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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    Default GPS in France

    Silly questions time - the DS3 I'm leasing in France next month has GPS. Is this one of those cases where you have to buy maps or what? How long is a piece of string ie how long will it take me to learn how to use it or isn't it worth learning? My eyesight is getting to the point where my well travelled Michelin Atlas Routier et Touristique is a bit hard to read, are the GPS screens any better or do you have to rely on a voice telling you where to get off?
    Not quite a luddite here - I found Googlemaps and streetview on my iPad quite useful when booking/ travelling around Ireland and England a couple of years ago, but other than a weekend rent of a GPS equipped Lexus in Sydney 5 years ago I've never used GPS in a car.

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    I find ViaMichelin.com very useful to preplan and print out the journey in advance. It assumes you have a navigator that can read. GPS is pretty reliable unless there are roadwork diversions. You need your reading glasses to enter the destination and select a voice in a language you understand. Then you can rely on the vocal instructions. If you wrong slot it will in a few seconds replan the route and probale advise you to make a u turn so don't worry.
    On start up it can take a minute or so to lock in to the satellites and in Paris it can sometimes lose position because the buildings block its view of their orbits. You may want to ask the leasing people to set the language for you before you go.
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    The quickest route vs direct route/ scenic route options can mess with first timers, I wanted to go from Valencia to Rhonda and just pressed buttons laissez faire and got a fascinating up hill and doen dale ride via the silly GPS. It was actually fantastic because whilst not going in circles gave us some great driving and sight seeing on lesser backroads and little villages. Knowing how to use one properly is more critical with time restraints and urgency. Road signs are useful as usual! In fact more useful than a GPS!
    the voice directions are great when you're really disorientated but utterly annoying when you are comfortable with what you're doing and know where you want to go.... The most annoying thing about them is the time it takes to load up the info, and correct spelling for streets etc, you can get in a real twist if things do not correlate. You can always flip over to your ipad via a hotspot on your phone if you have connectivity and buy a local sim card!
    Last edited by forumnoreason; 19th March 2015 at 01:02 AM.

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    Fellow Frogger! rmac's Avatar
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    We used the system in our lease C4 Picasso. It was ready to go. If you don't want to pay for motorways you can set it to ignore such roads. You'll go to places that you won't even find on the map. If you have a passenger make them the navigator and thus responsible for the GPS - take a map if you really want to know where you've been though.
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    I have a similar problem to you. I can focus with glasses on the road ahead but I need another lens for detailed stuff like the GPS or maps. I tried progressives but the neck angles don't work for me.
    Road signs, I can see easily but they are of little value unless you know the geography or have preplanned the route so you are familiar with the intermediate locations. There have been occasions where I have travelled in areas familiar to me but on side roads and having forgotten my Atlas Routier stopped at crossroads and been unable to recognise the village names in all four directions!
    I change my glasses and use the touch screen on the GPS to set up the destination before setting off. Once rolling I use the GPS voice and follow the instructions. The screen is too small to use a map but it gives clear forward information of the road being followed and the turns to come. If it is set up for the quickest route and autoroutes it is unlikely to lead you astray.
    I use my tablette with Google maps but the interior of modern cars rarely have a flat surface on which to fix it, visible to the driver. It is better than the Atlas because it is more current and French roads are subject to repairs and modifications that can challenge info a few months old.
    The worst problem is the cities. The pollies are hell bent on squeezing private cars out of their centres that they reduce the lanes and change the circulation pattern with one way streets, put in tramways and all sorts of continuous changes so that the mappers can't keep up. Streetview can be very misleading as the photos are often several years old and the street may now be closed or one way in the opposite sense. I find that the GPS services that update on line and Google maps are the most reliable.
    As my navigator is now an ex-navigator, I stop, change glasses and look in detail myself at the GPS screen and the tablette, when I lack confidence in the route.
    The GPS have " places of interest " and if on line these can be very useful. You have booked a hotel but where is it? You search on hotels in the vicinity, select yours as the destination and the GPS takes you there. After ICCCR I arrived in Boulogne tired out only to find all the hotels were full. So I used the tablette internet search engine to scan a 25km radius for a hotel with a bed available, found one and booked it. Then used the GPS in the tablette (Google) to get me there. Beats any other solution I have found.
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    The Peugeot 2008 we leased in France last year had a built-in GPS. It was intuitive enough to use and we would have been lost (literally) without it. One thing to remember is that the GPS is always a few seconds behind your position on the road. This caught us out a few times at roundabouts where we took the wrong exit. Best in this case to follow the signs and go back to the GPS when through the roundabout.

