Drive off the ferry and there’s no faffing around, you’re free to enter France. Quickly figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road and off you go. The first thing I found was occasionally you find a junction in the road where sanity would suggest you have the right of way, but I’ve had Frenchies pulling out with conviction, so be careful I think there are junctions where people, joining what I see as the main road, have priority.
There’s a strange mixture of good and extremely bad driving habits in northern France. Motorway etiquette is how it should be. Cars are very strict in pulling into the slower lanes to keep the fast lane clear, and if you don’t you’re almost forced off the road, so you learn quickly. In contrast tail-gating seems to be a national sport, with a goal to stop anyone trying to enter the motorway via a slip road you gain bonus points if you can force them to stop instead of simply moving lanes yourself.
The further south you go the more relaxed the driving styles, but this also comes free with being far too relaxed to potential dangers. We encountered someone flying over a humped bridge that was also narrower than a typical road. With just enough room to pass two vehicles side by side at a crawling speed, if we had arrived 10 seconds earlier that would have been it, game over. I’m not shy to a bit of friendly rivalry between the brits and the frogs, but they are truly bad drivers.
Toll after toll after toll, we powered straight through to the south. Using around one and a half tanks of fuel, and paying at least 100 Euros in tolls. There were lovely Aires (service stations) and places to rest, or even camp for the night, but I’m not convinced they justify the price tag. As a hint, always aim for the toll booth with the green arrow, these lanes accept every form of payment. Always have cash as a backup, as 95% of the toll gates accept Visa debit, but they do like to catch you out with the one rebellious gate that is struggling to conform to modern forms of payment. For these situations, you can always press the assistance button. This is where you can speak to someone with bad English about having difficulties with the inconsistent methods of payment. At one particular gate, every second word was an extremely high pitched “what!” eventually just opening the barrier and seeing us on our way while explaining to her colleague that the damn British never pay.