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 So just back from France ... what did I learn?

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TimV
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PostSubject: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:11 pm

1. That taking a box full of spares and a tool kit means you won't need them.

2. You should save the address of your outward and homeward destinations on your SatNav before you leave home.

3. Brittany Ferries are excellent and the posh restaurant a la carte menu is superb.

4. My BraziBay attracts attention everywhere.

5. French roads are beautifully smooth in comparison to the pot-holed tarmac we put up with here.

6. Do take a 2 pin Euro hook-up adaptor, because even if you don't need it, someone less organised will turn up on the pitch next to you and to help them out you can get them plugged in using the converter.

7. My SatNav has a great way of showing me countryside I'd never have seen if I followed a map.

8. The beam benders for the headlights that you buy off eBay for £3 work great.

9. Sleeping upstairs in my BraziBay is fun.

10. Don't worry - everything will be fine.

Basketball

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Matt

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:30 am

sounds like a successfull adventure onto the wrong side of the channel. Good to see you made it back in one piece.

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KC

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:07 pm

Tim - welcome back. Sounds like all went well! Thanks for the tips as well - we're off in 17 days!!
2-pin adaptor - check
addresses in satnav - check
beam benders - will take a look
spares - check
Travelling by LD Lines not Brittany ferries......so will expect a sweaty cheese cob and a cuppa.
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TimV
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:33 pm

The remark about putting all your destinations in the Satnav is because where we travelled I regularly had no data coverage on my phone. The French road signs tend NOT to indicate the number of the road you are on (ie A-roads etc) instead show where they head. So my Garmin would tell me the number of the road I was on but I couldn't confirm such on the road signs.

I just let the Nav show me the way - and the path it took us via was fab.

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KC

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:43 pm

I've got a note of all the addresses (5 campsites in total) worked out on googlemaps already, but this weekend is to be spent programming them into my TomTom..
Will take a big map as back-up too though..
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AbsintheKombi

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:23 pm

Hello from St Martin de Re. Our last day here today then we start to head north to catch the Brittany ferry from St Malo on Tuesday.

We've had a fantastic time so far and no issues with Absinthe apart from a slight dent where I caught a wooden post. Oops!

Many admiring looks and garbled conversations with many nationalities about the van. On a couple of occasions a car has followed us to the hypermarche just to have a chat.

The roads are great but even though I've driven over here dozens of times I was still a bit nervous bringing the Kombi. I needn't have worried though. Everything has been fine.

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KC

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:31 pm

All good to hear - very excited about our upcoming trip!
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harryhornet

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:37 pm

Lots of good words of advice Tim but most importantly did you have a good time? Where did you go? Which campsites would you recommend? Let's see some pictures!
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TimV
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:13 pm

I had a great time HH. When I get a mo I'll tell the tale. My Kombi isn't even unpacked yet - I'm back at work!

Most of my pix are on my camera at home, but from my phone ....


At Portsmouth about to board Bretagne.

Half way to our destination in Southern Brittany we stopped for a break at Ereac.

We visited the picture postcard harbour of Doelan and had some fabulous French grub.

We had one morning of light rain, which proved a good opportunity to try out the new Bus Shelter canopy - it worked great.

Me being arty with my camera phone.

All lined-up at Saint-Malo for the crossing back to Portsmouth, and yes I think Max marked his spot on the French tarmac. Cool

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haum

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:17 am

Nice! The clear rear lenses are looking great!
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:30 am

Looks good, brings back happy memories of a scorching summer in the Vendee, see what you mean about the canopy, 'bright'. Very Happy Cool
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:32 pm

I can add a couple of items to your list ...

1. If you are absent minded enough to not take all your insurance/V5/MOT etc documents (mostly required to be carried by law I believe), you will encounter a police random checkpoint every time you leave the autoroute, without fail.

2. They will stop you. Without fail.

3. Smile, be co-operative and innocently surprised, pretend your French is even worse than it is, provide what documents you do have and wave any AA printouts, paper counterparts or whatever, as these may be mistaken for the things you actually need. Hope the baby will smile cutely at the police. This may work.

As far as I can tell, they just want to check you don't smell of booze and have van bits dropping off.
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TimV
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:42 pm

I was lucky. The route my nav took me avoided any tolls and I didn't see any gendarmes except for the one who wanted to look inside the cabin just as we headed back onto the ferry. He was checking we had cheese in the fridge.

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:45 pm

Ah yes, I'm pretty sure they can also give you an on-the-spot fine for failure to carry sufficient Camembert for all occupants of a vehicle.
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:51 pm

One thing I forgot to include: get a spare (non-ignition) key cut and wear it round your neck on a lanyard or similar. The amount of times I locked/unlocked my camper whilst we were pitched I couldn't even begin to count - it saves wear on the ignition keys and you can wear it in the water.

