Overseas Motorhoming Europe

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 09:04
ThreadID: 24789 Views:2455 Replies:6 FollowUps:2
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I would be grateful for any information from members with past experiences that have driven through Holland,Germany,France & Spain. How did you find the Sites and any thing that will help us to be aware of that is different to travelling around Aust. Regards Rob
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 09:34

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 09:34
I'm not a member, but perhaps I'll do? :)

I assume you are hiring an RV (Motorhome) in Europe - ensure the hire contract permits you to leave the country from which you hired the vehicle, it's 10 years since I've spent much time in Europe but leaving the country was generally prohibited.

Camp sites vary, of course. You will usually find European sites to be much more crowded than Oz ones, less space per unit. In France check out the Municipal (run by the local councils - oh I do miss France :) sites they _may_ be very good.

Anywhere on the Med. coast in July and August will be a problem - I once went to five sites near Rome before I could find a spot - not ideal at the end of a long drive in a non airconditioned vehicle on a 40C day!

In Spain and Italy beware of thieves, at Ostia (a beach resort near Rome) I wouldn't even leave a pack of cigarettes on display in the car.

Buy the Michelin maps or atlas for each of the countries they are, by far, the best.

Keep your loose change for the Autoroute toll booths on your journey to exit the country. It gets rid off all that change and drives the booth operators crazy :)

I've never found any problem with switching between driving on the right and left side but some people do. Ensure you _never_ stop on the wrong side (left hand side) of the road facing the wrong way, that's a perfect recipe to start off on the wrong side. Saw a friend of mine do it once - nearly killed him.

In some places the toilets and showers are unisex, in others they are not. It's usually worth checking first :)

Try and avoid Andorra - although the mountains are beautiful. Which reminds me: avoid using your brakes too much in the Alps and/or Pyrenees, on the descents, to avoid boiling the brake fluid (it's embarrassing - believe me!) use the gears instead.

In France speed limits on the Autoroutes change when it's raining.

Can't think of anything else. Maybe avoid the Autoroutes in France and meander through the country on the ‘N’ and ‘D’ roads, not only do you save tolls but you’ll find some beautiful places you would otherwise have missed. The Relais in France (sort of B&B) may be worth a look for the odd night or two.

Bon voyage mon ami – enjoy :)

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 120744

Reply By: Member - Eric P (Int) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 17:56

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 17:56
Hi, Rob,

I am an overseas member (from France).

Actually, I haven't got any experience with camping in Europe, but I know a lot about the countries (I uses to live in Germany for a couple of years as well).

Just now, I have few time, because it' s sunday morning and Cathy wants to go to the supermarket, which closes at 12:00. I will try to write longer after shopping.

If any special questions, my e-mail: eric@pivin.net

Cheers

Eric
AnswerID: 120796

Reply By: motherhen - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:01

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:01
Many years since we toured Europe with a motorhome. Generally found free camp spots - don't know what it is like now. Learned how to ask for hot showers in every language - we weren't going to pay good money unless the facilities were good - rather find a forest or a beach to camp at. Never filled up with fuel - saved room so we could make a purchase and use the facilities at service stations (some were the old fashioned French toilets - got used to that). In Holland couldn't find a spot for the night once, so asked if we could camp in someone's back yard. They were pleased to have international visitors, and their school age daughter spoke English reasonably well and translated our conversations.

AnswerID: 120797

Reply By: J.T. - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:06

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:06
Bought a Peugot 405 and drove around Europe(Spain,France,Italy,England,Portugal etc) and had a ball.It is very different to Oz because its so populated.Distances between towns is closer meaning a lot more traffic congestion.In Oz we have many pullover areas to camp and at least picnic where over there we often had trouble getting good areas.Perhaps this is to stop people camping in non campgrounds.(free).Fuel is more expensive at $2.00 plus a litre.Thier history and culture is amazing and there is obviously so much to see but we just found where driving around Oz is more laid back and easier to relax and see things in general,Europe being so busy and congested and populated makes the visit more of a mission.(i.e. big city traffic.lines at museums.)But it must be good thats why there are lines every where you go.Awesome but different to OzWouldnt be worth going if it wasnt different.Next time we go we would get a motor home for sure.Have fun.Sorry its long winded.
AnswerID: 120798

Follow Up By: J.T. - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:11

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:11
Just to add in Florence we paid $50 Aust for a non powered tent site.Peek time mind you)Some cities were $25 some $60.Things had changed a lot from last year to 15 years ago when last there.i.e. urban sprawl and industry etc.
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Reply By: Steve - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:09

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 18:09
they have some odd habits like using their mirrors and not hogging the outside lanes
AnswerID: 120800

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 20:29

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 20:29
I so wanted to say that :)

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Member - Eric P (Int) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 20:31

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 20:31
Rob,

I am finished with the weekly shopping.

