Help with first trip to Europe.. Please ....

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Charlie, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

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    Be gentle we are newbies ..

    Only had our van for a few weeks but are desperate to go over to Europe. Would really love to get something booked in the next few weeks.

    We really haven't much of a clue where to start ! We did spontaneously jump in a large Transit van and head over to Germany many years ago when we took a bike over to the Nurburgring . Went ok but we got shafted on ferry costs as we did it with short notice.

    Brittany is looking favorable as a destination . We just want to get away from the bloody awful weather for a few weeks.

    So who or which ferry company is best to book with ? We have joined the Camping and caravan club but not sure if we can get discounts through them or mentioning them when we try to book ?

    Truth is this is a bit daunting so would like to get stuck in and get the first European trip under our belts.

    I think Portsmouth to St Malo might be better just now with the chaos at Dover. I think Portsmouth is easier for us anyway.

    Thanks.
     
  2. The Wino

    The Wino Funster

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    We always found the cost a lot higher for the longer crossings so depends how big an issue cost is also we go shorter so its less time for the dog on his own. If you go after the end of the French holidays will be a lot quieter and make sure you try some aires.

    David
     
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  3. s20hymer

    s20hymer Funster

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    hya Charlie if you ring C & Cc you will get a good deal on the ferry or tunnel, from wherever, don't do it online as you can't haggle
     
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  4. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

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    Cost is always a factor. But at the moment Dover Calais is just not on the cards .

    I have just looked on the net and Portsmouth is 80 miles closer to home than Dover and is just so much easier to drive to as we don't have to circumnavigate the M25 which is just horrendous !
     
  5. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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  6. Old Soldier

    Old Soldier Funster

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    If Brittany, or that side of France is your choice then Portsmouth is better than going all the way to Dover and then all the way back to the west.
    If new to motorhoming then pick some nice campsites, there are loads to bre found on line but also try out an Aire or two.
    Remember to drive on the right!!, get your fuel in supermarkets, take an electrical polarity tester and reversed polarity adaptor as well as a continental 2 pin socket adaptor. Learn a bit of French, certainly how to say please, thanks and good morning etc. Take some euros with you, good rate of exchange at the moment.
    Unless you are in a hurry stay away from the payage motorways and use the A and B roads, you will see much more of France. Watch out for speed limits, breaking them can be costly as well as dangerous.
    Main thing, enjoy yourselves, enjoy experiencing a different culture and join in the experiences.
    Good luck. :happy:
     
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  7. big map

    big map Funster Life Member

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    We are booked on the eurotunnel (preferred method of crossing the channel normally) for a crossing in a couple of weeks, however today I have priced up motorhome with trailer/car 2 adults and a dog on poole Cherbourg route for same dates and I was very pleasantly surprised by the cost. Some years ago car and caravan 2 adults and 2 children was over twice the price of they quote I got today. I think Brittany ferries are pricing more competitively now. Worth a look. Btw take bacon.
     
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  8. Granjan

    Granjan Funster

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    Hya Charlie, think you will love it, we have done 3 decent trips to France /Spain since we got our first motorhome and going again soon. We have used Brittany ferries and last time the Euro tunnel - it was great and cheap in June but too much hassle for me just now, so our next trip is Portsmouth Caen.
    We have found the roads mostly really quiet (except for first 2 weeks in August ! ). We do avoid major cities. Get yourself a copy of all the Aires from Vicarious too and maybe, if out of season, an ACSI card this would give you discount at some campsites.
    For our first stop overs on Aires we looked for ones where several vans would be parked, just wanted safety in numbers, we also needed Aires that could accomodate a larger motorhome.
    We have needed various water connectors on sites too! If I was you I wouldnt book too much ahead till you know how the weather is, Northern France has been cool grey and cloudy every time we have driven through. No need to take much food the supermarkets are great and great for parking/lunch en route.
     
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  9. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

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    Do Aires have EHU ?

    It was our plan to have a solar set up installed at the end of the year but may bring that forward.
     
  10. Peter & Elaine

    Peter & Elaine Funster

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    Our first trip was planned in great detail to go to south of France for 17 days
    It went tits up south of Ruane and we never got past the dordoune
    And we had a absolute blast
    Personally as suggested above load up what you think you may need get the
    all the aires book for France
    book a ferry and just go and enjoy it
    If you have forgotten dont worry something plenty of shops supermarkets to stock up
    Make sure you fill up with gas as it could be a problem
    if you have refillable bottles order a set of adapters (I did not but a kind sole lent me one )

    Go now before you change your mind
     
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  11. donnkim

    donnkim Funster

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    The Cherbourg peninsular is beautiful. so many small aires looking over the sea.
    I don't know how long you are away for but I would head for an area then settle and cruise back to the port.
     
  12. Figaro

    Figaro Funster

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    In my rather limited experience of just one motorhome trip to France last year, most do not have EHU, some do but they are usually claimed by the French / Dutch who are very keen to hang onto their supply !
     
