Thursday, 24 February 2011

Easy French News

We used this website in our French class today. Our teacher had decided we should listen to the news on "France Facile" ! ie "Easy French" !!

Its an excellent site with loads of current affairs information.

And if you cant follow all of the French first time then you can look at the script that goes along with the day's news on "Franch Facile".
I found out loads about World affairs as well as picking up some new French words.

I also like the listening exercises where you can test yourself on your understanding.

Have a go and let me know how you get on - did you find this useful ?

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Monday, 21 February 2011

How to Change Stations in Paris

France has an excellent, fast train service, with the TGV "Trains a Grand Vitesse" (literally very fast trains !) which can take you from the North to the South of France in 3 hours in comfort. A definite alternative to air travel or taking your own car to your campsite for your camping holiday !

If you need to change trains in Paris then this website has some excellent information :

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Friday, 18 February 2011

Pet Travel Scheme - Taking Your Dog to France

You can now take your dog or cat to France thanks to the "Pet Travel Scheme"(PETS) which involves your dog having its own "Pet Passport" !  The scheme applies in the following countries only: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Vatican.

This Pet Travel Scheme allows people to take their pet dogs and cats on holiday to France and then to enter back into the UK without them having to go into quarantine - however, you and your vet must follow the rules carefully - otherwise your dog or cat could end up going into quarantine or having a return journey to the UK delayed.
(I have updated these rules as of 1st January 2012 - to ensure you are also completely up to date you can refer to the DEFRA website)
The basic requirements for taking your dog to France are outlined below. If you are going to a different EU country, please check with the websites I suggest to see if there are different requirements and regulations.

To obtain a Pet Passport you have to do the following things in this order, in association with your vet  :
  • Firstly have your pet microchipped.
  • Secondly have your pet vaccinated against rabies (even if your pet has already had a rabies vaccination).
  • Previously you needed to have a blood test to make sure the rabies vaccination had worked. However this requirement appears to have been replaced with a waiting period of 21 days
  • This should all be recorded on the PETS (Pet Travel Scheme) documentation by your vet and you will be issued with your PETS Pet Passport so your pet can re-enter the UK. You can even add their photograph to aid identification ! Further detailed information about all of this is available at the DEFRA site - I  have put a link further down this article.
  • The dog will require a booster Rabies Vaccination every 3 years - make sure you get this done on time or you will be back to square one in the whole process !
Then when you are ready for your journey to France:
  • Before you set off the dog may need to be checked by a vet to approve that the dog is fit for travel. And although not necessary under the scheme, its advisable to get a tick treatment before you go as the Babesia tick is present in France but not in the UK. Some of these more dangerous ticks etc. are more prevalent in the hotter zones of the south of France.
  • When travelling remember to take all your documentation with you including the Pet Passport !
  • Check if your pet insurance covers you while abroad.
  • Take a dog ID tag which has your details of where you are staying on holiday in case your pet gets lost on holiday.
  • If travelling on a ferry, on most shorter ferry crossings your dog must stay in your car so please make sure you leave the windows ajar and make sure they have a water bowl. Preferably travel on as short a crossing as possible and make sure your dog is in a safe area eg have a dog guard across the back of your car or a secure crate. You can arrange with some ferries to check the dog during the journey, as long as sea conditions allow this to be done safely.
  • Or, if travelling on a longer ferry crossing, for example on the Brittany Ferries ships Pont-Aven, Bretagne and Cap Finistère there are kennels available on board the ship and there are also 14 dog friendly 4 berth cabins on the new Brittany Ferries Cap Finistère which can be used on longer crossings to Spain.
  • Eurostar crossings allow to you cross with your pet in the car with you which is probably the easiest way to travel.
Before your return journey to the UK :
  • Your pet must be treated by a vet in France against tapeworm using an approved treatment (not less than 24 hours and not more than 5 days before you leave). The product used for the tapeworm treatment must contain praziquantel. Ensure all your documentation is correctly completed by the vet or you may not be able to travel. (Be careful as many vets are closed on Sunday and Monday). The vet will probably also check the microchip to identify the dog.
  • Remember to check if it is a Bank Holiday when you want to return, as this will affect the opening times of vets. Also book your vet appointment as soon as you can for the return journey treatment as they can get quite full and you don't want to be refused a sailing because your pet has not got the correct paperwork.
  • Brittany Ferries website states that you should be aware that at all French ports you need to get out of the car and check the pet in, in the terminal - this can take time and be an upheaval if you are travelling alone and also have small children. Although we were able to have our dog checked in the car this year when travelling through Caen.
If you want to travel separately from your pet there are approved transport companies which can arrange this - all the same rules about visiting vets etc. will still apply).

The main DEFRA site will explain about Pet Passports and also has a link to a site explaining the risks of taking your dog or cat abroad and some of the diseases they can be exposed to which are not present in the UK :

Dogs Away is a useful organisation who, for a small fee, will help you to book in with a French vet for your visit in the 24 - 48 hour period before leaving France to get the tapeworm treatment. Well worth it even if your French language abilities aren't too bad as they are dealing with this every day so know exactly what to arrange with the vet.

