Driving through France

Old May 16th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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Driving through France

Hello everyone!
My girl is planning to cross france by car starting in Calais in order to reach italy and Venice. Her bunny is there and nothing will stop her from going.... The thing is I can't go with her and most probably she will have to go alone.

I am a bit concerned about her safety. Has anybody else done a similar trip? any tips/advices would be most welcome!
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:15 AM
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Stekios, welcome to Fodors. Like every major country there are places she should not go, but hey this is France with a strong rule of law and a great education system she is not going to redneck country (sorry if any rednecks take that the wrong way), so make sure

1) She has her car set up for the countries she is going through The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off. If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here. At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are:

carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
children should sit in the back
all passengers should wear seat belts
fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs

Just so you are aware the motorways in Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Germany are free while in France they are toll based. It is mandatory in France (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

More details at http://driving.drive-alive.co.uk/ and EU other sites

2) she has a bit of cash but a credit card with a pin so she can pay for tolls
3) don't drive at night or for more than 3 hours at a stretch (these are tight roads not like NA)
4) take a map and use it
4) not sure what a bunny is....
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:36 AM
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It's a common journey for British, Irish, Dutch holiday makers. Not as common as flying, sure, but hardly an unknown occurrence; I've driven from the UK to Tuscany, Rome and Dubrovnik on different occasions.

bilbo's practical advice is spot on, but she can stick to motorways the whole route if she so pleases which are just like motorways/freeways everywhere else.

The main/only danger she faces is over doing it and crashing through fatigue. 10 hours a day is more than enough for any masochist. Hotels are easily found in almost any town of note en route and are safe for single females. Viamichelin.com is your friend for route planning, times, tolls, hotels. But you might also find the acor hotels group website worthwhile for budget, clean and safe accommodation.

Don't worry - be supportive, and help her with the planning and practicalities. She'll be perfectly safe.

Nb. Do not watch "Spoorloos" ("The Vanishing") prior to her trip.

Dr D.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:37 AM
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How old is your daughter? Is there a reason she has to drive? She can't use a car in Venice and it will be expensive to park it while she is there. It might be cheaper and certainly would be faster to fly.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Is she renting a car or driving her own? If she's renting, be aware that it will cost a fortune to pick a car up in France and drop it off in Italy. And as mentioned a car is useless in Venice, so why not fly?
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Old May 16th, 2012, 08:02 AM
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Thanks a lot for all your replies and warm welcome! She is not my daughter, she is my girlfriend . She is old enough(26), yeah, but still, I'm a bit worried since she is going to do the whole trip alone.

She has to go pick up the bunny(rabit) by car because, apparently rabits are not allowed to fly. So she is renting a car from Calais, going to venice port, picking up her bunny, mother, brother and they all return to London. I suppose she can go to the port by car no? or anyway to some point close to it so they can come to her.

Bilbo, thank you for the tips! She is gonna rent it, so most probably all those requirements will be filled, but I"ll ask her to check it out.

Dr D, thanks for reassuring answer lol and the website, I'll tell her to use it.

I think the main problem is, I've watched way too many motel/drive way thrillers.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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Hmmm - a real life wascally wabbit?

Have you checked the legalaties and hoops needed to jump through to bring it into the UK. We're pretty protective of our rabies free status and you can't just pitch up at Dover with a family pet in the boot.

You need to search out info on pet passports. Now.

Good luck!

Dr D
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Old May 16th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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Driving the entire length of France is one of the most wonderful things that anybody can do. Of course, she will probably have a lot of sexual adventures along the way. ;-)
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Old May 17th, 2012, 02:21 AM
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The bunny has everything needed He can't travel inside the airplane cabin though and alghouth a couple of air companies that accept it as cargo, he is too old to travel as a plane cargo(5 years old). That's why this whole fuss is all about...

Thank you all for your replies!
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Old May 17th, 2012, 03:40 AM
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Driving time will bei about 14 hours each way.

She will go through wonderful places, and she should take the opportunity to see at least a few of them:

- Reims with its gorgeous cathedral.
- Basel with a fantastic art museum.
- Luzern, a most picturesque medieval town.
- The Alps.
- Milano.
- Verona.
- Padova.
- And Venice, of the most beautiful historical cities in Europe.

I am not quite sure where the has to pick up the rabbit. The port of Venice is called Mestre, and it is on the mainland, so she will not see Venice at all. From Mestre, she can drive over a causeway to Venice island and park her car in a huge garage called Tronchetto (there is also a ferry port). From there, she can take the waterbus (vaporetto) which is excellent for sightseeing.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Another little addition to what you must carry in your car, as from July 2012 .... two breathalysers. Yes - really. I already have mine in the car. You can buy them in the big supermarkets here for less than five euros.
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Old May 19th, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Goodness, they only cost 1 euro a piece in the auto supply stores!
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Old May 20th, 2012, 03:11 AM
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You mean beath analysers that are used for alcohol testing for example? Pretty weird.............
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Old May 20th, 2012, 03:14 AM
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No, it is another country, like the past they do things differently there
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Old May 20th, 2012, 06:02 AM
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When I said less than five euros, that was just a general guideline. I bought a pack of two in Carrefour for about 2.30 euros (if I remember rightly).

I think part of the thinking behind this is that should you be worried about being near the limit, you can always check your own alcohol level.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 10:41 AM
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In addition to the two breathalyzers, she must have a "breakdown kit in the car" in case she needs to pull over with a flat tire or overheated engine or whatever, and a safety vest. A rental car will always provide this; if this is your/her own car, make sure she has these.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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That's been the case for some time - the breathalyser is the new item.
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Old May 20th, 2012, 04:32 PM
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Oh - and don't forget the fire extinguisher!
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