Owning a motorhome gives you the freedom of the open road. And if that open road begins with the short hop across the Channel to France, the open road has practically no end.
Though it might be just a short cross-Channel journey away, however, remember that France is a foreign country, with rules of the road, laws and customs that may differ substantially to those you are used to at home.
With those differences in mind, the following advice is offered about taking your motorhome to France.
At the ferry port
Getting to France is easy enough, thanks to the streamlined boarding procedures now in operation at the ferry ports and Eurotunnel.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club recommends that you keep your booking reference to hand and simply follow the signs for the operator with whom you have booked.
Eurotunnel operates a self-check-in lane if you have booked directly with the company, so all you need do is enter your booking reference on the entry screen and follow the instructions.
One of the main dangers may be the lure of the open road itself. Especially if you are chasing the sun, you might be tempted to drive much further in your motorhome in France than you are used to at home.
As an article in Caravan Talk warns, it is essential to avoid driving fatigue, so plan your route well, and take regular breaks.
You need to remember your UK driving licence, but at the time of writing (September 2019), you do not need an international driving permit for France. Do note that this could change due to Brexit, so check with the Government website for clarification.
You must also have evidence of insurance for your motorhome since a minimum of third party cover is obligatory in France – as it is throughout the rest of Europe. Check that your insurance covers driving in Europe and ask your insurer for a “green card” that confirms you are adequately insured for driving in France.
When driving in France, you must have onboard a warning triangle and a reflective jacket to wear in case of roadside emergencies together with a first-aid kit.
While it is no longer a legal requirement, it has been in the past and is, therefore, a good idea to continue to carry a breathalyser device.
Speed limits may vary, especially in rural areas, are likely to catch out the unwary and are frequently policed – with on the spot fines which vary according to the degree to which you have exceeded the limit.
That means up to €68 for a minor infraction (less than 12mph) but up to €3750 and three months in prison if you are caught for the second time speeding by more than 31mph.
The RAC warns that in some French cities you also need to display a “clean air sicker” – a Crit’Air.
This costs £3.60 and you may face an on the spot fine of nearly £120 if you fail to do so.