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webleymk3

Driving In Mainland Europe

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We're planning a three week jont into Europe for the summer this year and am wondering if those more experienced than me could assist with a little information.

We will be driving through England, France, Spain, Portugal and Andorra. We shouldn't have any issues in Englandshire as the referendum's not been yet however i always lock the doors anyway...

I've started looking about the web and the AA's website quite helpful. I've established things like warning triangles and breathalysers etc are required. I would be making up a kit so any pointers for essentials (non-legal requirements) would be good.

What do you have to do with your headlights. I understand the rule is that you 'must not dazzle'. can you simple dip the lights using the wee scrolly dubbrie thing on the dash or must you install some converter kit. If the latter, what and where????

Any other hints and tips?? We've got ages yet however i am planning it now before we commit financially to anything.

I'd also be looking to upgrade my satnav DVD so if you happen to have spare more recent one (say 2011 onward) let me know!!!!

And how do I prep the car for a 4500 mile round trip? I take it an Oil and filter change is obvious, fuel fllter and air conditioning(!) maybe? What about fuel quality in Europe? Should I run engine cleaner before and after?

Thanks

Webs

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Headlight deflectors absolutely mandatory or 50 euros fine. Me got spare warning triangle and spare bulb kit. French diesel is brill stuff and better octane than ours. If you have roof rails, got branny set of Aldi roof bars here. My reflective vest you could camp under......shurrit. Anything else just shout......roads in France built by Romans and Adolf.....game we played was spot the pothole.....nobody won.....superb surfaces min.

Big Kev

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We're planning a three week jont into Europe for the summer this year and am wondering if those more experienced than me could assist with a little information.

We will be driving through England, France, Spain, Portugal and Andorra. We shouldn't have any issues in Englandshire as the referendum's not been yet however i always lock the doors anyway...

I've started looking about the web and the AA's website quite helpful. I've established things like warning triangles and breathalysers etc are required. I would be making up a kit so any pointers for essentials (non-legal requirements) would be good.

What do you have to do with your headlights. I understand the rule is that you 'must not dazzle'. can you simple dip the lights using the wee scrolly dubbrie thing on the dash or must you install some converter kit. If the latter, what and where????

Any other hints and tips?? We've got ages yet however i am planning it now before we commit financially to anything.

I'd also be looking to upgrade my satnav DVD so if you happen to have spare more recent one (say 2011 onward) let me know!!!!

And how do I prep the car for a 4500 mile round trip? I take it an oil and filter change is obvious, fuel fllter and air conditioning(!) maybe? What about fuel quality in Europe? Should I run engine cleaner before and after?

Thanks

Webs

Hi Webs,

No doubt you'll get lots of good technical hints & advice from the chaps. For what it's worth, I can give you some tips about France as I used to live there:

  1. Contrary to the typical stereotyped British view, French tend to be very good drivers (better than most Europeans, including us, IMHO) as most of them started their motoring careers on scooters and motos hence they tend to be very aware of what's going on around them. It was a pleasure to ride to ride my Fireblade over there as the French car drivers always see bikes approaching and make room for them to filter through the traffic (no SMIDSY's over there!). Many's a time I filtered at 60 or 70 mph through Paris on the Periphique and through the tunnels around La Defense, such was the confidence they gave.
  2. The French don't dawdle. Once they decide on a manouvre (lane change, overtake, etc.) they just get on with it. And they get seriously hacked off when they get baulked. You could always identify the Brits and the Dutch (who were worse) even without seeing their plates because they'd indicate for weeks before changing direction or they'd stick to speed limits when everyone else was doing 20 or 30 K's above it. Accidents waiting to happen they were.
  3. You know how sometimes you use your front fogs in low light instead of dipped beams (OK, maybe that's only a boy racer thing now)? Don't do it in France or the Gendarmes will stop you and issue a ticket that has to be paid on the spot if you are not resident. In fact any misuse of lights will get you a tug - and they are unlikely to let you off.
  4. There are three different police forces in France and they are all still big on "checking your papers", especially in the big towns & major cities. It's not a big deal as long as you have all your docs with you, e.g. Licence (both bits), insurance, V5 (to prove ownership), etc. The Brits tend to take the **** out of the French for this (uncivilised blighters, etc.) but when you live there, it does give a feeling of security especially when you consider that the French cops don't take any excrement from anybody. If you step out of line with them you won't forget it in a hurry. Hence you can walk around Paris at night without any serious qualms.
  5. The roads are excellent especially when compared to the lunar landscape that masquerades for roadways over here. There are tolls on many of the Autoroutes but they're well worth it.
  6. Re French roadsigns, follow the directions until they change, i.e. if a sign says that the place you're going to is staright on, then keep going straight on until you get an instruction otherwise. Very often, on Autoroutes in particular, the equivalent of our blue M-way signs may only give a direction once and not repeat it until you need to turn off the Autoroute onto another or into the town or city in question. And "Autres Routes" means just that: if your destination isn't specifically listed then, providing that you are on the right road and are going in the right general direction, follow "Autres Routes" until you pick up the sign for your required destination. The French aren't big on babying you so a good road atlas is very useful, even if you have satnav. It always helps to give your self an idea of your route before you set out.
  7. Pedestrians are expected to watch out for traffic, especially at busy junctions. You don't get separate signals for peds & traffic so if your crossing light is green, so is the ped crossing that goes the same way. They expect people to use common sense unlike the H&S jerks that seem to have taken over most things over here. The "don't dawdle, just get on with it" approach applies in these situations as well.
  8. There are two different speed limits on Autoroutes for dry & wet conditions. It's advisable not to take the wet limit lightly. Also the French have discovered the fiscal benefits of speed cameras and now use them (mainly mobile ones) on Autoroutes and Routes Nationale (A Roads) very frequently. The Autoroute from Calais south is very popular hunting ground as so many Brits still think that you can floor it once you cross the channel - no longer so. And because traffic is far less dense than it is over here, you can get caught fairly easily esp if you slip into cruise control on a relatively deserted A-route at too high a speed

