It is generally agreed that France is a fantastic destination for a touring caravan holiday.
Open roads, the relative absence of heavy traffic, wide open spaces, history and cuisine, it’s all there!
However, if it is your first journey or somewhere that you perhaps have not visited much in the past, you might find the following tips useful.
Have a dossier of paperwork
Random stops and checks of vehicles and paperwork are perhaps rather more commonplace in France than in the United Kingdom.
If you want to avoid in-depth discussions with and apologies to the Gendarmes, make sure that your paperwork is all readily available in one place and includes:
- your registration document;
- the certificate of insurance (remember, it needs to be valid for France and if you are in any doubt, get some touring caravan insurance quotes before you leave);
- your driving licence;
- if the vehicle or caravan is not yours, a letter from the owner authorising you to take it abroad within specified dates;
- your passport.
Two breath-test kits
These are now a legal requirement in France and can be obtained for only a pound or two from many French shops and outlets.
On French motorways, stopping-off picnic and rest stops (called Aires) are far more commonplace and typically more picturesque than their UK equivalents.
Those that are formal service stations with food and other facilities will have excellent and well maintained toilet facilities.
Those that are simply picnic spots will have reasonable toilets and water facilities but might be unlikely to have toilet paper!
Spare bulbs, fluorescent vests and warning triangles
These are all legal requirements for driving on French roads and a full list can typically be obtained from motoring organisations.
Do not make the mistake of assuming that this is all bureaucracy that you don’t need to bother about. If the Gendarmes stop you for an inspection, they will expect to see these things in your vehicle and you may be facing a fine if they are not.
A Europe-valid bank or credit card
Some exits from French motorways may be entirely unmanned and automatic.
Before being able to leave the motorway, you will need to pay your fees and if you don’t have a card in automatic situations, then this going to cause difficulties and embarrassment.
Check with your card provider, prior to departure, that you have adequate credit and that your card is valid for Europe.
Check for access with overnight stops
It’s not unusual to see some touring caravan owners trying to get their vehicle and caravan into totally inadequate hotel car parks when treating themselves to an overnight stay en-route.
Remember, if you are using a hotel and not your tourer for en-route accommodation, check with your hotel in advance to make sure that it has caravan access. Even some hotels specifically designed for motorway travellers may well be unsuitable.