I’d pay motorway tolls if it meant an end to queuing

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It was holiday time but, because of my dislike of flying, ahead of us lay a 1,200-mile drive to the Costa del Sol.

Good friends had given us a week in their Malaga apartment. As the 22.45 sailing of the MV Normandie slipped away from Portsmouth bound for Caen, our break had begun.

With the main bar area buzzing, we wondered where other travellers were going. How far would their journey take them?

We really should have gone straight to our cabin, but you’re too excited about your holiday and a couple of drinks help you unwind.

By half-past midnight, it was time for bed, a very comfy one in our cabin. I’d much rather pay the extra than have to ‘sleep’ on the floor of the cheaper freight ship that crosses to Le Havre.

The sound of a harp filled the air at 0500 as we approached Caen. Surely this was some sort of joke?

Grumpy faces made the self-service restaurant for breakfast as various bilingual tannoy announcements counted down our arrival time.

As dawn broke, we were on our way. French towns are so quiet. Where is everyone? Do they actually work?

Caen is a medium-sized city, but there was no queuing traffic. Definitely no A32 effect there!

Two hours in and it became apparent that we’d gone to bed too late. I pulled into a service station for a quick nap.

Two-and-a-half hours later, we were on our way. Oops!

French motorways are so smooth and with a sensible speed limit of 80mph you can make excellent progress.

I’d happily pay tolls on UK motorways if it meant no queues and better quality roads.

The cities flew by. Le Mans, Tours, Poitiers, then Bordeaux. Before we knew it, we’d arrived at Biarritz for a stay en route to Malaga.

What a stunning place, you have to go there. A beach and waves to match Newquay, but with style and class. Not a ‘kiss me quick’ hat in sight.

We found a cafe for food. Then came embarrassment as a man sat next to us wearing the same M&S rugby top as me.

We then acknowledged each other. Oh, the shame!