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Requirements for driving in France


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My dad and I are doing the Ypres Lotus trip in May, and my dad reckons that when travelling in France you need by law:

To carry the car reg document with you

To have an emergency warning triangle

To carry spare bulbs for the front and rear lights

Is this true? And if so where's the best place to get a set of decent bulbs from? Also the headlight beam adjuster stickers too. I've never driven abroad before :) :) so excuse the numptiness.

Many thanks.......

EDIT: Google is my friend - found this - http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/touring_tips/france-monaco.pdf so now just recommendations for where's best to buy spare bulbs and beeam converters from.....

Edited by Flump

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Make sure each occupant can get to a reflective vest from their seat too (ie stick them down the back of the seats!) as this is a requirement too. :)

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You may have trouble with the beam converters on an S2 Elise. I seem to have some sort of memory about the later cars having an adjustment to flick for Euro driving, but I'm getting old and could be mistaken. Have a flick through your handbook.

The bulbs, vests and triangle etc are all sold at your nearest Halfords. (Don't be overly concerned about getting the exact bulb kit for your car, the Gendarmes just want to see evidence of 'something' rather than doing a full-on tech investigation of your car's lighting system)

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Already got visivests sorted and my dad is supplying the triangle, just need to get a GB sticker. As for the bulbs, well I'm not sure if my car has the HID conversion kit fitted as the guy I bought from did a lot of tweaking to it. Have sent him a text but no reply as yet. Night driving seems to be pisspoor light quality, so I'm guessing it's the normal bulbs. Car is due a service before France so I'll find out about manual adjusting and check the book. :) So those sticker things are no good then? (http://www.totaltravelhire.co.uk/headlamp-beam-deflectors/) I did wonder due to the shape of S2 lights.......

EDIT - got a text back - no conversion kit fitted. Arse.

Edited by Flump

Photography portfolio - www.rache.co.uk

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Some things I'd add:

Watch the speed limit. They have zero tolerance to being over the limit. In the UK there is normally a margin for error that the plod will add on before taking action, say 10% plus 2. Not in France. If the Gendarmes clock you 1km/hr over, they'll do you. Also watch out for speed limit changes in wet weather. The Autoroutes (motorways) and major roads will operate different speed limits in wet and dry conditions. E.g. on autoroutes 130 km/hr dry, 110 km/hr wet. They also have very strict speed limits on autoroute exit roads. It's not unheard of for the Gendarmes to sit in service areas and pull cars for speeding as they exit the autoroute.

They only put speed camera signs up if there actually is a camera there too, so if you see the sign for one, make sure you're in the limit. Cameras are grey normally and difficult to spot, so the sign for one is really useful. Additionally a lot of the autoroute ones are forward facing and mounted in the central reservation, so not where you'd expect coming from UK experience.

Petrol, there are two types of services on autoroutes, rest stops only, which have a car park and a toilet and no other facilities, and the more mainsteam, everything there (cafe, garage etc). These though are much farther apart than you'll be used to (sometimes as much as 60 miles between petrol services). The signs are quite clear as to which is which, and when you're next petrol services is, but be wary of pushing your yellow warning light! It's very expensive too on the autoroutes, currently about €1.55/litre for the 98 octane good stuff you'll need. If you can fill up off the Autoroutes, much better.

You will need to have ALL your Brit docs with you, i.e. driving license, insurance docs, MOT (if applicable), as well as the V5.

Enjoy it! I love driving in France, less traffic equals more fun!!

If you cross at Calais, be on the lookout for Gendarmes for the first few kilometres. Speeding UK drivers racing away from the ferries/tunnel have caused a stir in previous times, and every now and again the Gendarmes will mount a zero tolerance campaign and blanket cover the autoroutes around Calais.

The advice Graham gives about the bulb kits is good. They just want to see one, and are not interested in working out if it's right for the car, UNLESS they've managed to have you on something else, in which case they will sometimes do an in depth check of everything.

