Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Luke

driving in france

30 posts in this topic

trying the delights of France at the end of June this year for a little 9 day break. Going to drive to the west coast. Can anyone give me the lowdown on whats required legally and any other pointers. Have driven there before but only a short trip.+++

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

REAL ADVICE - NOT AA 'buy some sticky light' advice - bit long sorry!!

Don't buy those stupid euro light converters - they either fall off with the slightest hint of rain or when you try and get them off when home, they leave a hideous mess on the lens.

I use masking tape or if I'm on a longer stint, cheap black insulation tape.

Don't be tempted to speed all the time if you use the peage and have to 'take a ticket' as you enter as a simple distance over time calculation as they check the ticket at the other end automatically issues any fine - by all means have fun, but don't go silly. If need be stop at a service area - have a wee, cuppa and refuel - the wonders of a pit stop have saved me a fortune over the last few years.

Obey the speed limits around signs that mention 'controlles automatic votre pour securite' with pictures like radar beams - THEY ARE SPEED CAMERAS and they do work and the ticket will find you, you will get clobbered and you only have 14 days from issue to settle it, no matter what even if the ticket gets home after you or whatever - French cameras are different to ours - they are little squat gunship grey boxes with yellow/black 'tape' around them often at the side of the road or built into the central reservation.

Buy a warning triangle over there (or borrow one) if you don't have one already - Carrefour often have a triangle and a fluoro jacket in a pack for about 5-10 euros - much cheaper than over here.

If you start following signs to a destination and the signs 'dry up' keep going straight on the same road, even if you cross roundabouts etc - the French have this uncanny knack of being spot on with their signage even when they seem to forget some of the signs.

Supermarkets have the cheapest fuel - peage/main road petrol stations are quite a bit more expensive.

If you are going as far south as Biarritz I wholeheartedly recommend a trip into Spain, epsecially stop off at Irun - its a poo hole but, its the border town and the booze and petrol is markedly cheaper than in France, so much so that we saw many Bordeaux residents in Irun buying huge amounts of booze.

French supermarkets mainly sell 70cl bottles of spirits not full litres, be aware. Check Tesco/Asda etc before you go for prices of your favourite tipples - check the ferry/tunnel on the way out - then check the supermarkets. Buy where its keenest, but remember the offers on the ferry/tunnel can change. If it seems a tidy offer on the way out, sometimes its better to hedge your bets and snap some up.

The ferry's will take euros but will screw you - often 'charging' 1.50 odd per pound on transactions, compare this with the bureau d'change where you got 1.40 odd per pound. Take a wadge of sterling/cards if you anticipate spending on the ferry.

Petrol stations can have strange hours and ideas - UK cards DO NOT WORK with French pay at the pump systems - don't even waste time trying. Schedule fuel stops for daytimes and pay cash. Its a pain but in the long run its easier. When fuelling at supermarkets you'll need the 'Caisse' lane as the 24/24 lanes are ONLY pay at pump. Supermarket petrol stations may close by about 8pm, check or fill up when you're out and about and the price looks good.

Supermarkets close for lunch between 12 and 2pm - some bigger ones are open right through - most close between 8pm and 10pm. No 24 hour shopping in France yet, except the booze merchants around the ports who keep weird hours anyways.

I'm guessing that premium product fuel (Optimax) is available at branded outlets, but I wouldn't bank on being able to secure a constant supply.

If you are using Portsmouth on Brittany or LD lines - get your currency there - at the bureau d'change on the quayside just after check in - it will be facing you in a little building with a coffee shop, a euro lights and triangle shop, and a ramp outside. Don't use the Travelex in the main terminal building - not as competitive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's law that you have to carry your passport with you at all times in France. Or so I was told after we returned from a weeks holiday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pontyslapper, can you come with us, there's room!!! Great bit of info, many thanks. I'd checked most websites and got the usual stuff but wanted more of the hands on experience that you've advised on. Very helpful, thank you. 169144-ok.gifbeerchug.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[ QUOTE ]

you enter as a simple distance over time calculation as they check the ticket at the other end automatically issues any fine

[/ QUOTE ]

This is incorrect.

The law says that the police cannot use any section of a peage autoroute against the user in this way.

That is to say that, sure, they use radar traps but cannot prosecute using the distance over time calculation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may 'against the law', but its true.

Just come back from the Scumball 3000 and indeed they do measure average speed between toll booths and fine you accordingly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How did they do it then? They wait inside the booth with the cashier and check the ticket? tongue.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[ QUOTE ]

It may 'against the law', but its true.

Just come back from the Scumball 3000 and indeed they do measure average speed between toll booths and fine you accordingly!

[/ QUOTE ]

I think this urban myth has something to do with les gendarmes having a mate with a radar gun a few km before the toll booth. He radios his friend at the toll booth who then stops you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely, it just more convenient for them to fine you at the tolls as you have to stop anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Proof of European wide insurance is compulsory and will be asked for if pulled over, most insurance co's will charge you £100 for a year long policy amendment, which usually includes repatriation. Bear in mind your standard insurance is probably not valid in France.

