Beginners France (1 Viewer)

Cliffy38

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Hi guys me and hubby are going to go to France later in the year , we have had a motorhome for three years but only travelled round the UK in it partly because it,s 15 years and we have 3 dogs as well so I suppose it's been more convient to stay local , well in three weeks time we will be picking up our new motor home ( newish ) and I cannot wait to travel to France what I want to know is as first timers where to people suggest we go to I know hubby a bit nervous so I don't think he wants to travel for hours and hours any ideas suggesting will be great , ps we are so excited I can hardly wait thank you
 

iceni

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Hi. Well its no where as hard as you think. Driving on the right is a doddle. Its when you start off from somewhere that you need to watch out but driving is.....glorious.
Get a good aire book and stop say an hour from calais to give you time to get your breath. Drive south down the d940 which runs from calias down the ciast and you will pass loads of aires. Just stop and park up. Kettle on then say we should have done this years ago. If there's a parking machine pay.if not soneone will come round usually around tea time.

I havent been for a couple of years due to marriage break up and im really jealous
Been lot's of times though so ask if you need any info
Phill
 

Parcverger

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As you will have seen from previous threads, France is brilliant for motorhomers. This is a huge country, so on your first visit do not try to pack too much in, but on future visits you are bound to want to look at what this lovely country has to offer. What do you like - sea or country, activity or rest when you get there - there are areas that will satisfy everybody.

Run your eyes over the "France" section of continental touring on this wonderful website and you will get so many ideas you'll be wanting to come back before your first break!

Have a great time in France
Bob and Di
www.parcverger.com

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DP+JAY

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Just remember dogs a banned from a lot of French beaches particularly in July & August.
 
O

Old Soldier

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As a first timer I would suggest staying in the Normandy area. Not too far to go, a chance to get use to driving on the right and to get use to the French way of life. Plenty to see and if you head down towards Honfleur you will have a great time. Depends how long you are going for of course but that's my suggestion.
Enjoy, wherever you go.
:hi::giggler::roflmto:
 
Feb 22, 2011
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We hired a MH last June for our first ever trip in one and headed to France. The tunnel is best for dogs. You don`t need to travel for hours, break up the journey staying at Aires of which there are many (just avoid the motorway ones for overnights). Toll roads are optional, we used some as far as Honfleur as we were limited for time and to be honest I don`t think there is much to see on the local roads on that stretch from Calais, but others may know the area better and tell me what we missed !
The beaches in Brittany are fabulous and nearly empty except in July and August. I was really suprised how beautiful the area is. For years we would ignore France heading for Spain / Greece etc. Now we know better. We now have our own MH and looking forward to discovering more of France.
Your in the right place for advice, other more experienced MHers will be along soon !
Chris

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Feb 22, 2011
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By the way driving in France is a pleasure after half an hour adjusting to driving on the right.
After that it comes naturally, the roads are much less crowded and you rarely seem to be bothered by roadworks ! just take your time, relax and you`ll love it !
 

Hollyberry

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As everyone has said, France is easy.
An Aires book, maybe an ACSI book and card and a few good maps or a sat nav and you'll be fine.
I managed to live there, alone, and drive amotorhome around. If I can do it, anyone can!

The tunnel is easiest with dogs but as you've three of them, they'll probably curl up together on the ferry and sleep.

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Gandhi

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Just get off at Calais and drive. It really is that simple. Make sure you've got a good sat nav (Tom Tom) and The Vicarious Book of Aires. I'm not oversimplifying things when I say - 'That's It'.

We're off again for another 5 weeks in July and did the same last year. Here's some tips /stuff I can sort of think are relevant if it's any help-

1. The most expensive aire is about 8 quid a night but for that you'll probably get electricity and / or it will be in a popular tourist area like Honfleur.

2. Take a watering can. I thought it was a daft idea but when you're on a pitch and you need water it saves driving 50 metres to a tap and risk losing a really nice spot. You'll see a lot doing it.

3. Don't worry about the driving on the right thing- you sort of get 'reprogrammed ' to it really fast.

4. We sort of hesitated (for want of a better word) regarding how far we travelled last year and i wish I had just got 5 hours under my belt to get past Normandy before I started looking about.

