Help - dilemma, first trip on 1st March

Itguy

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Ok - we've currently got a small hotel room reserved in Llandudno and are planning to explore the driving roads in Wales for a long weekend after we collect our car on the 1st March.

A wondering thought today got me looking at the Eurotunnel prices and actually, we can get across and back for about £100 return. There's always something special about going across the channel.

So, we could do Bruges for a few nights - romantic, nice food, walks etc etc for not much money (been before, would stay at the ibis centrum with the underground carpark, it's cheap, clean and central).

What would you do?

Driving Roads in Wales (I wouldn't be holding back too much even though the car is new)
vs
Romantic Weekend Away in Bruges

The mrs isn't fussed either way really as we've been to Bruges before.
 

h5djr

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Ok - we've currently got a small hotel room reserved in Llandudno and are planning to explore the driving roads in Wales for a long weekend after we collect our car on the 1st March.

A wondering thought today got me looking at the Eurotunnel prices and actually, we can get across and back for about £100 return. There's always something special about going across the channel.

So, we could do Bruges for a few nights - romantic, nice food, walks etc etc for not much money (been before, would stay at the ibis centrum with the underground carpark, it's cheap, clean and central).

What would you do?

Driving Roads in Wales (I wouldn't be holding back too much even though the car is new)
vs
Romantic Weekend Away in Bruges

The mrs isn't fussed either way really as we've been to Bruges before.

With I nice new car I think I would choose the Driving in Wales, unless you fancy the 300 mile drive from Calais to Germany and it's de-restricted autobahns. The Mosel Valley in nice with a couple of good autobahns (A1 and A60) as well as some great driving up in the Eifel area above the valley. The motorways in France, Belgium and Germany have no lorries at weekends as well.
 

Itguy

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Oooo now that is tempting but we have only got Saturday-Monday and need to be back at work on Tues so might be a push too far for only 2 nights.

One for the summer though :)
 

h5djr

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Oooo now that is tempting but we have only got Saturday-Monday and need to be back at work on Tues so might be a push too far for only 2 nights.

One for the summer though :)

Yes might be a bit much. You could always do it later on one of Eurotunnel 5-day returns for a long weekend or may be even longer. There is always plenty to see in that area.
 

dieselguy

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Sorry to mention it, but be careful of mobile speed cameras in north wales. We (a mate to be precise) got caught by one of these vans.

We had a great driving weekend apart this that.
 

Itguy

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Thanks for the warning, i'll keep my eyes peeled.
 

Daveotto

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I would head south from eurotunnel, towards Dieppe then on to Rouen

Some really nice authentic French seaside towns with Michelin quality sea food restaurants at a fraction of the price and Rouen has the cathedral and some other touristy places and also good restaurants, only word of caution is to beware of the bridge that's out in Rouen which can make rush hours in the centre an absolute nightmare.
 

Battlekrapz

Registered User
It's raining constantly in Belgium so take your raincoat if you decide on Bruges.

If you do come to Belgium you should also visit Ghent and Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish).

I live in Brussels and would give that a miss :), i find it very dirty and grim in the town centre... You'd be disappointed.

Word of warning too, the Belgian police is clamping down on speed, careful for mobile / fixed speed cameras on motorways and "route nationale".
 

PilotAudi

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We are heading to France for a week or two. Portsmouth st Malo sleep across!
 

MA3RC

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All be it I'm South Wales but we're having nothing but rain here lately!
 

Itguy

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Well it certainly looks like it will be raining anywhere we drive (or snow, Scotland!), so the Quattro will be a help!

I'm thinking we'll stick to Wales - not ever been to do a "driving roads" short break there so it will be something different. Plenty of time to get over the channel later in the year too.

We'd want to at least be able to walk around and sightsee abroad too and the weather is just awful at the moment everywhere in our driving range for this trip.
 

andy203

Q5 Black Edition
A wondering thought today got me looking at the Eurotunnel prices and actually, we can get across and back for about £100 return. There's always something special about going across the channel.

So, we could do Bruges for a few nights - romantic, nice food, walks etc etc for not much money (been before, would stay at the ibis centrum with the underground carpark, it's cheap, clean and central).

What would you do?


.
Go across Dover - Dunkirk ferry - visit Ghent, or Oostende or there again Lille.
 

PilotAudi

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France every time for me. Great Motorways (generally), lovely people, excellent food and wine.. can't wait! Not sure the delights of Wales are that great in comparison.