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Roobarb

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:11 am

The first time we came back from France in Roobarb, we were stopped for a security check. The chap looked in the windows then signalled that he wanted the boot opening. I duly went round and unlocked the boot (rear hatch). Non - he wanted to see in the BOOT. Ah, I opened the engine compartment and he looked then gave a sheepish grin and waved me on...
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lynnand steve

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:52 pm

Hi I travel to France in Scooby 4 times a year , if any one is going to Brittany I always use Brittany ferries - Plymouth to Rosclofff , the drive is amazing through all the country roads.
One thing you have to have now is breathalysers - in France from the Bricolage or halfords sell a '2 pack'
Law started in August so beware as they monitor quite strictly.

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sundialsoft

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:24 pm

We have been to France several times.

Things we learned:-
1. Out of high season you do not have to book anything, just turn up.
2. It's just your luck re: toilets. Sometimes they are UK standard but can just as easily be unisex, hole in the ground or otherwise unsuitable.
3. Wine is better and so much cheaper over there.
4. There are plenty of good long straight roads without a toll.
5. The police are only interested in getting you off the road if you break down.
6. Eurotunnel's breakdown cover is SUPERB. They did an unbelievable amount for us when we broke down last year on the way home from the Loire (alternator)
7. French garages don't know what fast means in any language.
8. The French let dogs in just about anywhere even supermarkets.

can't continue as the wife wants to go to the beach.

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Matt

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:13 pm

Things we have learned :-
Most lorries arent allowed to travel on a sunday by law, making that the ideal day to pootle along in the inside lane in a Brazilian.

Using the toll roads makes your journey much easier, well sign posted, no roundabouts/ traffic lights, they dont cost that much over long distances, you can put the map down.

If you go out of season get an ACSI card and use their campsites. €12-€18 a night with electric for 2 people + local taxs ( a few cents ).

France is a huge country

You will have a great time

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:51 pm

Matt wrote:
Things we have learned :-
….If you go out of season get an ACSI card and use their campsites. €12-€18 a night with electric for 2 people + local taxs ( a few cents )….

Yes, we have seen the signs for the cards all over so expect to get one next long trip.

Hoping to get over late September but the small matter of 25th wedding anniversary caribbean holiday first. Sadly can't take the camper van.
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Firebird

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:06 pm

Just planning our trip to france and have fallen at the first hurdle. What are we when it comes to booking the ferry - a car, a van, a motorhome? I was threatened with a ticket when i parked as a car on a beach front in Dorset last year and i don't want day 1 of the holiday to go horribly wrong...
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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:43 pm

You are a motorhome for the purpose of the ferries. I think the channel tunnel actually has a camper van option. Are you going via Calais. If so get when coming home be sure to drive straight to the ferry without stopping near the port. The place is covered in young men trying to jump on to anything gong to the UK.

We have mostly used the channel tunnel. The terminal in France is beside cite europe, the huge shopping mall. It's dearer but very fast & no illegal immigrants to worry about or at least vastly fewer.

Remember your yellow vest for everyone and the breathalysers though I'm not sure if they have that law properly working yet.

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Kaz

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:04 am

We sail from Poole - Cherbourg as trip from home to port is shorter for us. Also enjoy the drive down from Cherbourg, our first night was spent in a French chateau (B&B) forty minutes from the port, and booked online from the ferry! Not expensive, and we started our trip refreshed and relaxed. We've decided to make that a regular part of our trip, as a 4 am start leaves us oldies incapable of driving and setting up an awning!
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sundialsoft

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:29 am

Kaz wrote:
We sail from Poole - Cherbourg as trip from home to port is shorter for us. Also enjoy the drive down from Cherbourg, our first night was spent in a French chateau (B&B) forty minutes from the port, and booked online from the ferry! Not expensive, and we started our trip refreshed and relaxed. We've decided to make that a regular part of our trip, as a 4 am start leaves us oldies incapable of driving and setting up an awning!

Love the Chateau B&B idea. When we sailed to Cherbourg we stayed at a campsite in St Pair sur Mere with private 'facilities'. Nice little town with a great beach. Cycled to Granville nearby as well.

And 57 is not old. I'm 61 (having retired at 57) and am definitely not old though I feel it sometimes.


Last edited by sundialsoft on Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kaz

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PostSubject: Re: So just back from France ... what did I learn?   Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:25 am

Will take a look at that campsite, always useful to get recommendations. The French campsites are generally good, so far. The only duffer last time was clean, but basic. I'm a bit fussy, but I like a loo seat on my loo...
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