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Guest marksimonpowell

French Horror Story

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Guest marksimonpowell

Hello all

Was speaking to a very experienced caravanner over the weekend - hes been telling me about "gypsy" types trying to stop you whilst travelling through france - by standing in road, faking an accident etc. to get you to stop - they then pinch your van, money etc. has anyone had similar experiences? do people keep going? swerve to avoid etc? going to france in the summer and want to be prepared. he also told me about people being gassed in their vans if parked in motorway services etc. any tips and advice etc would be welcomed!

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I am sure this sort of thing can happen in any country HOWEVER we have been driving in France several weeks per year for many, many years but have never had this happen to us - on the contrary last year we had a puncture and within minutes French drivers had stopped to offer assistance and one guy actually drove home to get a better jack and some support planks as the road side was rather soft!

 

We did have a "suspicious" type try to flag us down in Spain but we just kept driving forcing him to jump back AND in case he had not jumped back I had actuated the central locking switch so that he could not open any doors. This incident is the only time we have experienced anything like this and we have been driving on the Continent since 1955 - that is 55 years each so 110 years combined (OK some of the time together).

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I too would take this with a very large pinch of salt - it smacks of the sadly common anti-Gypsy prejudice we come across. As Ted says France is a very safe place in general, although there have been one or two first-person stories about the aire problem.

 

There are of course areas of major cities worldwide which may be a little risky but I suspect few of us would be taking our caravans there.

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Was speaking to a very experienced caravanner over the weekend

 

To my mind he can't be at all experienced regarding travel in France. We've been going to France and Spain every year since 1980 and only once have I met anything similar - and that was a bogus cop. (He must have been since he ran back to his car when I refused to unlock the door and he saw me using my mobile.)

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standing in road, faking an accident etc. to get you to stop
Be aware, but don't let these stories put you off. They are very rare when considered against the total number of visitors to France.

Gordon.

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similar stories were doing the rounds about spain last year - people trying to flag you down on a road or motorway and pointing as if something was wrong with your caravan - and a piece of advice i thought worth noting was to put your camera up to the window as if to take a photo of the person/car and then get on your mobile as if phoning.

whilst every care should be taken to keep yourself safe, as you would anywhere in the world including britain, as others have said i really wouldn't let anything you hear put you off going to france or anywhere else in europe. we've never had a problem and always feel very safe in france in particular.

one thing we do is if we pull into one of the small aires that has just a toilet and picnic area and there's only one or 2 vehicles there which seem a bit dodgy and we feel uncomfortable, then we drive straight through and on to the next one. and we only ever stop for a quick bite to eat and a stretch of the legs.

enjoy your trip :)

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We were flagged down in 2008, it does happen. As soon as I saw someone walking up the side of the van on the offside I just booted the car. Keep your wits about you thats all.

 

It happens anywhere there are tourists, I have had people trying to pick my pockets in Crete, Turkey and Tunisia.

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Of course it is up to the idividual as to whether they heed the warnings or ignore them. I gave up many years ago warning of crime in the Aires or indeed any place or road when travelling the tourist routes. Please take a warning from someone that has been robbed and knows first hand what is going on out there rather than those that have not. When we had to visit the police station to give details the officer showed us a large holdall that was full to the brim with foreign passports that had been handed in just from that season. Over ninety percent of robberies in the Aires occure on the North/south services according to the Autoroute police, Due to the richer pickings of those going instead of those on a return journey. It hasn't put us off as we are fully aware of the situation when in the Aires, And some we just do not stop at all. The A9 between Beziers and the Spanish border is notorious for tourist robberies we therefore fill the tank at L'Averon services on the A75 which sees us though to Spain.

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Unfortunately it really does happen occasionally, we know directly of one genuine case.

 

We now bury one brand of credit/debit card deep in the van, another in the car and carry a third. Same with our funds, that we keep at a relatively low value anyway. In one location there is the spare mobile.

In all caches we have a list of the emergency card contact numbers and a photocopy of our passports.

