Every year, thousands of tourists head to France for their annual holidays. This wonderful country offers something for everyone, because it can boast long sandy beaches, picturesque ski resorts, exciting city breaks, fun-packed theme parks and superb sporting facilities. Whether you’re eight or eighty, there is a wonderful vacation just waiting to be enjoyed in France.
For visitors from abroad, the best way of getting around is to hire a car and take to the roads. For first-time travellers, however, the prospect of driving in a new environment can seem a little intimidating. Some of the country’s drivers have a reputation for being aggressive and impatient, so there is sometimes a little understandable reluctance for motorists to agree to be the designated holiday driver. Here are four tips for those who do.
Take time to practice
There’s no sense whatsoever in getting a hire car and immediately taking it out onto the busiest roads. Therefore, find a quiet area – perhaps some back streets – in order to assimilate with the car itself and the surrounding traffic conditions. At times like this, a little patience can go a long way, so be prepared to take as much time as you need to feel confident about your abilities.
Consider avoiding the city
If you’re planning to take in the sights of Paris for a few days, you’re in for a treat because it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the planet. It’s also one of the most frenetic, and new drivers can become jabbering wrecks in no time. The Metro is faster and more convenient for tourists, so this could be a good time to forget about driving altogether and to rely on public transport instead.
Heading south with the top down
The South of France is one of the most elegant and stylish tourist regions in the world, and in the summer months it attracts huge numbers of tourists. There’s something particularly fashionable about driving through the streets of Cannes and Nice in an open-top car, so if you’re able to rent a convertible you can really look the part. The open road, a warm breeze and a pair of designer sunglasses – what more could you possibly want?
Remember your legal requirements
There are strict laws about driving in France, so any foreign visitor needs to be aware of them. From March 2013, every driver is legally required to carry a breathalyser, and if you’re caught without one you will be served with an on the spot fine. Drink-drive limits are very low, so the best advice is to avoid alcoholic drinks altogether if you plan to take to the road. It perhaps goes without saying that using a mobile phone while you’re driving is also an offence.