France Trip
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Thread: France Trip

  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger! DanielBendigo's Avatar
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    Default France Trip

    Right now I'm coming to the home straight of 3.5 weeks in Europe. I had 8 days in London (didn't really do anything car related), a week in Paris, now 9 days traveling around France.

    France is great, but I don't know if I could live here permanently (I feel the same about Sydney though), but it's been interesting. Paris seemed full of scam-artists. I can see where the Smart fortwo makes sense, there were so many of them in inner Paris. While there, I went to the Renault Musee, sadly no cars but a stack of memorabilia, including a model of the old Bilancourt factory. The carpark out the back was pretty amazing too, all the recent models, or variants that we don't get in Australia. After the museum I walked to the old Bilancourt factory site that is currently undergoing massive redevelopment. They're about half way through after 9 years. This was probably the highlight of Paris for me (I'm a Town Planner and a Renault fan).

    At the end of the week I took a very over-crowded train to Nice (only 2 of the 24 trains for that day were running), and just missed a near riot at the Paris train station. There's a huge train strike on, and lots of unhappy people. I assumed the French would be used to strikes by now.

    While in Nice I went to Monaco (didn't have time to see the Prince's collection, didn't want to risk it with trains getting back), and picked up my hire car. Despite the Europcar lady assuring me on the phone that I could have a Renault Clio, and she would make sure of it, I turned up to find myself allocated a Lancia Ypsilon. Given I'd probably never get another chance to drive one, I decided to take it rather than fuss. It's got the same 1.2 as the Fiat 500 and Panda in Australia with 51kw of power. It's actually pretty zippy for its output, and handles 135 on the Expressways fine, until it comes to a hill. Although it has chewed through the fuel up and down the Alps, and at 135 on the Expressways. My main challenge has been the gearstick has been on the wrong side of me.

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    From Nice I drove to Castellane. GPS said 2 hours, it took over 3 thanks to getting lost getting out of Nice, and stuck behind campervans. The French overtake in places I wouldn't dream of. In Castellane I visited my main reason for visiting France, CitroMuseum. WOW, WOW, WOW. I have 316 photo's (some are a bit blurry so I took again, or I just took a couple from ever so slightly different angles), which I'll put up soon, but it's a must see for any Citroen Fan. Only 3 or 4 of the cars have been restored, the rest are all as they were purchased (aside from a polish), and are absolutely immaculate. I can't believe how many people in France buy a car, then do less than 10,000 over 10-20 years. There's an Ami that a lady bought to learn how to drive in. She took 8 lessons, deemed it too hard, so garaged the Ami until it went to collectors.

    The next day I drove to Sochaux. Again the GPS said 6.5 hours, and I took 9. Again, I missed a turn (so added 60km), got stuck behind campers, but more importantly was too scared to go 90 on the narrow mountain roads with a cliff up on one side, and down on the other. The scenery through the French Alps was spectacular, and definitely worth seeing.

    This morning I did my tour of the Peugeot Factory where they make 1600 cars a day (more than Citroen sold in Oz last year). They've just put on a third shift of the 308, and have two shifts of the other line which makes 5008, 3008 and DS5. Wow, what a factory, with one car a minute coming out for each line. There was only myself and a guy from the UK on our tour, with two tour guides (one in training), so we got a very personalised tour. Definitely a must-do if you're heading that way. Following the tour I went to the Peugeot Museum, and took 411 photo's. I even remembered the tulip (car share which you could leave at any docking/recharge station in the city) from Beyond 2000 in the 80's.

    Now I'm in Mulhouse, to see the Schlumpf collection tomorrow, then head to Reims on Sunday for Musee Automobile, and driving back to Paris on Monday to fly out. Europcar offer one way rentals with no additional surcharge if anyone is interested. Still dearer than you can get through Rod Slater's Eurodrive, but a viable option for shorter term rentals.

    I'll set up a flickr account or something to dump all the photo's online before I sort them, as that could take months when I get back. I would have more than made up the additional rental in fuel savings, had a more powerful car, and still ended up in front.
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  2. #2
    Fellow Frogger! sfrawley's Avatar
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    Your experience is similar to mine. I am just into the last two weeks of a three-month/11,000 km trip of France and the UK in a Peugeot 2008 courtesy of Eurodrive. It's been a brilliant little car and I will be sorry to hand it back tomorrow.

    My enduring memory of the parts of Europe I have seen are too many people, too much traffic and too many narrow roads. It really takes much of the pleasure out of a driving holiday. The locals in both countries drive way too fast for the conditions (IMHO) and tailgating is normal. One of the good things is that policing is a lot more relaxed. The petty revenue-raising antics of the Aus police just don't happen here.

