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Jamesek

Planning our first trip to france via ferry

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Hello, we are planning our first trip to france from Dover to Calais with p&o.

As we are new to caravaning we are going to visit a few sites around the UK before hand.

I'm looking for as many tips as possible from the slight mods I need to do to my car, to the fear of driving it on to the ferry and how I'm getting it off, to any suggestions for camp sites close to Disney, as we are planning 3 days there then want a few little trips around France for the remaining 6 days.

Thanks once again for your help and advice, much appreciated ūüĎćūüĎćūüĎć

Thank you.

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15 minutes ago, Jamesek said:

Hello, we are planning our first trip to france from Dover to Calais with p&o.

As we are new to caravaning we are going to visit a few sites around the UK before hand.

I'm looking for as many tips as possible from the slight mods I need to do to my car, to the fear of driving it on to the ferry and how I'm getting it off, to any suggestions for camp sites close to Disney, as we are planning 3 days there then want a few little trips around France for the remaining 6 days.

Thanks once again for your help and advice, much appreciated ūüĎćūüĎćūüĎć

Thank you.

The only mods you need to do to your car is fit headlight deflectors (they don't actually 'deflect' the beam  but mask the kick up on the dipped beam). Some models don't need these  so specifics about your tow vehicle would help confirm.

If you don't have Euro plates you will need to add proper GB plates to both the caravan and car.

Driving on and off the ferry is easy and done under the guidance of the loading crew. Be prepared to get very up close and personal with other vehicles though. They normally don't let you hit anything.

Edited by Wallace

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1 hour ago, Jamesek said:

Hello, we are planning our first trip to france from Dover to Calais with p&o.

As we are new to caravaning we are going to visit a few sites around the UK before hand.

I'm looking for as many tips as possible from the slight mods I need to do to my car, to the fear of driving it on to the ferry and how I'm getting it off, to any suggestions for camp sites close to Disney, as we are planning 3 days there then want a few little trips around France for the remaining 6 days.

Thanks once again for your help and advice, much appreciated ūüĎćūüĎćūüĎć

Thank you.

As said, no special requirements especially; no sweat driving on to the ferry, as you'll be guided by the ferry staff.  Expect a truck next to you on your return though! You'll only ever have to drive forwards, so don't worry!

Although not necessary probably, I always disconnect caravan electrics on long voyages, but Dover-Calais I wouldn't bother as it's a very short crossing.  One tip is to make sure you fold your mirrors in when you have parked though, or they'll get bashed!

You'll realise once you've done it that it's nothing to worry about.

 Enjoy!

Edited by thecookster
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If you haven't considered it yet, why not join the Caravan & Motorhome Club   https://www. caravanclub. co. uk/membership/

 

It's 50 quid for the year but you'll save that if you book your ferry (or Tunnel) through the Club's website and then you be able to have all the benefits of being a member for the a year for nowt :)

You'll have 2 choices in France, use the 'Route National' for free or the Motorway's and have deep pockets :mellow:

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4 minutes ago, Borussia 1900 said:

If you haven't considered it yet, why not join the Caravan & Motorhome Club   https://www. caravanclub. co. uk/membership/

 

It's 50 quid for the year but you'll save that if you book your ferry (or Tunnel) through the Club's website and then you be able to have all the benefits of being a member for the a year for nowt :)

You'll have 2 choices in France, use the 'Route National' for free or the Motorway's and have deep pockets :mellow:

Worth joining the Club for the Ferry savings and to get Red Pennant assurance for peace of mind.  No mods to car required except to headlights for driving on the right.  The Ferry Crew will see you onto the boat, just do as you're told as they know what they're doing and don't want  problems because they would have to pick up the pieces!  Toll roads do cost a bit but they're nice to drive if you have a long way to travel.  Some folk avoid the Peage, but I drive  long distances and prefer to do it in comfort.  I regard the cost as a necessary expense.  Learn some basic French and people will treat you well.   Bon voyage!

John.    :)

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Brilliant, what is the average saving booking the ferry through caravan and camping?

Is it recommended to book the sites through them also?

Thanks again, a lot of good useful points ūüĎć

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When I last visited the UK in October (just the car, we didn't take the caravan), we got the tunnel. High car with bikes on the top, 3 people and a dog at the times we wanted was £250 through the Tunnels own website, I booked the same crossings through the Caravan Club and it cost me £159. You obviously save a lot more if towing a caravan. I think if you book through the club for P&O crossings on certain days the caravan goes for free. Try dummy bookings on the Ferry & Tunnel websites and then look at the same crossings on the Club website, usually around 20% less.

 

I've booked lots of sites in France through the club too, at least 10% cheaper than booking through the sites themselves.

Edited by Borussia 1900

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An alternative,  if you have a tesco clubcard you can buy tunnel tickets with them. £1 in clubcard vouchers is worth £3 off your crossing, it makes crossing the Chanel a lot cheaper.  

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I also believe-but please members correct me if I'm wrong on the legalities-that you are  required to carry high-vis vests inside the vehicle equal to the number of persons plus at least one breath test kit. ....and maybe a first aid kit and warning triangle. ....

Des-4-vents campsite (not sure of correct name/spelling)-featured in Caravan club French touring book is 10 minutes from Paris Disney with large flat pitches and I would recommend it.

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1 minute ago, charlieboy2608 said:

I also believe-but please members correct me if I'm wrong on the legalities-that you are  required to carry high-vis vests inside the vehicle equal to the number of persons plus at least one breath test kit. ....and maybe a first aid kit and warning triangle. ....

