Motoring in France
Before you travel, make sure you have the following:
Full UK driving licence Valid insurance certificate (Green card)
Spare set of bulbs & fuses Warning triangle
First aid kit
Florescent Vest (one for each passenger)
Always carry Documentation such as your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance.
Speed limits shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent, anyone caught travelling at more than 25 km/h above the speed limit in France can have their licence confiscated on the spot.
Remember, speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on-the-spot fines. Ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.
In Town - 50km/h (31mph)
Other Roads - 90 km/h (56mph)
Dual Carriageways - 110km/h (69mph)
Motorways - 130km/h (81mph)
N.B. When visibility is below 50m, speed limit is 50km/h everywhere.
When it is raining or bad weather the speeds in town, Main roads and Dual carriageway reduce by 10 km/h and on the motorways reduce by 20km/h.
Drinking and Driving
Don't do it. Over 0.05 per cent and you could face anything up to imprisonment. France has strict drink driving laws, blood alcohol levels being stricter than in the UK. Rather than present you with meaningless figures relating to blood/breath alcohol levels, our advice is if you're driving, don't drink.
Children under 10 years of age must be seated in the rear and seat-belted in an approved child seat (booster for non-babies). However, a very young child in an approved rear-facing safety seat can be in front.
Take care in built-up areas where the old rule giving priority to traffic coming from the right (Priorité à droite) still applies unless a yellow diamond indicates you have priority.
On roundabouts you generally give priority to traffic already on the roundabout, in other words, coming from your left as you enter the roundabout.
Credit and Debit Cards
Cards are widely accepted, although they probably won't work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps in rural areas open out-of-hours, which also means lunch-time from noon to 3pm.
It's a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.
Breakdown and Assistance
Parking and resting zones are situated every 10 to 20km, with 24-hour petrol stations found approximately every 40km. If you do breakdown, pull up on the right hand lay-by. Make sure you illuminate your hazard warning lights and place a red warning triangle 30m behind your vehicle.
Free emergency telephones are situated every 2km on all motorways.
If you do break down and don't want to leave your vehicle, await a road patrols on all sections of the motorway. Flashing headlights on a motorway means I'm coming through; it's best just to quietly move over and don't let your ego get the better of you. Lights flashing on a country road may mean there's a police check ahead.. It's illegal to give these warnings!!
The French word Gendarme means literally 'armed men', they're tough, they're rough and they're generally disliked. In France, 3 times as many deaths occur on the roads than Britain for the same population, so it's no-wonder French police have an appalling attitude to towards motorists!!
If you break the rules you can expect to be fined around €30 to over €3,000 for serious speeding offences or more for drunken or reckless driving. Non-residents must pay in cash on the spot & residents have 30 days to pay up.
Mobile phones set-up for roaming receive a good French network signal in the area. If your mobile is unblocked for using any network then you can purchase a French SIM card from most supermarkets / electrical stores.
Telephoning Britain from France
Telephoning Britain 0044 + std code less the first zero + number so 0207 123 4567 becomes 00 44 207 123 4567
Emergency Telephone Numbers in France
15 Ambulance (SAMU = Service D'Aide Medicale Urgent)
17 Police (Gendarmes)
18 Fire service (Pompiers)
112 Universal Switchboard .. All three services (like 999 in U.K.)
Doctors, Chemist & Dentist
* In case of emergency there is an English speaking Doctor in Carentan, called Dr C Bouffard, by telephoning 02 33 42 33 21.
* There is also a Chemist / Pharmacist in Sainteny called Pharmacie Holat Alain, telephone number 02 33 42 02 16.
* The nearest Dentist is in La Haye du Puits called Dr Benoit Mabic by telephoning 02 33 46 10 97.
Sainteny has excellent facilities having a Boulangerie / Patisserie (good selection of freshly baked breads and cakes), Boucherie (butchers), a village store selling general provisions and a pharmacie (chemist).
The local towns of Carentan and Periers provide Supermarkets, Banks, Chemists, Bars & Restaurants.
Most shops in the main towns open Monday to Saturday from 9/10am to 7pm. Shops out of town often shut at lunchtime from noon until 2pm and banks are open usually Tuesday to Saturday. Almost all shops are closed on Sundays with the exception of the bakeries that usually open for a few hours in the morning.