France Guide


Bonjour

Endless fields of vines, grand châteaux, sun drenched beaches, vibrant lavender fields and shabby chic villages all conjure up fabulous images of France. It’s cafe culture with wine served at any hour of the day makes for a chilled and relaxed atmosphere.  As you stroll down cobbled alleys you will find boutique fashion shops on every corner and bistro’s offering elegant menus with an array of tasty cuisine. However, France can be expensive so dining out on a regular basis can test the budget but with a little imagination dining outside the motorhome at a reasonable cost is simple…pop in to one of the local patisserie’s, grab a bottle of wine and take a picnic in the park or head down to the beach with a portable BBQ.

Time of visit: August 2015
Our average daily spend: €23.49
Official language: French
Emergency phone number: 112
Medical emergency/accidents/ambulance (SAMU) – 15
Police or Gendarmerie (automatically redirected to the nearest station) – 17
Fire brigade (Les sapeurs pompiers) – 18
Currency: Euro

Food & Groceries

France has a number of supermarkets but the high street shopping and weekly markets are still very much part of the French way of life. If you are shopping at the market you will find an array of fresh, locally grown produce at reasonable prices.  The markets often offer simple but tasty local food dishes from mobile bistro’s. This can be a reasonable, cheaper alternative to dining out and you get to mingle with the locals. Please note that on market day the parking options in and around the town can be very limiting.

The high streets tend to offer individual specialist stores like butcher, baker and grocer.  Small mini markets and convenience stores are not common.

Supermarket chains such as Auchan, Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Intermarché and Super U are the most popular in France.  Auchan and Carrefour are usually quite large and tend to be located inside a retail shopping and cinema complex.  Parking is not a problem and height restrictions are rare.  The other supermarkets are general single units with their own car park facilities.

Most supermarkets are closed on Sundays.

French food isn’t all about haute cuisine, some of the best food to be enjoyed around the country can be bought for a couple of euros from a humble boulangerie. A must to try – baguette, croque monsieur, crepes, croissant, cheese and all swilled down with a cafe au lait or a glass of wine.

Overnight Parking

France is one of the best places to travel with a motorhome. Nearly every town or village has a motorhome stopover, which are called aires.  The aires are for motorhome parking only.  In the main, an aire offers camper services such as fresh water, black water, grey water and electric.  The price to stop on an aire varies from free to a few euro’s for 24 hours. Services tend to either be included or a small nominal charge for fresh water and electricity.

France Wild Camping GPS Locations

Parking

If you are travelling along the autoroute or dual carriageway you will find plenty rest areas with parking options.  These are called aires d’autoroute.

City parking is usually limited to underground parking lots with height restrictions, so be cautious when following parking signs in busy cities.

In many towns, parking is permitted on one side of the street (the side with odd-numbered houses) for the first half of the month and on the ‘even’ side for the second half of the month.

In many cities and towns (zone blue), indicated by blue street markings. Here you can park free for one hour between 09.00 and 12.00 and from 14.00 or 14.30 until 19.00 from Mondays to Saturdays, with no limit outside these hours or on Sundays and public holidays

Driving

We understand that many people are nervous about driving abroad (especially remembering to drive on the right) but it really is quite easy once you get there.

You must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents in order to drive in France. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.

It is illegal to cross, even partially, on to the hard shoulder of a motorway without good reason.

Your vehicle number plate must indicate the country of registration. If not, you need to purchase a country (i.e. GB) sticker and place on the rear of the motorhome.

Compulsory Equipment

It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket, seat belts both front and rear.. Snow chains in snow-covered roads and regions. A certified and ‘in date’ breathalysers.

In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are illegal.

Driving regulations: we use AA or RAC for up to date driving regulations & restrictions.

Roads

You drive on the right hand side of the road and all speed limits are shown in kilometres.

Highway : 130 km/h, if raining 110 km/h

Dual carriageway : 110 km/h, if raining 100 km/h

Open road : 90 km/h, if raining 80 km/h

Town : 50 km/h

There are 3 types of roads

A – motorways or autoroutes

N – Trunk roads, dual carriageways or routes nationales

D – all other roads

Most of the autoroutes are tolled but the dual carriageways and routes nationales are free.  Alongside most autoroutes you will find trunk roads or routes nationales, which are free.  These once national roads are now maintained by local councils

Roads in and around cities are busier than in the countryside.  Small villages can be narrow and driving in the country can often feel more like a single track farmers lane.

The toll system is simple, you pay for what you use.  Toll booths are located at points along the highway and you pay by cash or credit card.  Some you pay per kilometre and some you pay per section.  Normally you obtain a ticket on entry to the highway, present it to the booth attendant and pay the due fees.  Fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and it more expensive for a motorhome.

If you see a road sign and the town name is in italics and in a box, it means the road to the town is a toll road.

Fuel stations

You can buy from a supermarket station or fuel station. Fuel stations on toll roads are the most expensive and supermarkets are the least expensive.

The supermarket stations can get extremely busy especially at weekend.  Most are fill up and pay at the kiosk but self-serve stations are becoming increasing popular.

The autoroute fuel stations are open 24 hours and usually offer a shop, cafe and toilet facilities along with reasonable rest and picnic areas.

LPG

Your tank must be EN1949 European Standard compliant.  To fill your cylinders you will need a dish connector.  LPG is readily available across France at most fuel stations but often referred to Autogas or GPL.

Healthcare

France has one of the best health care systems in the world with easy access at a high quality. If you are a citizen of the EU and travelling through France or on holiday, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care in France due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. You need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance. Note that this health card is not an alternative to travel insurance, so private costs are not covered by this card.

More info at Wikipedia Wikipedia

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