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Driving

 

ALCOHOL - On the spot fines which can be very expensive or arrest. The limit is less than England or the Channel Islands.  From June 2012 it is obligatory to carry a breathalyser in the car and this must be

 

AUTOROUTES - Are fast but you have to pay for the privilege via tolls by cash or credit card.  It is possible to purchase a special device which is read as you go through the non stop high speed toll section.  You either hold this to be read or stick it to the windscreen of the car.  Your toll charges are then billed monthly. To obtain a card go to http://www.sanef.com/fr/.  For further information on autoroutes go to THE AUTOROUTE SITE.  Now for the good news - Brittany does not charge tolls! 

CHILDREN - Children over 10 can travel in the front of a car - the younger ones must be in the back and there are strict regulations about the number you can carry which must be equivalent to the number of seat belts available.

DOCUMENTATION AND THINGS TO CARRY - You must always have your driving licence.  A warning triangle for breakdowns, yellow reflective vests must be carried in the vehicle by law.  Ideally there should also be a first aid kit in the car, spare bulb set and fire extinguisher. Do not forget that breathalyser!

You must always carry evidence of valid insurance. French drivers are legally obliged to produce the vehicle’s "Carte Gris" (Log Book). The police and gendarmes are always surprised (and suspicious) at the typical UK driver’s presumption that these various documents can be produced at a police station within 5 days.  Channel Islanders - It can help to carry your C.I. equivalent

GIVE WAY ON THE RIGHT Priorité à droite – Give way to the right  this no longer applies automatically as in the old days but does apply where indicated

HEADLIGHTS - Adjust headlights to allow for driving on the other side of the road and to avoid dazzling other drivers. Dipped headlights must be put on in the daytime in weather conditions such as heavy rain or fog. Headlights must be kept on if you are on a motor-bike, moped or scooter

INSURANCE - Carry an international accident declaration form.  It is easier to get this filled out in France at the time than when you are back at home.

PARKING - Be careful about paying as cars can be wheel clamped.

SATNAV  It is illegal to have a satnav capable of providing speed radar warnings.  The satnav and even the car could be confiscated should this be discovered.

SEATBELTS - Must be worn front and back

SOMEONE ELSE'S CAR If you are driving someone else's car you must carry a letter of authority from the owner at all times

SPEED LIMITS

Apart from legal limits watch out for special signs

In Towns and Built-up Areas

50 km/h in towns and villages

Minor Roads

90 km/h on other main roads (80 km/h when wet).

Dual Carriageways/Non Toll Motorways

Dry conditions: 110km/h 

Wet conditions:

Motorways

Dry conditions: 130km/h on toll motorways

Wet conditions: 110 km/h 

Towing Trailer:  Slower speeds

STOP means Stop and when you come to a junction, even if all is clear you must stop

 

TELEPHONES & INTERNET Franace Telecom

 

To dial Channel Islands

0044 1481 12345 or 0044 1534 12335

i.e. drop the 0 it is not 01534 or 01481 as in the UK

Mobiles are the same i.e. 0044 7797712345 dropping the 0 before the 77 etc.

Click on logo above to go to France Telecom Site

To dial UK

0044 the area code and number

i.e. 0044124012345

Local numbers start with the area code - Brittany is 02 then the number

Paris numbers start with 01

Call boxes: The majority of call boxes are card operated. Telecartes are available at several retail outlets such as newsagents.

Mobiles:  Make sure these are opened up for international use.  Get in touch with your Telephone Company before travelling.  If you are ringing a friend with an English or Channel Island mobile dial as if they are at home.  REMEMBER - that when you are away in France you are picking up roaming charges.  i.e. people dialling you pick up the local call charge but the minute you answer you pick up all the charges!

INTERNET If you are not able to get on line and are desperate to check your e-mails you can use one of the many Internet Shops.  For instance Cyber'Com,  26 bs. Bd. des Talards, Saint Malo rents out computer posts at 3.60per hour.  ¼,  ½, ¾ hour slots also available. A special price of 14.00 is available for a 5 hour slot - what a way to spend your free time though - get on the beach! Cyber Com is conveniently found on the road between the hospital and station.  Tel: 02 99 56 05 83 if you get lost. Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings 9-12 a.m. and every day between 2 .00 and 6.00 p.m. Thursdays 1.00  pm. to 8.00 p.m. and Saturdays to 5.30 p.m. 

Your own dial up connection might have a French number so find this out before you go.  On a long term basis Tiscali.fr is very cheap as is Wanadoo.fr.  Although you do pay a monthly charge for these and it is only worth it if you are in France frequently i.e. weekend visitor.

 

 

EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS

 

 

Fire - Pompier 18

Medical - (Samu) 15   This number puts you through to a medical line who will either organise emergency treatment or advise you of the duty doctor in your area.
Police - (Gendarmes) 17
Sea (Lifeboat) or Lake Rescue 1616

Crisis Line for English http://www.soshelpline.org

 

 


ELECTRICITY and APPLIANCES

French TV - SECAMEDF - Electricitie de France

English TV- PAL

Remember this if you think of buying TV's or Videos!

You can buy PAL/SECAM T.V.'s but check and insist that the set must work in United Kingdom.

