Home > On the Road > Ten Tips for Driving on the Continent

Ten Tips for Driving on the Continent

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 10 May 2014 | comments*Discuss
Ten Tips Driving Continent France Car

Thousands of Britons load up the car each year and travel across to France. If you plan on being one of them this year, here are ten tips that will help you to get the best out of your journey.

Tip One: Make Sure your Car is Fit for Purpose

Wherever you're going, a bit of careful planning will help to ensure that your European journey is an enjoyable and stress-free experience. If you’re planning a long journey it is always a good idea to put your car in for a service before you travel. If not, then you can take several steps yourself to make sure your car is in the best possible condition.

Start by making sure that your tyres are not overworn and that they have plenty of tread left, you won’t really know what sort of roads you’ll be travelling on until it is too late to change your tyres. You should also make sure that the water and oil levels in your car are checked and topped up if necessary.

Cars driving on the Continent are required to have specific headlight strengths, depending on where you go. Check in advance the adjustments to your headlights required for your journey before you go. You will also need an approved GB licence plate. Finally, even if you have a sat nav system, a good up to date atlas is always worth having with you, just in case.

Tip Two: Essential Items for the Journey

The following is a list of items that you should always take with you when driving on the Continent. Many of these are compulsory, depending on the regulations applicable to the countries you will be visiting:

  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit
  • two warning triangles
  • replacement bulbs and fuses
  • snow chains for winter journeys

Tip Three: Take your Papers

Whatever you do, make sure that you take your official documentation with you on the journey. You will need to bring your vehicle registration document, a valid MOT certificate if your car is more than three years old, and a valid up to date insurance certificate. Check with your insurer before you leave that your insurance covers you for trips abroad.

Tip Four: Breakdown Insurance

If you decide not to take out breakdown insurance then you run the risk of leaving yourself, your car and your family stranded in a foreign country. Breakdown cover doesn’t have to be expensive, and you will find that some tour operators and ferry companies will offer special rates. Breakdown cover is worth it for the peace of mind it brings.

Tip Five: Ferry Deals

Remember that the channel tunnel isn’t the only way to get to the Continent. Although the chunnel is usually quicker, sometimes it can be a tiresome journey for younger children who have to stay in the car for the duration. With a ferry crossing the family has the chance to stretch its legs and let the captain of the ferry do the work. Norfolkline, which runs crossings between Dover and Dunkirk carry some of the best ferry deals.

Tip Six: The BIS Routes

If you are interested in a more scenic route and avoiding toll roads, then the BIS Route (or "Bison Fute") is for you. BIS routes are normally quieter ‘D’ class roads and are frequently built on the old straight Roman roads. BIS routes are not as fast as the motorway alternative, but they can be quick and pleasant.

Tip Seven: Toll Roads

Toll roads can cost as much as £50 for a Calais to Nice trip. If you do take a toll road, you are better off choosing those toll barriers where you can pay by credit card, which are often a great deal quicker than attempting to pay with cash.

Tip Eight: Roadside Entertainment

Wherever you intend to go, you should find some interesting roadside entertainment to break up your journey. During the summer months, the companies in charge of French autoroutes organise family entertainment at motorway services, anything from clowns and bands to archery contents. It is worth checking the French Autoroutes website in advance to see what entertainment is scheduled.

Tip Nine: Cheap Hotels

In years gone by, cheap motorway hotels were hard to come by, as most were located in the centre of towns. Thankfully, the channel tunnel has helped to bring over greater numbers of motorists and, as a result, the quality of cheap hotel accommodation has increased dramatically. Some of the best respected chains include Formula One, Bonsai and Envergure.

Tip Ten: Buying Wine

Who can resist buying wine when on the continent? Buying wine directly from the wine grower is a great way to find a bargain, and far more engrossing than spending a day at a supermarket. If you are making your way through France it is relatively simple to plan a route through a number of wine regions. There are motorways through to Champagne and Burgundy and a port in the Loire Valley region. The French Tourist Office is a good place to start if you’re looking to find some well respected vineyards.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I found the articles on Driving on the Continent very useful and Interesting thanks Nidgej
Nidgej - 10-May-14 @ 12:52 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: