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TOPIC: First Time Taking Caravan to France!

First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 2 weeks ago #470956

  • Elwynhorton
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Hi Everyone
We have now had our accessible caravan for 9 months and we have had 10 breaks under our belt, ranging from a full week to a couple of nights, about 40 nights in total.
We have stopped on a couple of very basic CL and on all singing and dancing Club sights.
So we are gradually building some experience and confidence.
We are both retired and have no ties to keep us at home. I have driven solo in France, Spain and Italy when I was younger, so have a bit of experience.
We are hoping to make it to France using the Chunnel in early September, after the main season and enjoy a little autumn sunshine.
As we are still relative novices, we would be grateful for any advice and tips on caravan sites to stay at near Calais and ideas on which direction we should head in once our nerves have settled after the first couple of days.
I am happy to tow for about 200 miles a day in the UK. So nothing too ambitious!
Any advice would be gratefully received.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 2 weeks ago #470957

  • Craigyoung
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Hi ,

We are doing France in 4 weeks time travelling down from the North East stopping on a CL site at Dover (33o miles) and catching a 5 a.m. ferry Dover to Calais as it was cheaper than the tunnel this year then a 5 or 6 hour drive down to the Loire Valley , about another 34o miles !! B)

Splash out on a decent caravan motorhome TomTom sat nav ( or any decent sat nav ) for the UK & European roads and you should be fine , I've never getting lost yet with mine .

If I was you I would drive inland more than staying on the coast as you will probably get about the same weather as what you were getting in Britain .

I prefer driving over there anytime !

Good luck .
Ford Kuga 2.o Tdi & a Sprite Major 6TD

Sir Crying -
Will possibly get to
the round table some day !!
Sorry !!
Last Edit: 1 month 2 weeks ago by Craigyoung.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 2 weeks ago #470959

  • Elwynhorton
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Thanks, our car came with 7” screen and Garmin built in, with European maps.
We will be travelling at a more leisurely pace!
No 5.00am starts thank you.
Do I need to worry about EHU 2 pins and polarity!
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 2 weeks ago #470961

  • woodsieboy
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We have found most of the sites we stay on in France have the 3 pin electric hook up, but we always take a 2 pin French plug adaptor and also have made up a reverse polarity adaptor, and carry both in the van just in case. we also have a plug in tester that will show whether the polarity is reversed by putting it into a 3 pin socket in the caravan. Also worth checking whether your caravan has a built in polarity corrector some do. Hope you enjoy your trip.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470975

  • Guzzilazz
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Elwynhorton wrote:
Thanks, our car came with 7” screen and Garmin built in, with European maps.
We will be travelling at a more leisurely pace!
No 5.00am starts thank you.
Do I need to worry about EHU 2 pins and polarity!

If it were me... I really wouldn't use built in car satnav... My Avtex/Garmin takes us different routes from the Ford built in, because it takes notice of the road widths etc. For example we did an early trip to Lee Valley COuntry Park (Dodd's Weir) and the car took us a more direct route than the Avtex (M25/A10). When we got there, just beyond the site was a 6' 6" width restriction bridge, which was on the Ford route...
Larry from N. Essex

2019 Bailey Unicorn Cabrera
Kuga 2.0 Titanium 150PS 2WD
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470977

  • Craigyoung
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Guzzilazz ,

Not quite what i wanted to read as since i updated my Caravan TomTom the other week & now it won't bloody come on !!

Spent over an hour last night with the charger , it was charged , but it won't hold the charge and the TomTom website says if you've had it from more than two three years the battery might be knackered and that it is a common thing - justmylook :angry: just before we go away so going to have to ring customer support this morning , will let you know what happens .

As it happens i pre -programmed all my destinations into the Ford built in sat nav and it found them no bother , on my Ford Sat Nav also , I can go through the options and add a trailer to the sat nav so that might make a difference to regarding width of roads etc . :(

As it happens the Ford built in one worked no bother also when we were in Holland other year so I have that for backup but I am trying my hardest to sort tom tom out .

Craig .
Ford Kuga 2.o Tdi & a Sprite Major 6TD

Sir Crying -
Will possibly get to
the round table some day !!
Sorry !!
Last Edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Craigyoung.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470979

  • CustardAvenger
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Craigyoung wrote:
...Not quite what i wanted to read as since i updated my Caravan TomTom the other week & now it won't bloody come on !!

Spent over an hour last night with the charger , it was charged , but it won't hold the charge and the TomTom website says if you've had it from more than two three years the battery might be knackered and that it is a common thing...

