france trip,,,1st time.....

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by sb8263, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. sb8263

    sb8263 Funster

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    hi folks new on here,,,looking at touring france in our autotrail this year,,,,all new to us, the abroad trip,,,need as much help advice and even a route if possible that avoids too many tolls.....have got smart car on trailer, but dont know if we will take on 1st trip as dont know how easy on and off the ferry etc........please guys help.....:Sad:
     
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  2. Ali n Tim

    Ali n Tim Funster

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    Sorry help with that but welcome anyway :welcome:
     
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  3. New Dawn

    New Dawn Funster

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    Hi & welcome :thumb::thumb: Sounds as though your in the same position as us. We're newbies & are planning our first trip to France. Calais, then head south, avoiding the toll roads if poss. Not sure where we will end up, but there again, no rush. Planning on leaving mid July. :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
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  4. spongy

    spongy Read Only Funster

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    1st look on vicarious books website and buy an ACSI book and discount card it will save you a fortune if going out of season. Also from vicarious All the French Aires book there are literally 1000s of aires in France many are free. If you are using a sat-nav just put in excluding tolls and it will take you through all the nice little French villages. Regarding your trailer and smart car I don't think you will have any problems on the ferry.
    Have a great time we are off to France for 5 weeks at the end of May.

    Spongy
     
  5. DP_JAY

    DP_JAY Funster Life Member

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    If you're just going to use camp sites then the Smart might be handy but if you plan to use Aires it will be more hassle than it's worth.
    France is very Camping Car friendly so you will find a lot less restrictions as to where you can go or park your van.
    DFDS is the cheapest & easiest of the ferries or try the tunnel via Tesco vouchers.
     
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  6. Coolbeanz

    Coolbeanz Funster

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    :welcome:
     
  7. autoswan

    autoswan Funster

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    Hi we did our first trip over to France in our Autotrail last summer, we wandered west along the north coast then down west side to La Rochelle, isle de re then cut up through the middle ish bit back to Calais ferry. We stayed mostly on Aries over the 6 weeks. Only picked a few destinations to visit played the rest by ear using the all the Aries book to find stop overs.
    We did plan as much as we could eg- booked a flexi ferry ticket, French gas bottle n valve thanks to Funster Hutchies, good sat nav, dogs sorted, currency cards, euros, insurances and breakdown cover that returns us to uk no fuss if worst happens to mh, All the Aries book, some basics of the lingo, Aldis n Lidles are everywhere, kits of breatherlisers, hi viz top, documents copies, headlight strips, driving on the wrong side is easy after a short time. Sorry don't know about tow cars but the ones I saw seemed to get on n off ferries fine.

    Mostly it was a lot easier and better to drive around France than here IMO .
    Looking foreword to going back this summer :Smile:
     
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  8. injebreck99

    injebreck99 Funster

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    I thought that these had to be the original copies, or am I mistaken, (as usual according to er indoors!)
     
  9. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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    Hi SB8263, As said before so much easier to drive over in France , just put in gps or destination into satnav after excluding toll roads and then remember when you stop for cuppa or whatever to pull back on to the right hand side of road (easy to be distracted when relaxed ). I would recommend not planning more than about 180 miles a day and if using aires you need to look for them mid afternoon as in certain area's(tourist spots) they fill up quite early. If you need any help or suggestions on aires etc just ask or PM. or start a thread giving more info on where and what you need.
    :sin: Terry:sin:
     
  10. autoswan

    autoswan Funster

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    I think you are right, I took the original docs too, but also copies of all docs kept seperate for quick reference if needed as originals were in secret hard to get to place :Wink:
    And as said set sat nav to no toll roads but there were a few that i couldnt avoid ie - the bridge toll over to the isle de re and when i got lost a couple of times the toll roads got me back on track quickly for a few euros.

    Good points Fidget, i tried not to drive more than 2-3 hours a day so we spent more time looking around the country than passing it by, we got to aries before 6pm most days and only one didnt have room lucky most of the time i think, but it was next to a beach and quite small.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  11. Clive

    Clive Funster Life Member

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    This site gives you some good route options http://about-france.com/tourism/no-tolls-routes.htm :thumb:
     
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  12. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Hi sb8263, welcome to the fun house! :BigGrin:

    It would help if you could give a bit more info such as:
    • which Autotrail you actually have (size etc)
    • how long you intend to go away for
    • whether you would prefer to use campsites or the aires
    • if you intend to stay in one place for a week or so, or prefer to travel around just spending an odd night or two in one spot.
     
  13. cliffandger

    cliffandger Funster Life Member

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    If you're heading south, look at the Atlas and you'll see that there are many 'dual carriageways with motorway characteristics' = really good roads but toll free. We usually plan our route south by using these large stretches of toll free roads. Put toll free and toll routes between destinations into your sat nav and if there is a huge time discrepancy then it's usually worth dipping into a toll route, but we did it last year with paying hardly any tolls at all.

    Anyway - welcome to Fun - is the best site for information on anything and everything related to motorhomes.
     
