Bon Voyage, Bonnes Vacances

Claire and Kids
Claire and Kids

Are you dreaming of a French family holiday but hesitant about taking the car?

Claire from BrightonMums.com urges you to take the plunge, based on recent family motoring trips.

Here she shares her experiences and some tips on planning your holiday journey.

Don’t panic – just drive on the right

Driving on the right is nowhere near as daunting as it seems. Once you’re circulating within the flow of their traffic, everything starts to feel logical. If anything, deserted roundabouts are probably more of a problem, as there’s no other cars to follow!

Read our Driving in France mini-guide for a summary of the main differences between UK and French road rules.

I also found this comprehensive site about what to take and which rules to take note of.

The need for speed

Some parts of the French autoroute (motorway) have a 130mph speed limit (which I secretly LOVE). You may find local drivers go at real speed on the autoroute, they may even flash their headlights to warn you to move from the overtaking lane.

Don’t be intimidated, you haven’t done anything wrong but move over when safe and let them get on with it.

Navigation

fr_atlas

The French autoroute network is no more complicated than the UK to plan around. In fact, I would controversially suggest their signposts are often more logically sited and comprehensive, especially around cities.

France has always had an excellent network of signs for local attractions and landmarks (brown signs with white writing like ours), perfect for tourists.

Invest in an up-to-date road atlas if your GPS won’t work in France or goes wrong for some reason.

Roaming data for phones is mighty expensive too and although some service stations have WiFi it’s not a given.

Hot child in the city

If you fancy driving in Paris, give it a go but plan your route carefully in advance.

During August, when most Parisiennes leave the city, Paris operates a free parking scheme in some central locations. Look for blue dots on the parking ticket machines.

We parked near to Jardin de Luxembourg, a perfect base for exploring the city.

Don’t forget that Paris can get hot and muggy in summer, so when you find the heat gets to you, hop on a Bateaux Mouches along the river Seine to refresh and enjoy the views.

Look at junctions using satellite images to figure out which lane to be in going from one to the next. This will also help you spot roads with bus lanes.

Autoroute Glossary

Take a French phrasebook with you that has a good driving section in. However, here are a few regular words you’ll see on signs on the motorway, which may not be so obvious to figure out for English drivers.

Aire – rest stop usually with a picnic area
Autres directions – all other routes
Cedez le passage – give way
Interdit – forbidden eg interdit à toute circulation = no traffic permitted
Péage – toll
Rappel – reminder (of the speed limit usually)
Toutes directions – all routes this way
Sortie – exit
Véhicules lents – slow vehicle lane
Vous n’avez pas la priorité – You don’t have priority (usually at the junction)
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Do you feel motivated to book that trip now?

Alors, on y va! That means ‘off you go…’ of course, and we hope you have a great time.

FOXY receives special Tyresafe Award

l-r Stuart Jackson - Chairman TyreSafe, FOXY's Steph Savill, Hans Vrijsen, Marketing Director, Goodyear Dunlop Tyres
l-r Stuart Jackson – Chairman TyreSafe, FOXY’s Steph Savill, Hans Vrijsen, Marketing Director, Goodyear Dunlop Tyres
Last Thursday FOXY Lady Drivers Club MD, Steph Savill, collected the prestigious ‘Online and Social Media Award 2016’ at TyreSafe’s 10th Anniversary Awards.

Steph attended her first TyreSafe conference in 2013 when she felt the need to speak up in defence of women drivers by asking anyone in the audience to provide the evidence, if there was any, that women drivers were less diligent about tyre care than men.

Outside the meeting sufficient statistical and photographic evidence convinced her of the need for an online campaign about tyre safety that spoke directly to women drivers, including members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club.

In the last three years FOXY has continued a tough message to women drivers across the UK using online communications including blogs and ongoing messages delivered via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to explain the vital importance of monthly tyre checks (or before setting off on a long car journey) including tread, pressure and condition.

Steph’s early tyre safety lesson

Steph’s personal tyre epiphany traces back to when she was invited to test car tyres at the Continental Tyres Contidron test facility in Germany. She was required to drive a range of MINI, BMW, Audi and Porsche models around this track, at speed, fitted with a combination of budget and premium tyres with 8mm, 3mm and the UK legal limit 1.6mm tread.

In Steph’s words…

‘I quickly learned the simple difference between premium and budget tyres – the better the tyre the better its road holding and braking ability. And when I drove any car with any tyres at 1.6mm tread (that’s the legal limit in the UK remember) at speed into the waterlogged section of the track, the car would aquaplane and skid, out of control. I felt much more in control with 3mm tread tyres and this is when I buy my new car tyres now.”

