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driving in france advice

(23 Posts)
sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 07:51:03


I'm off to france in a few weeks, combining 4 days in Eurodisney Paris with a week in a key camp in Brittany. I have never driven to france before having always gone to spain on package holidays. Any travel advice would be great or if anyone has been on key camps in Benodet before, tips would be useful! Any ideas on weather around july/early august?

We are taking Eurotunnel to paris, then after Eurodisney, driving to Benodet. As Paris to Benodet is between 4-6 hours apparently we are going to stay over night in between (this way we don't lose a day of either holiday iyswim). Coming home is fine as we are taking the overnight ferry from Roscoff.

Any legal considerations be good too as i've heard you need certain things in your car?

Many Thanks!!

Karmabanana Sun 26-Jun-11 07:57:08

We've stayed at Benodet - it's lovely - it's a long drive from Euro Disney though! Make sure you have plenty change for toll roads. If I remember rightly, the pool area at Benodet isn't huge so you need to be there early to get beds. As for the weather, you have more of a chance of good weather than England, but it can be changeable. Saying that, we were there in the heatwave of 2006 and had a week of 40 degree heat!

Dolcegusto Sun 26-Jun-11 07:57:30

You need a warning triangle, GB sticker, spare bulbs, headlight masks, check insurance covers you for driving abroad, take driving license, and there's a place called cite europe 5 mins drive from the Calais side of the tunnel, great for stocking up on wine!

Karmabanana Sun 26-Jun-11 08:00:58

oh, forgot to say, re. the car, have a look here
You can buy kits at the ferry terminal but they can be expensive - better to go to Halfords or somewhere.

sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:01:03

Karmabanana- which site did you stay at? I think there are currently 2. We are going to Port la Plaisance?

Thanks for the tips smile

WynkenBlynkenandNod Sun 26-Jun-11 08:02:24

Also those bright yellow jacket things.

sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:03:00

also as we are planning on staying overnight between disney and Benodet, do you recommend booking a B&B or are their loads? DD wants to be more adventurous and just pull up somewhere in between. With kids age 3 and 5 i'm not so sure and think we should book! Was thinking Le Mans was about half way - do you think thats accurate?

Binfullofmaggotsonthe45 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:07:01

All of the above, lus you also need high visibility waistcoats or equiv (Ikea family section sell them cheap).

You need an insurance green card too, details on the link.

Speed limit is 130km on motorway 110 in rainy conditions. My car only had mph so when we drove over during our move i converted the speeds to miles and stuck post its on the dash board.

Disney is in La Vallee, which is quite accessible. Driving through Paris experience!

The weather should be lovely. I visited a similar set up in Italy a few weeks ago, and am always very impressed at the organised camping that French and Italians do. The facilities are normally clean, and well thought out.

Karmabanana Sun 26-Jun-11 08:08:04

Ah, I think we were at the other one, Giles something? We drove straight across (took about 7 hours) but Le Mans sounds ok. Found the other site - La pointe St.Gilles so ignore my advice about the pool!

Binfullofmaggotsonthe45 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:08:53

If you are one a budget check out the Formula One hotels. For one nights sleep they are uber cheap, no frills. They are plentiful in France.

sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:09:59

Many thanks again!! I'm complete novice!

wow it seems complicated with all these things you need! Trip to halfords needed i think!

Hassled Sun 26-Jun-11 08:14:02

Driving in France is fine - good roads, plenty of places to stop (Aires - some are like service stations, some are just car-parks with a dodgy loo) but yes, the tolls come up often and you need to have a stash of coins handy.

But I had the night from hell in a Formula Un and would rather sleep in one of those dodgy loos than repeat the experience. They take "basic" to whole new levels. They are astonishingly cheap, though.

sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 08:17:23

i dont mind if they are not cheap as such -as its only one night and we are hoping to get in to the hotel around 7pm and leave about 7am the next day- although french cheap may be different to Uk cheap! I was looking to budget around £120 - is that "cheap" for france?!!!? Also, how much change will i need? How much are the tolls?

Hassled Sun 26-Jun-11 08:23:23

This site will calculate toll costs for you.
Rennes is meant to be nice, I think, as a stopping over point.

Karmabanana Sun 26-Jun-11 08:26:53

A budget of £120 will be fine.