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  13. Easyliving

    Easyliving Funster

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    From our experience you don't often find aires with electricity available for every van as you would get on a campsite. There is usually a service point where you get water / empty waste etc and there is quite often a couple of ehu sockets. You normally have to pay 2-3 euros for a couple of hours of power, enough to charge your phones, laptop etc

    As mentioned already, best to get All the Aires France from Vicarious Books for all the info.

    Have a great trip, France is not called motorhome heaven for nothing.

    Paul
     
  14. Figaro

    Figaro Funster

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    I`m planning a trip for Sept / Oct and like you don`t fancy travelling through Dover / Calais. So may look at alternatives of Portsmouth / Le Harve Caen etc.
    Even thought of Isle of White as an alternative, never been but always fancied a visit.
     
  15. wingman

    wingman Funster

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    Hi @Charlie

    Take it all in bite-sized chunks. It's too big a headache to think of it all. Do some brainstorming in the armchair, then distill the results into categorised lists. For example; think 'documents' firstly. You will need your driving licence, MOT, log book (V5) Insurance Cert etc. Photocopy them as a quick 'producer' for the Gendarmerie, but keep the originals on board in a safe place.

    Then think 'vehicle'. There's always a debate on here about them, but I fit headlamp deflectors. You will also need to carry fluorescent jackets - one for each occupant. You can get a fine if you decamp from the vehicle in some circumstances without them. The RAC & AA websites have a good section on continental motoring.

    Soooo, you can see there's a lot MORE to it than just thinking about what places to stay at!

    I'm not an OCD type, but neither am I one of those 'kick the tyres and light the fires' types either.

    A bit of pre-planning will ensure a good trip. Do an imaginary journey in your mind; what will I need? What happens when I get there? What happens on a toll road? Have I got enough gas? Suitable clothes? How will I fill up with fresh water?

    Like I said; bite-sized chunks. You'll be fine!
     
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  16. madgeD

    madgeD Funster

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    If you can get your solar panel fitted before you go it is very handy for keeping your batteries fully charged, and an inverter is very handy as well.
    We use a mix of municipal camp sites and aires./ You do get aires with electric, places like Stenay and Mouzon, its a bit hit and miss. In Brittany at Mont St Michael site we also had to use our debit card to get in, they are becoming more common now.
    Carrying a water container as well, we carry a 20ltr one to top up if your only staying overnight and don't like travelling with a full tank, a lot of sites have 1 eur for 80 ltrs and 20cent for 10lts.

    We wished we had gone from a different port as we were caught up in the tail backs and operation stack when we returned 2nd July.

    have a lovely time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  17. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

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    Thank you all for the solid advice. I am noting it I promise !!

    Our MH has an under slung gas tank so I understand I need an adapter ? Is it just the one adapter for all of Europe ?

    Also does our normal blue plug fit the hook ups in Europe ?

    Maybe daft question but so relevant for us ..

    I will get a solar set up sorted ASAP so that's one thing less to worry about.

    Thanks again really appreciate the help ,
     
  18. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    france has to be the easiest place to use a motorhome with the aires theres always somewhere for the night just relax and go you will soon get the hang of it main differences are tolls have some change ready its often easier to pay cash some you take a ticket at the start and pay at the end some are pay for the next stretch as you start. often the machines have tickets and pay options at high and low level which is akward for the average motorhome so keep close to the machine as you drive up
    almost all large bridges have a toll charge
    some prepaid cards dont work on tolls so have a back up card or keep some cash
    petrol most supermarkets have both pay at pump and manned kiosk you get the fuel and then drive up to the kiosk remeber to note which pump you used, again some cards will work some will not so try not to be desperate for fuel
    aires if theres no barriers you either pay at a machine or someone comes around morning or evening if there are automatic barriers you pay to enter and need the ticket to leave
    remember shop hours are different usually open early and shut for long lunch and a couple of hours after lunch they close again only in larger cities will you get late shopping#
    costal aires can get busy rural ones less so
    no one seems to get upset if your struggling with machines and holding up the traffic so dont get flustered
    once youve done it all once youll realise its easy and will be sad when its time to come home have fun
     
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  19. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    we was out for 15 nights last month and only found one site that had anything but the blue plugs and we had to use our two pin adapter http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CARAVAN-E...TORHOME-ETC-/161747441324?hash=item25a8e616ac
    get the solar done before you go it takes the worry out of it all
    we have an underslung tank and as yet weve never had to refill in france but you can get the adapters as a sethttp://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AUTOGAS-EUROPEAN-FILL-POINT-ADAPTER-KIT-works-with-GAS-IT-GASLOW-LPG-Systems-/261964114063?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3cfe47288f
     
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  20. Old Soldier

    Old Soldier Funster

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    Blue plugs are fairly common in France, particularly the bigger 4* sites but not everywhere. Make sure you take a 2 pin conversion lead that has a blue 16a femail socket on it so that you can plug your normal blue male plug into it.

    Pete :smiley:
     
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