Trip to Europe - Any tips? (1 Viewer)

M&A

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The Chunnel is booked, bought hi-viz vests, spare bulbs, warning triangle, dogs have passports, All The Aires is in the post... so we are off to Europe (mainly France and a bit of Spain) in the middle of May and would really appreciate some advice on a few bits if anyone is willing.

We have 2 Gaslow refillable cylinders, will I need an adapter to be able to refill them from an LPG pump in France?

Is there anything different about electric hookup points in France and Spain or will the standard cable fit?

What (if any) spares should I take with us?

We have a route very roughly planned, definitely going to Bordeaux to visit family but all other stopovers are very flexible. Does anyone have any recommendations of places or areas to visit? We are not bothered about towns and cities but love to walk with the dogs in stunning countryside areas...

I'm sure there will be more questions as we start to load the van and try to figure out how stuff works. We only picked it up last weekend and it's been on my MIL's drive since then as we are having work done to the house and the builders need somewhere to cut wood and stuff - missing it already!
 
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Gaslow , yes you will need adapter but try the gasit website same thing but cheaper , hookup no problem, spares is up to you but if you have a breakdown insurance you you can manage with just a spare wheel, if you want real country stops , france passion is worth it , but can be expensive if you use the shops.
We use Blaye for our stop near bordoux and also montendre.
https://www.france-passion.com
 
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MikeD

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Electrical connections can be two pin out in Europe and you will almost certainly need a continental two pin adaptor lead

I would also recommend a positive/negative reverse lead and a checker for earth/ reverse connections.
 
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Judge Mental

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I would head for Spain first and tour up through France on the return leg..As weather will be better in Spain to start with and better in France later on......
 
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Steve101uk

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If its a new motorhome I would go to the weigh bridge and get it weighed and ensure you're not overloading.

here is a link regarding reverse polarity, nothing to get stressed about but worth understanding...
http://www.practicalcaravan.com/advice/28463-how-to-cope-with-reverse-polarity-on-tour

You will need a 2 pin french connector as well as the eu standard one. you can buy these things in some French supermarkets and B&Q type stores etc, same as here.

I have all our documents scanned and saved to google drive in case I lose originals.

Ensure you have decent European breakdown cover like chaser said.

All the Aires book france and spain for cheaper stopovers. also this website http://www.campercontact.com/en/

Three sim for data, or buy a local sim. Unlocked phone or mifi.

Caxton or similar for cheaper euro's, check the deal on your credit card as some of them are way expensive... http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money

Also, when you plan your route and calculate the time you think it will take, double it. France is huge and everything seems to take twice as long. Google underestimates the time when planning with google maps. We also avoid the tolls as they get expensive. Takes a bit longer but you see lots more and the roads have so much less traffic.

have fun, anything questions just ask

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M&A

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Thanks for all of your advice, loads there that I haven't even considered!

Chaser - France Passion looks right up our street, must remember to keep Andrea out of the wineries though!
MikeD - thanks for highlighting the potential reverse polarity issue
Judgemental - We thought about the ferry to Spain and travelling back through France but we are taking the dogs with us and don't fancy putting them through a 24hour ferry journey on their first trip away. I also want to get to Le Mans for the MotoGP on the way down so France first it has to be!
Laser101uk - Thanks for the links and for taking the time to offer so much advice, you could have just saved us from some embarrassing/costly/trip-spoiling mistakes!

Much appreciated all... the MH comes back home tomorrow so I can start to try and figure out how stuff works. There's a huge manual for the van and a pack of instruction books for everything that's been fitted to it so hopefully I can figure out most things, if not.... I'll be back!
 
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hilldweller

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I also want to get to Le Mans for the MotoGP on the way down so France first it has to be!

You don't need advice, you have a good plan. We will be at the next one in Mugello. Now you could turn a good plan into a mega plan and hot foot it to glorious Italy after Le Mans. Only 800 miles.

We carry 3 Gaslow adaptors, you might as well get stocked up:
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M&A

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If only.... unfortunately I still have to work (mainly to pay for the MH it seems!). I dream of following the MotoGP circus around Europe in a few years (y)
 
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hilldweller

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If only.... unfortunately I still have to work

Brilliant Sir, you keep funding our pensions. I'll tell you all about Mugello later. Got the in circuit camping so I have great expectations of FUN and little of sleep.

