Taking your car to Europe

Discussion in 'Travel' started by semper, Dec 5, 2010.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Hi Guys a little advice if you please.

    Planning to take my Car to France, Belgium, Germany, to explore the battlefields of WW1 and WW2, Napoleonic wars.

    Some questions, Petrol will they be using similar rating of petrol to us, in which case no need of modifications ?

    What are the attitude of motorists and the locals in these Countries particularly the Police toward British plated cars ?

    Anything to be aware of when driving round Europe ?

    I quite like the idea of being able to drive through Europe without needing to show a passport ?

    tho of course I would have to go through Tunnel immigration to get back to the UK.

    I take it you have to let your insurance company know you are going to Europe.

    Place I am planning to visit in France and Belgium, Waterloo, Mons, WW1 Trenches, Verdun, Normandy, Oradour-sur-Glane, the German Rhineland.

    This is a taster for me so I can be more confident hopefully to travel further afield in Europe.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Yep, other side of t'road to us.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    On a serious note, you might want to check what the score is with winter tyres and lights where you are going. In some countries there's a certain date after which you have to have the winter tyres on and headlights on all the time - not sure if it affects France, Belgium et al (I'm thinking a little further North) but would be worth checking with the current conditions being what they are. Good luck!
  3. The Germans have just changed the law making it a legal requirement to have winter tyres on when snowing, slush and black ice etc is around. I don't know how it effects tourists but the GCP were busy doing the squaddies last Thursday around Paderborn!
  4. Roughly the same selection of fuel is available on the continent - 95 RON (labeled Sans Plomb in France and Bleifrei in Germany) 98 (super) and Diesel.

    You'll need headlamp deflectors (like these: Halfords | Halfords Headlamp Converters ) or you can use black nasty to achieve the same effect. Also, remember a GB sticker if you don't already have one on the number plate.

    If in doubt, call your insurers but you should be covered for driving in the EU by default.

    Drive sensibly and adhere to local trafic regs and the Polizei will leave you alone.

    Remember to take all insurance and V5 type documents and photocopies (incl. passport and driving licence).


    Er, yeah. Have fun!
  5. You might want to check with someone like the AA about the detailed rules, but a few pointers:
    - Make sure you recognise the road signs - other countries have different ones and sometimes have different traffic priorities, identified by signs
    - Some areas of Europe require that snow chains be carried or that winter tyres are mandatory in certain months.
    - Many countries in Europe require the carriage of safety equipment and spare bulbs for all lights.
    - Fuel will be fine - it will be identified by similar octane ratings to the UK
    - Insurance will need to be informed.
    - You might also wish to increase your roadside assistance cover unless you are confident of your ability to arrange garage support in whatever country you are in.
    - Light modifications will be required (yours will be dipped to the left - not good if you are driving on the right.)
  6. But you can safely ignore speed cameras!
  7. Oh yeh, just remember everything (speed limits especially) is in Km/hr. Bit of a bugger with a UK or US specced car where everything is in Mph.
  8. It is now seemingly the law in France that you must have a hi-vis jacket in your car. This must be in the car, not in the boot. There has been some recent coverage of les Flics fining those you do not comply. If you drop into Halfords they have a chart showing what items are essential in the key European countries by way of 1st aid kits, spare bulbs, etc.

    The French used to be hot on enforcing the law of not crossing the line in the centre of the road when it is bold. My parents were fined for this some years ago. They paid the fine (equivalent to around £80 to £90) on the spot as required and were surprised to received a demand in the post for the same amount some months later. My Mother wrote back politely in French with a copy of the receipt and heard nothing more. The French cops on the roadside must have pocketed the cash.

    I'm not saying the French aren't trustworthy, but at least we aren't going to be sharing aircaft carriers or important stuff like that with them. Oh, hold on.
  9. Also in France now you need to carry a high vis vest (poss one per pass), a warning triangle, a spare bulb kit... think Belgium is the same , speed limits can change dependent on weather , the roads are better in general , less traffic unless in towns at rush hr , beautiful scenery , if you have sat nav make sure its upto date as we had a very nice drive down a lane and then a farm track through a wood and field before getting back onto a lane ( not a problem in a Landcruiser ) just down the road from Thiepval ;-) did pick up some nice shrapnel in the field though ... also found two unexploded shells !
    Consider the ferrys instead of the tunnel ... breakfast on the ferry can be a nice break and standing on deck as you arrive in france makes you feel like you have traveled abroard ... for my money its much more nicer than sitting in a railway carrige in a hole in the ground and not that much slower unless you drive straight on the train and don't stop at the tunnel terminal... you can shop while you cross on the ferry not while you wait on the tunnel .
    You will I'm sure find it a pleasent experiance and will want to go back again and again.
  10. Not the best time of year to go touring IMHO. Only thing apart from driving on the wrong side to be wary of is the different countries traffic regs. Try doing the BFG driving exam, am pretty sure it includes France, Belgium, Holland etc. Oh and take a good phrase book and maps/Eurozone SatNaV
  11. Make Oradour a whole day in itself. Arriving at noon won't do it justice.