Craig,

The update part might be your root cause, not the battery: caravanchronicles.com/2019/04/27/why-im-...nd-moving-to-garmin/

The chap who writes the Caravan Chronicles blog updated his TomTom and the update bricked it. Was stuck in a power-up loop after an update. TomTom didn't really care; buy another one was their position.

Paul.
Paul
Volvo XC60 D4 AWD & Swift Sprite Major 4SB
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470991

  • SamandRose
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Camping La Bien Assise is about a 20 minute drive from Calais and good for overnight stopovers or short stays. We've only ever headed from there on much longer trips to Switzerland and more recently the Dordogne, but Somme Bay (about 80 miles from Calais I think) seemed very nice when briefly seen on a short detour.

Driving on French autoroutes is dead easy (but very boring)! It's a legal requirement to carry a breath test kit as well as a warning triangle and a high vis vest in the event of breakdown. A set of spare bulbs is also advisory as you can get an on the spot fine for having a defective light. But you can buy all of these things on the ferry or at most petrol stations near the UK or French ports.

We were told that if you car is capable of towing a gross train weight (i.e. car and trailer combined) of 3500kg or more (irrespective of what it's actually towing) you are limited to 90km/h (56mph) on autoroutes and 80km/h (50mph) on all other roads, and that your caravan had to display stickers to this effect. However, our experience in June was that we didn't see any other caravans displaying any such stickers, nobody seemed to pay a blind bit of attention to motorway speed limits and we didn't notice a single police car during our two-week trip.

I agree with others' advice about not relying on car sat navs - our VW system didn't know that a section of motorway near Paris (I think it's the A86?) was height restricted and proved incapable of finding an alternative! One day we'll learn not to trust it.

My other pieces of advice (again based on personal experience) are: guard your passports like your life depends on it, write your mobile number inside them just in case they do get lost and don't drive in Paris unless you absolutely have to - it's horrendous!

Enjoy your trip :)
Last Edit: 1 month 1 week ago by SamandRose.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470993

  • otherclive
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Get one of the CMHC European touring guides fir France. Lots of excellent information on all aspects and also details of sites including municipal ones.

Carry spare wheel in van but not in Alko underslung carrier as removing it will bring it straight out into the French traffic stream.
Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDi SE CR 170ps DSG 4x4 carrying two Springers, Sprite Musketeer TD 2013.
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First Time Taking Caravan to France! 1 month 1 week ago #470994

  • RayS
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If you really want relaxed driving get a SANEF tag for the autoroutes ( now under another name but that wil find it) Autoroutes generally have much less trafic, no roundabouts, good service areas ( but with expensive fuel) and with the tag you can use the HGV booths - extreme right at the peages - which are much wider than the normal car ones. If they have a 30 sign above them approach at 30 km/h or less and you won't even have to stop.. I would also get current issue Michelin maps/atlas, but then I like maps and have used them for most of my touring career as satnavs wern't then available.
Try to buy your fuel at supermarkets - very much cheaper.. If buying fuel when towing use the 24/24 pumps and so avoid the often tortuous route to the paying kiosk. Most pups will give you choice of English: The V ( verify) key is used to confirm.
Ideally carny 2 pin normal and reverse polarity plugs each connected to standard outlet, a shot piece of cable with standard 3 pin on one end and standard socket on the other but wired reverse polarity. then a 13 amp UK socket tester which you use in caravan to show correct polarity - changing connections until you get it. On many smaller sites you may be restricted to 6 amps at 220 volts so need to watch what you connect at the same time.
Assuming your satnav has a direction indicator e.g. top of map is always north, look at this before choosing pitch so you can get the caravan positioned to take advantage of max sun or shade as you may prefer.
If you have even just basic French try to use it - it is generally appreciated and melts whatever ice may have existed. In nearly 60 years of touring France the number of bad experiences don't make up one hand of fingers.
Tourist information offices are good for local sights but also will usually give verbal guides to local eating places, again this has worked well for years. Just tell them you want ordinary rahter than Michelin star places ( or vice versa of course) and suggest regional cuisine.
Do watch you speed - gendarmes are pretty keen on this particularly around bigger cities and near ferry ports, and of course the drink driving limits. While you should carry breathalysers there is no fine if found without one ( and it's better to have two anyway) Buy here - on ferry is expensive - or the first time you buy fuel.
The CAMC club guide to Europe is pretty good for more information although the sites list is not as comperhensive as the ASCI guides. If you have an idea of your routh, Google some likely towns with the word camping after the name and you will see sites in the area. Camping a la ferme is usually pretty basic - like many CLs here but can be wonderful if you like informality and don't mind using your own shower etc.
If you have time before departure, post your possible route and ask for suggestions for sites on this forum.
Bon Route !

Ray S . 
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