Solo in France

Duffer

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Hi aĺl,
I've been solo motorhoming (well, with two dogs), for some years. I'm planning to go to France for a couple of weeks in March and it'll be our first time abroad. I'm thinking of heading down to the Auvergne with a couple of stopovers on the way so that the driving days aren't too long. I'm not using aires on this first trip, so do I need to book sites ahead or can I just busk it? I'll use a selection of motorway and N roads so that I gradually get used to the roads - going without a navigator makes life difficult!

Any help or advice would be most welcome.
 
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Duffer

Duffer

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Thanks - I've had enough of these cold grey days so planning to go to the sun cheers me up
 

xgx

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Don't usually need to book at that time of year, the task will be finding sites that are open...

Presuming you know about ACSI, their app makes finding a site much easier than leafing through books and map booklet :)
 
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Duffer

Duffer

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Hi, yes I've bought the ACSI and am wading through it. I'm a bit concerned about the driving - it's hard enough looking out for road signs, limits etc. without being on the wrong side of the road and trying to remember new road signs and regulations.

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Duffer

Duffer

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Thanks, but I'm not planning to use aires on this first trip until I've driven on their roads and feel happier going into towns. I'm hoping to find sites that aren't too tortuous to get to!
 

xgx

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Jul 7, 2016
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Hi, yes I've bought the ACSI and am wading through it. I'm a bit concerned about the driving - it's hard enough looking out for road signs, limits etc. without being on the wrong side of the road and trying to remember new road signs and regulations.
Just take it steady, I've been soloing in France for almost 10 years, just remember to drive on the right at junctions x roads etc ...I've ended up on the wrong side at one or two non-standard junction layouts ;) Observe the speed limits(!) Rough conversion Kph to mph is multiply by 6 e.g. 50kph = 30mph, 70kph = 42mph etc., the larger the number the greater inaccuracy but it's usually in your favour ;)

Did you get the app for ACSI? It's cheap and very useful, you can set you prices, dates etc. which narrows down the search :)
 
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Duffer

Duffer

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Just take it steady, I've been soloing in France for almost 10 years, just remember to drive on the right at junctions x roads etc ...I've ended up on the wrong side at one or two non-standard junction layouts ;)

Did you get the app for ACSI? It's cheap and very useful, you can set you prices, dates etc. which narrows down the search :)
Just take it steady, I've been soloing in France for almost 10 years, just remember to drive on the right at junctions x roads etc ...I've ended up on the wrong side at one or two non-standard junction layouts ;)

Did you get the app for ACSI? It's cheap and very useful, you can set you prices, dates etc. which narrows down the search :)

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Hollyberry

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I spent my first 2 weeks living in France singing " keep on the right side" every time I went out. It's easier than you think it'll be. Just take your time at junctions and when turning out of petrol stations, supermarkets etc. The roads are a lot quieter than the UK and once you get going you'll be fine.
It might not be easy to find campsites open in March but there will be some. No need to book outside of July and August. Very often Aires are on the edge of villages and towns and they're built for Motorhomes so it's only occasionally you see one with more challenging access.

Welcome to Fun and enjoy your adventure.
 
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Thanks - I've had enough of these cold grey days so planning to go to the sun cheers me up
Don't blame you - good move, and
animated WelcomeGroupSmiley.gif

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Riverbankannie

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It’s worth doing a little forward planning in your case. Work out where your first stop might be whilst here in UK. As others hav3 said, campsites are not all open in March but many sites listed as Aire Municipal are the old town campsites that all places in France had and that now, instead of someone coming round in the morning for the money, there might be a ticket machine. They are just as easy to drive into as campsites.
Get the gps location of one where you might be and look it up on google earth. You can use street view to take a look at the drive to it and the entrance and know in advance what to look out for.

Use the gps coordinates for your sat nav.

Change your satnav units from mph to kph. Hopefully your will display the kph and I find that easier to glance at than the speedometer. Know the speed limits for the different roads and remember that the lower built up area speed limits start at the town name sign and end when you pass the town exit sign (the town name with a line through it).
Have a great time but be prepared to change direction for the weather as might not be as warm as you hope.
 

DBK

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In March you need to consider aires. Most of the campsites will be closed.

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Sep 19, 2016
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We don't book unless it is a bank holiday e.g Easter , we always make sure we are settled down for a few days during holidays , rest of time never book
 

Khizzie

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Hi aĺl,
I've been solo motorhoming (well, with two dogs), for some years. I'm planning to go to France for a couple of weeks in March and it'll be our first time abroad. I'm thinking of heading down to the Auvergne with a couple of stopovers on the way so that the driving days aren't too long. I'm not using aires on this first trip, so do I need to book sites ahead or can I just busk it? I'll use a selection of motorway and N roads so that I gradually get used to the roads - going without a navigator makes life difficult!

