Driving in France

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smoker
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Driving in France

Post by smoker »

Given our love of French cars I wonder if there are any frequent drivers in France able to pass on advice?

I've booked a camp site in Argeles sur mer (near Perpignan, south coast) for May/June. I have a choice about travel but am leaning towards driving, probably using a ferry from Dover, or Eurotunnel. Could be less than half the cost of flying and questionable more convenient.

My current thinking is to cross the channel circa 11pm then drive through the night to arrive AM or early PM next day. Happy to pay for toll roads, but would this be a real advantage at night time? I'm reckoning on £70 each way for an all-tolls route - is this about right? What would be the best way of paying for tolls - at each gate, or is there a unlimited ticket available in advance?

Any other advice, including preferred route, welcome.

Many thanks.

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old'uns
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Re: Driving in France

Post by old'uns »

I'm guessing not driven in France before?
Long drive in one hit, Calais > Argeles 720+ miles, viamichelin says 11.35hrs not including stops, tolls £60.
use a debit/credit card at Peages, very few now have staff, card in, 2 secs then out and on way.

driving at night is more stressful than day even over here, then consider less light with the headlamp convertors/ blocked out & it becomes a LOT more mentally challenging as well as physically.

routewise i try to avoid Paris if possible, I prefer Rouen when going south, a lot of people hate Rouen though.
the distance you're going won't matter a great deal which way in the overall scheme.
the Spanish trucks going to Alicante/Murcia tend to go Rouen>Tours>Bordeaux then cross nr San Sebastien.
Personally i'd do Rouen>Tours> Limoges>Toulouse with a stopover somewhere near Cahors or before

have a play on here...http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; or Google maps/get directions

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Re: Driving in France

Post by JohnD »

I do the journey through France and then to southern Spain a couple of times each year. Once towing my caravan and once without it. Also when the Icelandic ash cloud disrupted the flights, I drove down to Toulouse to collect daughter and grandson. Drove down on the Saturday, stayed overnight and back on the Sunday. If funds can run to it, Eurotunnel is much quicker than the ferries, although I book my crossing with them using Tesco vouchers. One pound of voucher gets you three pounds of ticket.

As has been said, Paris is best avoided. Even during the night the Peripherique is busy. I find the best route from Calais is via Boulogne to Abbeville, then to Rouen. Boulogne to Abbeville will cost you around 8 Euros in tolls. The A28 to Rouen is toll-free. From Rouen you can take either bank of the river down to the A154. The A154 then N154 is a good route which will take you around Evreux and Chartres to eventually meet up with the A10 north of Orleans. The next part of the journey will be tolled down to Vierzon. If you then take the A20 that will be toll-free all the way to Toulouse. I find it just as easy to pay each toll as it's required. The only bind is if you're a solo driver, it means getting out at each barrier.

I expect you know that it's illegal to drive in France with a sat-nav which displays speed cameras. The requirement to carry two breathalizers is about to be relaxed. You still need warning triangles, yellow jacket and spare bulbs.

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Ben82
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Re: Driving in France

Post by Ben82 »

We used to go on holidays to the south of France or Spain or Italy.
I think only once we took a non-Paris route..... from what we could tell even with the busyness of Paris, it was still quicker to go on the peripherique than to avoid Paris altogether.

As said though night time driving isn't the best of ideas, leaving so you're in France around 5-6am is what we used to do, and even then it was quite the challenge to stay awake before the sun fully came up.

Would also recommend taking the Clermont-Ferrand/Milau route down (or up) rather than Toulouse, just to see the impressive Milau bridge at least once. :)

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Re: Driving in France

Post by andy5 »

If you have one of those prepaid debit cards for a better exchange rate, then the chances are that the motorway tolls won't accept it - they don't like cards which rely on seeking authorisation during the transaction as this takes longer to clear.

If you expect to make a few such trips, or drive alone and find it a bit tiresome being on the wrong side of the car, or want to avoid queues at busy times, most of the toll companies will accept foreign applications for an account with one of those electronic tag things that go on the windscreen, so you just drive through slowly without actually stopping.

They have reciprocal deals between the regional companies so a gizmo from any of them will cover the whole country. It charges the tolls monthly in arrears, at the same rate no discount, with the best tariff option for visitors having €1.50 to €2 monthly service charge but only in the months when it is actually used. There are occasional special offers with cheaper delivery or free account charge for the first few months and so on. I don't have one of these myself, but I've been thinking about it.

Or you can tinker about with Google Maps and ViaMichelin and find a route which saves quite a lot on tolls and only takes about an hour longer overall.

Unless you're really keen to drive at night, perhaps for someone else who will be travelling on the main holiday weekends in July, I'd suggest cross on an evening ferry and stay near Calais in one of those budget hotels in the Accor or Louvre groups

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old'uns
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Re: Driving in France

Post by old'uns »

andy5 wrote:
Or you can tinker about with Google Maps and ViaMichelin and find a route which saves quite a lot on tolls and only takes about an hour longer overall.
Not a chance of being about an hour longer, i'd say at least 25% ..IF you're lucky.
constantly having to slow to 70/50kph at towns & villages, roundabouts, slower traffic makes a huge difference overall. even slowing/stopping at Peages drops the Average down.