Regards

Mat

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Speed limits....130kph on dry autoroutes is a lot better than the UK anyway; if you have a GPS, use it to give an accurate speed reading...speedometers are nearly always over reading; my Volvo indicates 87 at a true 80mph/130kph. So you can then travel at the correct, legal, speed.... You are VERY unlikely to be stopped by the Gendarmerie..if you are, being able to speak even a bit of French helps a lot. As far as sets of bulbs are concerned, I agree that all you need is one of the nice plastic boxed sets sold for the purpose, something to wave at the Gendarme if needed. As long as your lights have the stickers on them everyone will be happy...nobody is going to test them! One other requirement is a first aid kit as it's a legal duty to give first aid in the event of an accident. Lots of French drivers keep their hivis vests draped over the car seats..then they're visible to the authorities and one less reason to stop you! Matk says they'll do you for 1kph over the limit; all I can say is that hasn't been my experience, but better not to take the chance!!

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Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

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On the speeding issue i would follow Matt's advice. In my experience it depends on the type of car and time of year. May & June is Le Mans time and the French Police see Euro signs in their eyes as masses of city boys driving Porsches, Lambo's & Fezza's come straming across the channel for a hoon. As far as kit is concerned a couple of years ago we were stopped boarding the Euro tunnel in the UK and checked for all the items required, we were lucky as this was the first time in 11 years that we had bothered to pack it all.

Having said all that have a great time, France is great for driving in as they have very little traffic and not much in the way of roadworks. I am going to Manchester today from just South west of Birmingham a journey of 98 miles and I am alowing 3 hours because of all the roadworks and average speed camera's on the M6 :)

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I used to drive a LOT in France and always remember the A26 just outside of Calais full or Brit cars on the hard shoulder, the Gendarmes sat hidden in the resting places and clock you then you would get the big visible van parked up down the road to pull you over, 1000 Franc fine in those days!

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Five Lotus cars from the Cambs Area will be travelling in Mid May to the fabulous museum at Loheac ( via Portsmouth/St.Malo) and then on to Le Mans for a quick look at the museum and a trip around those parts of the circuit open as "normal roads".

Marion and I went to Loheac in the Matra Bagheera last year and then took it on to Romarantin to the site of the factory where it was made 32 years ago. Considering this Bagheera had spent two years in a scrapyard and then another 18 months in a hedge before being restored and this was it's first big trip I was really impressed with how it performed..which was faultlessly!

I have to say that the quality of French roads puts our British roads to shame.

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Though this be madness yet there is method in it ( Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet)

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Also beware on the autoroute that the Peage booths are a known distance apart and that the toll ticket has a time of issue therefore if you reach the next paege booth too early you have been speeding and it is not unknown for the Gendarmes to be waiting at the booths.

Edited by bingoking
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Having said all that have a great time, France is great for driving in as they have very little traffic and not much in the way of roadworks. I am going to Manchester today from just South west of Birmingham a journey of 98 miles and I am alowing 3 hours because of all the roadworks and average speed camera's on the M6:thumbdown:

There's only one at the moment and only a few miles. I got from the M6 toll services to central manchester in about 80 minutes last week in the 211.

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A few other things to be wary of. First, as you come to a peage the speed limit reduces several hundred metres out. I've known several folk get caught here. Also you may find breath testing just after lunch. I can't remember the limit but from memory it's lower than in the UK. Finally, not all french petrol stations take foreign cards - late at night many of the petrol stations in minor locations are automated and seem to take only French registered cards. It's worth keeping it filled up at these times (and Sundays)

There was a time, not so long ago, when there was no license plate sharing between the French and the Swiss. Unfortunately those days are well and truly behind us. Immunity from speed cameras did help with making good progress on the weekend trips to Provence (I would guess that the lane-2 average speed on a Sunday evening hovered around 200kmh with the Genevois returning home from their chalets in Megeve.)

That being said it's a fantastic country with some amazing roads. We always used to travel with a copy of the Michelin Guide in the car and used that to pick (and reserve) little restaurants just of the motorways - so much better than service stations.

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Marion and I went to Loheac in the Matra Bagheera last year

Any chance of a couple of pics of your Bagheera? Always had a soft spot for these. Send me an email if it's too off-topic, tried PMing you but it won't work for some reason.