“Since seeing the evidence that too few females know this, I wanted to make sure that busy women drivers know that 1.6mm is the absolute bare minimum tread for tyres and that 3mm is the right time to go tyre shopping. I make sure they know that the driver, not her husband or partner, is responsible for tyre safety and just how easy it is for her to check her car tyres regularly. The end result is that she can drive with the peace of mind that comes from knowing her tyres won’t let her or her family down in an emergency.”

FOXY Lady Drivers Club now operates a Register of FOXY Lady Approved tyre centres that have all promised to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need’. Most of these centres offer free tyre safety checks giving wary women the reassurance that if their tyres are already safe and legal they won’t be sold new ones or new services.

Tyresafe 10th Anniversary Awards

Since its inception in 2006 Tyresafe activities and campaigns have made a significant contribution to improving road safety and reducing tyre related casualties on UK roads by an impressive 31%.

The 2016 Online and Social Media Award is part of the TyreSafe 10th Anniversary Awards and was sponsored by Goodyear Dunlop Tyres and presented to FOXY Lady Drivers Club by their Marketing Director Consumer EMEA Hans Vrijsen who introduced the award, saying:

“As a long standing member of TyreSafe, and as a manufacturer with innovation at our heart, Goodyear Dunlop Tyres is proud to sponsor the award for ‘Online Campaigning’. The role of online channels is growing in importance every year and provides a unique means of engaging audiences with the tyre safety message.”

“As with many of the categories, this was an extremely close call with some truly outstanding submissions with huge reach. However, this entrant’s focus and ongoing consistent support of the tyre safety message here in the UK just edged the decision so TyreSafe’s Award for online campaigning goes to FOXY Lady Drivers Club.”

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We are very proud to receive this prestigious TyreSafe award in recognition of our ongoing campaigning work and female tyre safety voice. We look forward to carrying on this critical safety message at the ladies garage evenings we promote across the UK and at the increasing number of ladies business meetings we attend and speak at.

Motorpoint is our female friendly car shopping choice

Motorpoint's latest car showroom in Oldbury
Motorpoint’s latest car showroom in Oldbury

When you set out to buy a used car you want to know you won’t be sold a dud! This matters because too many motorists have either fared badly themselves when shopping for a second hand car or read about others in this stressful situation, as confirmed by the latest Citizens Advice complaints handling statistics.

And with the average cost of a used car at £9000, that simply isn’t good enough. Which is why we all need to know which car dealers can be trusted to do a better job.

So the car dealer group I’m writing about today is the FOXY Lady Approved Motorpoint Group with 11 UK showrooms in Birmingham, Birtley, Burnley, Castleford, Chingford, Derby, Glasgow, Newport, Oldbury, Peterborough and Widnes, most of which I’ve visited.

Yes, it is possible to buy a car in a day (they can even arrange short term car insurance in case yours is complicated) but you’ll be equally as welcome to browse the range of cars and get an estimate for the likely trade-in value of any part exchange car, where applicable.

The Motorpoint car shopping experience

motorpointThis is what happens when you go to a Motorpoint showroom.

1) You can do your early browsing via the Group website for the sort of deals in the photo.

2) All showrooms are open 7 days a week and until 8pm during the week.

3) There’s usually plenty of parking spaces.

4) There’s always lots of nearly new cars to look at, mostly about 2 years old and with the balance of the new car warranty included. Motorpoint often has brand new cars on sale too. NB: Remember that a nearly new car means someone else has paid the lionshare of the depreciation. That makes good financial sense.

5) If you want to know how much they’ll allow you for any trade in car, go with a salesman into the Motorpoint showroom and complete this part of their paperwork. Motorpoint will then check over your car in the car park and provide you with a written statement of its value at the time. This allows you and your family to enjoy a complimentary coffee or cold drink in their cafe area. Some families make a lunch stop of it because the food costs are very reasonable and they’re all in nice, stress free and spacious surroundings. And most have entertainment facilities for children too.

6) Once you’ve already identified the car you want to buy, it’s important to take it for a test drive. This will be organised quickly for you.

As you might expect…
* all Motorpoint cars are checked to make sure they haven’t been stolen, in an accident or the subject of outstanding car finance AND
** all cars are thoroughly inspected, pre-delivery, to make sure everything works as it should do and with a view to your motoring safety.

NB: MOT’s are not needed until a car is three years old but younger cars can still wear out tyres and other consumables depending on their mileage, so this is an important safety check for your reassurance.