Another great campsite is Monza, but from a spectator's point of view not the best circuit.
 
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Don't forget your breathalyzer for France. We are off there on 12th May and on to Twin Lakes for the weekend then onward with absolutely no plans. May see you on the way. (y)

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M&A

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Don't forget your breathalyzer for France. We are off there on 12th May and on to Twin Lakes for the weekend then onward with absolutely no plans. May see you on the way. (y)

Thanks for the reminder, had forgotten that was now a legal requirement in France! Just ordered a couple off of eBay. Give us a wave if you pass an 08 Hymer with GBM stickers on the rear :D
 
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Judge Mental

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The weigh bridge mention an important one! Had to do some serious snd frantic unloading last week before heading down to Spain :(
 
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Billy23

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Don't forget your breathalyzer for France. We are off there on 12th May and on to Twin Lakes for the weekend then onward with absolutely no plans. May see you on the way. (y)

Although it is now the law to carry a breathalyzer in France they do not have a fine to pay, it was going to be 11 Euros but never came into force. So up to the you if you do carry one. That is how I understand it.
 
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Landyguy

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Thought they had dropped the breathalyser thing in France as the French did not go for it??
I may be wrong!!
 
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RowleyBirkinQC

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Don't forget your breathalyzer for France. We are off there on 12th May and on to Twin Lakes for the weekend then onward with absolutely no plans. May see you on the way. (y)
I don't think the breathalyser is a major concern, is it? I don't think you can get fined for not having one, but I guess it may give you some brownie points with the local Gendarme if you can produce upon request?

http://www.drive-france.com/checklist/

We've never taken them on motorcycle trips through France, where there was also talk of needing all manner of reflective stickers on helmets and hi-viz on jackets etc which we never really complied with in full either...

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The last I read breathalyzers were needed.
I always try to comply with those gendarmes. I remember one trip to Tilburg, My mate was in front of my truck and as we pulled of for Pidou's to get the wine he failed to stop at the STOP sign. Cost him 80 euros on the spot. They were waiting just round the junction. :)
 
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Billy23

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The last I read breathalyzers were needed.
I always try to comply with those gendarmes. I remember one trip to Tilburg, My mate was in front of my truck and as we pulled of for Pidou's to get the wine he failed to stop at the STOP sign. Cost him 80 euros on the spot. They were waiting just round the junction. :)

As I say, it is the law but no fine is imposed if you haven't got them. But if you feel better by having them then that is the way to go.
 
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Clive

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I always carry the breathalyzers, not for the law but just because their limit is lower, if you've had a skin full the night before worth the money before you drive (y)
 
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Abacist

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Have you got some headlamp beam benders? Something I have always done - its more than just a courtesy it means you won't dazzle oncoming traffic at night!
 
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DanielFord

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The breathalyzer thing is a bit of a grey area, it is still law to carry one in France, but the fine has been suspended indefinitely. My French relatives interpret this as meaning they don't bother, but knowing the love the that the Gendarme's have for the English, I still carry one. In Spain you need 2 warning triangles, due to the rather literal translation of EU law, which states you must always have a triangle in the vehicle. If you have to use it, then the Spanish police will fine you for not having one in the vehicle! We also carry a spare bulb kit, beam benders (attached to lights) and a first aid kit. There is a good samaritan law in France, so it helps if you can actually help!

That's the legals out of the way, the good news is that the roads in France and Spain are so much quieter than here in England, you can plod along all day and hardly see any traffic, and if like me you have a short attention span you can do the - "Ooh! Look, an interesting thing!" and stop, many times :D

We have driven through France and Spain (and Andorra) many times, and we love it. We try not to have too much of a schedule, because I hate planning. If we find somewhere we like, we stay, if not, we move on, makes a much nicer holiday I think.
 
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Billy23

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. If you have to use it, then the Spanish police will fine you for not having one in the vehicle! We also carry a spare bulb kit, beam benders (attached to lights) and a first aid kit.
.