IDontDoIroning Sun 26-Jun-11 09:06:43

You dont need money for tolls they should take cards As you approach look for the lane marked bc (card bancaire) it's v easy they dont do chip and pin just insert card. Alternatively use the manned booths.
Get a good route planner, atlas or sat nav with european maps. Do you have some one to navigate ? I'm the navigator so it's always my fault we get lost!
One of the most confusing things I've found is the fact that a road can have 2 or 3 identifying numbers. The N number ( national) and D number (departmental) and sometimes an A number if its an auto route.
I have used via michellin and mappy to be good, one gives you the pictures of the road signs.
I think one also has the option to give hotels along the way.
One other thing is that it seems you come up on the junctions very quickly after the sign.
If you have a sat nav some will come up with hotels etc on the way as you are driving or alternatively search on your route for one of the many chains Mercure, Etap etc and prebook.
As others said you need the kit high vis jacket, triangle etc.
Be warned that there are radar speed traps on some roads and autoroutes, you can also be issued with on the spot fines by passing policemen for jumping a red light not having your emergency kit etc. Consider getting European assistance like if you think you may need it. Make sure you get the green insurance document and carry it and your licence with you. The traffic lights are tiny and easily missed.
Have a look on your map for the aires some are small and are nothing more than a picnic area and loos. Some of these can be a bit grim. They are usually a blue semi circle attached to to road. The bigger ones are quite good especially if you are on a stretch of toll road.
Check your route for Disney as it is possible to be sent through Paris if you aren't careful to set an alternative and the Paris ring road can be a challenge.

MrsCog Sun 26-Jun-11 09:16:09

Firstly, I love driving in France, with the exception of Paris (I'd drive around the outside if I were you), the roads are quiet, and although the drivers overtake a lot, in my experience they are a lot less agressive than in the UK.

Make sure you have all the equipment (you can buy ready made packs from ebay with a lot of the stuff in).

On road signage, I found that (especially off the motorway) they sign post towns much more consistently than road numbers so if you're trying to navigate from place to place, look for the next town/city name on the sign rather than thinking 'where's the sign post for the D43?' or whatever.

Enjoy - I love Keycamp holidays in France smile

Binfullofmaggotsonthe45 Sun 26-Jun-11 10:09:03

I know what you mean hassled. Sometimes you get the shopfitters staying and crashing in at all hours in the ones arond big cities. However i think my last one was 22 euros for the 3 of us in Metz. grin

They are part of the accor chain who also do Ibis and Etap hotels at a good price, with a private bathroom.

sunnyday123 Sun 26-Jun-11 19:26:52

thanks all!,

my husband will be navigating so i've left it to him to sort the sat nav out!

GnomeDePlume Sun 26-Jun-11 23:28:38

Another hotel chain

Very good value with family rooms (for 4).

If you fancy a bit of local colour then try

Logis are family run hotels normally with a restaurant. If there is a restaurant then you will be expected to eat there!

Whatever you choose then get booking now. Dont leave it unless you like sleeping in your car!

The hi-vis jackets need to be carried in the car and be accessible. If you get out of the car on the motorway you MUST be wearing it. We carry ours trucker style on the backs of the car seats.

DO get european assistance. Our regularly serviced car decided to breakdown on the way home.

Get maps, dont just rely on sat nav. Michelin are the best.


Keycamp/Eurocamp/Canvas etc make excellent holidays.

Lizcat Mon 27-Jun-11 13:42:44

You need a high viz jacket for everyone in the car as part of your emergency pack. We find Logis a very mixed bag and for brief stop overs we use Ibis and longer stays we use Alisadair Sawdays website.
Personally we tend to Blat as fast as we can on the peage in France and 4 to 6 hours so I would and do do that distance in a single day. But then we do Barcelona to Paris in a day as well.

Ruthiebabes Mon 27-Jun-11 14:43:02

If you think Le Mans is half way I can recommend a great b and b we stayed at last year en route.

Its It is owned by a lovely English couple who are so welcoming. They provide a fab evening meal and wine, a family room with 1 double and 2 singles and then a great breakfast.

It has splash pool in the garden, great to cool off after your journey.

Highly recommended.

Have a great hol.

sunnyday123 Mon 27-Jun-11 20:16:01

thanks again for all your tips - fab!

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