    Download the manual if you can for some preliminary reading then when you get the car spend half an hour playing with the GPS so that you at least know the basics before setting off.
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    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the responses.
    Like you, Gerry, I've yet to find a spectacles solution to driving and map reading and will have to carry two pairs of glasses.
    I'm lucky in that when touring I never get lost - I just experience a bit more of the countryside and have what sometimes are termed "city by night" tours when seeking accommodation


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    I think Only place you need GPS is in the CITY area centre. Going to county side would be very easy like here in OZ I think.
    But will GPS speaks ENglish or French?
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    English! You can even chose nationality but 'Sharon' or whatever shes called from Oz is a bit crap with names! You can even download Arnie so he says stuff like no you eediot I say turn lerft!
    http://www.gps-data-team.com/pda-gps.../topic/11.html

    Inspector Closseau or Dreyfus would be good!

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    con
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmac View Post
    We used the system in our lease C4 Picasso. It was ready to go. If you don't want to pay for motorways you can set it to ignore such roads. You'll go to places that you won't even find on the map. If you have a passenger make them the navigator and thus responsible for the GPS - take a map if you really want to know where you've been though.
    Another tip but not related to the C4 inbuilt GPS.

    Last time we were in France, I used a Garmin 1350, loaded with European maps. With the Garmin, a useful tip is to use the french area codes (can't remember the exact name but they're similar to our post codes) when typing in a destination: This saves trying to get the correct spelling for the french towns.


    Oh, and another thing. I believe the French authorities were to introduce legislation which made it an offence to have red light/speed camera locations in the GPS. Don't know whether this ever became law.


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    Definitely want your area codes correct!

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    These are the Post Codes or Code Postal and are in two parts - the first two digits are the number of the Department and the last three digits are the commune. In Paris they are the Arrondissement so that 75016 is the 16th ie Bois de Boulogne etc in Paris. Your Atlas Routier carries a list of the Department numbers which are in approximate alphabetic listing.

    The GPS satellite network is independent of language.
    GPS displays in Europe offer a range of languages selected from the options menu. They also offer a male or female voice. In choosing the voice one has to bear it mind discrimination against the cars background noise. That is generally low frequency and so a women's voice stands out better. As one ages high frequency sensitivity diminishes and also discrimination, so for seniors the male is often better.
    A number of enterprises offer humorous or other different voices and messages but these are display software linked and not universal.
    I use a female French voice as the road signage and environment is French.
    Yes, it is now illegal to fit or use devices that give prior warning of radar but most GPS mapping software gives speed limits and warning beeps if you exceed them. There is a radio channel that updates some software products in real time and gives warning of changed road conditions, accidents etc.
    Last edited by gerry freed; 19th March 2015 at 08:39 PM. Reason: spelling
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    I used Google Maps on my phone in France last year, after purchasing a local simcard. I traveled from Nice to Castellane (CitroMuseum), to Socheaux (Peugeot Museum and Factory), to Mullhouse (Schlumpf Collection), Reims (Mussee Automobile), and Charles De Gaulle.

    I found the signal in the wrong place a bit in the Alps, and I got lost quite a few times concentrating too hard on driving rather that directions. Some of the roads in the little villages (especially in the mountains) are very close together, and it can be hard to work out which roads you're on.

    But would not have booked GPS if I didn't have it. I've driven around Nth America a few times with maps, but I've decided GPS is far better (not sure about the $140 a week hire fee for a mobile one from the car rental places when the car is only $190 a week).

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    We've taken our own Tom Toms overseas a fair bit, starting with my wifes GO 910, one of the early ones but with a really decent hard drive. Someone left the mounting bracket home on our last use of this in England. And when we came back it still thought it was in England. Made a HUGE mistake posting it to a Tom Tom service agent in WA (Bentley) who had it about a year and did nothing. Finally got it back.

    Subsequently got a later model World 2050 which we took to Italy last year. Down in Calabria this was dynamite in a bad way taking us up goat tracks, dirt roads, finally puncturing a front tyre in a Volvo V60 about 8pm at night outside a very small village. No spare in these, no cell phone with us, no Italian. Europecar eventually flat bedded the Volvo back to Tropea and the next day we went and got a decent car, a Fiat 500 wagon. This time with a spare wheel.

    Another time with the original Tom Tom we ended up in farm driveway when we were supposed to be at Frankfurt Hahn airport (Ryanairs version of Frankfurt airport). This was after we hit a series of road block between Strasbourg travelling east. Tom Toms hate you ignoring them.

