We only propose to cover the main, and most important differences between France and the UK here.
French drivers drive much closer to the car in front than in the UK, it's not very safe, and there are road safety campaigns to try and get them to change their ways, but don't let it annoy you - its not seen as agressive and they are generally cautious overtakers.
In some areas (ours for example) the position of a car when entering or negotiating a roundabout may bear no relationship to its eventual exit, so take care.
In towns and cities teenagers ride scooters with little regard to traffic laws or their own safety. Pay particular attention if turning right or left, as they will often ignore your indicator and whiz past.
No matter how good it feels to be driving without holdups on wide, quiet roads, don't forget that France has up to twice the number of annual road deaths that the UK has.
Holiday insurance will cover you for eventualities such as theft, cancellation, health, etc; remember that your hotel or cottage owner does not have responsibility for theft of guests' belongings and does not insure them. Although you can arrange your insurance through a travel agent, AA, RAC, or ferry company, the best deal may be to take an annual family holiday insurance package that covers all your holidays and weekends away for the year, often including a wintersports holiday, usually at no more cost than you'll pay for one holiday insurance. Have a look at this Money Saving Expert page .
There is confusion regarding UK car insurance policies and driving abroad. moneysupermarket.com found of 20 big brand motor insurance providers only half offer motorists the same level of cover they have in the UK for driving on the continent. The problem associated with insufficient motor insurance cover came up when a guest's car was damaged while stationary by a passing van. The drivers filled in the accident statement and the fault clearly appeared to be that of the van driver due to innattention. However his employers disagreed and made it plain that they would make a claim on our guest's insurance. Our guest telephoned his insurers who were sympathetic but said that they would be unable to help him in any way as he had not extended his cover for driving in France and his insurance cover was therefore only for the minimum legal requirement. Thus he stood to lose the cost of his own repairs (£1000+) and his no claims bonus. We can't emphasise enough the difficulty UK drivers would face in trying to pursue a claim against a French insurance company without the help of their British insurer. Check your policy!
You can pay for petrol and shopping and most other goods and services with your Visa/MasterCard credit or debit card. Remember that opening hours for shops, banks and petrol stations are shorter than in the UK, often including a lunch break from 12 to 2, closing at 7-9 PM, and halfday or all day closure on Mondays and Sundays. UK credit and debit cards work in French card operated 24H petrol pumps - the usual operation is: insert card, select fuel and validate, enter pin and validate, choose whether you want a receipt issued (A-no V-yes), withdraw card and fill with fuel. On some pumps you are not asked to pre-select the fuel. Pre loaded euro cards do not work in petrol pumps
Few French banks now cash traveller's cheques or change notes, although larger Post Offices still take them, but plastic is easier for everything. You can withdraw cash from French cash machines with either debit or credit cards (Visa or Mastercard) and you'll get a good rate of exchange, but find out before you come how much you'll have to pay in extra charges per transaction. Bank cash machines can be found in most supermarket foyers. Some banks have arrangements to save you money when withdrawing cash, Barclays with BNP Paribas for example. Some cards including some issued by building societies cannot be used. Be warned that most credit cards charge you on the exchange rate plus a fee on purchases and cash withdrawals.
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Gite in South Brittany: www.relaxcheznous.com