This way a near certain disaster, should you be one of the few unlucky ones, might be contained to little more that an expensive inconvenience; not a show stopper if you have a back up and immediate access to a phone.

 

Just remain alert and a tad suspicious otherwise enjoy a lovely country.

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What a sad reflection on modern society when we have to take all these precautions against the few reprehensible individuals that are intent upon depriving decent working people from their hard-earned cash and asserts.

 

When I think how society and general public behaviour had declined over the last fifty years, I feel glad that I shall not be around to witness the results of the next fifty years!

 

Regards,

David.

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What a sad reflection on modern society when we have to take all these precautions against the few reprehensible individuals that are intent upon depriving decent working people from their hard-earned cash and asserts.

 

When I think how society and general public behaviour had declined over the last fifty years, I feel glad that I shall not be around to witness the results of the next fifty years!

 

Regards,

David.

I am only 40, I can see how society has deteriorated. My father also says he is glad he wont be around to see what it is like 50 years from now.

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The problem is that nowadays we all hear about violence, anti social behaviour etc all the time and the issue is blown out of all proportion by the more sensationalist parts of the media. When you look at all the proper figures (recorded crime, British Crime Survey etc) it's clear that crime has decreased significantly in the last 50 years or so.

 

I'm old enough to remember teddy boys roaming the streets with sharpened bicycle chains, Glasgow razor gangs etc.

Edited by iansoady

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Talking about France though --

 

Is it true that under French Law if there is an accident you have to stop and offer First Aid -- failing to do so could put you in court?

 

 

 

Maurice

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AFAIK France does have the "good samaritan" law, but as a none french speaker I'd use that as a defence - do no harm, so even though I'm a registered nurse how could I assess an injury if I can't communicate with the person? Obvioulsy different in the event of something like a collapse/seizure where problem and basic first aid could be life saving, but in the event of RTC where some assessment of airway etc usually involves communication that would be different! Equally risk of spinal injury and the need to assess neck/back pain etc could mean wading in without communication skills would cause more injury to the person than waiting for the SAMU & saps & pomps etc.

 

 

Gypsies, only problem I have ever had was at a service station a few years ago, where some gypsies were hounding travellers upon leaving the service station building and returning to the vehicles. Felt threatened, and almost shut the car door on one womans fingers, she had been that persistant. Never heard of attempts to stop vehicles, etc, did read something about people trying to stop outfits on the run in to the northern most channel ports, but that might have been a Daily Fail rumour, will say that we did see II's in the Calais area crossing the autoroutes last summer (Warp speed Mr Sulu, prepare to ram. .....) but literally wherever they wanted to be just happened to be on the other side of the autoroute rather than them prostrating themselves in the road to try and get us to stop!!!

 

Would also say that the "obvious" problem person is usually the distraction, if they are pick-pocketing then it will be the person who you havn't clocked who'll be going through your pockets!

 

Gents, protect wallets, women, protect handbags. We never leave the outfit unattended at services anyway, so often neither wallets or handbags or vehicle keys leave the vehicle anyway!

Edited by JonathanM

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Summer and Foreign Holidays are here! Same old stories every year!

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Talking about France though --

 

Is it true that under French Law if there is an accident you have to stop and offer First Aid -- failing to do so could put you in court?

 

 

 

Maurice

 

Yes, there is legislation requiring you to stop and give assistance not, necessarily, first aid. The penalty fot not doing so is heavy and listed in the Code de la Route

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Yes, there is legislation requiring you to stop and give assistance not, necessarily, first aid. The penalty fot not doing so is heavy and listed in the Code de la Route

 

 

I would just not stop unless I could see there had been an accident.

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AFAIK France does have the "good samaritan" law, but as a none french speaker I'd use that as a defence - do no harm, so even though I'm a registered nurse how could I assess an injury if I can't communicate with the person? Obvioulsy different in the event of something like a collapse/seizure where problem and basic first aid could be life saving, but in the event of RTC where some assessment of airway etc usually involves communication that would be different! Equally risk of spinal injury and the need to assess neck/back pain etc could mean wading in without communication skills would cause more injury to the person than waiting for the SAMU & saps & pomps etc.

