Posted: Wed 27 Jun 2012 12:35 GMT
Post subject: Driving in France - some useful tips
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This was originally posted by SandT in the context of a discussion on the Malta motoring forum, but we thought it was so useful it would be a shame not to repeat it here!
| SandT wrote:Having lived in France for 7 years before moving to Malta, we have plenty of experience of driving in that country. The main roads are very, very good and on the whole, the French drivers are of a good standard - and we have driven all over France not just in the Region where we lived.
There are a lot of speed cameras now and there are no longer the warning signs that you are approaching one, so do not speed and always wear your seat belt. You may well see gendarmes standing at roundabouts looking intensely at the traffic. As long as you are doing everything legal, you will be alright. They can ask you to stop and inspect your paperwork anywhere - there doesn't have to be a reason. You must carry your paperwork with you at all times when you are driving (insurance, licence etc).
There is a particular rule that catches many UK drivers out! At HALT signs, DO NOT drive straight over, even if you can see that there is no car for fifty miles !!! There may well be a police car hiding and you must obey the requirement to stop for 4 full seconds at halt signs. The French Gendarmes are experts at hiding to try catch drivers out.
At the main roads leading to and from the docks there are usually police cars hiding behind bushes and they radio ahead your speeding car's number and at the kiosks where you pay your toll, you will be pulled over by waiting police there!
I was very comfortable driving in France and as long as you respect the rules, you will be okay.
The following are the lastest legal requirements: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/compulsory_equipment.html
This has lists to the side of useful information including what you need to carry with you. The police can issue immediate fines for anything missing and if you don't have cash they sometimes accompany you to a cash machine!
Oh, and if you don't speak French, take a phrase book as the French are more helpful if you try in French first, rather than wallk in somewhere and ask in English if they speak English! You may also need it re car breakdowns! If you use the tolls roads there are plenty of rest areas with toilets and picnic areas and some with cafes and fuel. Each sign will illustrate what is there at each "aire" and will also show how far to the next one and what can be found there too.
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