    So my advice is when in doubt and there's a choice.. follow a road sign rather than the GPS..

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    Quote Originally Posted by J'aime la vie View Post
    .....So my advice is when in doubt and there's a choice.. follow a road sign rather than the GPS..

    I always follow the road signs and make the GPS do the re-routing (the latest Garmins do it automatically and without even mentioning it). The reason - stating the bleeding obvious - is that GPS maps may be out of date while the road signs, hopefully, are correct.

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    Isn't it terrible when modern technology overtakes something that was better. A good Michelin map, a good wife, you drive and she navigates. Can't be beaten. If you get lost that is half the fun and thoroughly recommended for a holiday.
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    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    Greg, I've always been missing the good wife part of that analysis. Instead I'll have aged mother on board for most this trip.
    As Gerry says, in France the trouble is when you get to the intermediate intersections in the country, and none of the place-names are what you had in mind when you studied the route earlier.


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    Spent a month in France in a Grand C4 Picasso with built-in GPS in 2009.

    It was pretty easy to use (though not a pinch on a Garmin interface for ease of use) for all the drivers and never let us down.

    Look out for "toutes directions" (all directions) signs when entering roundabouts in towns you are passing through.

    Route numbers are also much easier to spot than French names for us English-speakers.

    The Wiki article on driving in France is reasonably accurate.
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    Hi I just use a Tom Tom App on my I pad when in France it works a treat especially with an Orange pepaid Sim that helps when looking for camping grounds.

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLC206 View Post
    Spent a month in France in a Grand C4 Picasso with built-in GPS in 2009.

    It was pretty easy to use (though not a pinch on a Garmin interface for ease of use) for all the drivers and never let us down.

    Look out for "toutes directions" (all directions) signs when entering roundabouts in towns you are passing through.

    Route numbers are also much easier to spot than French names for us English-speakers.

    The Wiki article on driving in France is reasonably accurate.
    Yes, that article is pretty accurate but the scene has moved on, especially in the cities. Politics is driving private cars out and encouraging collective transport like trams that erode the available road space. The result is that circulation is becoming more restricted often to one lane, one direction with a tramway to the left and a bus/taxi lane to the right. This gives rise to a number of special traffic lights and signs at junctions to allow the priorities to be maintained while turning. It also means that the creative parking of the average Parisien is coming to end. There is now no room to have a parking lane and cars have to be parked at great expense in dedicated car parks.
    The other change is the dramatic rise in the use of two wheeled transport (and three wheeled scooters) for whom more road is dedicated to special lanes. On roads like the peri around Paris there is a de facto third lane between the marked lanes to allow the motor bikes to pass and so you have forget the logical behaviour of positioning in the middle of the lane markings.
    The law has recently changed regarding the relative priorities of vehicles and crossing pedestrians. It used to be that there were two types of pedestrians - the quick and the dead. In theory zebra crossings were supposed to give priority to pedestrians but there was no guarantee with the average driver behaviour. Now a pedestrian on a crossing has priority. A pedestrian trying to cross when there is a crossing marked within 50 metres does not. If there is no crossing close, they will have priority in the susequent litigation.
    The roundabout rules that break the priority to the right tradition still confuse many. There is now a requirement to signal appropriately when entering and leaving a roundabout but still the greater majority of French drivers have yet to find where the indicator stalk is located.
    The use of the horn or klaxon was once a characteristic of city traffic but now may only be used in emergencies. There are a variety of Gallic gestures shared by winding down the windows to replace it but they are not listed in the Code.
    If using the Autoroutes it is important to have some knowledge of the Toreador's skills. At each toll booth you will be subjected to the charge of a wounded bull. If you are on a budget, check out the toll charges in advance on Viamichelin.com and choose your route accordingly.
    Last edited by gerry freed; 21st March 2015 at 10:17 PM.
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    Bruce,

    We've GPS's around Europe five times now - 2004 in a Xsara Picasso that we discovered had a basic GPS the day after collection and it saved the whole group a couple of times.

    2008 Italy, Austria, Czech, Germany, France with a TomTom that I had preset all our hotel destinations into. The only problem we had was the day we left Florence and it took a full reboot for the TomTom to find satellites while we sat hugging the side of a very busy road. eek!

    2010 - DS3 with onboard GPS that was faultless on our fast paced lap of France then into Germany.

    2012 - The C4 with onboard GPS we had at ICCCR that was again faultless - although don't be tempted to change the car's settings to MPH as this also changes the GPS to imperial, and I'll be buggered if I can work in yards and miles. Just know what the MPH speed points are in km/h.

