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Driving in France  03/12/2014

We want you to arrive safe and happy at your campsite, so we’ve put together a few points that may help you prepare for driving in France.

French roads are considered amongst the best in Europe, particularly the extensive motorway (AutoRoute) network. The roads are regularly updated and expanded, so the first piece of advice is to ensure that you use a current road map when planning your route. If you are hoping to rely on satellite navigation, be warned that in France it is illegal to have a device in your car that identifies speed cameras.

French Motorways

If you want to reach your destination in the quickest time possible, the motorways are the best option, but you will have to pay tolls on these roads. It is possible to look up charges for your route in advance to prevent unexpected surprises. We have found the Michelin site useful for route and cost planning.

On the motorway, the toll booths are called ‘Peage’ and you will be channelled through one shortly after joining a motorway, where you will need to take a ticket. At the other end of the motorway, you will pass through a second Peage, where you will pay for using the road.

The amount will depend on the distance you have travelled and the vehicle you are in. Motorhomes or cars pulling caravans will pay a higher rate than a standard car. The lanes are labelled with ‘Monnaie Exact’ for those who have the right change to pay their toll, ‘Sans Monnaie’ for those that require change and ‘Carte Bleue’ or CB for those paying with a credit card.

As the majority of French people use alternative roads, motorways in France have the lowest traffic density in Europe and are also classified as the safest. It is important to be aware that the speed limit on the motorway is variable, currently 130km in normal conditions, 110km in rain and 50km when it is icy or in snow. Traffic information and safety warnings are clearly shown along the motorway network, so it can be helpful to familiarise yourself with some typical phrases before you travel.

Routes Nationales

If your journey is the start of your holiday experience, or you are on a budget, you may prefer to avoid the motorways. Routes Nationales are used by most French residents, so are busy, but they are usually direct routes, often with dual carriageways and a speed limit of between 90 and 110km. Other roads in France are likely to take you through towns and villages which can add to your sightseeing, but significantly increase your journey time.

Every June, the French Ministry of Transport produces ‘Carte de Bison Fute’, a document which highlights areas where congestion is likely and provides details of alternative routes. This document is provided for free at service stations, Tourist Information and online, getting hold of a copy can help you to feel prepared for your journey.

You may decide to combine some motorway travel with alternative routes to get a good balance that suits your budget and needs for convenience. However you travel, Carisma wishes you Bon Voyage!


Any views or opinions expressed in all articles under the title “Carisma News” are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Carisma Holidays Limited

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