Hidden gems in Brittany and Normandy
A lot of surfers head directly to the south of France to hit the well-known surfer beaches, such as Biarritz, and are missing out on the hidden gems of the North. Brittany and Normandy offer sandy beaches with powerful breaks which make these regions a surfer’s paradise for all abilities.
What to do before, during and after an accident
Driving in France allows you to see some beautiful landscapes and it is probably the easiest way to explore the country. However, France has one of the highest road accident rates in the world with a recent study stating that 75% of French people admit to not sticking to the speed limit. It is always wise to be careful and alert on the roads and to make sure you are totally covered in case of an accident.
What type of insurance do you need for your car?
As in most countries, car insurance is essential in France and driving without it is a serious offence. All imported motor vehicles plus trailers and semi-trailers must have insurance and if you’re found driving without it, you could receive a fine of up to €3,750 and a 3 month license suspension.
Fares, booking and cross-channel services
Ferry services operate year round between France and the UK/Ireland. There’s a wide choice of routes for travellers between France and the UK, depending on where you live and your intended route.
Lille’s masterpiece for art lovers
Second only to the Louvre in France, the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille is one of the leading museums of Europe.
How to buy a new or used car in France
Unlike people in most Western countries, the French generally drive cars manufactured in their own country. This isn’t simply chauvinism, as French cars are relatively cheap and usually very good and, when they need servicing or break down, you can have them repaired at a reasonable cost at a almost any garage in France.
All you need to know for renting a car in France
Car hire (rental) companies such as Avis, Eurodollar, Europcar, Hertz, National Citer and Thrifty have offices in most cities and large towns and at major airports. Look under
Location de voitures in the yellow pages. If you’re a visitor, it’s wise to book a rental car before arriving in France.
What should know when taking a french taxi
Taxi ranks (
station de taxi) are usually to be found outside railway stations, at airports and at main junctions in towns and cities. At some taxi ranks, e.g. at Charles de Gaulle airport, a button is provided to call a taxi when none are waiting.
The shuttle car train service between France and the UK
Eurotunnel (formerly Le Shuttle) operates a shuttle car train service between Coquelles (near Calais) and Folkestone via the Channel Tunnel. Owing billions of euros, it was officially declared bankrupt in August 2006 but maintains that its service will be unaffected.
What you should know
There’s a nationwide campaign in France for ‘car-free’ cities, and there are excellent bus services in Paris and other major cities, and many also have tram or trolley bus systems, including Bordeaux, Caen, Lyon, Le Mans, Montpellier, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Orléans, Rouen, Strasbourg, Toulon and Valenciennes.
Quality of service and regulations
A number of French cities have underground railways or subways (
métro), including Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Toulouse and most recently Rennes, whose
Val system claims to be the world’s smallest underground network.
Fares, booking, facilities and general information
The French railway network extends to every corner of France. It’s the largest in western Europe, with over 31,000km of track, serving around 5,000 passenger stations and carrying over 800m passengers per year.
Airports, flights, fares and tips
The state-owned national airline, Air France, is France’s major carrier, flying to over 30 French, 65 European and 120 other destinations in over 70 countries. Air France and its various subsidiaries has a fleet of over 200 aircraft and carries 16m passengers annually.
The heart of Toulouse
Have a seat in one of the lively cafés decorating the Place du Capitole and take a look around. Since the 12th century, the passion of Toulouse pours from this very place. From here, the streets weave deep into the tapestry that makes the “Ville Rose,” named for its dark pink, brick buildings.
Your guide to getting there without pulling out your hair
Okay, admit it. Flying makes you nervous, and airports make your heart beat wildly. I realize many of you are “seasoned flyers”. Nothing fazes you. You glide through the corridors of airports with such grace and style that the people step aside and applaud you. Well, let me prepare you for a place that you have not yet experienced. That’s right. Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The birth of a symbol of Paris
Last year the footsteps of 6,230,050 visitors sounded in clear opposition to the opinions of some19th century France’s great minds. Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier, and Dumas the Younger joined in signing a 300-person petition protesting the Eiffel Tower’s construction in 1887.
Within the walls of Roman theaters your imagination brings to life the poets sharing their hearts, gladiators fighting to death, musicians composing their song in the arena where you stand.
Named for patron saint of Bordeaux
Before Bordeaux earned its glory from the vines, it was known for its harbor along the Gironde River. Even when its wines became famous far and wide, producers could thank the river for facilitating trades.
The place to be in Montpellier
Montpellier’s attraction that draws the most people on any given day has been named “l’Oeuf” by local residents. This oval-shaped area of town, hence the name, is a pedestrian walkway full of outdoor cafés, shops, and endless entertainment.
Justice and culture, the symbol of Brittany
After being conquered by the Romans, then later the Francs, the Grand Dukedom of Brittany was officially integrated into France in 1532. At this crucial time, the city of Rennes came forward to serve as the administrative center and the head office of the
Parlement de Bretagne (Parliament of Brittany). This ruling city has suffered two losses by fire, but the spirit of Bretagne survived and thrives.
A kaleidoscope of nature in Nice
Nice’s Parc Floral du Phoenix welcomed 260 000 visitors last year, making it the third most popular attraction in the Alpes-Maritimes region, according to the Observatoire du Tourisme.
