In reply to by Amaretto

I've tried Feliway. I'm not sure it does what it says on the tin, but of course the problem is that you can never be sure how bad things might have been if you hadn't used it. For what it's worth, I agree with your vet about sedation. Cats don't cope with tranquilisers very well and age increases the risks. As far as pet passports are concerned, I paid for the rabies vaccination and the tests, but of course there are no border checks once you leave the UK, and the British authorities don't care at all about animals you're taking out of the country. If I was doing it again, I wouldn't go to the bother and expense. It seems to me that it will benefit nobody if you take a distressed cat into a hotel room and then have such a disturbed night due to its yowling and prowling that you're not well-rested for the drive the next day. You know your cat better than anyone, but I do think that people very often treat their pets as they would want to be treated as a human, rather than considering what best suits the nature of the beast. Dogs are pack animals and they get distressed if separated from the rest of the pack; I think that it therefore makes perfect sense to take a dog into a hotel room with you rather than leaving it in the car. Those of us who provide homes, food and medical care for cats may want to think that they feel part of our family, but the fact is that cats are, by nature, solitary animals and they wouldn't pine for us like a dog would if we suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke. Far more important to a cat is the security of having an area they consider home. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't like to be left in a silent, darkened car in a hotel's car park while the rest of your travelling party goes inside to sleep in a room, but you shouldn't project that onto your cat. It might well be that the best possible way for him to pass those hours - for him and for you - would be for him to be left alone in a familiar (although unloved) cat box in a car parked in the most quiet area you can manage. How you deal with things like food, drink and toilet needs is another matter, but my experience is that cat's don't eat or drink much while on extended journeys and they therefore don't have much need for a litter tray. Obviously, whatever you do, you absolutely have to make sure that the cat can't run off in a panic if you take him out of the travelling box. If there should be a mess, well, it's not like you're going to be on the road for many days. Seems to me that the main priority is to get the cat from Point A to Point B as safely and as quickly as possible and then make sure there's someplace dark and secluded for him to hide while he starts to suss out his new home. Al

Just to say we made it here on Monday night and have got connected today so back in touch with the world. Yay. Cat made it too, stayed in hotel room with us in Dijon - stayed at a place called  'Hotel l'Escargotière Dijon Sud - Chenove' in the end - nice private bathroom, free net access, secure garage (we had bikes on the back of the car), arrived too late for dinner just after 10pm, shame had snails on my mind but prob best for not having evil garlicy breath the next day, good buffet breakfast included for 65€, v pleasant staff, rock hard huge pillows but otherwise fine if in quite a weird swimming pool pump type part of town as I gather most cheap and cheerful hotels tend to be. Made it to the house in southern Marche with an 11 hr drive from Dijon. Milan ring rd quite interesting - glad I'm used to v busy motorways but wow - how agressive are those big mercs and audis? Re cat if you are sure your cat is never going to return to UK I would also consider saving yourself a few hundred quid and not doing the pet passport thing - I thought it was obligitary but seems not, we were never asked for any docs for puss. He's settling in fine, not let him discover the big outdoors yet but he is now master of the sofas at least. Ta for all advice, hope feedback useful. Am

In reply to by Amaretto

Hi Amaretto, glad you made it including the Moggie. Pet passports are obligatory when entering any EU country, they just tend not to check so much here. We moved out to Le Marche with five cats four years ago. Sadly, none of them are alive any more. This is a dangerous country for cats, watch out especially for hunters come September 1st. Although, illegal, cats and dogs often get shot by ignorant (blind or plain stupid) hunters. Vipers can be a danger too and not to mention Italian drivers.... I'm sure your cat will be fine though as long as you are aware of the dangers. We are based near Force, if you're close, give us a sout (or a pm) if you need any advice on living out here).  Always nice to welcome new arrivals to the area - so welcome to Le Marche. Good luck for your life out here