As I live in Spain, my understanding is that if you have a breakdown or accident, you have to place, not one but 2 warning triangles at different distances to warn on coming drivers of the problem. I stand to be corrected, but that IS how it happens in Spain and I have never- in my 11 years here- known of anybody getting nicked by those nasty Spanish police, that are actually no better or worse than any other police force around Europe and I can assure you, they do NOT try anything as daft as, looking in your vehicle to see if you have got a warning triangle....knowing that you have place them on the road......Ah! Watson we have im ear....nick im quick......come on please! Whenever I am stopped, they just want to see the paperwork, that's it.....

Somebody MUST have a nice story to tell about Spain..........haven't they.........
 
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DanielFord

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Somebody MUST have a nice story to tell about Spain..........haven't they.........
Yes, we had a great time in Spain while we were there :)

As I live in Spain, my understanding is that if you have a breakdown or accident, you have to place, not one but 2 warning triangles at different distances to warn on coming drivers of the problem.
Is that the reason? I knew that you had to have 2, but I hadn't heard that before.
 
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Rob and Val

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Somebody MUST have a nice story to tell about Spain..........haven't they.........
A few years ago we broke down in a car just after passing a slip road on a motorway just north of Madrid. Put on our hi-vis jackets and I was just walking behind the car to put up the warning triangle when two policemen arrived ..... with guns! We speak a little Spanish and they spoke a little English so were able to understand each other.

One directed traffic whilst the other helped push the car backwards and then up a steep slip road until we were safely off the motorway. He checked that we had breakdown cover and, when we said that we had, he saluted, wished us luck and went on his way.

About an hour later a recovery truck arrived and the driver took us and the car back to his garage. The car could not be easily fixed and needed new parts. Our breakdown insurance company arranged for us to be taken by taxi to stay in a 5 star hotel in Madrid overnight and for a taxi to take us to Madrid airport the next morning, where they had booked us a flight back to the nearest UK airport to Lincolnshire - Manchester! At the airport we discovered that there was no flight to Manchester. Panic!! Phone call to the insurance company. Turns out there was no direct flight. We had to get a flight to Dublin. Change at Dublin (where the toilets were all out of order) for a flight to Manchester. Then a hire car back to our home.

So, it was breakfast in Madrid, lunch in Dublin, evening meal in Manchester and supper in Lincolnshire!

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Rob and Val

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I think it may have been Green Flag but it was in 2007 and we've swapped insurers several times since, so can't be sure. For the 'van we're with RAC now and they have been excellent.
 
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JeanLuc

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Most things covered above I think but here are a few thoughts regarding France.
  • The Gaslow filling adapter should have come with the original kit (assuming the installation was of a full kit). Mine came with two or three adapters including one for France. Are you sure they are not stashed away somewhere?
  • In France, don't forget priority to the right in towns (unless you can see that the joining road has a solid white line or stop sign). They have a habit of pulling out as a matter of course, particularly in the larger towns.
  • The same applies on minor country roads where a junction is indicated by a diagonal cross (Saltire). The road to the right has priority. If a vertical cross then you are generally on the major road.
  • In towns, pedestrians have the right to cross in front of traffic. They have to give a clear indication that they are about to step-off. This right does not apply if there is an adjacent pedestrian crossing.
  • In streams of traffic, if you are over 3.5 tonnes, you must allow a space of 50 metres between you and a vehicle ahead. (Not particularly well followed by l'homme de Blanc Fourgon.)
 
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Abacist

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Get yourself a good supply of change, particularly 1 and 2 Euro coins to use at the bornes for water etc. For when you are out and about away from your motorhome a lot of overseas toilet facilities have a little old lady collecting 50 cents so your other half will appreciate a supply of those!
 
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Most ehu points are the same (blue plug) as in the UK but there are still a few of the older 2 pin ones so you might find an adaptor useful.
Take as many hose adaptors as you can find, gardening shop is a good place, as some are a bit odd. There are a few 1" female screw ones and even the odd one that needs a male connector.
The French gas adaptor is the wide dish one, if you have a set to choose from, there are just 3 different ones needed for Europe.
Watch our for the speed bumps, especially in central France, they are not the gentle things we have here!
 
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