This is a guest post by the lovely people over at Pillows and Pitstops. Do contact Pillows & Pitstops via Twitter (@PillowsPitstops) or Facebook (facebook.com/pillowsandpitstops), or directly at email@example.com if you have any questions or great suggestions for those long family car journeys!
Strikes or not, France has always been, and will remain so as long as children are being born, the favourite destination for British family holidays. Packing the car full of buckets and spades, Heinz baked beans and Robinsons cordial with no need to wave goodbye to all of the children’s favourite dollies and Lego figures – how can this not be a perfect holidaying option?
But it’s easy to forget that there’s the question of driving in another country ahead. Sometimes those journeys on Summer Saturdays through the Continent can be soul-destroying. There are two important factors to consider:
- Are you biting off more than you can chew? If the journey is longer than you would tackle in this country, it’s not too late to consider an overnight stop. Enter your journey into pillowsandpitstops.com to find the ideal midway point for a great quirky “Pillow” to rest your head.
- Make sure you know the latest rules of the road in France. New ones seem to be introduced all the time.
We can help you with the important new and old French road laws, a very brief guide before you head off on your merry way, kitchen sink and all.
– The use of hands-free sets is now BANNED when driving a car. This means all hands-free usage, not just phones. (However, the small print says you can still use your phone when the hands-free system is dashboard-based or bluetooth).
TIP: Let your passenger make the “We’re lost and can’t find the Gite” call!
– Un-marked police cars are now roaming the French highways fitted with speed cameras. All very secretive! They can even detect and photograph speedsters in the opposite lane.
TIP: The unmarked police cars are pretty much guaranteed to be French marques – Renault, Peugeot or Citreon. So that means 95% of the cars on the road!
– If you’re new to driving (under 3 years experience), the drink drive limit is now 0.02%.
TIP: Don’t even have the one if you’re a novice driver.
– Usage of speed camera detectors is NOT allowed. All such radars should be switched off from sat navs before entering France.
TIP: Not worth the risk. You can drive faster on the toll roads than British motorways anyway so best to not go speed-silly and just keep an eye out for the little boxes. Remember – they don’t have to warn you of upcoming cameras in France.
– Breathalysers, reflective jackets and a warning triangle must be carried in all cars.
TIP: There doesn’t seem to be any reinforcement of this law and no fines are made so don’t panic too much if you’re without and leaving tomorrow!
– Headlamp converters (otherwise known as stickers) must be fitted to all cars for driving on the right.
TIP: Get them on Amazon now to avoid expensive ferry/train terminal shops
– Children should be 10 or older to legally sit in the front seat of a car (with the exception of rear-facing baby seats)
TIP: Just keep your little royalty in the back where they should be.
The general message is to just keep alert and remember you’re in a different country – different rules apply. The ease of getting to France and being in the comfort of your own car does make it easier to forget.
And who wants to get stopped by the scary Gendarmes? Not me!