 

 

Gypsies, only problem I have ever had was at a service station a few years ago, where some gypsies were hounding travellers upon leaving the service station building and returning to the vehicles. Felt threatened, and almost shut the car door on one womans fingers, she had been that persistant. Never heard of attempts to stop vehicles, etc, did read something about people trying to stop outfits on the run in to the northern most channel ports, but that might have been a Daily Fail rumour, will say that we did see II's in the Calais area crossing the autoroutes last summer (Warp speed Mr Sulu, prepare to ram. .....) but literally wherever they wanted to be just happened to be on the other side of the autoroute rather than them prostrating themselves in the road to try and get us to stop!!!

 

Would also say that the "obvious" problem person is usually the distraction, if they are pick-pocketing then it will be the person who you havn't clocked who'll be going through your pockets!

 

Gents, protect wallets, women, protect handbags. We never leave the outfit unattended at services anyway, so often neither wallets or handbags or vehicle keys leave the vehicle anyway!

 

I am pretty sure it was Gypsies that tried to stop us last year. The man had dark trousers and a pilots shirt and tie, at a quick glance he looked like an official. It was only when I looked in the nearside mirror that I saw his other half/ accomplice making her way to the other side of the car, she actually looked like a Gypsy with bracelets and a headscarf. Both had dark complexions. There were seven of us in the car so confrontation wouldn't have been a problem, but best to avoid it so I booted the car and left with wheels spinning :D Quite an achievment in a 4x4 with a caravan on the back :lol:

I know some people will always say it is safe and don't worry, but It is better to be on your guard.

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Being 6'3" tall, 17 stones, skin head and having a permanent scowl to people I dislike (according to the wife) obviously has advantages as even in service stations the undesirables tend to keep well out of my way :P

Edited by AndyPoole

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These stories must be true, because it happened to someone who knows someone who saw someone on the telly saying it was so.

 

Funny there's never a first hand experience. Perhaps caravan forum users are too worldly wise.

 

But then again, they beleive what somebody told them that happened to someone who knew someone who saw it on the telly.

 

:PB):PB):P

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These stories must be true, because it happened to someone who knows someone who saw someone on the telly saying it was so.

 

Funny there's never a first hand experience. Perhaps caravan forum users are too worldly wise.

 

But then again, they beleive what somebody told them that happened to someone who knew someone who saw it on the telly.

 

:PB):PB):P

Well it happened to us, So it is a first hand experience. And it certainly isn't funny. What is funny is that over 90% of people at one time did not believe that the world was round.

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Well it happened to us, So it is a first hand experience. And it certainly isn't funny. What is funny is that over 90% of people at one time did not believe that the world was round.

 

It has happened to us at services in Spain, using distraction techniques. It hasn't put us off of going, but has made us a bit more wary.

 

But I am a bit sceptical about the gas attacks, as you would need an awful lot to fill a caravan/motorhome. Having said that we wouldn't spend the night on an aire today, as we used to in the past.

 

Pete

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I think if we were touring in France I would paint a large letter 'S' on each door so people would look and say

"Look at that S-Car Go"

:D :D :D

 

Regards.

Col

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Col,

 

It took me a few seconds to get it and then I just managed to stop myself spraying coffee on the computer

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These stories must be true, because it happened to someone who knows someone who saw someone on the telly saying it was so.

 

Funny there's never a first hand experience. Perhaps caravan forum users are too worldly wise.

 

But then again, they beleive what somebody told them that happened to someone who knew someone who saw it on the telly.

 

:PB):PB):P

 

My service station experience was firsthand, OK, nothing happened but that was through sheer good fortune rather than anything else. Ditto the Calais illegal imigrants crossing the autoroutes.

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