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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If by adding this picture ( assuming I get it to add itself on) I destroy the Forum, then I apologise in advance...computers ain't my thing...no stops to pull, no manuals to play, no pipes to check...thumbsup.gif

Crickey it worked! Shall I try another one!

As I said earlier I was so pleased this car ( which belongs to my darling wife) has been so reliable considering it's murky past. Originally put together by Pratical Classics as a project car, we have succesfully completed it's transformation from bagarust into Bagheera with rebuilt transmission, retrim ,new electrics etc etc...sound familiar to anyone else?rolleyes.gif

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Edited by IanQ

Though this be madness yet there is method in it ( Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet)

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Nigel, that would be great! We are travelling from Rennes to Le Mans straight through Laval on Saturday May 15th. If you would like to swap mobile numbers or PM me we can fix something up. There will be a JPS Europa, a second Europa, an S2 Elise, an S3 Esprit and my S4S and we are really looking forward to it.thumbsup.gif

Though this be madness yet there is method in it ( Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet)

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Dad and I are heading from Ypres down to Giverny on the Friday, going to Monet's garden then back up to Dunkirk on the Sunday to go to the war museums before the ferry home. We wanted to go to the LeMans museum or Versailles but we'd need a good few more days to fully see it all I reckon, was getting a bit far to drive with a 71 year old passenger!

Speed limits....130kph on dry autoroutes is a lot better than the UK anyway; if you have a GPS, use it to give an accurate speed reading...speedometers are nearly always over reading; my Volvo indicates 87 at a true 80mph/130kph. So you can then travel at the correct, legal, speed.... .......Matk says they'll do you for 1kph over the limit; all I can say is that hasn't been my experience, but better not to take the chance!!

I've got a new TomTom Europe V2 widescreen on the way, you can set routes and put in a maximum speed can't you, so the TomTom bings at you if you exceed? I'll not be blatting anywhere as <GIRLY MODE>I've not driven on European roads before so will be ultra careful and probably terrified on approaching a roundabout</GIRLY MODE> :):animier: :animier:

Edited by Flump

Photography portfolio - www.rache.co.uk

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You'll be fine..there's never any problem as long as there is other traffic, and you just fit in. It's when you pull out of a filling station on an empty road you can go wrong...back in 1978 when I was in North America I did just that, and happily drove for miles on an empty road until I encountered a large truck coming the other way.. "What's that idiot doing on the wrong side ofthe road?!!" Ah.....not him......It's MEEEEE!!! No harm done, but a lesson learned...

Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

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It is my understanding that it is an offence in France to dazzle oncoming traffic with badly adjusted headlamps. If you don't use your headlamps then you can't possibly dazzle people with them.... hence it is not strictly necessary to fit the deflector thingies.

I drove my Marcos for 3 weeks in France last year, sometimes at night, without fitting deflectors and wasn't pulled once. My problem is that the lamps are buried in a tunnel and covered over with a perspex cover which is sealed to the bodywork so I couldn't fit the deflectors. Before I left England I stood the car near a wall at night and use black tape on the covers until I had removed the 'ears' on the beam pattern. Then I marked where the tape was fitted before removing it. I carried tape with me all the way down to Toulouse and back, never finding an occasion to use it

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.<br />

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In practice, there is!

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  • 1 year later...

What's the situation with spare tyres in France.

My son's going over with his Clio, which doesn't have a spare, just a can to blow a deflated one back up again.

Apparently on the sport they don't provide a spare because it has a diffuser fitted where the spare would normally go.

Is there a requirement to carry a spare, or is the can enough?

I'd have thought it ought to be, seeing's how it's a French car!

Hooligan at heart.

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What's the situation with spare tyres in France.

My son's going over with his Clio, which doesn't have a spare, just a can to blow a deflated one back up again.

Apparently on the sport they don't provide a spare because it has a diffuser fitted where the spare would normally go.

Is there a requirement to carry a spare, or is the can enough?

I'd have thought it ought to be, seeing's how it's a French car!

Hi, no there's no requirement to carry a spare wheel nor even a can AAMOF.

Your son will be just fine as is.

Hey whats wrong with this wreck? We`re getting gas back here.

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