Fuel stations in France & Germany

CatsEyes

War Hero
Next month, I'm looking at driving a route from Calais to Stuttgart and return. I'll probably be filling up twice in France and once in Germany. It's been many years since I drove across there and I'd appreciate advice on how the main route (rather than small town) fuel stations work in those countries, i.e. Is it broadly the same as the UK where you park up, fuel and then go in to pay, or different?

I'll be travelling with a Visa Debit card and a Mastercard credit card (and cash). Advice welcomed!
 
If you can route through and fill up in Luxembourg. Cheaper by some margin than elsewhere. Other than that aim for French supermarkets for cheaper fuel.
 
Next month, I'm looking at driving a route from Calais to Stuttgart and return. I'll probably be filling up twice in France and once in Germany. It's been many years since I drove across there and I'd appreciate advice on how the main route (rather than small town) fuel stations work in those countries, i.e. Is it broadly the same as the UK where you park up, fuel and then go in to pay, or different?

I'll be travelling with a Visa Debit card and a Mastercard credit card (and cash). Advice welcomed!
Motorways usually as per UK
Supermarkets are often card only now and a lot cheaper than the motorway (quelle surprise)

Most Toll roads now are card or cash - automatic booths - make sure you have cash (at least for the 1st one) just in case the card doesn't work on them - my French bank card doesn't work on the toll road** fine every where else - The booths are unmanned and the (un)help(ful) button is unlikely to speak English. Add to that French customer service revolves around the customer is always wrong and service provided is doing you a favour - not their job and its a recipe for frustration.


Expect to be honked at on a toll road - when you get out and walk round to pay the toll - by some tit incapable of working out its a right hooker.

Expect to be sat behind some French tit at a toll booth / Fuel pump who needs a fortnight to work out how to operate it - Automatic booths / stations have been the norm for 5 years - but im guaranteed to be sat behind the imbecile who doesn't seem to have filled up since they ditched 2 star***.

Tell your bank where you are going and when - In case they decide to block unusual transactions and include diesel in France amongst them.

Ive occasionally had fun with phone* and cards - where they've suddenly decided neither should work abroad - despite working there with no problems for the previous 6 months.


Dont forget yellow vests, triangles etc

Dont bother getting a breathalizer
1) Long story short - basically their were supply problems and the law was unenforceable - its going to be quietly dropped in the future
2)France has a lower limit than UK - so a lot you find in the UK would be useless anyway.

If youre flagging if all else fails keep an eye out for F1s - cheap as chips room for the night - but it is just a room often the showers are in a communal block -

*Kept a UK number for a long time for personal reasons

**I have absolutely no ******* idea why - but this is a bank that has issued me a card in the wifes maiden name - despite the account being in mine and sends it to her mothers address. So in the grand scheme of things its filed under French Admin Twats give up.

******* off
 
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B42T

LE
Alternately, rock up to the pay by card toll and scratch your head as you discover it doesn't accept credit cards or euros, meanwhile there is a queue of frenchies building up behind you getting increasingly irrate.

The blokey in the pay toll booth next to mine is yelling at me so I spark a ciggie up and shrug my shoulders pointing at my credit card.
I saunter over to him and sort of explain problem, and eventually he clocks the problem and accepts some cash off me and opens the barrier.
Meanwhile behind my car there are exasperated frenchies going red in the face as I eventually drive off.

Luckily I was in a German registered car so that probably sent some of them into near meltdown.
 
Fuel stops increasingly now unmanned and 24/7. So you insert your card, fill up and amount gets deducted. Take a few extra fuel cans in your car just in case you find a really cheap stop.

See above for info on letting your bank know.

Didn’t Lloyds do a euro credit card? Might be worth your while if going often.
 
Watch out for bank charges if using a UK debit card in Eurozone, but there are some special credit cards that don't charge fees for foreign currency transactions, which can be the cheapest way to pay for stuff abroad if you are UK based. See the Money Saving Expert website for details.
 
French motorways tend to enforce average speed limits between toll booths and the police can impose on the spot fines.
Speed limits may be lower if it's raining - this is definitely the case in Spain.
Don't forget to do the headlamps, either with black strips or some cars now have a switch to dip them to the right and not dazzle oncoming traffic.
Also beware of the scam at busy petrol stations where one of the staff will insist on checking the oil, which of course is nowhere near the sump as you've just stopped, and will try and sell you a can of overpriced synthetic superlube once he's waved the dry dipstick in your face.
On a positive note the espresso coffee from the machines is very good and they also sell double length pains au chocolat.
When driving on normal roads remember to look LEFT when joining from a side road, petrol forecourt or layby, and be very careful if you ever have to stop on the left side of the road, easy to forget and happily barrel along on the wrong side of the road.
And finally, when in Germany, if you can, max out the speed as it is extremely good fun.
 

ndolajim

Clanker
Get a diesel car. I drove my lovely Renault from Oxford to Friedrichshafen on a tank-full. (I did use a ferry across the channel just in case you wondered) Avoid frog motorways; they are highway robbery.
No I don't like the French, Nelson's attitude towards them is the example to follow. They do however make very comfortable cars in their government subsidised factories and I am sure Nelson partook of the occasional glass of French wine. I have done the same trip in a VW Passat and it was as hard as a gocart.
 
