Contact Us
Home Page Accommodation The Area Things To Do Useful Links Tariffs Contact Us

Useful Information

Here is some useful information and facts relating to France and the area.

Useful Telephone Numbers

18 - Sapeurs Pompieres – fire brigade but are equipped to deal with medical emergencies including liaising with ambulance services. They are generally the first port of call in rural areas. The equivalent of 999 in the UK.

15 - Ambulance Services

17 - Gendarmes - police

112 - International multilingual emergency services, usually used from a mobile phone.

When phoning these services be prepared to give your name and where you are phoning from.

Do not hang up until you are told to do so.

French Public Holidays

New Year's Day (Jour de l'An)

Thursday 1 January 2009

Easter (Pâques)

Sunday 12th April 2009

Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

Monday 13 April 2009

Labour Day (Fête du Travail)

Friday 1 May 2009

VE Day - WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945)

Friday 8 May 2009

Ascension Day (Ascension catholique)

Thursday 21 May 2009

Whit Sunday (Pentecôte)

Sunday 31 May 2009

Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)

Monday 1 June 2009

Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

Saturday 15 August 2009

All Saints' Day (Toussaint)

Sunday 1 November 2009

Armistice Day (Armistice 1918)

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Christmas Day (Noël)

Friday 25 December 2009

Local Markets


Caen and Cherbourg Octeville




Cherbourg and Portbail


La Haye du Puits


Cherbourg, Carteret and Caen


Les Pieux


Caen, Cherbourg and St Saveur le Vicomte

Driving in France!

Firstly always make sure you drive on the right!

Be careful when setting off from the ferry port. In Cherbourg and Caen the first thing you find when leaving the port is a roundabout which you have to go “round” the wrong way”!!!

After that you have to make sure you, the driver, are next to the kerb.

Service stations and car parks are the places where it is easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the road. (More interestingly, I always used to find I had more difficulty when back in England after a short stay in France, in both leaving service stations and negotiating supermarket car parks.)

When overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front, you can then see further down the road ahead.


All necessary documents should be with you at all times when travelling in the car.

These are –
registration document (carte gris)
driving licence (permis de conduire)
and motor insurance (carte verte).

They can be asked for at any time by police, and failure to produce them results in an on-the-spot fine.

A full driving licence is required. - Always carry your full driving licence (plastic card and paper document). If your licence does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.

Motor insurance:

Third-party insurance is compulsory. A green card is not always required, though some insurers will insist; most insurers require to be informed before your trip. It is always best to enquire of your insurer.

In the vehicle:

Seat belts: front and rear are obligatory and must be worn by all passengers.

Children in cars: children under 10 are not allowed in the front. In the rear they must use a proper restraint system appropriate to their height and weight, this means a child seat if they weigh between 9 and 15 kg. Over this weight they can use seat belts with a booster cushion.

Mobile Phones: as in the UK, are prohibited when driving.

Speed limits:

Are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequently in operation. Anyone caught travelling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot, and spot fines are imposed cumulatively for every 10km over the limit. (For a cautionary tale refer to our blog - )

Speed limits vary depending on weather conditions, and the road. In urban areas 50km/h; rural roads 90kn/h; dual carriageways 110km/h; motorways 130km/h. All these are reduced by 10km/h (motorways to 110km/h) when raining; and there is an overall limit of 50 whatever the road when foggy!

Be aware that urban speed limits begin at the town or city sign (not always where the first 50km/h sign is situated), usually denoted by a white name panel with a red border, and the limit ends where the name panel has a diagonal black bar through it.

Drinking and driving:

France has strict drink driving laws, blood alcohol levels being stricter than in the UK (0.5 mg/ml rather than 0.8). The best advice is if you're driving, don't drink. The penalty can be anything from loss of licence to imprisonment.


Remember - Speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on-the-spot fines. €90.00 is the usual amount for each offence. Make sure you receive an official receipt from the officer collecting the fine. If you do not have enough cash you will be taken to a cash point to draw the money.

In the event of an accident:

You must STOP and complete the “Constat amiable”, take details of the other drivers insurance.

If anyone is injured you must also inform the police.

If you are witness or discover an accident it is expected that you will stop and help, that may be calling emergency services, helping control the traffic, or holding someone’s hand. You must remain at the scene until stood down by the emergency services.

Failure to do this could result in a fine.

Priority from the right:

Take especial care in built-up areas where the old rule giving priority to traffic coming from the right still applies unless a yellow diamond indicates you have priority.

On roundabouts you generally give priority to traffic already on the roundabout, in other words, coming from your left as you enter the roundabout. In rural areas where there are no road markings, many French still give priority to the right at unmarked junctions.


All grades of unleaded petrol and diesel are available. As in the UK, LPG is only available at some stations. Leaded no longer exists.

It is allowed to carry petrol in a recognised container, only in France, not on the ferry.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they probably won't work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps in rural areas open out-of-hours, which also means lunch-time from noon to 2pm.

It's a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.

Cheapest fuel is usually available from supermarkets; remember that most are closed Sundays, and lunch-time.

Bits and pieces:

First-aid kit is advised, but not compulsory.

Headlamp converters are compulsory at all times not just at night. Failure to convert headlamps can result in a €90.00 fine.

Replacement bulb set recommended.

Warning triangle is highly recommended, although hazard flashers can be used. One or the other is compulsory.

Visibility Vests are now compulsory in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway 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. Do this and you will not have a problem.

Country of Registration must be displayed on the vehicle. Vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need any other plates when driving in European Union countries.

Lights: dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.

Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car and a motorcycle over 125cc and 15 for a motorcycle under 125cc.

Newly qualified drivers for the first two years of driving must display a “P” sign, and speed limits are reduced, in all zones, by 10 kph.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets.

Copyright © Hirondelle Holidays 2005
Siret No: 453.982.373.111.12
Terms & Conditions

Site designed by Netaddress Ltd