Oh well we are home now and the trip is just a memory, a very good memory I might add. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of our experiences we learnt along the way, the first one I will talk about is timing where by if you want to eat lunch the restaurants open at 12 noon and close at 2pm, dinner is from 7:30 to about 9pm this seems to be a very strict time regime with no leeway also if you want the Plat Du Jour menu (dish of the day) you need to be seated as near to noon or 7:30 as possible. Also all restaurants have to offer a fixed price menu, these can range from €8 for two courses to €57 (the most expensive I saw) per person, also its worth bearing in mind to check out the drinks prices before you order and don’t get caught out like we were on our first night where three beers cost €31 about £28. France is pretty expensive compared to the UK we even found what would be the equivalent to our £1 shop but there it was the €2 shop, so bear the prices in mind when budgeting for the trip. Petrol is more expensive than the UK except if you drive a diesel. Now before we went on the trip I updated my Sat-Nav to a Garmin which I might add is very good, but one feature that was very useful and saved us a good deal of money was the nearest fuel feature which enabled us to buy our fuel at supermarkets ie Carrafour & Intermarche most of which were just off the a junction of the autoroute, but without the Sat-Nav we would not have known, for example fuel on the autoroute costs €1:67 a litre for unleaded and in the supermarket it was €1:54 so you can see that after travelling some 2500 miles in France quite a saving was had. Whilst I am on the subject of supermarkets its worth bearing in mind that they are not like ours where they are open 24-7 the smaller ones close for lunch and this is not half an hour it’s from 12 to 2:30, and they all close on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Now like I said there are what seems to be strict times for lunch the same goes for the shops where they are closed from 12 to 2:30 and are also not open on a Monday and this is just not in the small towns its in the large cities also, but I must add we did not find this a problem in fact it was quite refreshing to have the slower pace of life you have to get used to it that’s all.
Driving in France is a breeze, sometimes you can be on a autoroute on you own with no other traffic for miles, not really much more to say on the driving front except the standard of driving seems a lot better than ours, people just seem to take their time and are not trying to break any land speed records.
Finally I would like to add that this trip has certainly wetted my appetite to explore more of France and contrary to urban myths the French are really nice and friendly people and if like me you try to learn a little French before you go it goes a long way. Below is a list of web links that you might find useful
Also I will be uploading some of the 400 photo’s I took on my Flickr photo page for anyone who is interested
Finally I would like to thank my travelling companions my wife and my very dear friend Jackie for making the trip a barrel of laughs and to all of you who took the time to read my ramblings. Until the next time, Au revoir