Any help or advice would be most welcome.
unfortunately most sites do not open till april so you may need to rethink about using aires. If you are contemplating using toll roads and your van is rhd I suggest you get a saner toll tag to save you having to get out and walk round to pay...other than that have no fear as within an hour or so you will gain confidence of driving on the right ....just enjoy the freedom of france...
 

stcyr

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Aires or sites - often makes no difference access-wise ...
 

Zigisla

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Thanks, but I'm not planning to use aires on this first trip until I've driven on their roads and feel happier going into towns. I'm hoping to find sites that aren't too tortuous to get to!
If you aren't going to use Aires until you are used to the roads - start looking at Aires now, as it is so easy, you will master the roads in just a few days I'm sure. No different looking out for the Aires sign then it is looking out for a Camping Site sign. Good Sat Nav and Camper Contact is all you will really need. Just be aware that a lot of Aires won't have their water switched on in March as it is still too early. Enjoy, you wont regret it.(y)(y):)

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Apr 27, 2008
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Very good plan. No need to book any sites in France except the med coast during the school holidays. Even in August you are usually ok and if not there's always another near.
Very few sites open in march in France but lots in Spain if you get that far, some in the south close in the summer because it's too hot.

Don't forget the passports for the dogs. Easy to get out of uk but need the right paperwork to get back in.
 

Jammel1980

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I'll use a selection of motorway and N roads so that I gradually get used to the roads - going without a navigator makes life difficult!

It really doesn’t take that long getting used to Driving in France suprisingly, it’s when you get back to the uk it throws you lol. Some would say not having a navigator/backseat driver/someone nagging would be bliss :rolleyes:
 

suavecarve

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Welome, and further to previous posts, the case to reconsider aires in preference to campsites is compounding.
I cant say I have found an aire difficult to get into. Not many are in town centres (To be fair Bayeux old aire was a bit complicated but they have moved it out of town now) and most are walking distance to town centre. They are also substantially cheaper.
Driving in France is the proverbial piece of wee wee after you have done the exit from the port or tunnel. (Just make sure you arent first off the ferry and follow everybody else !)
Tolls are also very avoidable (IMHO as a tightfisted motorhomer) eg it probably takes 3-4 hours longer on non toll roads to get to the south of france yet 200 or so euros cheaper.
Which direction are you headed in from which port and how long do you want to drive for? I am quite sure there will be quite a few suggestions of easy to get to aires with interesting stuff around them
eg Motreuil and lamotte Beuvronif going Rouen way, Arras and Milly la foret if popping round Paris, any of the stunning aires along the marne if popping through the champagne region.

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Duffer

Duffer

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Hi,
Thanks for all the comments/suggestions.
I'll go through the Tunnel as it's quieter for the dogs than a deck full of car alarms! I guess I then have two options - left of Paris or right. I fancy left and on the first day I'd probably be stressed so would only drive for an hour or so non-motorway or three on motorway. Preferably I'd start off on motorway and ease my way into to the counter-intuitive stuff. After day one I'd travel a couple of hours non-motorway or 4 or so on motorway. I'd plan on taking 3 or 4 days to get to the Auvergne or longer if the stop overs are nice and there's good walking from site. Easter is end of March so I was hoping some of the sites may open earlier and yes, I know it won't be hot but it'll make a change from thermals, mud and wellies up here in Derbyshire :)
 

Riverbankannie

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If you are driving down from Derbyshire it may be helpful to get a late afternoon tunnel crossing. Then you can make your first stop at Cite Europe which you can access from the tunnel exit without going out onto the main road system. We can post exact driving directions if you like.
This would mean that you will have done the worst bit, just taking your first steps. You can then relax for the evening and set off fresh the next day. There will always be other Brit MHs parked up there and you can feel safe and also ask for advice should you have any questions.
 
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Duffer

Duffer

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Jan 15, 2018
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If you are driving down from Derbyshire it may be helpful to get a late afternoon tunnel crossing. Then you can make your first stop at Cite Europe which you can access from the tunnel exit without going out onto the main road system. We can post exact driving directions if you like.
This would mean that you will have done the worst bit, just taking your first steps. You can then relax for the evening and set off fresh the next day. There will always be other Brit MHs parked up there and you can feel safe and also ask for advice should you have any questions.
The directions would be really helpful, thank you. I suppose I'm exploring the various options until I know I feel comfortabl

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