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Ive been told France has changed!

(22 Posts)
alysonpeaches Fri 12-Aug-11 14:28:16

In a week or so we are going here for a fortnight, staying in a caravan with Vacans Soleil. We went yesterday to buy a roofbox for car, and bloke in shop said (short intake of breath) how long since youve been there? DH answers 10 years. Oh well its not like it used to be. Then launched into idea that people on crime spree around port areas due to failed immigration and would nick anything from your car etc. Now this wasnt for the sake of selling us the roofbox, we had already bought it and both the box and the bars lock and its a good quality one. The salesman stated that on his overnight stops he unloaded his car completely into the travel lodge. He said on the toilet stops in France people were hanging round waiting for you to pull up and hassling you for money.

This has put us off somewhat. For years we took our kids to the Vendee and had wonderful hols. We found campsites fairly crime free. We are now taking the grandkids, one has special needs so we are only staying up in Nord de Calais so we dont have a long trek. We will have the usual video players and DSx3 to keep them quiet on the journey and naturally now we will take these with us when we stop.

Is this true or is he exaggerating?

OhYouBadBadKitten Fri 12-Aug-11 14:29:52

He is exaggerating. I'd say it has changed as much as the uk has, so if you behave in a similar manner as you do here you have the same risk levels as you do here.

FeathersMcGraw Fri 12-Aug-11 14:31:40


We went to the Languedoc last year (so had many, many stops en route) and were not hassled at all, for anything!! We didn't unload the car on the overnight stops - just took in handbag & overnight bag and parked in front of the reception.

CestTout Fri 12-Aug-11 14:35:59

Second Feathers. We travel back each year and only take what we need into hotels etc. Service stations are fine.

ChippyMinton Fri 12-Aug-11 18:24:51

Just back and saw nothing like this.

Did take a few minor precautions though, like removing satnav even when stopping for the loo etc. For hotel overnighters we removed all valuables from the car, and had nothing on display in the car. Most of the roadside hotels have CCTV and locked car parks. Mind you, in Paris we left the car on the street outside the hotel and parking is free of charge in August.

At the campsite, we locked the caravan door but left all the windows open blush

GnomeDePlume Fri 12-Aug-11 21:08:45

I think your roof box salesman is talking horseradish.

- take the ususal sensible precautions. We hide things like the DVD players when leaving the car.
- you will hear stories about scams but basically keep your wits about you as you do everywhere

More importantly there have been rule changes since last you were in France. Make sure you have hivis jackets for everyone in the car and make sure that anyone getting out of the car on a motorway puts one on before stepping out of the car.

Other than that, you've been before so you know what to do. Have a lovely holiday. We were in France in Dordogne in June and saw nothing of what you described. Some people seem to have been put on this earth to spread gloom and despondancy.

CroissantNeuf Fri 12-Aug-11 21:14:12

We drove through France last week and we were also there last year but haven't noticed anything.

Actually, tell a lie....we noticed this time that the last 5 or so parking/toilet stops before the Eurotunnel were closed so that you couldn't even drive into them. Someone suggested that it was to stop potential illegal immigrants stowing away in trucks etc (but this was only speculation on that persons part)

alysonpeaches Fri 12-Aug-11 22:43:16

Do we ALL need a high Vis? DH has one. I dont fancy buying 5 more!

GnomeDePlume Fri 12-Aug-11 23:17:53

The AA say only the driver (worn when he/she gets out of the car) but other websites have said that police will take a dim view (whatever that means) if everyone is stood on the hard shoulder with only one between them. TBH having seen broken down groups on the motorway the ones all in hivis jackets stand out.

We got ours from local cheapy shops and didnt pay more than a small number of pounds each.

IloveJudgeJudy Sun 14-Aug-11 18:20:32

Just be cautious as you would be in the UK. We have been going to France for the past 8 years and would say it hasn't changed, but we do put electronic stuff hidden in the car on the journey and on the overnighter (not while we were on the main campsite, though as we felt really safe there).

We do take hi-vis's for all of us, even though I don't think it's mandatory. They have to be easily accessible.

We are fairly careful on the aires. They're always OK when you stop in the day for something to eat, but on the way back to Dunkerque we had to stop quite late (about 8.30) for something to eat and to make a hot drink and that was pretty creepy. we did choose one with lights, but were very conscious of who else had stopped and where they parked. DH did put the hitchlock on the camper, too.

We've never been hassled, either. I think you should just go and enjoy yourselves.

scrappydappydoo Sun 14-Aug-11 18:29:58

Salesman is talking tosh - just usual precautions and you should be fine..

And yes you all need a high vis jackets - ikea do cheap ones and occasionally poundland have them too. French police seem to love trying to catch motorists out by asking for them and if you get out of car without it (ie its in the boot) then bang law broken.

Enjoy your holiday - France is France - [french shrug] smile

Mum2Luke Tue 16-Aug-11 14:50:44

We have just returned from France and had a brill time. We made sure the car was roadworthy (2 new tyres on front, spare bulbs etc) and had all the hivis jkts we needed plus satnav, France Road atlas, mounds of spare change for tolls and locks to lock bikes onto the bike rack to stop people nicking bikes.

The car was so packed a stowaway would have a job hiding on or under the car and our friend's van was also packed to the rafters just in case!

Just do as you would here, don't leave valuables on view etc and you will be fine.

Have a great time!

Willabywallaby Tue 16-Aug-11 14:59:30

We are off to France next week, do we need the stickers on the lights for night driving. Didn't know about jackets!

ChippyMinton Tue 16-Aug-11 15:18:57

You will need headlamp deflectors if you plan on driving at night.

TennisFan Tue 16-Aug-11 15:28:44

We are just back from driving in France - and didn't notice anything suspicious at all.
Yes, you need the Hi-Vis jackets, and yes you need the deflectors for your lights.

We got the the thing everyone was talking about for the tolls - it was brilliant, thank you whoever it was at the end of July who told us all where to get it. My DH thought it was the best thing ever, and much better than fafffing around with cash or cards every time you get to the peage.
Mind you we were driving the whole way to Carcassonne so it would have been a lot of cash required.

We didnt leave any valuables on show, like SatNav or DVD players, phones etc - so sometimes we went into the service area in shifts!

At night time, we use the really well lit up service stations rather than the unattened aires.

enjoy your holiday

ChippyMinton Tue 16-Aug-11 15:32:43

ooh yes, the Sanef toll widget. Fab.

Did you find that sometimes it didn't 'beep' until you wre practically touching the barrier, whereas the French seemed to glide though almost without stopping?

wickedfairy Tue 16-Aug-11 17:51:16

We were in the Vendee in July for a month - never got hassled once, anywhere. I think that bloke was talking nonsense.

Of course, I am sure France has places where bad things happen, just like in the UK. Just be sensible, as you would at home. Have fun!

Willabywallaby Tue 16-Aug-11 18:02:01

Trip to Halfords tomorrow then!

Willabywallaby Tue 16-Aug-11 18:04:06

Where can we get the widget? And any other tips greatly appreciated.

ChippyMinton Tue 16-Aug-11 19:43:21

Order the telepeage tag here.

It comes by post in a couple of days.

Willabywallaby Tue 16-Aug-11 22:13:52

Thank you, done it.

crazymum53 Wed 17-Aug-11 16:32:20

We stayed at this campsite last week in a tent and it was great - no problems with crime or security at the site or service areas.
Calais town centre is fairly run down and would not recommend stopping there but the main tourist areas such as Cite de Europe shopping centre seem to be fine.
Enjoy your holiday!

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