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Riding In France - A Beginners Guide

Read this carefully, it can save you time , money, & aggro.;

The French week-end is Sunday & Monday. Almost everything closes then, even many filling stations. Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey, & food if you are staying somewhere other than a hotel.(even some hotels don't do food on Sundays) British cards don't usually work in French automated petrol pumps when closed. Newer types may.

MONDAYS; Most shops shut, but the larger Supermarkets stay open, & often sell fuel & oil. Some shut for lunch though. Smaller ones sometimes open Sunday mornings, as do small Bakers & Butchers.

LUNCHTIME; Lunch is sacrosanct to the French. Unlike Britain, it's their main meal of the day. It can last 2 hours. Bars are busy from 12 till 2, but if you are hungry, ask for Sandwhich American. It's full of Ham, Eggs, Lettuce, and cheese. They are normally huge, & very filling. But only supplied during the day.

THINGS TO CARRY; All your Bike documents, Passports, Chain oil, Toilet roll, Spare bulbs, Torch, A First Aid Kit. Tyre sealer, & a Map of France.

LOST; Satelitte dishes usually face South, or buy a Compass. It can save you miles.

DIPPED HEADLIGHTS; Must be used in daylight in France on a motorcycle.

FRENCH DRIVERS; BLOODY AWFUL, but OK towards Bikers. They Tailgate, forget to indicate, overtake in stupid places, but pull over to let Bikers pass.(we stick our right leg out to thank them) Like all French, they love Bikers. Their attitude is totally different to the Brit car drivers. If they flash their headlights at you, it means Police or Accident ahead, or they are Bikers at heart. Old ladies & children often wave to you.

VILLAGES & TOWNS, SIDE TURNINGS OFTEN HAVE RIGHT OF WAY. BEWARE; If a side turning has no white line across it, they have right of way. Stupid idea, but that's the way it is in France. This also can apply to country roads.which can be muddy at certain times of the year.

ROUNDABOUTS; Same as Britain, but in reverse. Those on them have right of way, but give way to traffic coming from your left as you enter.

TYRE PRESSURES; They use BARS. One Bar is approx 15lbs. 2 Bars - 30lbs.

HOTELS; Much cheaper than Brit hotels. If it's on a main road, ask for a room at the back. Lorries may keep you awake at night.

SHOPS; Most open 9 till 7.00, but most close for lunch 12 till 2.

NIGHT RIDING IN FRANCE- Not recommended. Not much street lighting, & you will miss direction signs. Plan your journey to avoid it.

TRAVEL INSURANCE; Read the small print. Some aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Check it out.

CHECK YOUR BIKE; Before leaving home. We have had people arrive on two bald tyres, badly adjusted chains, & no oil in their brake master cylinders.

FRENCH; If you don't speak it, buy a phrase book, & READ IT.

MOBILE PHONES; Check yours works in France. Many don't.

FRENCH SIGNPOSTING; Bloody awful, & often in stupid places. Ones at 45 degrees often mean straight on.

PLASTIC; OK in shops/hotels, but not always. CHECK IT. Usually OK in ATMs, but depends on the card.

BEWARE Of White lines & Black road joints; OK in the dry, lethal when wet. The iside edge of roundabouts are often cobbles. BEWARE in the wet.

ROUTE SHEETS & ADDRESS; Give everyone a copy. If they get seperated, at least they can find their own way.

MOTORWAYS; They sometimes check your times between junctions, & have you for speeding.

MAPS; When choosing one with Motorways on it, make sure the junctions are numbered. Some aren't.

KILOMETRES; One kilometre is approx 2/3 of a mile. Multiply the total kilometres by .625 to convert to miles.

DRIVE ON THE RIGHT Obvious, we know. But most mistakes happen coming out of filling stations or side turnings.

FERRY PRICES; P & O give discounts, as do MCN & others.

CRASH HELMETS; They don't like them taken into supermarkets & shops. Leave them at the desk or on your bike. TRIKERS must use helmets in France.

E111; Without it, you could pay for any medical treatment you may need. One couple were charged 800 in hospital bills when they didn't carry theirs.

DIAL 18 in an emergency; Just like 999.


FUEL; All fill up together. You don't need someone needing fuel 10 minutes after you got yours.

STEAKS; They come a bit rare in France. Ask for Bien Cuit(sounds like Bien Kwee)(well done) It will probably be likemedium then. Hungry for lunch, Bars often do sandwiches. Ask for a sandwich American. Cheese, Tomato, egg, lettuce & more. Very filling.

HEADLIGHT DEFLECTORS; Compulsory even if you don't intend riding at night. Should be fitted between 7o/c and 9o/c on the glass. Not on the right as some fit them. Depends on type.

CASTLES & other tourist places; often close for lunch.

FRENCH BIKES; Don't have MOTs, or road tax. Yours should.

AVERAGE SPEEDS; With stops for breaks, lunch, fuel, you will be lucky to average more than 45mph, unless you use motorways. We have heard of riders doing 700 miles in one day, but you can't get averages without exaggeration.

SPARE GLOVES; Carry 3 pairs. Nothing worse than than wet gloves.

FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE ROUTE; Several times before leaving the UK. It's better than getting lost.

DON'T SPEED THROUGH VILLAGES; They don't like it. Heavy fines or confiscate your bike.

KEEP A DIARY; Of distances, hotel names, & anything of interest.

THINGS TO CARRY; A toilet roll, compass, first aid kit, your name & address, E111 or equivalent, phrase book, credit card, Euros.

Article kindly provided by Peter Broad,

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