I do Ypres > Le Lude each year or vice-versa, normally in the Beat, M/Way speed around 65mph enjoying the Sun.
First year was by Motorway, from memory 4-5hrs?
Non Motorway, admittedly not much dual carriage, but still 90kph, takes at least 7hrs with stopping times never more than half-hour for Lunch either route.

handyman
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Re: Driving in France

Post by handyman »

I go to France regularly and travel down to Maine et Loire to see relatives. I've done it for quite a few years and now always use the peage, unless we have excess time or make a stopover(prefered). Most of the auto toll machines cater for us British drivers by having controls on the drivers side so you do not need to get out of the car to get a ticket. (Guaranteed to get a Gallic on the horn!) Debit or credit cards are quick.

But remember, you are timed when you go onto the peage and they can calculate your average speed when you come to an exit. If you've been speeding they issue a fine on the spot,and they ain't cheap. Not happened to me but a relative got done and had his car impounded until he paid. :shock:

As for using the N routes, in the summer, even at night you will get Farmer Guillaime or his ilk, out on a tracteur, working, so that is another hazard, along with all the others associated with off-motorway driving on the wrong side of the road. The best way is to allow yourself a sensible amount of time to complete the journey comfortably and without risk. I prefer an early start, a reasonable stop for a light lunch, further driving in the afternoon with another meal break, a final push and, if I ain't reached my destination, an overnight stop, to awake refreshed and do it all again the next day. If you are carrying passengers, you have to consider their comfort & safety.

If you are new to driving in the gutter and the idiosyncrasies of our Gallic neighbours, take your time, as there will be plenty of hazards, especially if you go off-piste. Add at least 25% extra time. :shock: and they dont stop at traffic lights, even when they are red.

You may even find un vieux avec bagnole who still believes in the rule of the right and guaranteed it will be when you are bombing down one of those nice straight poplar lined roads and the deux chevaux suddenly appears out of nowhere. 8-[ =D>

As for Paris & the Peripherique, avoid unless you have a deathwish. Parisiennes treat everybody with utter contempt, even more so if you are a foreigner in a strange car. The slip roads on the route are quick on exit and if you are not lined up for them, no Frog aint gonna let you slow down to change lanes. They appear on both the left & right. My friends who live near Paris wont even drive on it, and he runs a courier business in France!

On crossing La Manche, have a look at some of the other ferry options. We use Newhaven Dieppe, as its in Gods Own County so on our doorstep, but some of the other crossing are also good as they save you time and effort. One of the overnight crossings will land you in Normandy early in the morning and will save you a couple of hundred miles.

Hope this is useful.

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handyman
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Re: Driving in France

Post by handyman »

'Ere Old'Un, 'ow comes you go from Walsall to Sarthe via Ypres? Surely, Pompey or Poole to Cherbourg or L'Havre is more direct. You do know Wipers is in Belgium, dont you? :-D Is it a case of the Menin Gate?

My call-ins in France are at Pounce and Segre, but I do know Sarthe as well. Good drop of wine to be had around the region. =D> [-X

H

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old'uns
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Re: Driving in France

Post by old'uns »

only when on holiday there...annual motorsport week...European Rally / Historic/ IRC or whatever it happens to be last w/e June & depending on whether LM Classic is on it's at start or finish of 3-4 weeks

JohnD
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Re: Driving in France

Post by JohnD »

handyman wrote: Most of the auto toll machines cater for us British drivers by having controls on the drivers side so you do not need to get out of the car to get a ticket.
The only time I've seen such a barrier is at the Herquelingue peage on the A16. Denoting that it was for British drivers by having a large Union Jack above the entrence. However, even that one has been dismantled and hasn't been there for a couple of years.

andy5
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Re: Driving in France

Post by andy5 »

old'uns wrote:
andy5 wrote:
Or you can tinker about with Google Maps and ViaMichelin and find a route which saves quite a lot on tolls and only takes about an hour longer overall.
Not a chance of being about an hour longer, i'd say at least 25% ..IF you're lucky.
constantly having to slow to 70/50kph at towns & villages, roundabouts, slower traffic makes a huge difference overall. even slowing/stopping at Peages drops the Average down.

I do Ypres > Le Lude each year or vice-versa, normally in the Beat, M/Way speed around 65mph enjoying the Sun.
First year was by Motorway, from memory 4-5hrs?
Non Motorway, admittedly not much dual carriage, but still 90kph, takes at least 7hrs with stopping times never more than half-hour for Lunch either route.
I wasn't talking about avoiding motorway all the way, but for the OP's route south choosing a couple of motorways which are free part of the way and one runs into non-motorway but still mostly dual carriageway parallel route can save £20 or £30 and only take 20 minutes longer

Even the route you mention could be done on toll motorway 30 or 40% of the way, free motorway about a third and decent straight D roads for most of the rest, and perhaps only 30 minutes longer than going via Paris

Image

handyman
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Re: Driving in France

Post by handyman »

Andy, if you blow up your photo onto a higher resolution, you can just make out le vieux dans une Deux chevaux bagnole, s'fume un Gauloise et avec un mouton en l'interieur, just waiting for an unsuspecting foreigner to drive past. :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol: He's there on the right, near the trees. 8-[ [-o<

H

addo
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Post by addo »

handyman wrote:...s'fume un Gauloise et avec un mouton en l'interieur...
Is it legal to smoke whilst driving with sheep in the car?
Last edited by addo on 13 Feb 2013, 11:50, edited 1 time in total.

handyman
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Re: Driving in France

Post by handyman »

Je ne sais quoi!

What is more important, is it ILLEGAL?

addo
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Post by addo »

I watched this video, albeit with no sound:



Is the traffic depicted, comparatively light, normal or heavy compared to what others have experienced? It appears very similar in denseness to some of the major routes in Sydney and Melbourne, but less aggression is displayed by drivers as shown in the video here.