    Hi-viz jacket in the passenger compartment (don if on foot by major highways, people in rural areas will always stop to help), triangle, first aid kit. If you're normally in the UK, give your bank a call beforehand to let them know you'll be using plastic overseas. Embarrassing if it gets blocked due to 'change of spending pattern'. Dunno about western borders but compulsory to display passport when purchasing fuel in Basque region, if you get that far south of Oradour.

    AA, Green Flag etc, etc, will offer European full cover breakdown service, small premium payable in advance.
  12. Just sent you a PM, I want a photo from all the places I mentioned, or you don't get your 20 shiney pee.
  13. Seems like blackmail to me. :?

  14. In France, watch your speed within about 50 kms of Calais, the police can and will impound tourists' cars on the spot and let you walk home. They have a particular hatred for Brits towing caravans.

    In Belgium be aware that directions and town names are in French when south or eastbound, but in Flemish if you're driving north or west. Tournai/Doornijk, for example, is confusing if you're tired.

    Get a good atlas/road map book to help avoid toll roads in France (all the motorways) and use their A roads instead. There's generally far less traffic on French roads than in UK, relax and enjoy.

    If heading north from Calais up the Ghyvelde corridor to Belgium, or returning that way, avoid the truckstops like the plague--they're crawling with illegals heading this way who will happily gas you, nick anything not nailed down and generally be a nuisance.

    Also be very wary of "helping" people wanting you to bring parcels to UK--it's a drug running ploy wherein you'll be paid well the first time but grassed up the next, so Customs don't get used to seeing you too often.

    There are no passport checks between France/Benelux/Germany, but Belgian and French Customs have mobile teams doing spot checks for all sorts of things in motorway services. If they stop you be very polite and helpful and you'll get no grief. In comparison, a Dutch trucker pulled by them after me kicked off---they took his truck to pieces on the forecourt then fucked off and left him to it.

    Note that ALL European cops are armed, as are Border police, Customs, Security at Calais, and most other officials who may require you to stop. "Stop" is not a request, it's an order swiftly followed by the "kerching" of cocking weapons if you don't comply. Calais occassionally has troops reinforcing the port security guys, and having seen how they deal with recalcitrant drivers, well, just don't.

    Belgians and Dutch can and will speak English. The French may be able to, at least in western France, but won't. Their gaff, their rules. In eastern France and Luxembourg many French also speak German. For entertainment try the mega-truckstop in Luxembourg and watch the young women in the shop and fuel tills switch effortlessly between about 20 languages in as many minutes.

    Should you venture into Switzerland, be nice to the Border guards-- a colleague kicked off about them speaking only German, they kept him waiting, for 5 days.

    Food is excellent, and cheap---French motorway restaurants will give you a 3 course dinner with a half bottle of house wine for under 20 euros, about what you'd pay for a Mars bar and a Coke in UK.

    Belgian and Dutch radio stations are pretty good, but the French is abysmal. They do, though, have one channel that gives news and traffic info every hour or so in English.

    Finally, if you're after Waterloo I believe they have a renactment every June--check with the tourist office.

    Have a good trip.
  15. This is from UK Campsites. It is the "sticky" with advice for driving on the Continent Driving advice and requirements There's quite a bit to read but it is pretty sound advice

    You are required to have a Hi Viz vest for each person in the vehicle.
    You do need a spare set of bulbs
    You do need a fire extinguisher
    You do need a first aid kit
    You do need a warning triangle (two for Italy)
    If you wear glasses you are required to carry a spare set
    All the vehicle documents including MOT, Insurance certificate and registration document
    GB sticker - even with the new number plates it can save a bit of trouble (not a requirement, just a personal view)

    Radar detectors are banned in France. Even the possession of one is enough for a massive fine and/or imprisonment
    CB radios may be illegal in Italy - it seems to be a very grey area.

    Supermarkets are the cheapest for fuel
    UK credit and debit cards may not always be accepted in "pay at the pump" fuel pumps

    Speed limits are rigidly enforced although you wouldn't believe it with the way some French drive. Between 12 Noon and 2pm can be the worst time to be on the road in France: Never stand between a Frenchman and his stomach.

    Take a TomTom or Garmin GPS for driving directions plus a map. The Via Michelin maps are good and the cheapest place to buy them is from a Super or Hypermarket.