Sorry for rabbiting on but I hope some of this is helpful. Bon voyage!

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I am the same as you, Jamesy......I have cut the finger on my left hand, so cannot play my guitar.....but ffs can I no type !!!

Darn good info but......

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Excellent post from firemac, I will would add that you must have high vis' jackets for each person in your car and that you must be able to put them on in the car before you step out onto the road. Headlight deflectors (beam benders) are a legal requirement in France. I have a pair of Toyota plastic ones that come with the correct position to apply a black square to, I think most people just stick black insulation tape to the required position. Another tip is photo copy all your documents that's passport, Insurance,V05 and car documents, just in case you loose anything. Have a great trip. :driving:

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hi Folks,

I did a 3500 mile trip in Europe last October/November and would like to add a couple of minor points to Firemac's very comprehensive view:

1) Driving back from near Nice to Zeebrugge the total cost of Autoroute tolls was €88.40. It was still worth it as there was a big fuel saving ( even in November 48+ MPG ) and generally speaking they are not nearly as busy as the M60 or M25.

2) It is illegal to have speed camera warnings on your SatNav in France. They take this very seriously and are not above checking if you get pulled over for something else according to the French friends I was visiting.

3) There is now very little speeding on French Autoroutes. I had cruise control on 110kph a lot of the time and I was passing an awful lot of traffic including some cars that could have left the RAV for dead. It's due to cost of fuel and the likelihood of getting a "ticket" through the post.

4) Just like here, don't buy fuel on the Autoroute if you can possibly avoid it.

5) There are a lot more places to stop on the French Autoroutes. They are not all "services" as we know them but known as "aers". They are often every 20 - 25 kM and have toilets and parking/picnic areas. Usually fairly quiet if you want an hours kip to recharge your batteries or just to stretch your legs ( always a good idea! )

6) It won't(?) bother you, but if you go into Switzerland, even 100m over the border, you have to pay your motorway tolls up front in the form of a sticker which costs CHF40. They probably have the highest density of speed cameras in the universe as well and fines are by post. There is NO tolerance on the speed limit so you go a bit slower to make sure.

7) The single use breathalysers that Firemac referred to are obtainable much more cheaply in the UK than at ferry terminals here or in Europe. You need two sets of two because if you use one, or the police decide to check one and you only have one set, you don't have the required number left! ( Catch 22 again!!!!! )

8) Anyone traveling from north of, say, Nottingham, consider going from Hull to Rotterdam or Zeebrugge. It is an overnight crossing and fairly expensive ( Tuesdays are cheapest ) but you save a lot of fuel driving down to the south east to use the Chunnel or Ferry, a nights hotel in Europe and you get an start after a good breakfast on board at about 08.00.

HTH

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try this

http://www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr/recherche/

it lists all the fuel prices and locations by department in france.Very helpful tool i find. work out a route and roughly where i need to fill up and list a few options.

wont need it this year farthest we're going is Amiens

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Webblers

If you PM me your address I will send you a little freebie for your trip ;)

King Freebie :thumbsup:

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Webblers

If you PM me your address I will send you a little freebie for your trip ;)

King Freebie :thumbsup:

Golf balls.....?

