Ian Crowder drove from home near Cheltenham to Chevreville, near Paris in his Nissan LEAF Tekna 62kWh electric car.
Introducing your road trip
From home near Cheltenham to Chevreville, near Paris.
Planning & preparation
Embarking on a trip across the channel in an EV for the first time certainly springs concerns: what’s the charging network in France like? What cards/apps do I need? What if, what if…?
But in fact it was pretty straightforward. We had the Shell Recharge (New Motion); Chargemap, Le Pass Sodetrel cards/Apps plus PlugShare’s, all of which can be used in France. As it happens, the Chargemap card and app were the most useful and the card worked on all the paid-for chargers we used. For the UK parts of our trip, we used trusty Zap-Map to ID charge points.
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On the way from Cheltenham our first charge was at Gridserve’s 50 kW charger in Maidstone. Fortunately, we arrived just as someone else was leaving and when charged after a coffee break, there were two EVs waiting. There really needs to be more chargers at service areas! That said, Gridserve is efficient and very easy to operate using a contactless debit card. Charge delivered almost a full 50kW.
We stayed overnight at the Best Western on the seafront at Dover where there are Connected Kerb chargers on Waterloo Crescent – these were very convenient and plugging in after downloading the App was straightforward. Left the car overnight to charge to 100% for the journey ahead. It has to be said though, for a port town there is a paucity of fast chargers.
In fact, we make it all the way to the Airbnb farmhouse at Chevreville where the 14 members of our family were staying, including grandchildren (not all in the LEAF, I hasten to add!!). There, we were fortunate in being able to charge by plugging in to a socket at the house (note: if you are getting a socket adaptor, make sure it can take the full 13 amps – it should have the rating on the packet and on the device. Many are no more than 10 amps).
During the week we did charge at public points, including Disney Paris which we visited over two days. They have public chargers which are free to use. There are only six or eight of them (but they say they are installing more) and you need to check with the check-in as you arrive. They will direct you down the bus lane to a parking area right by the entrance, with spaces reserved for EVs and disabled drivers.
We also charged at one of a few Mouv chargers at Chantilly (using the Chargemap card); a fast charger at Vic-sur-Aisne (again Chargemap compatible), at Senlis and on the way home at the Sanef 50kW charger at Wancourt service area on the A1 motorway. Once in the UK again, we topped up at the excellent InstaVolt chargers at Bannatynes just off the A20 at Folkestone and again at Morrisons in Swindon where there is a fast GeniePoint charger, useful while we did a quick shop for essentials.
Did you encounter any great driving roads on your road trip? If so, where were they and why were they great?
To be honest, I felt ashamed of the roads in the UK. Even secondary (and tertiary!) roads in France are well maintained and an absolute joy to drive on. I don’t think we encountered a single pot-hole: any issues the road maintenance teams seem to be on it in a flash. But back in the UK you get to realise just how rough our roads really are.
The electric car itself
The LEAF isn’t a big car but it is surprisingly comfortable for long journeys. The weather was warm which helped with range and we managed a full 184 miles on a single charge from Dover with over 40 miles range left when we arrived at our destination. The car behaved impeccably, plenty of boot space for the luggage for four adults and there is a surprising amount of room in the back. Excellent Bose hi-fi helped too; frankly, it was an easy drive and a lot of fun.
Road trip conclusion
Big ticks all round to be honest and gives us confidence to tackle further European trips. End of July 2022, we are going to Maastricht in the Netherlands and then onto Germany…will report back!!