Our experience driving to the island of Menorca

15th September 2019

Our Director’s Jane and Paul have been going to Menorca for over 30 years and have absolutely fallen for it, hence why Menorca Private Owners was created. Because they stay in Menorca for a few months at a time, they like to take their two (much loved) pooches, Oscar and Millie, and the best way travelling down to Menorca with the dogs is by driving.

* Please note blog was written in 2020, rules for travelling with dogs has now changed.
Jane and Paul spend half the year working in Menorca travelling outside of the High Season when their own villa in Torret, isn’t being rented. I chatted with Jane and Paul to find out how easy driving to Menorca actually is from the UK and they shared some useful tips and benefits of this way of transport to the island. 

"The drive down from the UK to Menorca is so easy and it gives us the ease to make our way down leisurely. The dogs also don’t have to go through the stress of flying. They’re so used to the drive as they’ve done it since they were puppies!"

Before Jane and Paul set off, they like to plan a route and decide how many days to break up the journey down. This is quite important to get a rough idea of driving time and what time to expect to arrive at a certain destination. This time round they broke the journey up into 3 stops: 

Derbyshire – Folkestone (Tunnel Crossing) 

Arras - Condrieu

Condrieu  - Barcelona (Ferry to Menorca

"Driving is also a great way to extend your holiday and you can make it as enjoyable as you wish; there are lots of great spots to stop on the way down to Menorca. We tend to set about 6 hours driving each day. Some people may want to do more or less, but we like to make sure we stop at nice places along the way.”

The Journey: 

Day 1 – Derbyshire to Folkestone 

"We set off from Derbyshire and made our way down to Folkestone for our first leg of our journey. In all honesty, driving down south to Folkestone is probably the hardest part of the entire journey. You’re likely to hit traffic the closer you get down to the coast, so we broke the journey up and stopped at Margate to see family for some afternoon tea. This way we got to stretch our legs and take the dogs for a walk too. 
EuroTunnel entrance driving UK

The Eurotunnel is really easy, we booked our slot online about a week before we left for travels. This is super easy and it’s all done online on their Eurotunnel website. All you need is your car registration number, the car make and model and confirm if you’ve got a LPG tank fitted to your car”
 Entrance to the EuroTunnel

If you’re travelling with your pet, each pet is £19 each way and this will show on your booking confirmation. The cost of crossing can be anywhere between £70 -£240 depending on the day and time of the year you’re going. It’s highly recommended to book your crossing slot in advanced to avoid disappointment. Read for more information on Travelling with Eurotunnel.

"If you’re travelling with your dogs, they are treated really well at the tunnel. There’s a dedicated ‘Walkies’ area where you can let your dog’s off in an enclosed area and they can run around, play and even make a friend or two. Oscar and Millie love it, we just let them off and they enjoy themselves before the crossing.
Walkies Play Area at the EuroTunnel for Dogs

The actual crossing itself only takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, you stay in your car and before you know it, you’re across the channel.”
For more information on taking your dogs via the Eurotunnel, read their FAQ’s.
From the tunnel, Jane and Paul made their way to Arras instead of staying in Calais as this got more travel out the way. Arras is approximately an hour drive away from Calais. 

Driving in France:

  • You need a yellow jacket, a breathalyser test, and triangle in case anything happens in the car 
  • Really easy – the motorways are clear and there is no traffic. Well-built and no traffic 
Arras famous monuments 

"We’ve stopped at Arras on previous trips and we really like it here so we chose to stop here again. The centre is very pretty. It used to be the centre for the grain trade in the 15th / 16th century and the city’s architecture and historic buildings are lovely. There is also a great selection of shops and restaurants all in the centre, which is walkable from the hotel, which is also quite nice. We pre-booked our stay in a hotel called Najeti Hotel De L’Univers which is in the centre and just around the corner from where the lovely church and arches are. We specifically like this hotel as they offer safe parking, which is quite important for us, especially as we travel down with a lot of luggage and valuables.
Hotel Najeti De L'Univers in Arras

We went to our favourite fish restaurant which we have visited several times now and it’s called Amarine Arras. They let the dogs in the restaurant too which is always a bonus. We went for a brief walk after dinner and we came across a fair in the centre and had a little wander around.”
Restaurant Amarine in Arras
The dogs enjoying the street fair in Arras

Day 2 – Arras to Condrieu

"On the next day, because had made a bit more progress into Arras the day before, our next leg of the journey was enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Our next destination was Condrieu just outside of Lyon and we planned to stop in Beaune along the way for about lunchtime. We took the roads via Reims instead of Paris as we think it’s a lot quicker rather than going through Paris and possibly hitting traffic. 
Dogs in small French street

Beaune’s another lovely little stop along the way. We only spent about an hour here, but it was enough time to grab a quick sandwich, stretch our legs and take the dogs for a walk. There’s a lot of cafes to choose from here and for only 25€-30€ you can enjoy a nice sandwich or a spot of lunch.

