Our thoughts on France after several tours
Strengths: France and the French appreciate motorhomes. They bring self contained tourism to even the smallest French village. A dedicated motorhome parking area in France is called an ‘Aire’. Most reasonable size villages will have an aire, many larger towns will have more than one. All aires will have basic motorhome facilities, being grey and black water disposal as well as a bin. Often free to stay overnight, there may be a small fee for water. Less common but becoming more frequent power may be available as well. The supermarket food, wine and beer is excellent and reasonably priced. The summer weather glorious.
Weeknesses: The French can be difficult with English speaking tourist. It helps if you can at least start with the basics, bonjour and au revior. Don’t be mistaken for being English or American. If they realise you are Australian they will normally go out of there way to help. France closes from mid-day till 2 pm, except for bars and cafes. Supermarkets in rural areas close on Sunday. Most large business in France go on skeleton staff during early July-mid August for the ‘la retrée scolaire’ (summer school holidays) so getting anything fixed is difficult and the coastal holiday areas become very busy.
Opportunities: France is a large country by european standards. The geography varies with each different prefecture. The alps, the Loire, coastal Brittany theres always something different to see and experience. Travelling the Midi-Canal by penichette was another wonderful experience and we regularly find excellent overnight stops along the canal network.
Threats: France has a comprehensive network of toll roads and A roads. The toll roads are expensive and the toll booths confusing, so we stick to the A roads unless we need to be somewhere yesterday. Non EU credit cards can be an issue from time to time. The cheapest discount fuel stations only take local cards. As we travel in a motorhome with English registration, England’s departure into the EU may cause issues, we have already noted the change in attitude by the French Police as we enter and exit France.