    2014 - C4 Picasso with onboard GPS and again faultless.

    Don't be tempted to bolt away from the CDG pickup point though. The staff are good and will give you instructions and the car will be set to be in English before you pick it up. Move out of their pickup zone, park the car and learn about the dashboard and GPS.

    It IS useful to take a decent map of some sort such as Michelin guide as there are multiple towns of the same name in France and you need to be sure you are heading toward the correct one. Also use the zoom feature on the GPS as this will give you a wider view that will hopefully correlate with your anticipated travel.

    Only buy fuel off the motorway$ as the $ervice centre$ charge a premium. Most shopping centres have a fuel station in the carpark and you can save 10 to 15 euro cents a litre.

    Autoroute$ are cash cows. Some days we paid far more in tolls (for speed of travel) than the fuel the vehicle consumed. Travel via route nationales while slower is often far more interesting.

    Buy a local SIM for your smartphone as this then gives you local 3G/4G access and the backup of maps.google.com I think we used SFR last time (pro ess eff aire) You may have to set APN settings in your phone before 3G kicks in.

    Load your phone with tunes and bluetooth it to the car for entertainment. You can only listen to Nostalagie so many times...

    Not sure if the DS3 has keyless entry and starting now, but if like the C4 Picasso, you cannot lock the second set of keys in the car as the car senses the keys and will tell you. Also if you think to check the car is locked by pulling the door handle after you've locked the car, it will of course automatically unlock as the keys will be in the vicinity. Drives you nuts at first!

    Craig K
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  22. #22
    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    Gee, all these people who think I have a smartphone
    It's now 10 years since I last toured France (in a 206 diesel, done it 5 times before that), so I'm expecting some changes. Craig it's good to hear the shopping centres are still the place to buy fuel, and I tend to avoid peages anyway. I'll be arriving in Nice this time, rather than CDG, and won't be going far the first day.
    Daniel, is the CitroMuseum at Castellane worth the visit? I imagine it might be closed for Easter when I'm in the area, and I'll have to make a detour of a couple of hundred k's to get back to it if so.
    Last edited by Bruce H; 22nd March 2015 at 06:17 PM. Reason: make that 205 a 206
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    I have been living in France during those ten years and seen the motoring scene change enormously, probably to your advantage. The standard of driving has gone down as the performance of most cars has dumbed down to match the limitations of the road congestion. Improved safety features of your vanilla car has also made people less focussed on the art of driving. That and the imposition of much greater policing on the roads has dramatically reduced the number of people who drive their cars to exploit its performance outside the prevailing traffic envelope.
    The autoroutes have bled most of the traffic off parallel N roads and so many are now a pleasure to drive on. However, the village and small towns on the way have imposed modest speed limits which are now enforced. The rule is that if there is a limited indicated, that is it. Mostly they are 50kmh but local communes have the right to reduce this. If there is no limit market but the village name sign has a red border, then a 50kmh limit is in force until you pass a name sign with a red bar across it. There are often ramps, narrow virages and other obstructions to slow you down.
    Gone are the days of my youth when I could wind the DS up to 160 at night and belt through all the villages as if they were uninhabited.

    I am not sure that you will be allowed into the country without a smartphone. Check the visa requirements! Life now revolves around these infuriating gadgets whose touch screens are too fiddly for my fat fingers and tired eyes. See your dentist about implanting a Bluetooth.
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    Something I noticed on the smaller roads locals drive like bats out of hell, narrow, blind corners, dangerous stuff, you really need to be focused as locals obviously having been down the same route hundreds, thousands of times seem to take the bullet approach casually and probably aren't too concerned about tourists unfamiliar with the local region. even through villages people hoon it. That was from Libourne to Toulouse I noticed this, zose crazy franch bastads.

  25. #25
    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    There is less and less of that now. The death rate on the roads was appalling and progressively they got it down to European averages but last year it started to rise again and this year has started badly. The statistics show that there is a concentration of fatal accidents in rural areas on secondary roads; alcohol is a big factor. In practice though, it is hard to police these low density usage roads. You have to aware of farm workers going back to the fields after a wine rich lunch. Lots of local traffic works on the basis that I do not have to signal because everyone knows me and where I live, shop and work. The local cop is a mate and turns a blind eye, while he sharpens his pencil for out of towners.
    In Lot et Garonne, the area you drove through, there are lots of English residents and building contractors. It is prudent to assume that at every blind bend there is one of these coming round on the wrong side of the road.

    Note that lots more police speak English now and in the peak holiday seasons they may actually be English on the roads leading from the Tunnel and Northern ports.
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