5. You're never more than about 10 miles away from an aire.

6. Keep a purse full of euros in the dash for toll roads and 'jetons' (pay and display tickets) at some aires.

7. Don't forget the adaptor for the electricity.

8. Don't fill up on diesel this side it's much cheaper there. (The diesel hand pumps are yellow there not black)

9. Forget Bayeaux- it's a crap aire. (Just a car park in the town centre) Nice shops there though.

10. Don't fill up on lots of food like we did! There's a Lidl on every bloody street corner and it's MUCH cheaper than here.

11. Don't pay 30 quid to overnight in Folkestone or Portsmouth like we did. It's money wasted convincing yourself you 'need a fresh start'. This year we're doing what motor homes are designed for and kipping in a lay by ten miles away from the chunnel. We'll spend the 30 quid on diesel or dinner the other side.

Nobody will give you a second glance over there. Motor homes are REALLY common. At times you'll get sick of seeing them coming towards you on the empty motorways they have!

Won't say have fun. You will anyway. Motor homing in the UK is FAR more complicated with all the restrictions, traffic jams, local authority legislation and bloody height barriers everywhere than it is over there.

Paul

PS - A silly mistake I made was not keeping a log of where we went with longitude and latitude written down. Trust me you will absolutely forget where you have been if, like us, you just sort of follow your noses day by day. Even at the time of writing this I'm making a leather bound log book for that very purpose!
 

denisejoe

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don't agree with Paul re Bayeaux aire, yes it is a car park but it is free and very centrally located. Just a few minutes walk to the shops and the tapestry - get there early in the morning before the coaches arrive with hoardes of schoolkids! Great market on a Saturday.

Joe

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Aug 18, 2011
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Just get off at Calais and drive. It really is that simple. Make sure you've got a good sat nav (Tom Tom) and The Vicarious Book of Aires. I'm not oversimplifying things when I say - 'That's It'.

We're off again for another 5 weeks in July and did the same last year. Here's some tips /stuff I can sort of think are relevant if it's any help-

1. The most expensive aire is about 8 quid a night but for that you'll probably get electricity and / or it will be in a popular tourist area like Honfleur.

2. Take a watering can. I thought it was a daft idea but when you're on a pitch and you need water it saves driving 50 metres to a tap and risk losing a really nice spot. You'll see a lot doing it.

3. Don't worry about the driving on the right thing- you sort of get 'reprogrammed ' to it really fast.

4. We sort of hesitated (for want of a better word) regarding how far we travelled last year and i wish I had just got 5 hours under my belt to get past Normandy before I started looking about.

5. You're never more than about 10 miles away from an aire.

6. Keep a purse full of euros in the dash for toll roads and 'jetons' (pay and display tickets) at some aires.

7. Don't forget the adaptor for the electricity.

8. Don't fill up on diesel this side it's much cheaper there. (The diesel hand pumps are yellow there not black)

9. Forget Bayeaux- it's a crap aire. (Just a car park in the town centre) Nice shops there though.

10. Don't fill up on lots of food like we did! There's a Lidl on every bloody street corner and it's MUCH cheaper than here.

11. Don't pay 30 quid to overnight in Folkestone or Portsmouth like we did. It's money wasted convincing yourself you 'need a fresh start'. This year we're doing what motor homes are designed for and kipping in a lay by ten miles away from the chunnel. We'll spend the 30 quid on diesel or dinner the other side.

Nobody will give you a second glance over there. Motor homes are REALLY common. At times you'll get sick of seeing them coming towards you on the empty motorways they have!

Won't say have fun. You will anyway. Motor homing in the UK is FAR more complicated with all the restrictions, traffic jams, local authority legislation and bloody height barriers everywhere than it is over there.

Paul

PS - A silly mistake I made was not keeping a log of where we went with longitude and latitude written down. Trust me you will absolutely forget where you have been if, like us, you just sort of follow your noses day by day. Even at the time of writing this I'm making a leather bound log book for that very purpose!

Don't stop in uk night before,,much easier to get an evening ferry and stop on the docks or an air the other side,,,BUSBY.
 
