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Driving route from Bruges to Rouen

In mid-April we will be driving from our hotel in Bruges to Rouen. Google Maps shows 3 routes:
1. via A16, which generally goes along the coast
2. via A1/A29, which goes south to Lille, then to Amiens, then to Rouen
3. via E403/A28, which does not seem to go by any large cities
The times for each route are relatively the same, and time is not a big factor for us, nor are tolls. I would like to take the most scenic route, with perhaps a stop at a decent restaurant for lunch along the way. Does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks. Peter

Posted by
27718 posts

number 2 can get very slow going through Lille. The highways in and around Lille are a bit like a bowl of spaghetti and there will be a number of times that you will slow down or stop as the traffic clogs up around a corner, or as the road narrows.

For a confident driver with a good feel for Belgian and French driving techniques it isn't too bad (watch for the variable speed limits enforced by the camera in a box) because Lille drivers often have the worst of both Belgian and French habits, especially the lack of or use of inappropriate signals and dashing all the way across the road for an exit or on entering, and tailgating, and imaginative use of lanes.

Number 1 is a gentle pleasant drive with occasional glimpses of interest. Because of migrant communities trying to reach England the roads around Calais can sometimes have extra restrictions, and often the electronic signs will warn of something or somebody in the road - stick to the electronic speed signs and be vigilant. I drive that way often and as long as you are observant you will be fine. Once you reach Sangatte you will be back on a gently rolling, gently winding pleasant motorway.

Posted by
27718 posts

I would stop at Flunch for lunch. Always one where you are, real food if a bit industrial, where French families go.

Posted by
1666 posts

Living 40km from Bruges I have driven many times to France following the mentioned routes. I like to suggest some places worth a (little) detour and are also nice settings for lunch or having a drink. For saving time, as Nigel already says there are many service areas with places like Flunch along the highways. Do not expect a scenic drive, especially the busy A1 between Lille and Paris is boring, but the A28 and A29 between Amiens and Rouen are much calmer and from a scenic point of view not so bad.

Veurne, still in Belgium along the E40 for it’s lovely gothic style town square. Further south of Calais along the A16 the historic centre of Boulogne-sur-Mer still having it’s medieval walls. Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, the area with old fashioned villa’s around the convention center is nice for a walk, the seafront however is ugly. Nearby fortified Montrieul is not a top destination, but has a certain appeal making worth a stop. Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is a lovely but touristic seaside village with a steam train.

Never had serious problems around Lille, but pass it most of the time late in the morning or late in the evening, so not during rush hours. Seen a very serious traffic jam a year ago during evening rush hour in opposite direction, was really bad so try to avoid that. Everybody is changing lanes at several places around Lille, what can be a challenge if you have to do the same. You can bypass Lille following E403 – E42 / A27 to A1. What I like to do after a few hours driving is drinking coffee in Arras. In April the unique Grand Place has plenty of parking space and nearby Place des Heros lots of restaurants and cafés. If the weather is fine my holiday starts actually there. Amiens is not only attractive for it’s gothic cathedral, but also the pleasant historic part of town around it.

Be aware that Rouen is busy and with all it’s many one direction streets not an easy place driving through, best is to know where to park before you leave Bruges even using a GPS. Likely you wil cross one of the large TEOR rapid bus lanes like the one running through Rue Géneral Leclerc a bloc south of the cathedral. The buses run fast, have priority and you are not allowed to use their lanes! I used Google Streetview before leaving home, it helped me a lot finding my way to the entrance of the parking under Place Saint-Marc.

Posted by
27718 posts

Thanks, Wil for the reminder about the crazy driving in Rouen.

I was trying to find the garage for the Mercure in the centre, and went around and around and around. And if you miss the turning you can go a long way before you can turn back or off in the way you want to go. And that was before the high speed buses.

Posted by
1666 posts

Must have been an inconvenient experience for you Nigel, not only loosing time but likely locals behind you who have to be patient. With Google Streetview I had already an idea to what paying attention to, especially helpful driving alone. And...the other dedicated lanes you can see elswhere for the slower buses has to be kept free too.

Btw there is an excellent “Ma Boulangerie” a few steps from Place Saint-Marc in Rue Armand Carrel.