Hints& tips for driving in france and Belguim

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Hints& tips for driving in france and Belguim

Post by caveman_si » 19 Dec 2005, 19:12

Any hints and tips to driving in france and belguim as im off there for wonderful Christmas with the inlaws. Before anyone especially vanny says its, i know drive on the other side!

Also Ive checked the legal things i need for the drive, spare light kit, Gb sticker and a warning triangle and have got them but is there anything else i need? or would be ideal to have?

Last one for the moment where about on my head lights do i stick the duck tape to convert them? (too tight/busy to go to shop and buy the proper converter stickers).

cheers si

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Post by JohnD » 19 Dec 2005, 19:33

France and Belgium use more portable speed radar than is used in the UK, but fewer fixed cameras. 25% over speed limit and they take your licence. Carry licence, insurance and V5. If you are a drinker, bare in mind that the limit is .05 rather than UK's .08. Yellow vests are compulsory now in Spain, Portugal and Austria but advised in other EU countries.

PS - I forgot - drive on the wrong side!!!!!

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Post by fastandfurryous » 19 Dec 2005, 21:02

Make sure you have your "green card" from your insurers, to prove that you have insuranace cover in the country you're travelling in.

Driving on the "wrong" side of the road is fairly easy actually, the only time I ever had a problem was on leaving a one-way system, where I had been on the left of the road for the lane I wanted, and then forgot to drive over to the right when it became 2-way again. If this happens to you, the best thing to do is pull over on the left of the road "I meant to do that.... I needed to check under the bonnet!" :oops:

When I converted the headlamps on the car I took over to europe, I obscured the section of headlamp with silver foil, which reflected the light back into the headlamp, and *sort of* back out on the right, rather than the left. It was definitely better than just obscuring the headlamp lens. I think the 405 handbook has information in the back on which bit of the headlamp to obscure.

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Post by Dave Bamber » 19 Dec 2005, 21:44

If you have a radar speed camera thingy, leave it at home. They have a habit of standing on them at the side of the road and then taking you to a cash point to pay the fine :shock:
I use duct tape on the head lamps, does the job :wink:

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Post by bxbodger » 20 Dec 2005, 00:40

It can be surprisingly difficult to get fuel in rural France outside normal day-time opening hours, so keep it topped up, particularly if you know you are going to be going a long way!!! -You are more likely to come across an automatic car wash than a filling station in some parts (they seem to be particularly fond of them..... :roll: )

This year we were staying in the Vosge, and went on a daytrip to the Bernese Alps in Switzerland-about a 250 mile round trip but on the French bit you can count the filling stations on one hand-you have been warned!!!!!

There are some automated filling stations attached to supermarkets, but they don't always work or recognise the cards that they are supposed to ( Super U in Baume LesDames [-X )

If you are overtaking in France or Belgium, the procedure is to keep your indicator on while passing, and then pull back in to the right. The roads aren't as congested as ours and they don't like lane hogs.

Belgium has an excellent motorway rule-on the two lane roads HGV's are banned from overtaking on uphill stretches and during rush-hour: very sensible and it means that you can make a lot of progress if you pick your journey time!!

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Post by Paul Mi16 » 20 Dec 2005, 09:16

Check if you need a fire extinguisher or not.


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Post by 406 V6 » 20 Dec 2005, 10:40

Yellow vests are compulsory now in Spain, Portugal and Austria but advised in other EU countries.
Nah! They can be any colour in Portugal, even pink! (there's a sketch about this here:P) as long as they carry some mumbo-jumbo EN-some-number directive.
Carry 2 safety triangles, just in case...

Safe trip and enjoy :)

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Post by Homer » 20 Dec 2005, 13:27

JohnD wrote: Yellow vests are compulsory now in Spain,
Yes, but nobody told the Spanish. :lol: I'm sure you would get checked for one if you take your own car down there but niether of our hire cars had one, nobody mentioned needing one and most of the wrecks on the road there didn't seem to have space to carry one.