Eurotunnel is quick and easy and places like Le Touquet (Paris Plages) only about half an hour from Calais. Great hotels, Westminster and even the Holiday Inn are great and superb restaurants.
 

h5djr

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Well it certainly looks like it will be raining anywhere we drive (or snow, Scotland!), so the Quattro will be a help!

I'm thinking we'll stick to Wales - not ever been to do a "driving roads" short break there so it will be something different. Plenty of time to get over the channel later in the year too.

We'd want to at least be able to walk around and sightsee abroad too and the weather is just awful at the moment everywhere in our driving range for this trip.

Sounds like the best option, especially for this time of year. Save the continental driving and sight seeing for later in the year when you can take more time over it. Personally I much prefer Germany to either France or Belgium. France has good autoroutes to get you across to Germany!!
 

warren_S5

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We are heading to France for a week or two. Portsmouth st Malo sleep across!

We do that almost every May Bank Holiday. Stay in St Malo (Intra Muros), then use it as a base to go exploring the coast. Saw Tour De France there last year (finish at St Malo & time trial at Mont St Michel). Was fantastic few days away.

One tip I do have if you drive on French motorways, I was in a convoy of cars doing just over the 110kph speed limit. I was the only UK car in the convoy of about 6 cars. Guess which one of the cars got pulled! They tried to whack me for the full 90 Euros fine, but by sheer luck I only had 25 Euros in cash in my wallet as we'd just been out for lunch in Rennes which had cleared me out. The good news story of this is that they couldn't take a card payment, so they had to downgrade the fine to 21 Euros as that's the minimum fine they can issue (that I had the money to pay in my wallet). By the time the debarcle was over there were two police cars, a large van and 8 police on the scene. Complete overkill, and it felt like they were trying to be quite intimidating. Whilst you don't want this kind of thing happening on your vacation I learned a valuable lesson that day.

1) Carry a second wallet with 25 Euros in it
2) Put your first wallet under your seat
3) Make sure your Mrs handbag / wallet is in the boot as they don't seem to check the rest of the car

I'll put my hand up on the speeding thing and take the punishment that came with it, but I go to France twice/three times a year and I'm seeing more and more Brits pulled on the side of the road, so be warned (and have all your hi-vis vests / fire extinguishers / GB badges, full licence and breathalyzer test kits at the ready)
 

Itguy

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fire extinguishers?

Didn't know that was required in France??

Good tips on the money though :)
 

Battlekrapz

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breathalyzer test kits was a scam introduced by our dear French (ex)president to enrich his friend who came up with the breathalyzer idea... the law was never passed and it made a huge fuss ... not a law and never was the law...
 

dieselguy

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We do that almost every May Bank Holiday. Stay in St Malo (Intra Muros), then use it as a base to go exploring the coast. Saw Tour De France there last year (finish at St Malo & time trial at Mont St Michel). Was fantastic few days away.

One tip I do have if you drive on French motorways, I was in a convoy of cars doing just over the 110kph speed limit. I was the only UK car in the convoy of about 6 cars. Guess which one of the cars got pulled! They tried to whack me for the full 90 Euros fine, but by sheer luck I only had 25 Euros in cash in my wallet as we'd just been out for lunch in Rennes which had cleared me out. The good news story of this is that they couldn't take a card payment, so they had to downgrade the fine to 21 Euros as that's the minimum fine they can issue (that I had the money to pay in my wallet). By the time the debarcle was over there were two police cars, a large van and 8 police on the scene. Complete overkill, and it felt like they were trying to be quite intimidating. Whilst you don't want this kind of thing happening on your vacation I learned a valuable lesson that day.

1) Carry a second wallet with 25 Euros in it
2) Put your first wallet under your seat
3) Make sure your Mrs handbag / wallet is in the boot as they don't seem to check the rest of the car

I'll put my hand up on the speeding thing and take the punishment that came with it, but I go to France twice/three times a year and I'm seeing more and more Brits pulled on the side of the road, so be warned (and have all your hi-vis vests / fire extinguishers / GB badges, full licence and breathalyzer test kits at the ready)

Like the 25 euro wallet thing. Genius!

I do have issues that we are seen abroad as cash cows. This happens all over europe, including even parking! Got a parking fine in Amsterdam in a paid garage (huge place, under a stadium, like 500 spaces) just because we didn't TELL the B***** that we are leaving it there overnight, and got a 100 euro fine. But apparently if i did tell them then I would only have to pay the normal daily rate of 8 euros.
 

dieselguy

Registered User
breathalyzer test kits was a scam introduced by our dear French (ex)president to enrich his friend who came up with the breathalyzer idea... the law was never passed and it made a huge fuss ... not a law and never was the law...

