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San Diego...
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Navigation Options

We will be doing a bit of driving from Paris to Loire Valley and Normandy etc. Beside renting a car with navigation, has anyone ever used portable navigation that they had purchased from the US or used US phone with navigation capability.

What about some good maps?

Many thanks in advance!

Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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1. Re: Navigation Options

I have driven through the entire country of France several times and have never used nor needed GPS.

Here are some recommendations:

1. Purchase a map in book form (1:200,000 scale)

2. Request a diesel; it will save a great deal of money.

3. The luggage compartments on French cars are quite small, make sure the car you select meets you needs.

4. You may want to either carry car seats for you children or ask the rental agency of French child seat requirements.

5. For planning your trip, the following offer a great deal of information about time, distance, and cost between two points:



6. Never exceed the speed limit. There are radar detectors everywhere, some are marked and some are not. Here is a radar locater sight:


Mappy also lists radar sites.

7. Familiarize yourself with the basic speed limits: 50, 90, 110, 130 km/h

8. A word of caution about "priorité a droite". If a car approaches from the right and enters the road in front of you, he probably has the right of way. This old rule is being phased out but there are still many locations (always known by the locals) where the rule is still practiced. If you happen to see a yellow diamond sign along the side of the road, you can rest easy as you'll have the right of way as you proceed along the main thoroughfare. If you see a red slash across the face of the yellow diamond, beware as vehicles on the right now have right of way.

9. Your credit card, while accepted by cashiers when purchasing fuel, will probably not work in "pay at the pump" locations. Plan your gas purchases ahead of time. Don't get caught on a holiday with an empty fuel tank.

10. One advantage of the Autoroute; there is always clean restroom facilities available near by.

11. Never drink and drive. Never. French police set up check points in the most unlikely locations and at the most unlikely times just to catch people who do. If you consume more than 2 glasses of wine, you'll most likely exceed the legal limit. The legal limit in France, or rather, the beginning of the illegal "zone," is .50 grams of alcohol per liter of blood. From this level to .79 grams, the penalty is a fine of 135 to 750 euros, and for French drivers, a loss of 6 of 12 license points. From .80 grams and up, the fine, fixed by a court, can be as high as 4,500 euros, with a suspension of license for up to three years. A person weighing 80 kilograms, or 176 pounds, will be at the .50 limit after drinking two glasses of wine, though the peak level of alcohol in the blood when consumed with food occurs from one to two hours afterward.

12. To find the best restaurants/hotels purchase a Michelin Red Guide, you'll need nothing else to find the best accommodations.

13. In the glove box of your rental car, this is a paper call a "constat". In the event of an accident, both parties must complete this form. On the back of the constat is the English translation. Carry a pen in your car at all times.

14. When a car is turning left in front of you, do not pass on the right unless you are already in an outside lane (not an option on 2 lane roads).

San Diego...
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1,139 posts
57 reviews
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2. Re: Navigation Options

Hi Sarastro,

Thanks for the reply. It's very detailed and helpful. I probably will skip the navigation. My car has the navigation option here in the US and I am spoiled. I think it will be more fun if I get lost.

melbourne australia
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70 posts
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3. Re: Navigation Options

Hi SD,

We drove around France and Italy without GPS in 2006,and then with GPS around France for 6weeks this year.

We brought the system from home (in Australia) We saw so much more when we had the GPS with us! It meant we felt comfortable wandering off to look at something on a whim, confident we could easily get back to where we should be. Saved a lot of navigation arguments too! We didn't use the motorways, but kept to smaller roads, and saw a great deal more that way.

There are some pitfalls - such as not trying to use them in small towns, and making sure that you have a general idea of where you want to go and approximate distance so you don't go wrong if you misspell a name etc.., but having done similar trips with and without GPS, we wouldn't go without one again.

Hope this helps.

San Diego...
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1,139 posts
57 reviews
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4. Re: Navigation Options

Hi Susioz,

Thanks so much for the response.

Los Angeles...
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416 posts
15 reviews
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5. Re: Navigation Options

Drove around Normandy in 2004 with a Michelin regional map 513, "Normandie"... you can get it at Barnes and Noble or on Amazon .com. You can also get the regional map 517, "Pays de la Loire". I used a map only, worked out just fine...

In November, we will be driving in Normandy again, but also driving in and out of Paris, Versailles, Belleu Wood, Pierrefonds, Chartes (?), etc... I have a brand new Garmin Nuvi 670 with the Europe maps, so we will be using both!

I never used GPS, being an "old-school-map-guy" but we rented a car a few years back in Boston and got upgraded with the GPS thrown in for free... we used it and purposely went off the beaten path and wandered all over... "Vicky" calmly said, "recalculating" each time to show us the way home... lol

When is your trip? Please post your thoughts when you return...!

6. Re: Navigation Options

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