    Having said that we will probably come back in a couple of years in another Eurodrive car and use the lessons learnt this time for a more enjoyable trip next time.
    Stephen
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  3. #3
    Contented Peugeot Driver addo's Avatar
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    I'm probably going to sound like "danielsydney" but thanks for the real world, contemporary reporting of what you're seeing and how you feel about it.

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    Member mhaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfrawley View Post
    My enduring memory of the parts of Europe I have seen are too many people, too much traffic and too many narrow roads. It really takes much of the pleasure out of a driving holiday. The locals in both countries drive way too fast for the conditions (IMHO) and tailgating is normal. .
    I take this to show that you were driving too slow.
    i'm not strange, everyone else is..........

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    over 9 months of driving my Fiat Ducatto motorhome around a lot of Europe on 2 trips covering close to 60,00km I prefer the courtesy of europeans to the stick in the fast lane at 2k under the limit ignorant Ausssie arseholes. I love to drive about 5-10k over the limit and get past the dickheads. Love Europe probably going back next year for another 6 mth tour.
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    Fellow Frogger! DanielBendigo's Avatar
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    I haven't actually been tsilgated at all yet. The narrow mountain roads were extremely scenic, but made me realize where my driving skills sit compared to the average French driver. I did think I was a good driver but now I realize that's only by Australian standards.

    Trucks have a much lower speed limit than cars on the expressways. If cars can do 130, tricks are limited to 90. While good the downside is on a two lane road when one truck overtakes another all the cars in the fast lane have to dive in the brakes to do back to 90. But as soon as the overtaking trick is in fr of the slow truck, the slow truck flashes their lights and the overtaking one moves back to the slow lane.

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  7. #7
    Fellow Frogger! sfrawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhaf View Post
    I take this to show that you were driving too slow.
    It's all relative. Over here I am slower than average. At home I am faster than average. I think it's because I'm extra cautious on the narrow roads here (and because my wife is not happy travelling fast as a passenger in what is normally the driving position).
    Stephen
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    '16 Renault Master

  8. #8
    Fellow Frogger! sfrawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianrobbo View Post
    over 9 months of driving my Fiat Ducatto motorhome around a lot of Europe on 2 trips covering close to 60,00km I prefer the courtesy of europeans to the stick in the fast lane at 2k under the limit ignorant Ausssie arseholes. I love to drive about 5-10k over the limit and get past the dickheads. Love Europe probably going back next year for another 6 mth tour.
    True. Lane discipline is really good here and is something I'll miss when I get back.
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    Stephen
    '03 P406 HDI
    '16 Renault Master

  9. #9
    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    We must be braver than you. We came here 11 years ago as our "last" adventure. In that time we have seen a rapid change in road behaviour and attitudes to cars. With the congestion and (in our experience) increased control and zero tolerance by the police, the roads have got much safer. The quality of surfaces has improved to the point that PSA are comfortable to forget hydro-pneumatics. Driving has little pleasure, France is just one giant funeral procession. As attention is devoted to keeping a distance from the rear of the vehicle ahead and managing the tailgating truck behind, there is little chance of the driver enjoying the scenery.
    With the average performance of the cars on the road (dominated by cars of the Clio - Twingo size) being 9-10 seconds to 100kmh, few venture beyond the speed limits or accelerate past a traffic stream. The lane discipline is global average, it is Australia that is the exception with its kamikaze rules that fail to enforce lane priority.
    I find driving too slow to the point that it challenges concentration. However, once I cross the Channel and exit the train on to the Motorway then I am actually scared of the speeds and minimal vehicle gaps. They either have special brakes, jet pilot reflexes or an overdose of Inshallah or all three.
    Obviously, there is no shortage of cars of the French marques - they have 50% of the market and there are passionate owners of their older models. They are represented by many Clubs. It is much more exciting though to break out from the ordinary and own a foreign collectible car. I am expected to be an expert on all things British and have an orgasm when someone talks of how to import a Holden.
    By and large, the glamour of car ownership and driving has passed, marketing still demands that motor sport is supported, in a declining effort to attract the young. In fact, they are having more success with the integration of the Net, social media and music in spite of it distracting the driver. The surveys show a growing reluctance of the young in dense urban centres like Paris to consider a car purchase. In parallel, local and national government are following the EU transport strategy and moving to dissuade private car usage in cities.
    There are lots of places to see, France is one huge living museum and for the visitors the flexibility of renting a car is surely the best choice. Once you live here though and don't have to cart luggage around, you can plan each journey to optimise transport use. For our friends and ourselves this more often than not means scrounging a lift to the station or airport, to get to any other large town than Bordeaux. In Bordeaux it is easier to park on the outskirts and use a park and ride ticket on the tram for activities in the city centre. Since we have been here our annual car usage has halved and our use of rail and air more than replaced it.
    The balance sheet of pros and cons of France has moved very much in the negative direction for us and so we are now about to embark on our last last adventure, driving slowly around narrow lanes in Tasmania in our Panhard.
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  10. #10
    Member mhaf's Avatar
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    I had the same problem. My wife was not happy at 130 on the autostrada. I was willing to go to 160. Those narrow back roads present some interesting trips. Locals overtake where I would not even consider.
    i'm not strange, everyone else is..........

