When planning your trip to La Petite Gravelle bear in mind that Charente Maritime is about half-way down the west coast of France. This makes it significantly closer to the mid-Channel ports such as Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo than the shorter crossings which arrive at Calais, or the Channel Tunnel.
Ferry departures from Newhaven, Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth may be more economical or offer the best timings. We recommend you consider all of the factors - the most convenient timings, the cost of the crossing, your fuel costs in the UK and France and the Péage tolls in France.
For example our family lives in the West Country and we often travel from St Malo to Poole on the Condor fast ferry - booked through, but changing ferries in the Channel Islands. Our favourite because of the shortest driving times and the chance of a break in the Channel Islands (which can vary from one to five hours because of the tides).
Approximate driving times (add fuel, food and rest stops)
Calais to La Petite Gravelle: 7 hr (740km)
Le Havre to La Petite Gravelle: 5 hrs 45 (560km)
Caen to La Petite Gravelle: 5 hr (490km)
Cherbourg to La Petite Gravelle: 6 hr (568km)
St Malo to La Petite Gravelle: 4 hr 15m (407km)
Roscoff to La Petite Gravelle: 6 hr (545km)
About-France.com has a very useful list of cross-Channel ferry companies HERE
but does not give a direct link for Condor Ferries (Poole to St Malo via the Channel Islands)
About-France.com also has a very informative section about French roads and driving
Automatic Péage Payment (Télépeage and Liber-t)
Paying your Péage tolls automatically by using the 't' lanes is obviously quicker and more convenient, particularly after the introduction of the non-stop 30kph lanes. If you have a French bank account the transponders are free and under one of the infrequent user schemes you pay €2 for each calendar month the transponder is used (plus the normal charge).
The service is available to UK bank acount holders via Saneftolling, it is more expensive but regular users might consider it worthwhile.
La Rochelle airport to La Petite Gravelle takes a few minutes over an hour, and the two suitable routes connect with our illustrated downloadable guide just outside St Jean d'Angély.
Poitiers airport to La Petite Gravelle takes about 1hr 20min, mostly on Péage autoroutes and also connect with our illustrated downloadable guide.
Bordeaux airport to La Petite Gravelle takes about 1hr 45mins, mostly on Péage autoroutes. Again it connects with our illustrated downloadable guide.
Driving in France is a much more relaxing affair than in the UK, as our traffic levels are a small fraction of those in England.
Outside of the big cities only on the three 'Black Saturdays' in July and August (when most of France heads for or returns from the coast) will you find significant jams on the autoroutes and main trunk roads. On most roads around La Gravelle you will normally only see a handful of vehicles at any time.