Motorpoint Details

There’s a Motorpoint Guarantee product.

You can read customer reviews to support their 96% satisfaction rating at FeeFo.

All 11 Motorpoint branches are FOXY Lady Approved meaning
a) they have signed our promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need- – or men of course.
b) cars come with the balance of a manufacturers warranty.

Finally you can contact Motorpoint via their website at via their website and find out more about their individual branches here…

Birmingham
Birtley
Burnley
Castleford
Chingford
Derby
Glasgow
Newport
Oldbury
Peterborough
Widnes

In all cases they encourage female feedback to stay on our network and all those providing this via us will be offered a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club (inc access to VIP motoring offers, cheap car insurance and special support/news services). Just leave your recent feedback here to qualify.

FOXY Steph

What does our Future hold now?

sussex_uni_galaxyLast Saturday I spent time in a planetarium at Sussex University finding out about galaxies, black holes and cosmic strings, being reminded just how small and insignificant we all are in the master plan of the universe.

But it didn’t stop me feeling depressed with the black hole state of things the UK is in after such a seismic and unpredicted referendum result.

And just so I have a record of these times and my thoughts through it all, here are my Top Ten FOXY Pearls of Wisdom I’ve learned during the last week – and they’re not all just about the recent referendum.

1. Never anticipate the outcome of a referendum.

2. Always have a contingency plan for all scenarios.

3. Democracy can mean living with decisions you don’t like.

4. It’s not always appreciated when the ‘usual losers’ are seen to win.

5. Whilst the pound struggles, tourism and manufacturing must exploit competitive advantage.

6. Ageism is on the march again.

7. All forms of racism are abhorrent.

8. Youth prefer the EU status quo vs a DIY future, despite today’s unaffordable housing & university education.

9. Nobody is a good Leader when their team doesn’t respect them.

10. A good Manager tells a football team how to play the game, and clearly England’s wasn’t and didn’t.
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We live in interesting times. If ever a multi-faceted coalition government was needed to show us how to go forward together, it’s surely now.

I could go on but won’t. We all need to do our bit to steady the financial ship by working hard to see us through.

As we all know, from adversity and challenges come BIG business opportunities and I have no doubt that the motor industry will rise to these ahead of most others.

But let’s not waste time on deja vu thinking and hatred politics, especially where fuelled by social media, in case we miss out on the many global opportunities in future.

FOXY Steph

PS: I think women have something to bring to the party. If you haven’t done this already, why not join the Women’s Equality (WE) party to bring some sense to this all? It’s not just for women, of course, because they’re doing something similar to FOXY – addressing female issues so life gets better for men too.

PPS: For some reason I am reminded of the three word answer Mark Rylance’s character in Bridge of Spies always gave when asked why he wasn’t more depressed by his situation. These were ‘Would It Help?’ The answer was ‘No’ of course – and he was treated fairly in the end. Let’s hope there’s a morale in there somewhere?

You can’t always trust so called experts Mr Cameron.

expert needed

In his final Question Time interview yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron told us to listen to the economic experts he listed, before we voted in the Referendum on Thursday.

For his expert scenario, he suggested that if an expert mechanic told us our car was dangerous we wouldn’t drive it.

Well, in an ideal world I’d agree with him, but he just happened to pick an unregulated industry where anyone can set up a garage and mechanics don’t have to be licensed to service or repair our cars. And, as a consequence, independent garage complaints are among the highest of all referred to Citizens Advice, other than to do with used car sales – another unregulated area of the motor industry.

So please Mr Cameron, don’t use that analogy again because too many mechanics aren’t experts at all. And you just might be adding to the safety risks too many motorists run already when they trust unscrupulous garage staff.

Which you’ve clearly not experienced yet, hence your Government not seeing the need for regulation in the automotive industry?

Far be it from me to suggest that perhaps the same might be true of so called economists ahead of Thursday’s referendum? Pretending to know what they are doing when they really haven’t a clue?
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But whatever happens in the Referendum, I’d like to compare notes with you about this afterwards. The poor state of the motor industry is a very serious matter for women drivers and genuinely good garages suffer such a poor and unjustified image as a consequence.

I’d welcome the opportunity to explain to you how mums like Samantha could so easily compromise their children’s motoring safety by not knowing how to check out a measurably good garage from lesser others. Not just garage but also used cars and tyre safety standards can all be higher but you’d have to see the full industry picture for ALL motorists, not just those that can afford to buy and run posh prestige car makes.

FOXY Steph

Twitter: @FOXYSteph

A blog for women about motoring