Speed cameras are well marked in advance, however due almost entirly to Brits the French cops have bought a job lot of Subaru Impreza's and tend to spend time sitting hidden by the side of the road, ready to pull out and nab you.

Another favorite is radar on bridges and police bikes on the slip roads waiting.

Fines on the spot are the norm, with no one interested in paperwork involved with prosecuting in the UK.

Finally use of and even possesion of radar / laser detectors is very illegal. They will pull you if you have anything stuck to your windscreen.... regardless of if it is on or not and expect a HEAFTY eur 1000 fine.

Finally 99 octane is available from most garages and supermarkets, and shell sell the fabled 100 octane too at larger garages.

169144-ok.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[ QUOTE ]

Finally use of and even possesion of radar / laser detectors is very illegal. They will pull you if you have anything stuck to your windscreen.... regardless of if it is on or not and expect a HEAFTY eur 1000 fine.

[/ QUOTE ]

EUR3000 is the 'normal' starting point, its up to your negotiation skills and charm to get it down from there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope, they use the time stamp on the entry ticket to measure you average speed.

FOlks on the Scumball who charges along at 130MPH plus but stopped in services to reduce the 'average' speed did not get fined, those who averaged 100MPH but did not stop were fined.

If there way a genderm with a radar gun, everyone speeding would have been caught.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What part of France was this? I just returned from Spain and drove a good 600km through France on my way to Geneva. I'll admit to averaging over 100mph - why wasn't I fined then?

It just isn't true.

Maybe they nabbed people because they were part of the Scumball.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[ QUOTE ]

Proof of European wide insurance is compulsory and will be asked for if pulled over, most insurance co's will charge you £100 for a year long policy amendment, which usually includes repatriation. Bear in mind your standard insurance is probably not valid in France.

169144-ok.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

sorry mate but thats wrong. ALL policies issued within the EEC have to meet the minimum standards for ALL EEC countries. So no matter where you go in europe you are legally covered for that country. albeit mostly Third Party Only. almost every insurer gives 30-90 same as in the UK cover free of charge these days too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ps - if you look at your certificate the important bits will be written in a few languages to aid you at the roadside

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My insurance policy (through Zurich) probably did cover 3rd party only, but to be honest 3rd party is not an option for me... they were more than happy to extend the cover inc repatriation for £100 for the year.

To be on the safe side, I would suggest checking individuals policy and def upgrading to fully comp!!

You def have to carry the certificate with you though...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

would they do fully comp cover for say 7-14 days? A 1 year policy wouldn't be any use to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As jon says, your policy might include 30 days continental travel at fully comp level for nothing. If it doesn't, they'll probably want £30 or so for a month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[ QUOTE ]

What part of France was this? I just returned from Spain and drove a good 600km through France on my way to Geneva. I'll admit to averaging over 100mph - why wasn't I fined then?

It just isn't true.

Maybe they nabbed people because they were part of the Scumball.

[/ QUOTE ]

I understand that the tickets can be used to prosecute. They simply need to have a gendarme in the ticket booth to do so.

The risk you take is whether they'll be one there or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A26 coming North towards Calais. About 30kms before Calais you reach the last peage. Everyone flying along here - not much traffic, smooth, fast road. About 2km before the peage the Gendarmes sit in a small estate car with blacked out rear windows and take a photo. They then radio ahead to the toll booth and they spot you arrive and tug you. This is a very efficient cash machine for the French - most brits are speeding.

Years ago they used to do the average speed thing, but I've not heard of it been used in years. Maybe certain Scumballers were picked for other reasons. If anyone thinks this system is still in operation then simply stop to refuel between peages.

The Gendarmes also like to use mobile radar on a tripod, usually positioned under a bridge on the Autoroute, with them hiding nearby. Again they radio ahead to have you stopped. This can be very hard to spot. Best way to avoid is to limit 140k + blasts to short, obviously clear stretches and cruise at 1340-140. Remember the limit is lowered in bad weather.

Another thing to watch is entering French villages. The village name sign with a thin red line around it is also a 50kph speed sign. I only found this out recently. The Gendarmes are cracking down on speeding and often radar you entering the village (either in a car parked on the roadside or just standing there) and radio their mates at the other end of the village to relieve you of some money. Locals usually warn you of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The French and Germans have always been keen on enforcing limits in towns/villages and rightly so.

If you're doing a fast stretch between peages, reset your average speed computer and it gives you a handy guide wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could avoid all the hassle that everyone has posted about not getting done for speeding, by NOT actually SPEEDING, ffs!! I'm on holiday with the wife and my little boy so not looking to set a cross-france record. smashfreakB.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about Xenon Headlight adjustment, is it easy to do your self or a dealer job. Got 14 days of fully comp ins for next month sorted out with my insurers for about £22.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0