As the other Oz members said, there are a lot of differences between driving in Europe and in Oz.

The first is right hand drive; this is not a big problem, I think you can get used to it after 1000-2000 km (I experienced the same in GB, Oz, South Africa, etc..).

You should be especially careful at roundabouts (drive to right side), and after road crossings (take care on driving on the right side after them) or road turns.

You should be aware that your car extends to something like 1,5 meter to your right, so take a lot of space especially when overtaking or when driving on a narrow road.

The traffic is very jammed (imagine for example in Holland, there are as many inhabitants as in Oz on more than 100 times less space).

Road maps are very good (Michelin for example). I think you can buy them online and let them be shipped to Oz (I do the same for Oz maps).

If you want to visit big cities like Amsterdam, Munich, Francfort, Berlin, Paris, etc.., you should rather find a camp facility rather far outside (10/40 km) and use the public transport, which is usually very good.

Take care of traffic jamms each day around big cities (in comparison, the traffic in Sydney is very easy – I live on the countryside 40 km north to Paris, and if I want to take my car to the office, I leave home at 06:30 am and reach the office 1 hour later, i.e. 2 hours before my colleagues. If I would start 30 mn later, I would need one more hour). Take care as well on weekends and school holidays (once I started from home at midnight on August 1st, and I reached Saint Raphael on the Mediterranean 24 hours later without a rest (850 km).

Drivers are rather well disciplined in Germany and in the Netherlands, rather not in France and Spain. Even if you are in your good right, take care (in France and in Spain, the other will care as well, in Germany and in the Netherlands, they will not (for example in Germany, don’t change the line if you see that you are wrong, unless you are sure that there is nobody coming).

Speed limits vary from country to country.

I think you cannot avoid motorways in the Netherlands, because it is a fairly small country. In Germany you may use them for long distance (toll free), but you should avoid them if you want to see something. In France and in Spain, you should definitely try to avoid them (the secondary network is very good in France, and Motorways are very expensive.

I don’ t know how you intend to fly; I would advise you if possible to land in Germany (Quantas runs direct flights to Francfort from Singapore. They used to fly to Paris until this year, but they have now a code share with Air France, who runs the service (we are flying to Darwin on July 27th). It is the country where you can find the most reliable Campervan rental companies, with the best services cars.

Concerning campervan hire, I would prefer a big reliable company (like www.hymer-rent.de). Nevertheless, you can find in Germany a lot of small privately owned company with better conditions (we do the same in Oz, and avoid Britz and the like. The best is go to www.google.de and ask in German for Wohnmobilvermietung (a lot of sites are multilingual).

Concerning languages, Germans mostly speak a good school English, Dutches speak a very good English, Frenchs are definitely monolingual and Spaniards try to be more open.

Big cities and touristic areas are very expensive, especially in France. There are a lot of less known places you can visit, and which are very nice.

Germans and Dutches are quite fair concerning prices (you can eat for $ 15 in small “Gasthaus” in Germany or in Indonesian restaurants in Holland). Take care to pay the right price in France (shop in supermarkets, and prefer little non-tourist restaurants with fixed price menus on the countryside). I don’t know very well for Spain, but I think they are OK as well (if you avoid the Costa Brava and the Costa del Sol, where you will meet anyway more Brittons, Germans and Frenchs than Spaniards).

Toilet facilities are very good in Germany and NL, mostly not so well maintened in France and Spain.

There are a lot of other issues.

Cathy (44 – English teacher) and me (56 – real estate executive) are coming to Oz for one month (Darwin, GRR, Broome, Coral Bay, maybe Shark Bay and Monkey Mia, Meeka, GCR, Alice, Tanami, Katherine, Darwin).

I do not know where you live in WA (Perth ??). If not too far, we might arrange a meeting ??

Cheers

Eric

AnswerID: 120828

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