In France - A Beginners Guide
Read this carefully, it can save you time ,
money, & aggro.;
The French week-end is Sunday & Monday. Almost
everything closes then, even many filling stations.
Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey,
& food if you are staying somewhere other than
a hotel.(even some hotels don't do food on Sundays)
British cards don't usually work in French automated
petrol pumps when closed. Newer types may.
MONDAYS; Most shops shut, but the larger Supermarkets
stay open, & often sell fuel & oil. Some shut
for lunch though. Smaller ones sometimes open
Sunday mornings, as do small Bakers & Butchers.
LUNCHTIME; Lunch is sacrosanct to the French.
Unlike Britain, it's their main meal of the
day. It can last 2 hours. Bars are busy from
12 till 2, but if you are hungry, ask for Sandwhich
American. It's full of Ham, Eggs, Lettuce, and
cheese. They are normally huge, & very filling.
But only supplied during the day.
THINGS TO CARRY; All your Bike documents, Passports,
Chain oil, Toilet roll, Spare bulbs, Torch,
A First Aid Kit. Tyre sealer, & a Map of France.
LOST; Satelitte dishes usually face South,
or buy a Compass. It can save you miles.
DIPPED HEADLIGHTS; Must be used in daylight
in France on a motorcycle.
FRENCH DRIVERS; BLOODY AWFUL, but OK towards
Bikers. They Tailgate, forget to indicate, overtake
in stupid places, but pull over to let Bikers
pass.(we stick our right leg out to thank them)
Like all French, they love Bikers. Their attitude
is totally different to the Brit car drivers.
If they flash their headlights at you, it means
Police or Accident ahead, or they are Bikers
at heart. Old ladies & children often wave to
VILLAGES & TOWNS, SIDE TURNINGS OFTEN HAVE
RIGHT OF WAY. BEWARE; If a side turning has
no white line across it, they have right of
way. Stupid idea, but that's the way it is in
France. This also can apply to country roads.which
can be muddy at certain times of the year.
ROUNDABOUTS; Same as Britain, but in reverse.
Those on them have right of way, but give way
to traffic coming from your left as you enter.
TYRE PRESSURES; They use BARS. One Bar is approx
15lbs. 2 Bars - 30lbs.
HOTELS; Much cheaper than Brit hotels. If it's
on a main road, ask for a room at the back.
Lorries may keep you awake at night.
SHOPS; Most open 9 till 7.00, but most close
for lunch 12 till 2.
NIGHT RIDING IN FRANCE- Not recommended. Not
much street lighting, & you will miss direction
signs. Plan your journey to avoid it.
TRAVEL INSURANCE; Read the small print. Some
aren't worth the paper they are printed on.
Check it out.
CHECK YOUR BIKE; Before leaving home. We have
had people arrive on two bald tyres, badly adjusted
chains, & no oil in their brake master cylinders.
FRENCH; If you don't speak it, buy a phrase
book, & READ IT.
MOBILE PHONES; Check yours works in France.
FRENCH SIGNPOSTING; Bloody awful, & often in
stupid places. Ones at 45 degrees often mean
PLASTIC; OK in shops/hotels, but not always.
CHECK IT. Usually OK in ATMs, but depends on
BEWARE Of White lines & Black road joints;
OK in the dry, lethal when wet. The iside edge
of roundabouts are often cobbles. BEWARE in
ROUTE SHEETS & ADDRESS; Give everyone a copy.
If they get seperated, at least they can find
their own way.
MOTORWAYS; They sometimes check your times
between junctions, & have you for speeding.
MAPS; When choosing one with Motorways on it,
make sure the junctions are numbered. Some aren't.
KILOMETRES; One kilometre is approx 2/3 of
a mile. Multiply the total kilometres by .625
to convert to miles.
DRIVE ON THE RIGHT Obvious, we know. But most
mistakes happen coming out of filling stations
or side turnings.
FERRY PRICES; P & O give discounts, as do MCN
CRASH HELMETS; They don't like them taken into
supermarkets & shops. Leave them at the desk
or on your bike. TRIKERS must use helmets in
E111; Without it, you could pay for any medical
treatment you may need. One couple were charged
£800 in hospital bills when they didn't carry
DIAL 18 in an emergency; Just like 999.
YOUR ROUTE; DON'T GUESS , MAKE A LIST OF TOWNS
YOU SHOULD BE GOING THROUGH OR PASSING BY.
FUEL; All fill up together. You don't need
someone needing fuel 10 minutes after you got
STEAKS; They come a bit rare in France. Ask
for Bien Cuit(sounds like Bien Kwee)(well done)
It will probably be likemedium then. Hungry
for lunch, Bars often do sandwiches. Ask for
a sandwich American. Cheese, Tomato, egg, lettuce
& more. Very filling.
HEADLIGHT DEFLECTORS; Compulsory even if you
don't intend riding at night. Should be fitted
between 7o/c and 9o/c on the glass. Not on the
right as some fit them. Depends on type.
CASTLES & other tourist places; often close
FRENCH BIKES; Don't have MOTs, or road tax.
AVERAGE SPEEDS; With stops for breaks, lunch,
fuel, you will be lucky to average more than
45mph, unless you use motorways. We have heard
of riders doing 700 miles in one day, but you
can't get averages without exaggeration.
SPARE GLOVES; Carry 3 pairs. Nothing worse
than than wet gloves.
FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE ROUTE; Several
times before leaving the UK. It's better than
DON'T SPEED THROUGH VILLAGES; They don't like
it. Heavy fines or confiscate your bike.
KEEP A DIARY; Of distances, hotel names, &
anything of interest.
THINGS TO CARRY; A toilet roll, compass, first
aid kit, your name & address, E111 or equivalent,
phrase book, credit card, Euros.
Article kindly provided by Peter Broad, www.peteandrusty.com.
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