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Post by micitroen » 20 Dec 2005, 13:47

re the radar detector.......leave it at home, they are illegal! (in France) Also second the comments re the garages. You will not be able to use the Auto 24/7 petrol pumps in the garages as they don't like our cards. That means that if you are planning to drive anywhere at night or Sundays for a long trip you will need to fill up before or use the autoroute as they have 'manned' garages where you will be able to pay for your fuel at the kiosk. Average 10-20% extra on cost compared to the large supermarkets........still only 70p'ish a litre though.
You do not need a green card but you will need all the docs for your car (if its not your car then you will need a letter of permission from the owner) incl. ins cert. Insurance in this country automatically drops to minimum cover for the country you are visiting(you only need a green card if you wish to 'take' your present level of cover with you) even then you will only need to phone your ins co and tell them. In many cases they will not send a green card as such but will note the fact that your cover has been extended to the countries you have requested. With regard to the h/lamps I find that on modern cars with manually adjustable h/lamp adjusters; all that is necessary is to put the h/lamps on the lowest possible pos (assuming its not there already due to the load in the back). This works fine on my Hyundai Santa Fe....I have never had an irate 'flash' from oncomers using this system as opposed to quite a few with the beam deflectors. If using tape then be guided by the slanting type clearer piece of h/lamp glass ;this is where you position it. Good idea not to buy the converters as they quite often 'lift' with the wet weather and then you end up having to use the tape anyway and waved goodby to a £5 +.
Another not commonly known fact is that if you wear glasses/contacts for driving, make sure that you are wearing them. Also if they get arsey with you they could ask to see a spare pair of glasses (also if you wear contacts). Hope this helps.....where are you going to?

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Post by Rob81 » 20 Dec 2005, 18:57

Driving in France can be very enjoyable - the roads are much quieter and better quality generaly. I've driven to Bordeaux four times this year and except for Paris, have yet to be held up in any major congestion.

The French tend to drive very closely to the car infront. Don't react aggressively to this - they won't know what your problem is!

No experience of driving in Belguim but have seen plenty of Belgian registered Audi's and Volvo's fly past me at 100+ on the A1 toward Lille!

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Post by caveman_si » 21 Dec 2005, 19:36

Cheers gents
Thanks for all the advice. I wouldnt have thought to take my insurance or V5 with me.
I know about the indicators on while over taking (it amused me the 1st few times i saw it), but i didnt know about the belguim lorry overtaking rule. Now that is a sensible rule we could do with over here.
Yup i know about the drinking limits but since i dont drink and drive full stop, not a prob. Didnt know about the card issues at fuel stations but any problems on that front and the inlaws can pay :)
Mmm i'll have to stay calm too im not great with tailgaters.

micitroen im off to Overijse - small place just outside brussels so i have the wonderful brussels ring road to drive on 6 lanes of madness!!

cheers again gents have a good and very merry christmas.

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Post by vanny » 22 Dec 2005, 19:01

Brief update on the Journey so far,Just got a text from Si,
'1 fuel stop, 1 toilet stop, 1 car crash(not mine) and we made the tunnel in 4hrs, Bonus! No spaces on trains so have to wait 3hrs for alloted train, Arse.'

not bad going, i make that a little over 250miles in 4 hrs!

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Post by yangreen » 22 Dec 2005, 20:10

Re: the indicating as you pass. I found that it's just like here. About half the people just don't indicate at all! :evil:

Only difference is, in France, no-one really seems to get wound up. Even when stuck behind brits in 2CVs!

Was my first time in France (driving anyway) this Summer just gone and I thoroughly enjoyed it!


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Post by bxbodger » 22 Dec 2005, 23:37

I remember my first ever attempt at the arch-de-triomphe 8-[ in 1986 with a mate in an Allegro-terrifying!!! We got ourselves behind a dumper truck and just stuck behind that!
Only difference is, in France, no-one really seems to get wound up
and then on to the peripherique......Paris is different -its like what driving in London must be like if you've just arrived from the outer hebrides: they soon let you know if you're in the way or confused about the lane you're meant to be in :x :evil: !!!!

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Post by yangreen » 23 Dec 2005, 12:24

Ah yes, must admit that I've never been anywhere near Paris. I live in the sticks so try to keep away from Cities as a general rule!

Midnight in Piccadilly Circus is a bad enough experience for me and I grew up in a City!