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I say how very dare you! Golf balls to you too.........with knobs on :naughty:

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Thanks everyone for the info.

One of our reasons for doing this - apart from the fact I've wanted to for ages - is that flying to Portugal is coming in some £700 for the three of us. There's then the cost of hiring a car! If my calculations are right we should spend about the same and have a three week tour of france and spain with a 1-week stay in Portugal itself.

The plan is in the making and it's coming together nicely!

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Thanks everyone for the info.

One of our reasons for doing this - apart from the fact I've wanted to for ages - is that flying to Portugal is coming in some £700 for the three of us. There's then the cost of hiring a car! If my calculations are right we should spend about the same and have a three week tour of france and spain with a 1-week stay in Portugal itself.

The plan is in the making and it's coming together nicely!

Full aircon service too, Webz.....

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Where will you stay in Portugal, and what will be your approx route to get there? I live in Lisbon.

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Dippy,

We will staying in Algarve and are not currently intending on going to Lisboa.

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Hi Dave, a few notes from a near Spanish resident!

The only real comment I have is on security. Not wishing to scaremonger, but there have been reports of tourists being stopped by realistic looking "Police" and fined illegally, using a mobile while driving is a favourite for this- €200. Also, if stopped and fined, always request a ticket that can be paid on line or at a post office, do not let them drive you to a cash dispenser! Sadly, on occasion the money just disappears into a pocket. Pointing at tyres when on a quiet road by baddies, don't be tempted to stop! Also, beware the scam of someone asking for directions, in service stations, or any distraction, as these have led to robberies, or at worse the car being stolen. Recently there was a report of an "injured" child by the road, so don't be tempted to stop, or if in ANY doubt call 112, the emergency number.

In the car you will need certified copies of licence, passport, car reg and insurance, 2 pairs of glasses, if you wear them for driving. Backless sandals are illegal, and it is said you need a fire extinguisher in a 4x4, although I need to get that confirmed! Animals need a harness, and, being really pedantic, people have been fined for loose objects on the back seat!! Speed limits vary wildly, especially on country roads. Road blocks for paperwork checks, breathalysers ect are common, in town areas, and the main Police force for traffic is the Guardia Civil, Traffico.

The above probably reads worse than it is, so have a good safe trip.

Finally, depending on the date of travel, our experience is that it is generally slightly cheaper to get the Santander or Bilbao ferry, and avoid France, but that's just my thoughts

Best wishes

Ainsley

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get some proper beam deflectors and not those rubbish things which stick on and block out part of the headlight.

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get some proper beam deflectors and not those rubbish things which stick on and block out part of the headlight.

I bought some Toyota Continental Headlamp protectors with beam benders fitted for about £38.00. I do use these about 4 times a year in France.

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get some proper beam deflectors and not those rubbish things which stick on and block out part of the headlight.

.....and also leave a bloody stubborn sticky shadow behind when removed.

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Dippy,

We will staying in Algarve and are not currently intending on going to Lisboa.

Go where Dippy is, Webz.....Lisbon Coast, Estoril, Cascais, Sintra.....and considerably less driving south.....utterly gorgeous min.

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Agree with Kev Webblers, and you'll be missing out if you don't visit Lisbon - it's a lovely city but don't go on a Saturday afternoon - it'll be closed...............

If you want to go where the Portugese go on holiday, have a look at the west coast in the Oeste region around the Foz do Arelho area. Obidos is a wonderful walled town and Caldas da Rainha has an authentic local market. Atlantic coast but beaches are long, sandy and easily accessible. Spent two weeks in the region and only met one Brit family.

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Just a couple of things, don't bother with the breathalysers the French have suspended that proposal for the time being ( before they drop it altogether!) A STOP sign in France means that! The lovely police have a nice game where they hide at junctions to catch drivers who don't actually stop at the stop sign! Andorra can be one long traffic jam if they decide to repair one of the main routes! The roads down into Spain from the Pyrenees are pretty good now they have removed the worst of the bends!

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Right. so after a while where we thought this was being given the kibosh, it's back on.. Channel Tunnel is booked so we're committed! Cannae wait!

Still got some bits and pieces to sort out but the plans are coming together nicely.

Woop woop!

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If engine Oil more than 5k miles old, change it and the feelter (Potuguese for filter.....)......lots of hard hot work to do, min.

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