Strasbourg’s place of beauty and relaxation
Built to impress an empress in 1804, the Park of the Orangerie and pavilion still capture the hearts of all who pass through it.
Watching over Marseille
Around 620-600 B.C. Greek-Phoenicians landed here with in hopes of trading at Lacydon Creek, now the Old Port of Marseille.
Driving in France is not so different from driving anywhere else in Europe, however we advise you to look out for the numerous automatic speed cameras awaiting you...
to France from the UK
Whether it’s for a job, a partner, or just to try out a new life, there are endless reasons to move to France from the UK. In fact, it’s such a good idea that hundreds of thousands of us now live there, with millions visiting every year to enjoy all that our neighbour across the channel has to offer.
Where to get your car repaired
Garages are required to display a list of their charges for routine repairs and servicing, and many also display their hourly rate for different types of work, e.g. mechanical, electrical or bodywork.
What you need to consider when buying gasoline in France
Leaded petrol is no longer available and has been replaced by
super, which has a potassium content, although this is also being phased out and is no longer available at most petrol stations. Unleaded petrol is usually available in two grades, 95 octane and 98 octane.
How and where to park your car in France
Parking in most towns and cities isn’t such a problem or as expensive as in many other European countries. However, parking is usually restricted in cities and towns and prohibited altogether in certain areas. Parking regulations may vary with the area of a city, the time of day, the day of the week, and whether the date is odd or even.
How to secure your car in France
Car theft is rampant in France, which has one of the highest rates of vehicle theft – and car burning! – in Europe (the theft of contents or accessories from motor vehicles is even more commonplace).
General information and useful tips
If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident (
accident d’auto), you must do the following in addition to the standard procedures that apply in all countries.
Mopeds and other motorbikes
The French are keen motorcyclists and there are more bikers per head of population in France than in any other European country, although there’s only one French motorbike manufacturer.
The French way of driving
France has some of the most dangerous drivers in Europe, who seem to use their brakes only when their horn or headlights don’t work. Foreigners should be aware that many French drivers become apoplectic when overtaken by them.
Motorways, tolls and other roads
has a good road system that includes everything from motorways to forest dirt tracks. French motorways are excellent and most other main roads are also very good, although roads are generally poorer in areas with low traffic density. Roads are classified as follows and are identified by their prefix and colour-coded markers.
The enforcement of driving rules in France
In France, the
gendarmerie nationale, which is actually a branch of the army,
is responsible for road patrols, and
gendarmes use both cars and motorcycles. The police can stop motorists (called a
contrôle) and ask for identification and car papers at any time.
Recognition of foreign licenses and French licenses
The minimum age for driving a car in France is 18, although
sans permis vehicles can be driven at 14. Those between 16 and 18 may follow an accompanied or ‘anticipated’ learning programme consisting of at least 20 hours’ instruction by a qualified driving instructor, culminating in a written test, followed by 3,000km of accompanied driving; the practical test cannot be taken until the age of 18.
Information and useful tips
French-registered private vehicles no longer require a road tax certificate (
vignette automobile), except certain camper vans. If you use a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes for your business, it must be taxed, and if you run a business that has more than three vehicles, you must pay tax on the fourth, fifth, etc..
Getting an inspection of your car in France
All cars over four years old are required to have a technical inspection every two years, carried out at an authorised test centre. Tests cover over 50 points, including steering, suspension, fuel tank, bodywork, seats, mirrors, windscreen, all of which must be functional and in good condition, and emission levels.
Registration documents and numbers
When you import a car into France or buy a new or second-hand car, it must be registered at the
sous-préfecture in the department where you’re resident within 15 days.
What to consider when selling your car in France
Before selling a car in France, you must obtain a ‘certificate of sale’ form from your town hall,
préfecture or a garage selling cars. The form must be completed in duplicate; one copy is given to the buyer and the other is sent to the registration office.
Touring the Chardonnay region
Like beer connoisseurs who insist a proper pint of Guinness can only be had in Ireland, most wine connoisseurs will likewise make the case that a true devotee of a particular wine must drink that wine in its namesake region for the purest, best experience. “It tastes better here” is the refrain.
What you should know when driving in France
The following guide to road rules may help you to adjust to driving in France. Don’t, however, expect other motorists to adhere to them (most French drivers invent their own ‘rules’).
Winter ski paradise
Relatively unknown outside of Geneva, Morzine offers great skiing for everyone and has a few characteristics which really make it stand out. You might also see Morzine-Avoiraz, or just Avoiraz used, these are effectively two resorts linked by the pistes.
Flying to, from and in France
All major international airlines provide scheduled services to Paris, and many also fly to other main French cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Toulouse.
Motorways, trunk roads and others
France has a good road system that includes everything from motorways to forest dirt tracks. The quality of roads varies enormously, however: while motorways are generally excellent and most other main roads are also very good, urban roads and minor roads in rural areas can be poorly maintained.
Getting around in France
Public transport (transport public) services in France vary considerably according to where you live. They’re generally excellent in French cities, most of which have efficient local bus and rail services, many supplemented by underground railway and/or tram networks.
Eurostar, Motorail and the Eurotunnel
There are direct trains to France from most major European cities, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basle, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, London, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Rome, Rotterdam, Venice, Vienna and Zurich.
The Paris few know
With about 42 million visitors a year, Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There are many famous attractions that draw tourists again and again to this romantic and cultural capital.