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  • Driving to Spain without using any tunnels
  • steve-g
    Member

    Hi

    My brother is keen to drive to Spain once the various lockdowns are all over but has a serious phobia of being in tunnels where neither end is visible, Like the Blackwall tunnel for example which turns at both ends so for a while in the middle you cant see light behind or in front of you.

    He thinks he will need to get a ferry to northern Spain then be able to explore from there, but it has set me wondering is there a route from Calais down through France then across into Spain that uses mountain passes, with no tunnels on it that are longer than say 1 mile and dead straight?

    nickjb
    Member

    I’d think that would be pretty easy. The Alps are full of tunnels but the Pyrenees not so much. Plenty of high passes without tunnels on the little roads IIRC. Between Calais and the Pyrenees is largely flat and open. Might be some tunnels on the Paris ring road but you can give Paris a wide berth.

    Premier Icon leegee
    Subscriber

    Hmmm, when I was a kid we drove to near Valencia, we went from Calais over the Pyrenees and I think there was a long tunnel just the other side of the mountains.

    Premier Icon bob_summers
    Subscriber

    There are a lot of long tunnels here in Pais Vasco, if he takes the A8 east say from Santander towards France. Going west there are a few as well IIRC

    Coming down thru France, I can’t remember any other than an underpass in Rouen.

    Hello from northern Spain! The only way I’ve driven across France is super flat and super boring. From Santander / Bilbao it’s possible for sure but you would have to route plan carefully because there a few decent long tunnels. In the Pyrenees there are fewer. I’m happy to run through a potential route for you if you pass me a mail.

    Can’t you just drug his milk?

    nickjb
    Member

    Can’t you just drug his milk?

    That is for going on planes, you fool

    Sorry, my mistake!

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    @nickjb

    nickjb
    Member

    Just had a quick look at the two passes we used to take quite a bit to refresh my memory, col du Somport and the Col du Portalet. Both are tunnel free all the way as far as I can tell (Somport has a tunnel but you can miss it and take the old road over the top). I’m sure there are plenty more. Just to add, these probably won’t be passable in winter, but will be stunning in summer.

    Premier Icon Trimix
    Subscriber

    You can get a ferry direct to Spain, takes flipping ages, but Ive done it. If he has a phobia about not seeing the end, remind him he wont see land while on the ferry either. Plus being in the hold while getting out/in the car is a bit like a tunnel.

    Ive driven over the Pyranees lots of times without going in a tunnel, loads of routes, so dont worry about that bit. Just look at Google maps and you will see.

    Driving straight down the middle of France and through the Massif Central will get you to Beziers then down the coast to Perpignan, crossing the Pyrenees at la Junquera. This is completely tunnel free although crossing the Millau viaduct might give him the heeby jeebies in the opposite way. It’s quite a direct way, especially if he wants to go to the Med side of Spain (where we live) and relatively toll light.

    Can’t you just get him to close his eyes and he does the pedals / passenger does the steering wheel for a bit?

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    as he enters the tunnel get his passenger to hold a landscape in front of his face. Rather than staring at the unending road he can imagine he’s about to splash through a ford past a haycart, or up the front drive of the Taj Mahal. Sorted.

    Premier Icon johnhe
    Subscriber

    I sometimes get panic attacks on planes because I’m claustrophobic. Which makes flying 3 times a month quite challenging. Panic attacks are very rare thankfully.

    But my GP prescribed beta blockers for the occasional times when it gets a bit much. He says they don’t make you drowsy and simply reduce your heart rate for a short spell.

    Might be worth trying it for the occasional tunnels, if they’re not too long.

    slowol
    Member

    Go along the coast. Don’t remember any tunnels when we cycled from Biaritz to San Sebastian, although we were on bikes and it was in the 90s.

    Definitely a bunch of tunnels if you take the main road. Or you drive all day on the coastal road which isn’t bad either unless it’s August!

    Edukator
    Member

    Col du Portalet. Both are tunnel free all the way as far as I can te

    No, there’s a tunnel in Biescas.

    There are long tunnels in Spain even when you’ve cleared the Pyrenees on many roads. Just check out the route on Google earth. Without knowing where he’s going I can’t suggest a route.

    That’s it, arriving to Panticosa there is a big one, and nasty too. There is a way around though but it’s a mental road. I think if you’re really committed it can be done, on old roads and being very careful. The ways I’m thinking of it’s definitely not easy though!

    It’s like climbs on a mtb route. If you’re fit you don’t remember them. Hence the classic guide lie of it’s all downhill from here. But if you’re hmmm… not so fit, then even a 10m rise is memorable. Same I guess that you don’t remember the tunnels on a route you drove a few years ago, unless you have a tunnel phobia.

    Edukator
    Member

    Madame broke her collar bone crashing her bike in the Escarilla (Biescas) one before it was lit and renovated, she’s unlikely to forget that one.

    Almost died there twice in the uplift trucks when a car came into the tunnel sideways. Scary still. Not as scary as the back road though 🙂

    mariner
    Member

    Seem to remember the descent after the Millau viaduct going south has tunnels but cant remember how long or if they are just lean to avalanche roofs.
    If you want the old road through France see Travelers France : a guide to six major routes through France / Arthur Eperon.
    This will keep you off motorways and therefore tunnels – maybe.

    Premier Icon dogbone
    Subscriber

    The motorways around Bilbao are thick with tunnels. Mostly fairly short but not certain if they would be an issue. They seem to build a new one a month. There are routes around them but would need a bit of planning. Google street maps?

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Subscriber

    Am I the only one who actively seeks out routes with s many tunnels as possible. The longer and more convoluted the better. It is why I love going to Norway. Anyone else been up the Spiral tunnel in Drammen? Worth a trip for that alone.

    Premier Icon mick_r
    Subscriber

    Thanks for the Drammen tip – been within about 10km but never knew it was there.

    Last Norway trip we did the Laerdal tunnel which was super long but otherwise tame and quiet.

    Lotschberg Swiss tunnel was fun but pretty disorientating – car on rickety open train carriage in the pitch black.

    Premier Icon cchris2lou
    Subscriber

    There is one tunnel before the millau viaduc and 2 after.
    They are less than a mile long but pretty sure you can’t see the other side.

    loum
    Member

    Avoid the A3 too on the way down to the get from Portsmouth.

    hofnar
    Member

    Millau has been mentionned from after Paris there are three one before Millau and two when dropping down to the coast. Longest one not even half a mile. You have the viaduc though but easy to avoid from the old road. For the tunnels not sure about the first one the two after near pas the Escalette are avoidable if you cut throgh the cevennes, beautifull around there but you won’t be going fast. Tour the france in there this year again.

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Subscriber

    Tell him not to travel to Pisa from Lyon. I was bored on the drive back and added together the length of all the tunnels we drove through. We did 105 km underground in 500 km of driving 🙂

    kynasf
    Member

    Calais-Rouen-Orlèans-Toulouse-Narbonne is relatively tunnel free with the exception of the previously mentioned underpass at Rouen. From there I’d go to Argeles sur mer and make my way down the coast into Spain

    Premier Icon TheGingerOne
    Subscriber

    Just drive at night, then the tunnels will be less obvious 🤔

    Premier Icon FB-ATB
    Subscriber

    Will there be another driver? Can’t they do the tunnels and he shuts his eyes?

    Or get him to watch lots of videos of driving in tunnels and become de-sensitised.

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