Yeah this Breathalyser law is bull **** as well. ONLY in france you have to do this.
 

PilotAudi

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No Mr Diesel IMHO the French breathalyser law is a brilliant way to reduce legal costs and burocracy.

With the new French law it becomes the drivers responsibility to check their sobriety before they drive so no legal loopholes about spiked drinks or 'I didn't realise wine was alcoholic'. Of course there is no compulsion to use the kit, it just has to be available. If caught it becomes your fault de facto as you could have checked yourself before driving. The system works and therefore saves huge legal bills.
 

dieselguy

Registered User
No Mr Diesel IMHO the French breathalyser law is a brilliant way to reduce legal costs and burocracy.

With the new French law it becomes the drivers responsibility to check their sobriety before they drive so no legal loopholes about spiked drinks or 'I didn't realise wine was alcoholic'. Of course there is no compulsion to use the kit, it just has to be available. If caught it becomes your fault de facto as you could have checked yourself before driving. The system works and therefore saves huge legal bills.

Pilot, I see your point that its good for the french government.
Its just that mine never gets used, but I still have to buy them. Then just before the expiry date rans out, we just open it and use it for fun in the pub. A waste of money on my part.
 

h5djr

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Pilot, I see your point that its good for the french government.
Its just that mine never gets used, but I still have to buy them. Then just before the expiry date rans out, we just open it and use it for fun in the pub. A waste of money on my part.

This is the current position with the French Breathalyser according to the AA's website:

Breathalysers

1 March 2012 - the French government confirmed that from 1 July 2012 drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser. The regulation will be enforced from 1 November 2012 and anyone stopped after that date who fails to produce a breathalyser when requested will receive an on the spot fine of €11.

October 2012 - the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed from 1 November 2012 to 1 March 2013.

January 2013 - the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed indefinitely.

So theoretically you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance.

The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. Carrying two single-use breathalysers will ensure that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a spare to produce. The breathalyser produced has to be in date - single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of twelve months.


So it seems the choice is yours. Required by Law but no penalty for non-compliance. Sounds like a complete mess.
 

PilotAudi

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It is only the penalty for not having one in your car that has been deterred . You are still seen as responsible if caught so the original intent of saving public funds through fighting legal cases has been achieved.

Great people the French IMHO but should stick to making wine rather than

Breathalysers currently 3 Euros for 2 with. 30 month use by date, hardly expensive!
 

Daveotto

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France every time for me. Great Motorways (generally), lovely people, excellent food and wine.. can't wait! Not sure the delights of Wales are that great in comparison.

Eurotunnel is quick and easy and places like Le Touquet (Paris Plages) only about half an hour from Calais. Great hotels, Westminster and even the Holiday Inn are great and superb restaurants.

You should serously consider travelling anoter 20 mins down the A16 to Berck or 45 mins and take the D295 and stop off in Le Treport or Mers La Bain amongst others. Food seveal times better than Le Touquet and hotels and resuataurant half the price and is more authentically French
 

Daveotto

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No Mr Diesel IMHO the French breathalyser law is a brilliant way to reduce legal costs and burocracy.

With the new French law it becomes the drivers responsibility to check their sobriety before they drive so no legal loopholes about spiked drinks or 'I didn't realise wine was alcoholic'. Of course there is no compulsion to use the kit, it just has to be available. If caught it becomes your fault de facto as you could have checked yourself before driving. The system works and therefore saves huge legal bills.

The requirement to carry a breathalyser in France has been recinded
 

PilotAudi

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Yes but the law stands re drink driving. No defence as you could use Diy kit .
 

Daveotto

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So it seems the choice is yours. Required by Law but no penalty for non-compliance. Sounds like a complete mess.

Half the problem was that in many parts of France you could not buy the kit for love nor money as the manufacturer could not keep up demand, the rumour is that the manufacturer was family/friends of the French PM.
 

Dan_G

Registered User
So back on topic... i would venture that, as its a new car with a period of running in required, blasting around Wales might be better postponed and a nice gentle drive into Europe take its place.

Brugge is lovely, but then again, so is Epernay in Champagne, and French roads are smooth, straight and devoid of traffic....
 

h5djr

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I'm seeing more and more Brits pulled on the side of the road, so be warned (and have all your hi-vis vests / fire extinguishers / GB badges, full licence and breathalyzer test kits at the ready)

Just to clarify, no Fire Extinguisher is required in Belgium, Holland, France or Germany. Hi-vis vests are required in France and Belgium and must be carried 'inside' the cabin and not in the boot.
 

warren_S5

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I would agree that a careful sustained run in often sees lower oil consumption across the life of the vehicle. As the engine cuts its groove if this can be done with longer more consistent journeys (building up the revs over time) supposedly the engine will be kinder to you in later life. That said some say if you thrash the car about from day 1 they tend to feel faster (like you would on Welsh B roads). Depends how long you plan to own the car as to which option you might choose. My view is if you 'over-service' the vehicle you're likely to be OK as engine tolerances are much better than they used to be; just don't thrash it from cold.
 