Jul 31, 2014
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Just get off at Calais and drive. It really is that simple. Make sure you've got a good sat nav (Tom Tom) and The Vicarious Book of Aires. I'm not oversimplifying things when I say - 'That's It'.

We're off again for another 5 weeks in July and did the same last year. Here's some tips /stuff I can sort of think are relevant if it's any help-

1. The most expensive aire is about 8 quid a night but for that you'll probably get electricity and / or it will be in a popular tourist area like Honfleur.

2. Take a watering can. I thought it was a daft idea but when you're on a pitch and you need water it saves driving 50 metres to a tap and risk losing a really nice spot. You'll see a lot doing it.

3. Don't worry about the driving on the right thing- you sort of get 'reprogrammed ' to it really fast.

4. We sort of hesitated (for want of a better word) regarding how far we travelled last year and i wish I had just got 5 hours under my belt to get past Normandy before I started looking about.

5. You're never more than about 10 miles away from an aire.

6. Keep a purse full of euros in the dash for toll roads and 'jetons' (pay and display tickets) at some aires.

7. Don't forget the adaptor for the electricity.

8. Don't fill up on diesel this side it's much cheaper there. (The diesel hand pumps are yellow there not black)

9. Forget Bayeaux- it's a crap aire. (Just a car park in the town centre) Nice shops there though.

10. Don't fill up on lots of food like we did! There's a Lidl on every bloody street corner and it's MUCH cheaper than here.

11. Don't pay 30 quid to overnight in Folkestone or Portsmouth like we did. It's money wasted convincing yourself you 'need a fresh start'. This year we're doing what motor homes are designed for and kipping in a lay by ten miles away from the chunnel. We'll spend the 30 quid on diesel or dinner the other side.

Nobody will give you a second glance over there. Motor homes are REALLY common. At times you'll get sick of seeing them coming towards you on the empty motorways they have!

Won't say have fun. You will anyway. Motor homing in the UK is FAR more complicated with all the restrictions, traffic jams, local authority legislation and bloody height barriers everywhere than it is over there.

Paul

PS - A silly mistake I made was not keeping a log of where we went with longitude and latitude written down. Trust me you will absolutely forget where you have been if, like us, you just sort of follow your noses day by day. Even at the time of writing this I'm making a leather bound log book for that very purpose!
Thanks for sharing all of this - ice found it really helpful.
We went to Normandy a couple of years ago in our old VW campervan and although we stayed on the municipal site in Bayeux (which was really nice and good location) and not on Aires, we had a fabulous time. It really is as easy as what you've said here.
We are planning on returning in our motorhome now.
 

Easyliving

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Bayeux aire gets my vote too. Yes, its just a car park (see photo) but you don't really want to visit this part of the world and say you didn't go to see the Bayeux tapestry. When we arrived at the aire it was very busy, mostly cars. We found a space though thanks to other motorhomers moving barriers and waving directions to a space.

So many great aires in this neck of the woods, our favourites are La Mailleraye Sur Seine and Dinan but there are hundreds of others.

You will soon find there is no need to be nervous about driving in France. On our first trip in 2012 I was driving quite slowly along a main road for quite a while when I thought maybe I should pull over and let the queue of cars go by. I pulled over only to find - the was no queue!

bayeux.JPG


Have a great trip, you'll love it.

Paul

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Gandhi

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Have a look at the following and you'll see why concrete car parks don't do it for me. This was a couple from France last year.....
 

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Cobweb

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Hi . I agree that All the Aires and the ACSI CC and maybe France Passion are the essentials . Do some research as to what you want to see and how you want to explore the area . We have bikes and tend to look for Voie Vertes and look for Aires and campsites near to good cyclepaths . You will enjoy the freedom of being able to just turn up in a campsite or Aire without booking although in some coastal ones it is best to turn up early in order to get a better pitch and many campsite receptions close for a long lunch break .

Bon voyage !
 
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We go to France every year and use both Aires/,sites.Agree with most don't try to do to much for your 1st visit.Honfleur is one of our favourite places on the Normandy coast and is 172 miles from Calais.You could go straight there.about 3to4 hours by motorway then work your way back up the coast.There are a lot of places that are really nice .One place that has a good Aire is St Valery sur Somme.with plenty of restaurants and walks and a steam train that go's around the bay to Le Crotoy.Get a good book on Normandy and you may see what you would like to see!If you fancy a little bit further a field try Brittany.

