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Going to France by car

(65 Posts)
geeljay Sat 12-Apr-14 16:42:43

I think this may be covered in these files, but cant find the thread. So, 3 of us travelling Roscoff to the Vendee in May. We have the maps, but wonder if a GPS would be beneficial to make the route easier to travel. Staying Vendee for 10 days, then up to Brittany for 5, before returning to Roscoff and home. Total adventure, we all exceed 75 years, and have not been to France for about 20 years. We previously toured with caravan, but this time we stay in statics (via Eurocamp). I have been looking at a Tomtom, but not quite sure. Any thoughts would be welcomed. What a nice site this seems to be. Regards

Brummiegran Sat 12-Apr-14 16:50:09

This sounds a great adventure. A TomTom is fine, remember to buy one for Europe! Also use it in the weeks before you go to ensure you are happy with its instructions.

Versavisa Sat 12-Apr-14 17:12:17

If you want a SATNAV I can recommend TomTom too, but we find the signage in France is so good that we rarely go astray.

We have also found the downloadable, and printable, routes from Michelin are excellent. They even include the tolls and we have found them to be correct to the cent.

Have a great time!

Versavisa Sat 12-Apr-14 17:17:52

Sorry, forgot to give you the link to the website.

ninathenana Sat 12-Apr-14 17:57:12

I have never driven outside UK. DD & SiL lived in Germany for three years and used a TomTom.
I have a "Tommy" and would recommend it for ease of use.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 12-Apr-14 18:23:32

When I go to the continent (with daughter) we would not be without the Tomtom. It helps keep you in the right lane apart from anything else! (can be really scary!)

Bez Sat 12-Apr-14 18:38:11

We use a TomTom all the time when travelling up and down through France. You can choose too if you do not wish to use the motorways etc. incase you are not aware you can use your credit card in any of the tolls - a great majority are now automatic and we find using a card much easier.

Lovely countryside you are visiting - have a great time.

DebnCreme Sat 12-Apr-14 18:46:17

We use a Garmin SatNav but unfortunately don't have one geared up for motorhomes. (Beware of low bridges)! OH does tend to feel the French are out to get us when we get off the beaten track. But I reckon he doesn't listen properly to instructions.

In Germany everything works really well.

harrigran Sat 12-Apr-14 19:14:26

We always use our sat nav but it is a built in model and bang up to date for all of Europe. DH says buy the sat nav, it is easier than the inevitable rows.

annodomini Sat 12-Apr-14 19:37:48

When I have been with my family on holiday in France, my DS has used his smartphone as satnav. I navigated unfamiliar streets in London using mine.

GrannyTwice Sat 12-Apr-14 19:48:27

Garmin every time! Lots of other useful stuff on as well - eg nearest petrol station, supermarket etc

absent Sat 12-Apr-14 19:53:00

The road signs in Nantes all seem to say "autres routes" whichever way they point, so a satnav might stop you going around in circles for an hour.

Bez Sat 12-Apr-14 20:25:29

We think the worst place to get round/through in France is Rouen - it is not quite so bad now as it was years ago, but we may think that because we know what to do now. Sadly this is the only place where Mrs Tom has let us down and sent us the wrong way, but that is probably because the roads changed and we have not bought updated maps!!

Purpledaffodil Sat 12-Apr-14 20:26:10

Is that still the case *absent? It is a family joke that I took us over the bridge there several times and we only got out of the place by following a French driver with a caravan, hoping that he was going on holiday and not heading home. In those pre sat nav days of the 1980s, campsites on the Vendee were full of Brits bonding over maps, trying to work out the best route avoiding Nantes. Happy days!

Bez Sat 12-Apr-14 20:36:38

Motorway now Purple and we have had no problems the last couple of times.

geeljay Sat 12-Apr-14 22:44:35

Hey, thanks, and lots of great responses with useful info. Feeling more optimistic already! I do remember Nantes from way back, and must have lapped the town so many times, trying to find the way out. Looks like a tomtom is now on the agenda.

absent Sat 12-Apr-14 22:57:17

I haven't been to the Vendée for a while but I strongly suspect that Nantes is still scattered with existentialist signs for "toutes directions" that take you nowhere except back to where you started.

DebnCreme Sat 12-Apr-14 23:52:36

grin Purpledaffodil that reminds me of the pre SarNav time many years ago when my sister and I got lost in the centre of Bristol. We found our way out by following the scent of the brewery.

penguinpaperback Sat 12-Apr-14 23:52:39

Our first trip, in our 40's, we took the ferry and then drove to the Spanish border. No problems, proper old route maps and a pocket language guide. We were so innocent we didn't realise we had chosen the one weekend when most of France drives South. Slept in the car as everywhere was full and I remember coming out of one of a rural ladies and telling my husband the toilets had been stolen, there were just open drains. blush It was my first visit out of England.

harrigran Sun 13-Apr-14 00:25:03

I hate the road signs Toutes and Autres, if one is all directions where are the others going to ?

annodomini Sun 13-Apr-14 06:24:40

Funny that this thread is in "ask a grandad"! Seems that we grannies know all about satnavs.

Mamie Sun 13-Apr-14 07:09:59

For anyone who uses the French autoroutes a lot, these automatic payment gadgets save a lot of time and effort:
You can sail through the telepeage lanes and the payment is taken automatically.
Also geeljay, do check up on priorité à droite. A lot of UK registered cars seem to think it no longer exists / doesn't apply to them. We see quite a few near misses in our local town every tourist season!

geeljay Sun 13-Apr-14 08:32:03

You make such sense. Priority a droite, I assume French drivers join without looking first. Which is probably scary. I shall take the action that 'if in doubt-give way. I am not normally a timid driver, but haven't mixed it abroad for some time. I have been on so many touring sites for info, and here it all is on here! How keen are Le gendarmerie on examining the satnav to ensure speed cameras etc... are not listed? I now have my travel kit, spare bulbs etc, having acquired stuff I may never need. I will have to go back to France later in the year to justify my preperations. I dunno, what with breakdown ins, health ins, green card and other things, it has almost doubled the price of the actual holiday. Nice adventure, though, and I am sure we shall enjoy. I am trying to share more memorable experiences with my OH who had a virulent shingles illness about 3 years ago which left her with a touch of the dreaded altzeimers. She copes well, and is looking forward to the trip.

Oldgreymare Sun 13-Apr-14 09:48:54

What an adventure!
Bez so right about Rouen, we never went thro the same way once until we got a satnav! Even then it seemed horribly convoluted! Satnav was also brilliant at finding our hotel in Chartres, but hopeless in Italy (rural postcodes a nightmare!)
I envy you geeljay! We have spent many happy hours driving thro France avoiding toll roads. The 'N' (Route Nationale I think) roads are so good. You make me want to do it again!
The French tourist info offices seem to follow the same pattern as ours, if you pitch up before a certain time they will find you a bed for the night (they have approved lists AND will make phonecalls to check vacancies).
Debncreme smile, as you know I will only drive thro Bristol with a navigator!!!!

Mamie Sun 13-Apr-14 10:30:09

Never heard of satnav being checked, but high vis jackets and breathalysers yes.
Priorité à droite means that in towns you give way to the right unless they have a give way or stop sign. On country roads you will see a sign like a St Andrew's cross. This means traffic from the right has priority even if you are on the bigger and faster road. Round here in Normandy it is very common and cars (and tractors) do pull out without checking the main road. In one town near here you even have it on the roundabouts. hmm
Bizarrely you sometimes see accounts in the paper of accidents caused by priorité refusé.
You don't normally get PaD on the big main roads.