Daveotto

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Just to clarify, no Fire Extinguisher is required in Belgium, Holland, France or Germany. Hi-vis vests are required in France and Belgium and must be carried 'inside' the cabin and not in the boot.

Oh and dont forget the light bulb kit which is expensive if you have xenons...lol...another stupid french law
or the beam deflectors if you have halogens and you dont have a manual reallignemnt lever under the bonnet.
 

warren_S5

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Just to clarify, no Fire Extinguisher is required in Belgium, Holland, France or Germany. Hi-vis vests are required in France and Belgium and must be carried 'inside' the cabin and not in the boot.

Correct; I remember now I packed it because I was going to the Ring, not because it was law. That said I wouldn't travel abroad without one now, I was in a car that caught fire due to fuel pump failure not long ago and it's not a pretty sight.
 

h5djr

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Correct; I remember now I packed it because I was going to the Ring, not because it was law. That said I wouldn't travel abroad without one now, I was in a car that caught fire due to fuel pump failure not long ago and it's not a pretty sight.

I remember using mine many years ago to put out a fire on a scooter. The guy stopped and jumped off as his scooter burned underneath him. I wonder which came first, seeing the flames or feeling the heat :)
 

h5djr

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Oh and dont forget the light bulb kit which is expensive if you have xenons...lol...another stupid french law
or the beam deflectors if you have halogens and you dont have a manual reallignemnt lever under the bonnet.

According to the AA website light bulb kits are no longer required. Perhaps with the introduction of Xenon and LED headlights has made it rather pointless. I still got the one I bought years ago, complete with halogen bulb in my glovebox. Still it also has some smaller bulbs and some fuses.

I'm not sure if it's still the case but when I first drove to Switzerland, if you had to wear glasses for driving, you had to carry a spare pair in the car. No mention of the on the AA website so perhaps it's now only for Swiss citizens.
 

PilotAudi

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So how do you makea DIY breathalyser kit?

I mean a breathalyse yourself kit as in DIY..

I think only half a story has been posted previously as mentioned according to the AA... no not Alcoholics Anonymous ;-)


So theoretically you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance.

The French love rules and use or ignore to suit their mood and convenience in my experience... so my advice would be have one with you to wave at them and hope that they then decide not to do a real breath test... tell them you love France, the French Police and Hercule Poirot and the chances are they will be amicable... Treat them badly and you get bad back.. be humble! a bientot
 

cemerson

Registered User
Just to clarify, no Fire Extinguisher is required in Belgium, Holland, France or Germany. Hi-vis vests are required in France and Belgium and must be carried 'inside' the cabin and not in the boot.

Luckily the A3 has a hi vis vest included in the compartment underneath the rear middle seat! Keep meaning to pick up a spare bulb kit... though there aren't many 'user replaceable' bulbs in my car now so not sure there's a lot of point.

I think the French law requires you to have 2 breathalysers, not just one - the idea being that if you are asked to use one, you still have another one in the car too.
 

Itguy

Registered User
I would agree that a careful sustained run in often sees lower oil consumption across the life of the vehicle. As the engine cuts its groove if this can be done with longer more consistent journeys (building up the revs over time) supposedly the engine will be kinder to you in later life. That said some say if you thrash the car about from day 1 they tend to feel faster (like you would on Welsh B roads). Depends how long you plan to own the car as to which option you might choose. My view is if you 'over-service' the vehicle you're likely to be OK as engine tolerances are much better than they used to be; just don't thrash it from cold.

Don't get me wrong I'm not going to be absolutely wringing it's neck over the first few hundred miles - the occasional use of the rev range and just mixed normal driving really.

Having been to the Ducati factory and watched how the Italians dyno test every new Panigale at maximum chat in a sound booth (what a job....) I'm now not too worried about the run in period.

I have plenty of mechanical sympathy, have never killed an engine or gearbox yet.
 

PilotAudi

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Cemerson having spoken to local French Gendarme Michel I have confirmed that you will NOT be required to use your DIY breathalyser if stopped. He suggested it could be 'nobbled' . Official breath tests are taken using official police kit not the suspects.
 
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