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Jul 31, 2014
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I asked my wife if she wanted to go in the museum when passing in Bayeux and she looked at the queue and then said I ain't paying to see some old dish cloth!
So I never got to see it.
We went and bought a bun instead!
 

Eve

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I love France,and drive,if I can do it anyone can???,I would venture further afield, love the west coast,always plenty of airs on coast ,but lots of lovely little airs in villages ,
Just take favourite food with you,teabags,bacon,Lidle and Aldi in abundance,.
We have been known to stay over night,move in morning travel less than 10 miles and stop,
 
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Agree with most of what has already been said , don't use motorways their boring and you miss so much .definately do not use the motorway services to stay in at night , join French Passion , travel down the eastern side of France the scenery is astounding but above all , enjoy .

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Roryboys Dad

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The dogs will have a great time whatever the time of year.

Brittany, if you have time to get that far, is stunning anywhere around the coast with bays and sandy beaches around every corner.

Although in theory dogs are banned from beaches except early morning and late evening at the height of the season the 'locals' (that's every French dog owner) totally ignore the rule and take their dogs on beaches at any time of day.

But us Brits know better and usually abide by the rules.

We found cliff top paths, cycle routes and paths among the dunes for our dog walks and he was knackered every day.

Brittany's beaches are so many and so large that they are never full, some completely empty, even in July/August with miles of dog walking space.

Use common sense when there are other people around and both you and your dogs will have a great time.

Please note – the French, or any other Johnny Foreigner, do not pick up any waste their dogs may leave but we Brits are much more civilised in that respect and always pick up the offending piles - don't we?

Dogs on beach mid-day in August and a deserted beach in Brittany - also August.

DOG BEACH.jpg

Brittany Beach 1.jpg
 

Simon

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Hi guys me and hubby are going to go to France later in the year , we have had a motorhome for three years but only travelled round the UK in it partly because it,s 15 years and we have 3 dogs as well so I suppose it's been more convient to stay local , well in three weeks time we will be picking up our new motor home ( newish ) and I cannot wait to travel to France what I want to know is as first timers where to people suggest we go to I know hubby a bit nervous so I don't think he wants to travel for hours and hours any ideas suggesting will be great , ps we are so excited I can hardly wait thank you

I could have written this, except we haven't bought our new mh yet :)

We're going to get lots of good advice here...
 
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Cliffy38

Cliffy38

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Thank you all for your great advice , can't wait to go xxx

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We had our first time in France last year. We did decide on which aire to head for the first night. But after that we just decided to look out for one when we had had enough driving. Take tea bags and decaffed coffee (if you're into that). We ended up in the Dordoigne. Back again in June and no idea where we're going yet!
 

Gandhi

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We had our first time in France last year. We did decide on which aire to head for the first night. But after that we just decided to look out for one when we had had enough driving. Take tea bags and decaffed coffee (if you're into that). We ended up in the Dordoigne. Back again in June and no idea where we're going yet!


That's our sort of approach as well. We're even considering driving down to the Costas in Spain in 2 long driving sessions, staying there for a week and then spending 3 weeks tootling back up.
Totally undecided. We really are pathetic.
 

GeriatricWanderer

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Some first timers to France, and anywhere else really, are understandably nervous about driving what if often a bigger vehicle than they are used to. In France in particular one of the fears is being drawn down some narrow rural lanes and wondering what if something comes the other way.
If that is one of your concerns then remember two things:

Most other traffic you'll meet is local and very used to these road conditions so won't be surprised to meet you head on and will usually be skilled at squeezing past (I said usually, not always!).

Secondly - watch out for wheelie bins! - a very clear sign that trucks, much bigger than you, use these lanes frequently - if they can get through, so can you.

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Bus stops are a good sign that the road you are on is OK for motorhomes, not so good when you meet the bus coming the other way at the narrowest part of the village, which sods law dictates will happen more often than statistically expected.
 

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