Des-4-vents campsite (not sure of correct name/spelling)-featured in Caravan club French touring book is 10 minutes from Paris Disney with large flat pitches and I would recommend it.

I'd heard the 'breath test kit' requirement has stopped (I've still got one though), but yes to the other stuff and spare bulbs for car and caravan.

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With modern cars they don't necessarily need any modification to the headlights, that info I would expect to be in the handbook.

Indeed, putting headlight masking on some these days with plastic fronts can do serious damage to them.

Just a case of doing a little targetted homework for your vehicle.

Overall though caravanning to France has very little hassle attached to it but can come addictive.

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5 minutes ago, Borussia 1900 said:

I'd heard the 'breath test kit' requirement has stopped (I've still got one though), but yes to the other stuff and spare bulbs for car and caravan.

Yes-I forgot about the spare bulbs-thanks for your input.

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If you shop at Tesco, use their vouchers and use the Tunnel free of charge as you get face value x 3, that's what we do and the savings you can use on autoroute charges as you are I take it going for 10 days, so you will need to have a quick tow between sites,

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I swear by the CMC's Red Pennant insurance. It's not the cheapest but if you breakdown over there they really hold your hand. We broke down in Spain this year and they arranged a low loader to take the car to the garage,  checked with the garage what was going on, paid for taxis the first week when we didn't want a hire car, and then when we did, they arranged a taxi to the hire firm, a hire car, and a taxi back to the garage when we had to pick up the car. If we had needed to come home and hubby couldn't drive they would send someone out to collect our car and caravan and bring it home. To me that  knowledge would be  priceless if I had an ill husband.

As others have said towing onto the ferry is nothing to worry about. They make it easy.

It might turn out a lot more expensive in the long run than you think because one you have done it you will want to go again and again.

If you are not going in high season have you thought about ACSI. Google it for cheaper sites and recommendations.

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45 minutes ago, Borussia 1900 said:

I'd heard the 'breath test kit' requirement has stopped (I've still got one though), but yes to the other stuff and spare bulbs for car and caravan.

The law says you need the 'breath test kit' but there is no penalty if you are caught without one!

Spare bulbs are not a legal requirement per se but it is illegal to drive with a non-functioning light! :)

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I only referred to mods to the car which is what the OP asked.

There is a list of things you should also carry with you. Bizzarly yes Chalky is correct you are supposed to carry the breath test kits but there is currently  no penalty applied for not doing so.  

For a comprehensive list of things you need to take including vehicle documents like the v5c and ins. Cert just Google 'requirements for driving in France'.

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I'm glad to see that most respondents agree that some attention to the headlights is required - whether masking, "beam benders" or merely by moving a lever.

Other forums I've seen have many people suggesting it's unnecessary but I've always believed that it's merely common courtesy.

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43 minutes ago, CommanderDave said:

https://www. rac. co. uk/drive/news/motoring-news/law-change-for-uk-drivers-in-french-cities/           Stickers are required in certain French cities to indicate how  much pollution your vehicle creates.  Not expensive but could save you a lot if you were stopped by the authorities straying into a city where they are a requirement.

John.

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18 minutes ago, iansoady said:

I'm glad to see that most respondents agree that some attention to the headlights is required - whether masking, "beam benders" or merely by moving a lever.

Other forums I've seen have many people suggesting it's unnecessary but I've always believed that it's merely common courtesy.

Only if the vehicle actually requires it, some modern ones suit both so for them it is as these people suggest "unnecessary.

Our LR D4 requires no alteration at all but our D3 did require levers for this within the units moving, a fiddly though little more than a five-minute job.

With a 2004 Touareg it was changing out the whole light units! Our dealer held these and undertook to switch them as we required FOC as part of the purchase deal.  

I have wondered if any maker uses the inbuilt GPS to set the beam pattern, seems a logical step?

 

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The advice above re the ferry is sound but as it can be daunting try looking at a couple of YouTube videos.  Don’t feel rushed onto the ferry, the sill can be a bit of a hump and needs caution to get over it.

 

John

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Yes, it's worth checking your handbook regarding headlights.  On our Skoda you just a change it to Holiday Mode in the settings, and it adjusts the lights for you.

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The ferry is very easy to drive onto you will have no problems. The tunnel is a lot tighter but saves you a lot of time.

Edited by tom_1989

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The stick on deflectors were available in Wilko for £5 if you need them, much more at the port or the well known high st motoring emporium.

I bought some but our Santa Fe does not need them,you can switch them  to travel mode in menu on dash! (Previous Sorento needed stick ons).

My 10 year old Saab has mechanical adjusters on lights!

Driving on the right is easy,use your mirrors and be careful at junctions. Roads are generally less crowded than here.

Edited by DavS

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We have a very long single axle van so I transit entry and exit ramps mindful of what I am doing and over particularly vicious bumps and valleys drive very slowly. If I judge it prudent then I take it at a skew angle. I might be a pain but others can wait this is our van and I am looking after it, they would not be around to fund any repairs.

None in 40 years have been too challenging, given driving with care.

What I have followed are vans with dangling plastic and metal "feet pads", I have over the years seen several of these ripped off in front of me. If I had those, no chance, they would be off before the trip.

What I needed to with an earlier van is set the steadies down just a tad as that van had a nice rear valance and that was lower than the fully wound up steadies. So I preempted trouble by just setting the rear steadies so they would work as skids should they ever need to.




 

Edited by JTQ

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