Whilst planning our trip over to Paris we decided to look at a few different options before going ahead and booking any flights, especially as the flights were coming up at around £350 each! We knew the flights would be a little more expensive as we were going over to Paris just before Fashion Week and during The Ryder Cup but £350 seemed a little extreme. Instead, we decided to look into our options of driving across to France. Although I have never driven on the right hand side before, Jack has. After a little research we narrowed our options down to either a Ferry or getting the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from Folkestone.
There are so many ferry options to choose from, and the times very much varied depending on the cruise-liner you decide upon; our initial research also showed the average time to get across to Calais from England was around 75 minutes. Whereas the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes around 35 minutes and has up to four departures an hour. Weighing up our options we decided to opt for the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. I must say another appeal for us to drive was, no baggage restrictions! You can also take a roof box or bikes with no supplement.
If you are planning to drive over to France and also looking for a cost effective way to save money, it is worth noting that the Eurotunnel service does usually cost more than a ferry; but if you want to get to France fast I would say the easiest and quickest way to cross is via the tunnel. If you’ve ever taken a road trip through France I’d love to hear from you. Scroll down to leave a comment!
Whereas in England toll roads aren’t very common unless you are heading in central London; the majority of our motorways remains free of charge. The story is different as you cross the channel and begin to make your way through France; so this is worth taking into consideration when you are booking your trip. You will quickly find once you have ventured out of Calais that you will be a tollgate, or “peage” as they are known in France.
You can avoid the toll roads in France but from our experience it actually made the whole journey so much nicer as the roads are considerably quieter than going through the towns and much easier to navigate. As a reference, from Calais to Paris we paid 21.90 Euros. It is worth noting, that toll prices also vary depending on the type of vehicle you are driving. The price I noted above was for a car whereas if you decide to take a caravan the price could easily double.
France Travel Kit
It is important to make sure that before you venture over to France that you have the following items in your car/boot. If not you will be subject to some hefty on the spot fines.
Eurolites Headlamp Adaptors
Twin Pack NF Approved Breathalysers
Self-Adhesive GB Sticker (Place On Boot)
Hi-Visibility Vest (1 Per Passenger)
First Aid Kit
Documents You Need to Take
Apart from your passport there are few other documents you must take with you whilst driving abroad in France. Its also worth checking with your insurance company if you are fully covered to drive in France as some “Fully Comprehensive” policies may revert to only offering you “3rd Party” cover whilst driving abroad.
Proof of Ownership (V5 Log Book)
M.O.T. (Only If Older Than 3 Years)
Drivers in France will need to also display a Crit’Air Sticker across many cities. Stickers are currently required in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse. Its good to make sure you allow plenty of time prior to your trip to apply for Crit’Air Sticker as it could take up to two weeks to arrive from application. Although the sticker doesn’t cost you very much to apply for the fine drivers can face is pretty hefty and you could face paying up to 135 Euro.
Fuelling up in France, for most of us we wouldn’t think there would be any real difference. Nor did we, the fuel pump even gave us an option to select “English”. What surprised us was after checking our online banking later that day we found two payments had been charged to our card. One considerably more than the other! One payment for roughly £120 and another of £51, which matched the amount of fuel we bought.
I decided to give our bank a call, baffled to find out that in France if they register your card as foreign before releasing any fuel they secure 150 Euros against your card to make sure you are able to pay for the fuel you are about to take. They then separately charge you for the fuel you have taken; the 150 Euros is then refunded to you but this could take up to 3-5 working days to return to your account. This is worth bearing in mind if you intend to use your card at a fuel station in France.
In France you will find most of the motorways are privately owned which means if heaven forbids you breakdown whilst driving abroad it is not as simple as ringing your breakdown cover to be recovered. If you find yourself in this situation your breakdown cover will only be allowed to recover you from a publicly owned road or designated safe area.
To know whether you are on a privately owned road is determined by the type of roadside telephone box. The emergency telephone boxes are orange and are positioned every 2 KM along the motorway. Using the provided emergency telephone box to liaise and get yourself re-located to a designated safe area, from here you can then contact your breakdown services to organize your recovery.