From Beaune we then headed our way further down to Condrieu; Lyon is usually the next common stop, but we prefer not to stay the night here as the roads are very narrow and having quite a wide car, it’s not ideal. 
View of the Rhone river from hotel 

We arrived in Condrieu which is a very pretty and small town with lots of vineyards around. We stayed in a hotel called Le Beau Rivage, overlooking the Rhone which was very pretty. We only actually booked this hotel the night before our stay through Booking.com. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the hotel restaurant where the well-behaved dogs are welcome, which meant Oscar and Millie made the cut (besides the time a cat ran past and they started to bark!).” 
Dogs in the vineyard in France
The dogs on their morning walk in France

Total paid on tolls in France – 107.70 € 

Day 3 – Condrieu to Barcelona

Total paid in tolls in Spain: 16.70€ 

The last leg of the journey from Condrieu to Barcelona is the shortest drive, approximately 610 km, and Jane and Paul booked the overnight ferry from Barcelona to Menorca. 
Dogs posing next to border between France and Spain 

"We knew we didn’t need to be in Barcelona until later that evening, so we took our time in the morning and enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel and took the dogs for a walk along the river Rhone which was really lovely. We then got in the car and decided just to stop at the service stations or, as they’re called in France: Aires, along the route to Barcelona. From Condrieu it is a motorway that goes straight to Barcelona, but you can take a coastal road instead along Girona if you wanted to. We arrived Barcelona for about 5pm this day and we made our ways straight to the Ferry terminal.”

Getting to the Ferry Terminal:

It’s advised from the main motorway (AP7) to take the C33 into Barcelona; you see a sign for the port but you actually want to stay on this road and head towards ‘Ronda Litoral’ which is where you need to be. If you follow the port signs, this takes you to the commercial ferries. 
Car Journey from France to Spain Signs

Ferry Terminal:
Tickets are pre-booked online and Jane and Paul booked a cabin, car and 2 dogs which cost between 200€ - €500 depending on the time of year. There are two main ferries that go to Menorca and they are: 

"We went straight to the ferry terminal and to the main office to pick up our boarding cards. Here they check our passports and you then get 2 sets of tickets. Once checked in you take your car into a secure car park area and it’s all set up in bays, for different destinations, so we parked for Mahón. You park your car up and you can leave it and know it’s secure. With the dogs, we made our way into the Placa del Duc de Medinaceli and had a little walk. Again, if you wanted to stay the evening here there would be lots to do to make more of a trip out of it. We try to go to the less touristy areas for a quiet drink and walk. Dogs can’t go inside restaurants in Spain but they can sit outside.”
The dogs in Barcelona 

We got back to the ferry port at about 21:30 and returned to our car to wait until we were loaded on. It’s all very easy and well organised. Once you’re loaded on the boat, you make your way to the cabins. If you’re taking the dogs, there are 2 places for where they can stay (depending on the ferry). There’s an area at the top deck, which is kennels and it’s shaded and has air conditioning, or there’s an area with crates. We leave the dogs in the car (if it’s not too hot) and leave the windows open. They are happiest in there really; but of course, if it’s too hot we wouldn’t leave them in there. The actual ferry itself is really nice. This one was a large ferry, which they tend to use during High Season, and the cabins are nice and clean. There are a selection of bars and restaurants and even a swimming pool on the deck if you fancy it! We arrived in Menorca for about 06:30 the next morning, which was quite a quick crossing as the waters were calm. We disembarked the ferry and got to our villa just before 07:30!”
The dogs enjoying their time in Menorca

Jane and Paul's Top Tips:

We asked Jane and Paul for some tips when travelling down to Menorca by car and here are their top tips: 

  • If you’re going to make this part of your holiday, you want to stay in relatively nice hotels and take your time
  • Always think about parking and how secure it is
  • If you’re taking the night ferry from Barcelona to Menorca, you don’t really want to arrive any earlier than 5pm because you’ll just be hanging about with your car.
  • Book your hotels beforehand, you don’t want to be without them!
  • Don’t buy your petrol on the motorway, it’s more expensive. If you can buy it in the towns that’s recommended
  • Plan the route you really want to go. Look at the timings and when you’re going to be travelling and arriving.
  • If you are taking your dog’s down, they do collars at the vets specifically for ticks, fleas, sand flies and flies which is good for travelling. 
  • We tend to overpack our travelling bag with everything we think we might need and find that we don’t wear half of it. Try to be more realistic with what you need.
  • When you go into the ferry because it’s just for the night/day, have a bag with all you need for just that night/day. This will stop you from faffing about getting all your stuff and taking it up and down the stairs to the cabin. Pre-pack bag and that’s all taken to the cabin, and all your other things are locked and secure in the car. 
  • It’s very easy, keep it simple and travel light and make sure everything is packed away. We bring a blanket with us to cover all our things whilst we are travelling and parking. 
  • When you arrive in Barcelona you can leave the car safely after you've checked in at the ferry terminal. The gates open at 6 pm and allow you on to the secure departures area. Leave the car and go looking for a nice place for supper before returning at 9:30 pm for loading around 10/10:30 pm.
  • If you’re taking the dogs, we bring all the dogs bits and pieces for the journey in one bag eg. Bags, treats, water and toys. This way it’s all readily available for you.
  • Register your dog with a vet if you’re going to bring them with for longer than 2 weeks.  

If Jane and Paul's trip down to Menorca have inspired you to try it out yourself, what better way to finish off your travels in a villa holiday in Menorca? Get in touch using our enquiry form and a friendly member of our team will be more than happy to find you the perfect villa! 
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