Videos for SECAM systems will play but in black and white.  Check for English versions

Click on logo above to go to EDF French Electricity Site

 

CHEQUES - are sacrosant in France and if they "bounce" this is a criminal offence

 

 

CREDIT CARDS -

Chip and PIN but on occasions the machines - usually in smaller enterprises - require a signature

 

 

CHILDREN - most places welcome them unless a very grown up night club, discothèque or very smart restaurant.  The latter may accept them but they do have to behave.  Generally French children are very well trained as to how to behave at restaurants and bars and shops.   Sadly being children  when they visit abroad they get excited and this  applies to little French ones too, when the visit the Channel Islands and U.K.  However once our little ones calm down - if they need to -  it is a delight for families who are not so cut off from social life.

 

 

DOGS  

Allowed on certain beaches but these are few in summer season.  There are less restrictions out of season. You obviously will have followed legal procedures regarding vaccinations, micro chips and Veterinary checks before travelling back and forward.  Dogs are incredibly welcome in a variety of places where you would not expect to see them in UK!  They occupy bar stools, underneath tables, in shopping trolleys, small ones are carried under arms and bigger ones can quite surprise you.  However they are expected to behave!!

 

 

ETIQUETTE - MANNERS 

GREETING PEOPLE    If you are just introduced and do not know the person you shake hands.

Once you know them there is a "kissing etiquette" the number of which depends on the region. decreases in certain circumstances and can be quite a puzzle.  Follow your host. If you have kissed someone hello at the beginning of the day you do not bother anymore in the day. Children kiss once.

Always refer to a mature lady who might be married as Madame.  Young girls who are unmarried are Mademoiselle.  Men are Monsieur unless you have been introduced and offered a First Name.  If in doubt say nothing.

Knives and forks are not left at 6.00 o'clock.  Again there are different ideas about this but many people leave them at 9 and 3 o'clock on the plate when finished.

Pleases and thank you's and an interest in shop keepers, bar-people etc are considered important.  So they should be anyway.You should always greet assistants in shops etc and say good bye!

Tipping is not so prevalent.

 

 

MEAT 

Saignant - means virtually raw.

Au Point - should mean medium but veers towards rare.

Bien Cuit - well cooked but can turn out to be  either medium or too well done if the Chef feels that he or she is dealing with a weird English person or is basically lacking in understanding of the influx of English visitors in the summer

 

 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

 

Unlike the UK if the dates fall on a weekend there is not an extra day on the following Monday to compensate.

 

January 1 - New Year's Day   (Jour de l'an)

April 18 - Good Friday

April 21 - Easter Monday

May 1 - May Day (Fête du premier mai)

May 8 - VE Day 1945

May 29 - Ascension

June 8 - Whit Sunday

June 9 - Whit Monday

July 14 - Bastille Day Fete Nationale

August 15 - Assumption

November 1 - All Saints' Day  - (La Toussaint)

November 11 - Armistice

December 25 - Christmas Day

 

FORMALITIES & PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Passport: Nationals of countries within the European Union entering France need only a national identity card.      Nationals of other countries must be in possession of a valid national passport

Visa: an entry visa is required for Canadian and US citizens (for a stay of more of three months) and for Australian and New Zealand citizens. - Agence consulaire de France: 71 Halkett Place St Helier, tél. 726 256. e-mail : frenchconsul@jerseymail.co.uk

Time - French time is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and moves further hour forward between late march and the end of September. France is therefore one hour ahead of the U.K. throughout the year. 

Currency: the euro is now the only official currency in France. One euro is worth app. £0.63. 

Opening hours: shops and banks tend to open earlier and close later, with the exception of the larger hypermarkets, many commercial outlets have a midday break of two hours.  Hypermarkets don’t open on Sundays except during the pre-Christmas period.  Many smaller food shops will be open on Sunday mornings and by the same token, might close all day Monday. Some of the banks also open on Saturday morning and close one day during the week.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

TRAINS   There are TGV links between most cities. Go to for more information.  The service is excellent and quick.  Whenever you buy a train ticket in France it has to be validated in one of the orange automatic date-stamping machines before you board the train. You can stop off en route to your destination as many times as you wish but on every separate day of travel the ticket has to be stamped. There are minor train routes that can be a pleasant way to see the area as these pass more slowly through the country side.

BUSES  It is possible to get reductions by buying blocks of tickets.  All towns have buses but sometimes time tables are set to coincide with use i.e. to and from work

 

PLUMBING   

Well you wanted to know!  Can be very different from you are used to at home. There are still Unisex Toilets - avert eyes ladies!  Toilets do not take all manners of items being flushed down them which is why French toilet paper is more flimsy. Never put a disposable nappy etc in a toilet. However big bonus the water pressure is stronger and showers are powerful and reviving. 

 

MEDICAL AND FIRST AID 

EXCELLENT.  However please remember that you must have the appropriate forms with you i.e. Attestation from Jersey.  In Jersey  visit Social Security with your number at the ready prior to travel and this will be provided.  You must get it re-stamped each year., U.K. residents need an E111.  You will be refunded 80% of hospital charges provided you have had an overnight stay.  Otherwise you pay.  You need travel insurance to cover the other 20%. Minor problems can be dealt with at any of the many pharmacies which offer more advice than Chemists and are the first port of call unless matters are more serious.

France is very much alive as regards the country-side which means lots of butterflies and grasshoppers etc. but  be very careful to keep your legs covered in long grass as there are some particularly nasty "ticks" which bite and in rare case this can result in Lyme Fever.  Also there are vipers  as well as harmless grass snakes.  However these occurrences are not common.

 

TIDES IN BRITTANY and NORMANDY- These have a high rise and fall - same as Channel Islands.  Also they come in at the same speed so be very careful.