  14. womblevra

    womblevra Read Only Funster

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    We are going over for our 4th trip to France/Belgium from Dover to Dunkerque on 4th July, anyone else going around same time?
     
  15. wingman

    wingman Funster

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    Here's an extract from a post I made the other day

    Before starting on looking at maps, I recommend that you do a bit of ‘armchair planning’ and read the ‘Introduction’ section of All the Aires in France. It’s full of tips and advice on what to look out for. It’s well illustrated with pictures of the various fresh water dispensers, how to obtain payment tokens (called Jetons in French) which you get from some shops or the town hall (Mairie) and translations into English of some French Aire signage. The book also highlights aire etiquette and the disposal of grey and black waste.

    I have found that aires range from the fantastic to bloody awful! Some are vast sites, some are merely two parking bays at a roadside.
    I’m sure that you know that the word ‘Aire’ means ‘Area’ and in French, Motorhomes are referred to as ‘Camping-Cars’. Hence an Aire de Service does not always refer to a motorhome stopping place. There are Aires de Service on motorways that are simply fuel stations, so look out for Aires de Service de Camping-Cars. or Stationnement Réservé au Camping-Cars There will be a sign with a MH dumping water.

    Please forgive me if you know some of this already.

    There are a few practical tips that I find useful….


    · Take a pair of Marrigold or disposable gloves with you. On some Aires, you will have to lift up a manhole cover to empty your black waste. It’s unhygienic to use bare hands!
    · You can’t always get close to the fresh water service points, so take a cheap flat reel hose with you for ‘social’ water and buy a 5litre flagon from a supermarché for drinking/making drinks etc.
    · Also consider carrying a plastic ‘jerry can’ to collect smaller amounts of fresh water.
    · When filling with fresh water, to save you pushing down the tap for ages, make up a Velcro (or similar) strap to fit over the tap plunger to keep it depressed whilst you run back to the ‘van to stop the hose from shooting out of your filler!!!


    Don’t worry, once you’ve visited a few Aires and sites, you’ll soon know the drill. There’s likely to be an English MoHomer already there anyway and contrary to belief, the French are mostly helpful. As long as you remember that Gris=Grey, Noir = Black and Fresh Water = Eau Portable, you’ll be fine!

    Despite the planning and Sat-Nav, you are bound to encounter a Peage (Toll) somewhere on your route. Normally, you take a ticket from the auto-dispenser and pay the other end. Just look for the green man with a hat icon (looks like a ticket collector) on the gantry as you approach. This is the channel that accepts cash. The other channels are height restricted or for those with a tag. Keep an appropriate amount of euro coins in the cab to save you rummaging. However, some are unmanned and you pay by credit card. These are a pain because the card slot is at the wrong height for a motorhome AND it will be your passenger that has to use them (assuming your vehicle is RHD).

    Don't forget your passports, vehicle doc's, flurry jackets etc!

    Happy travelling.
    James
     
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  16. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    Can't help with the toad on the ferry as have only used the tunnel, where there is no problem. I can't see any problem on the ferry as the biggest problem is those vans with big overhangs, and that would be the same with or without a toad.
     
  17. suavecarve

    suavecarve Funster

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  18. magicsurfbus

    magicsurfbus Funster

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    If you're planning to use aires there's some aire tips on the website that's linked to my signature below ('Aire today...'), and some mapped aire photos on the second signature link.

    Best single piece of aire advice I can give is never assume that the service point at the next aire will be working - empty what you can and fill what you can before setting off, even if the respective receptacles aren't completely full or empty.

    Other stuff - 'South from Calais' will eventually put you on Paris's Boulevard Peripherique and I wouldn't recommend that to first timers unless you're actually planning to visit Paris. Give Paris a wide berth if possible.

    The option where you avoid toll roads has a downside if you're not careful - endless roundabouts and lifeless French villages with 20mph speed restrictions in the centre and 30mph only within the town boundaries. Personally if I've got a limited time in the country I like to see as much as I can and get around quickly. The autoroutes are an absolute pleasure to drive and the fuel is cheaper over there so I wouldn't avoid them as a knee-jerk thing. Use your common sense if travelling long distances - if you've ever driven the Brum toll road that's a taster of how easy it is, and France is less costly.

    At the petrol station Gazole and Diesel are the same thing, LPG is called GPL in France, and some pumps may have 'PL' on them which means they're more powerful and intended for filling heavy trucks (Poids Lourds). Cheapest fuel by far is at supermarkets, typically 20 cents a litre less than motorway services, and Diesel is cheaper than Unleaded (=SP=sans plomb). Not all supermarket petrol stations have high enough canopies for MHs but most do. The 24/7 pumps will need you to use your bank card (=CB=Carte Bancaire) while the one marked 'Caisse' can be paid for at the shop or booth. If you want to find supermarkets easily get the free SatNav POI files for Carrefour, LeClerc, Super U, Intermarche, Aldi, Lidl, etc.

    The most useful book I ever read before travelling to France was the one that translated signposts for me.

    We've only been back a week from our recent trip and I already wish I was still there - it's a lovely country.
     
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  19. FIDGET

    FIDGET Funster

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  20. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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