Whichever roads you choose to travel on in France take your driving license and insurance documentation with you. It is worth photocopying these so that you have something in case they are lost.
Prepare your vehicle for the journey
Make sure your car is prepared for the journey with adequate oil and screen wash. It is also a good idea to check your tyres before a long journey on the continent because vehicle inspections there by traffic officers can be more in-depth. Replace the tyres of your car if they are partly worn down and purchase them from a reputable dealer like Point-s. Check your tyres’ tread with an RTG7 gauge and carry an RCT1 emergency kit in case of later problems. This will ensure that you remain street legal under France’s road regulations. The law in many European countries also puts more responsibility on drivers to carry safety equipment with them than you find at home. For example drivers must carry a warning triangle with them, as well as a first-aid kit. It is probably worth buying a travel kit which contains all the items necessary before leaving British soil. You will also need to buy beam adapters in France so that your headlights don’t dazzle oncoming drivers and a Breathalyzer. You can buy everything you need in advance which is certainly advisable if you want to drive with peace of mind.
The journey from London to France
Starting out from London to France by car is surprisingly easy, particularly if you have planned your route. From the capital, head through Kent on the M2 motorway. The quickest way to get to Dover is to then pick up the signs for the port, following the A2 trunk road. As an alternative, you can connect with the Eurostar terminal at Ebbs fleet. To do this, take the A2 from the M25 at junction 2. Once your ferry has unloaded on the French side of the channel, it is worth considering whether French AutoRoute’s are always going to be best for your road trip. Yes, they allow for rapid motoring and are relatively safe to drive on, but the local roads offer some more enjoyment of the journey. What’s more – you don’t need to pay the AutoRoute’s tolls.
From Calais, pick up an autoroute to begin with to get you going. If you are heading south then follow the signs for Paris, taking the A26. On the other hand, if you are driving to Normandy and Brittany, then take A16 which heads west. To travel to Flanders and Belgium, then take A16 eastwards, instead. Remember that French autoroutes have places where you are obliged to stop, because French motorways charge drivers to use them. The system works with a ticket in most places which you collect and then present at a toll further down the road. The tickets have magnetic information that is read at the toll, so avoid bringing it into contact with anything magnetic which can destroy this information. The figures for tolls, which are called péages, show that the combined fees to get from Calais to the French capital would cost 21.40 euros. If you continue from Paris to the Mediterranean coast, then you can expect to pay a further 71.20 euros. It will set you back much less – 25.40 euros – to drive from Calais to Caen, which lies in the heart of Normandy.
Paying for motorway access is worth it as you are able to drive at up to 81 mph and there are high-quality service stations spaced regularly along each route. Many auto routes also have tidy and well-maintained picnic areas which are usually set back from the road and not too noisy. These are usually no more than 10 miles apart and offer children’s play areas as well as toilets. Nonetheless, it advisable to plan your French road trip so that not all of it is made on the motorway network. This way, you can reduce the cost of the péages and discover some of the local roads – many of which are delightful to drive along.