Your carp trip to France – Some things you should know

We’ve published information like this before but as the season approaches we thought it would be a good idea to do so again. So… some g
eneral information for travelling in France.

If you breakdown or have a traffic accident:

  • Immediate action
    Turn on your hazard lights and, if possible, pull over to the side of the road, out of the main thoroughfare.  Make sure all passengers have left the vehicle, using the door closest to the hard shoulder.  If you are on a motorway, make sure all passengers stay well away from the road and behind the safety barriers.  Use your mobile phone or walk to the nearest emergency phone – these are located every two kilometres and in many of the larger Aires (the French motorway service areas).  On other roads, and if it is safe to do so, position your warning triangle (you are required by law to carry one in the car at all times) on the road 200 metres behind the car.  A new regulation was introduced in 2008 making High Visibility Vests compulsory in France, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car, and put on before getting out. Do this and you will not have a problem.  We did find one supplier selling them for £1.52 each;
  • Notify the authorities
    If there is no emergency phone on the road you are on, call the emergency number 112 (toll free) from a phone box, mobile phone or landline.  For breakdowns, call your European breakdown cover insurer, and have your location, policy number and vehicle details ready.  You must notify the police, even if you have breakdown cover.  No garage will come to recover you on a motorway without police permission.
  • Administer first aid
    Do not move the victims unless they are in imminent danger.
    Do not remove helmets from motorcyclists.
    Do not give victims food or drink.
    Do not remove clothes from burn victims.

If you have an emergency at the lake (and there are no locals around to help):


In France the National emergency number (for all services) is;



N.B. We have been told that the 112 number does not work on mobiles that don’t have a Sim card.  So, for people who have a mobile without a Sim card, they should call:

  • Ambulance (SAMU) 15
  • Police 17
  • Fire 18

You will be answered in French and sometimes they may have someone who can speak English, even if it’s only a little.  The information they will require is;

  • The name of the lake (or the name of the owner and the house name if the lake owner lives on site).  Please remember that the name the lake is known by in the Angling Lines brochure is not necessarily its actual French name.  That’s why you need to give as much of the following detail as possible;
  • The name of the nearest village.  If, for example, you know the name of the two closest villages, then quote both.
  • The name, or number, of the nearest main road

You can use the driving directions you received in this pack to help with this.  You could even give the Sat Nav co-ordinates.

Because the detail you give may not be as accurate as that which would be given by a native French speaker it’s a really good idea for someone who is waiting for an ambulance, for example, to ask one of the other anglers to position themselves at the lake entrance or main road to wait for its arrival.

Driving in France – the basics:

1. Don’t forget that you drive on the right in France, so it is compulsory to place headlight converters (available at most car accessory stores) on your headlights to ensure that your dipped beams won’t dazzle oncoming traffic.

2. You must also display a GB sticker (oval, with GB in black letters on a white background – at least 6.9in by 4.5in) at the rear of your vehicle (and trailer if you’re using one). These GB stickers are available from most Ferry Companies or any general car accessory shop.  These are not required if your number plate already has the GB logo.

3. A high visibility jacket (as mentioned above), which must conform to EU Regulations, must be carried inside the vehicle (not in the boot). Having put on the hazard lights, the driver & any passengers must put on the jacket before exiting the broken-down vehicle on or off the road.

4. You must carry a warning triangle – it is compulsory to use one after an accident or breakdown in France. A spare set of vehicle bulbs is also recommended.

5. In France you must carry with you at all times when you are driving; your driving licence; vehicle registration document; insurance certificate and ID (your passport will suffice) – this is compulsory, you may get a ticket or an ‘on the spot fine’ if you don’t have them.

Please note; Speed radar traps on motorways, particularly near the ports, are prevalent and will result in on the spot fines. So drive safely at the appointed speed!

Motorway tolls
Not every motorway is a toll road, but quite a few are.  You pull up at a barrier and take a ticket, then when you exit the motorway or meet another toll booth you hand the ticket over and are told how much.  The cost depends on the distance travelled.  All booths are on the left, unless signed with a GB flag, when they can be found on the driver’s side.  At these tolls you can use a credit card but not debit cards, e.g. Maestro, Electron.  You will see a CB sign highlighted above the lanes which accept cards.

Motorway Service Stations & Aires
You can’t help but notice the “Aires” every 10 to 15 kilometres along the motorways of France.  “Aires” (areas) are the equivalent of our motorway service stations and are specially designed for motorists and generally have a wide range of facilities. You’ll find everything from WC’s right through to picnic areas, and for those of you wanting to do more than simply stretch your legs some aires even feature exercise circuits!

Patrols and Safety on the Roads
There are regular security patrols day and night on all the networks, Remember to always keep your distance and take regular breaks – share the driving if you can. If you’re driving at night and want to take a rest, try one of the aires.  You’ll find that most aires are lit up at night. Overnight parking is not officially allowed in aires, but everyone does it.

And finally:

Public phones
Public phones nearly always need a card.  These can be bought from tabacs (bars or shops), supermarkets, garages etc.

Main supermarkets

Intermarchè, Champion & L’Eclerc.  Most have their own petrol stations and, as in England, are often the cheapest place to get fuel.  Many supermarkets now have card cash machines and larger supermarkets sometimes sell a limited range of fishing tackle.  As a general rule in France, shops, banks, etc. close for lunch – this is normally between 12:30 and 14:30.  They often then stay open until 19:00.  The exceptions are bars and restaurants. The main banks are Credit Agricole, Scalbert-Dupont and Sociètè Gènèrale.

Weils disease is present in France as in England. Anglers should be aware that it can be contracted through cuts and grazes of the skin or swallowing water infected by contaminated urine from animals including rats, sheep, cattle etc. Symptons are flu like, chills, headache, vomiting etc and arrive abruptly between 2 days and 4 weeks after contact with infected water. If you obtain these symptoms tell your doctor and ask for a blood sample to be taken. Further information is available on our website.


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