  11. #11
    Tadpole
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    Just finished 6 weeks, 7000kms driving a leased 5008 around Europe. I found if you kept up with the traffic stayed out of the fast lane the drivers were a lot less aggressive than melbourne drivers (maybe the red plates helped) . The worst thing about driving is finding car parks in the cities and I am still not used to touch parking.


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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Touch parking is for the weak and inexperienced. Push parking works much better in Bordeaux. Hardly any cars have a park position on the gear box and handbrakes are minimal and often poorly applied. So if the space is too short, just back into the parked car behind without bashing it, that might mark your bumper. Push it back steadily (the bumpers now in plastic withstand it and spring back undamaged if you are careful) until it meets the car behind it. Now go forwards and repeat the process with the car in front. Now park mid-way between the cars and leave the handbrake off and the car in neutral. The others will bump you out of the way.
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  13. #13
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    My memories of driving in Europe are from 40 years ago and it seems nothing much has changed ,except there is probably more congestion now .Driving on motorways at the speed limit [70 mph in UK or 130 kmh in France ] you in the slower lanes as most traffic flew past .Overtaking on the inside was illegal and you never needed to because everyone moved over .Drivers were very courteous on minor roads and city streets as well often allowing others to go ahead of them with a flash of their lights .One worrying thing was in London many drove at night with just parking lights on. When I returned to Aus after 2 years getting on the road here was a nightmare with the give way the right rule still operating and no lane discipline on freeways .

  14. #14
    JBN
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    Forty years ago I was driving a Kombi van around Europe. We lived in the slow lane with 6 adults and two kids plus camping gear on board, but we saw a lot.

    Twenty years ago I lived in the Uk for a few years, but only drove in Europe on one occasion (to Holland for Easter). I had a CX 25IE. I have always been a lateral thinker so I don't care which lane I use for overtaking (I generally choose the one with least targets to hit). I found the trick on the M25 parking lot was to stick in the fast lane until I saw brake lights ahead. Then into the middle lane until brake light ahead and finally into the slow lane. Once the middle lane picked up, into that then into the fast lane when it got going. Probably not very legal, but you spent less time on brakes and made good headway through the traffic.

    Sussing out how people act in herd like conditions has always appealed more to me than worrying about the intricacies of the law. Who dares wins.

    There is a good stretch of road for you convicts who want to go mad and not get caught. The Oodnadatta Track. A bit of a misnomer as it is basically a very good straight gravel road, with good visibility (no hills and the dust gives oncoming cars away). The surface condition allows the Grey Nomads to tow their caravans on it without problems. An even better road (with some curves) is William Creek to Coober Pedy - lovely red laterite clay.

    The lack of lane discipline in Australia opens up opportunities for those adventurous drivers that don't have any fixation on which lane to overtake in. I find the best opportunities to be in the left lane. If a two lane road expands to three lanes, it is the left that gets the extra lane, and therefore the extra opportunities. Most of the SUVs in cruise control are in the right hand lane so that keeps you away from the thumb-in-bum drivers.

    I think people are overly harsh on Australian drivers. Most of them are just minding their own business (talking, texting, arguing with the GPS directions or just having a siesta). They don't care about your driving. Indeed, they don't care about their driving.

    John
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    Fellow Frogger! julian b's Avatar
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    40 years ago the Kombi was the vehicle of choice for Aussie travellers in Europe ,usually with Dutch plates ,clogging up the slow lanes .I think the motorway lane rules only apply when traffic is free moving and not if stop/start conditions apply ,like the M25

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    Finally got one album of photo's sorted out.

    Citromuseum

    Hopefully the link will work.
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  17. #17
    Tadpole
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    the wife's seem to share the same opinions when it comes to driving. to fast?

    my ex acted like this when i drove hahahaha!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prU_O8sKzEA

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielBendigo View Post
    Finally got one album of photo's sorted out.

    Citromuseum

    Hopefully the link will work.
    Thanks for sharing - what camera are you using?

    Ken

  19. #19
    Fellow Frogger! DanielBendigo's Avatar
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    Camera phone. Samsung Galaxy 3. Everything was automatic. There waste lots of really poor ones that I had to take out.
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