Get a diesel car. I drove my lovely Renault from Oxford to Friedrichshafen on a tank-full. (I did use a ferry across the channel just in case you wondered) Avoid frog motorways; they are highway robbery.
No I don't like the French, Nelson's attitude towards them is the example to follow. They do however make very comfortable cars in their government subsidised factories and I am sure Nelson partook of the occasional glass of French wine. I have done the same trip in a VW Passat and it was as hard as a gocart.
The word Diesel these days stands for Demon - after the VW scandal.
 

smallbore

Old-Salt
On the French motorway toll booths, I find a bank debit card won't work. Use a credit card (and there is no need to enter the PIN).
 
When driving on normal roads remember to look LEFT when joining from a side road, petrol forecourt or layby, and be very careful if you ever have to stop on the left side of the road, easy to forget and happily barrel along on the wrong side of the road.
Yes.
I still occasionally did that when I was posted in Germany.
Also their roundabouts go the wrong way round.
I have puzzled French car drivers when I forgot this (early in the morning on almost empty roads).
 
French motorways tend to enforce average speed limits between toll booths and the police can impose on the spot fines.
Speed limits may be lower if it's raining - this is definitely the case in Spain.
Don't forget to do the headlamps, either with black strips or some cars now have a switch to dip them to the right and not dazzle oncoming traffic.
Also beware of the scam at busy petrol stations where one of the staff will insist on checking the oil, which of course is nowhere near the sump as you've just stopped, and will try and sell you a can of overpriced synthetic superlube once he's waved the dry dipstick in your face.
On a positive note the espresso coffee from the machines is very good and they also sell double length pains au chocolat.
When driving on normal roads remember to look LEFT when joining from a side road, petrol forecourt or layby, and be very careful if you ever have to stop on the left side of the road, easy to forget and happily barrel along on the wrong side of the road.
And finally, when in Germany, if you can, max out the speed as it is extremely good fun.
I was last on the French autoroute system 2 years ago, they can make for easier drives over long distances, so don't totally dismiss the cost of using the tolls. There is indeed a different speed limit when roads are wet or rainy, the sign showing rain with the word "rappel" are there for a reason. IIRC 130 in the dry, 110 in the wet although I understand this may have been recently lowered. French Police are on the lookout for "les rosbiefs" who take liberties with speed in their country, and will trace you down long after you have returned to UK, having a subservient government who take delight in passing on your details to the Gendarmerie for fines to be issued doesn't help matters.

I agree with the information about French motorway service stations, the food is excellent, and I was very impressed with the station, near Lille, which refused to sell a truck driver a bottle of wine to go with his meal...

Be wary of the "limitless speed" on German autobahns, on my last journey through Germany there were a serious amount of speed limitation signs being installed on famously straight and hi speed sections of the autobahn network.
 
Yes.
I still occasionally did that when I was posted in Germany.
Also their roundabouts go the wrong way round.
I have puzzled French car drivers when I forgot this (early in the morning on almost empty roads).
The same way I got puzzled back and forth when working in Europe early on back in the day. I mean round about themselves were new to me but having to drive for one week in the UK and the other week, and trying to figure out the roundabouts was a nightmare. Especially late at night when there was almost no traffic. I did end up on the wrong side quite a few times. With traffic you just see the flow of traffic in the front and just follow it.
 
Be wary of the "limitless speed" on German autobahns, on my last journey through Germany there were a serious amount of speed limitation signs being installed on famously straight and hi speed sections of the autobahn network.
You really don't have to worry much about autobahn speed restrictions these days - have done a ton of miles on them for work and half the time you're barely moving because of all the works around.
 
Take note- you normally need to pay to use the bog on the continent, you'll need small change. This is probably why the car park typically smells of p!ss.

I quite like the food that is available at M-way service stations over there.

My recent experience is that the Dutch and French (oddly) are quite friendly. The Germans will corner you and demand an explanation for Brexit, do as I do and pretend to be American, it's quite good fun. Better still, if you can mimic the accent, pretend to be Russian. In either case you can be as rude as you like to the Germans.
 
Take note- you normally need to pay to use the bog on the continent, you'll need small change. This is probably why the car park typically smells of p!ss.
The same way London streets are covered in piss because you had to pay 20P (which you almost never have) for piss at train and tube stations? And now that they are taking it away, it's being heralded as a "revolution."
 
Next month, I'm looking at driving a route from Calais to Stuttgart and return. I'll probably be filling up twice in France and once in Germany. It's been many years since I drove across there and I'd appreciate advice on how the main route (rather than small town) fuel stations work in those countries, i.e. Is it broadly the same as the UK where you park up, fuel and then go in to pay, or different?

I'll be travelling with a Visa Debit card and a Mastercard credit card (and cash). Advice welcomed!
In France just fill up and drive away. It's all covered by the state, so no need to pay. In Germany special rules apply when entering the fuel station. Here is a training video:

Or just fill up, go in and pay. Cash and credit cards are welcome.
 

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