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The Beautiful Loire Valley in France And What You Need To Know To Drive Through It

Aug 17, 2007
Autoroutes or french motorways are a delight to drive on, as they are all relatively new and incredibly well maintained. All of the motorways throughout France are a fast efficient way to travel and once you are on them they are easy to navigate. They are usually expensive and the locals prefer to avoid them and stick to the national routes (the RN and D roads).

France has one of the densest road networks in Europe. French roads are always very well maintained and the road network includes 4960 miles of motorways constructed in the last 20 years (many with tolls) which link the main provincial towns and cities with Paris.

The minimum driving age in France is 18 years old. All drivers in France need a valid drive's licence. Proof of insurance coverage is necessary. The gendarmes may request to see your license, insurance certificate, and vehicle registration at any time. You should also carry a passport or National Identity Card.

Beware on the spot fines are imposed for not carrying the proper documentation. All drivers should carry a red warning triangle in their boot, together with spare head-light bulbs, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.

In France to rent a car you must be over 20 years of age and have held a full driving license for at least a year. Insurance is obligatory. All of the main car rental companies have offices in all railway stations and airports, as well as in major city centers.

If you are driving to France from another country, there is a good choice of car-ferry operators from England and the Eurotunnel.

All foreign cars need to display a sticker showing the country of registration displayed close to the rear registration plate. Right hand drive vehicles need to have the head-lights adjusted or have deflector kits fitted which are easily available at all the English ports.

You will need to obtain a green card from your English insurer for full cover abroad. If you do not have a green card your UK insurance will not cover you outside of England. You can also arrange for rescue and recovery service with the AA, RAC and Europ Assist.

Like in England, cars already on a roundabout have right of way. In France you must give way to the right unless road signs indicate otherwise.

Avoid driving around the Champs d'Elysess in Paris if you can help it of course unless you want to do your very own Chevy Chase European Vacation roundabout experience. There are 4 traffic police stationed at the Champs d'Elysees at all times for very good reason. I have heard that insurance companies pay out and do not ask any questions as to liability for accidents on the Champs d'Elysees. It is a complete nightmare and accidents happen all the time.

Permanent speed cameras are normally well signposted and are big rectangular boxes painted with bright fluorescent black and yellow diagonal stripes to warn you. The Michelin website lists where these fixed speed cameras are on your journey and advises the speed limit at those locations. It will also calculate the toll for you on motorways.

On autoroutes the speed limit is 130 kilometres and 110 when it rains. On dual carriage ways the speed limit is reduced to 110 kilometres and 90 when it rains. On other roads the speed limit is 90 kilometres and 80 when it rains. towns, villages, hamlets, the normal limit is 50 kilometres and the French do not always display the speed limit.

Filling up with petrol or diesel is straight forward when travelling on a motorway. If you are travelling on the national routes you have to be really careful about buying petrol or diesel on a Sunday. Almost every service station is closed on a Sunday (except those on Motorways) and all of the automatic petrol pumps do not accept international credit cards only French debit and credit cards. Hypermarkets and large supermarkets sell petrol at a discount but remember only to locals with French cards on a Sunday.
About the Author
Corina Clemence runs a luxury french chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to fifteen people perfect for family holidays and for touring chateaux and vineyards and relaxing. It is ideal for a french wedding, party or event. Rent the whole castle or rent a suite. Rent a castle in France. Hire castle - rent chateau Rent castle http://www.loirechateau.com Rent chateau France
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