Brittany Ferries Pet Travel information :
P&O Ferries information :

There is good information, particularly if you read right down to the veterinary information at:

This DEFRA information explains clearly about the blood tests, boosters and vaccinations !
If you would like to take your dog with you on a Eurocamp or Keycamp holiday then the good news is that many of the campsites allow pets although you may be restricted to certain mobile homes. However booking a site with your dog cannot be done online so for more information with Eurocamp have a look at this page :
For some excellent information about taking your dog with Keycamp have a look at

For more information about ferries and taking your pet abroad please refer to :

Here is a nice downloadable guide from Eurocamp Independent which also discusses such things as taking your dog to restaurants in France or taking them to the beach etc. :

If you are wanting to fly your dog to France - I would suggest that you shouldn't need to do this if you are emigrating - take the ferry instead - however for a complete picture here is a website about an airline to help :

  • Please remember to leave your pet with water within the car and leave the window slightly open to give your pet a comfortable journey.
  • AND when you get to France, dogs have to be properly restrained in the car so as far as I can tell you need either a dog guard, dog crate or seat belt - does anyone have more information about this ?  We also bought a muzzle to take as there was some talk that we might need this at the vets.
  • Certain breeds of dog in France need to be muzzled in public. (see below)
For information about some great campsites to take your dog please return to our main website at

Dangerous dogs :
Dangerous dogs in France are classified in 2 categories :
Category 1 are "attack dogs" which include dogs whose appearance is of American Staffordshire terrier (pit-bulls), Mastiff (boerbulls) and Tosa types (i.e. without pedigree). It is prohibited to bring these dogs into France.
Category 2 are "defence and guard dogs" - including such breeds as American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, and Tosa breeds (i.e. with pedigree), and dogs of a Rottweiler type (without pedigree).
Note : the American Staffordshire Terrier breed is not to be confused with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which is not listed as a dangerous dog.
Since 1st January 2010, as a result of legislation dated 20 June 2008, all owners of dangerous dogs (category 1 and 2) in France must hold a certificate of aptitude for keeping a dangerous animal, delivered by an approved trainer, and a licence for the animal, from the local town hall (Mairie). Until modification of the law to allow category 2 dogs to be imported into France, it is advised not to bring such animals into France, whether on a temporary (holiday) or permanent basis. Sanctions may be incurred for absence of licence.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show, SECC, Scotland

I went along to the impressive Scottish Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show. We are tent campers but I went along to have a look at the different options if we were to upgrade to a dream caravan or motorhome. I must admit I much preferred the motorhomes and there was a huge number on display although motor homes are generally more expensive than caravans. A new four or six berth motor home varies in price between about £40,000 to £60,000. You can get a smaller raising roof type camper van for about £15,000 and caravans seem to start at around £10,000.

I hadn't realised that motor homes are based on a van model eg Ford Transit and are then converted or kitted out by different manufacturers. So you can choose your base model of van e.g. a Ford or Peugeot and then also choose which company for the interiors.

The two pictures above show two views of the interior of the following four berth motor home based on a Ford Transit. This was a lovely motorhome and was the first one I looked at. That would do me fine !  Now all I need to do is find the money !

When buying a motor home remember to think how many passengers will need to have proper strapped in seats. If you are a family of 5 or 6 you will need to make sure you have the right number of seatbelts.
These next two photographs show the interior and exterior of a Peugeot Autocruise Alto Motorhome.

This also had an awning you could pull out to the side of the van to give you even more space.

It can be difficult to maneouvre some models of motorhome and one thing to watch out for is models which extend far beyond the rear wheel as apparently they are harder to drive so if that worries you watch out for that. For example in the Peugeot one shown here it does not extend far beyond the back wheel, so should be easier to maneouvre than one that extends far beyond the back wheel.

I had a look at a 29 foot motor home - this is the same length as the fixed mobile homes we have rented in France ! However these do seem a bit excessive and driving them must be very stressful.

Another thing to think about is that once you go beyond a certain weight of motorhome you need to get a different driving license or get it added to your license that you can drive that weight of vehicle - I presume this may involve a further driving test although I am not sure about this - however it's worth bearing in mind when deciding which motorhome is for you ! (added later - here is the information about whether you need an HGV licence or not :

The Caravan Club was offering free "Try Driving a Motorhome" sessions at the show so I signed up for one of those.  It wasn't too difficult to drive but then we were only negotiating the car park !

The motorhomes' prices tended to vary between £40,000 and £60,000 but a good alternative is to rent out your motorhome through one of the rental agencies. I spoke to a couple who were at the show and it seemed to be a fairly smooth process. You decide which weeks you want to make the motor home available for rental and they can do all the arrangements and insurance etc for you. They can also help you to buy a motorhome and also have offers on second hand motor homes. For example I saw an offer for a second hand 6 berth motor home at £29,000 which didn't sound too bad !

Other interesting things I saw at the show included these "Hobbit Houses" which are now being used on various campsites! I also liked the Microlodges which were similar !

And also a folding boat ! - I imagine these are useful because they are not so large to tow as a full length boat !
And although I went along to the show only to look, you've guessed it ! I spent some money ! I found some lovely plastic wine glasses with coloured stems from a camping accessory firm based in Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders. They also had a lovely range of colourful camping kettles. And I also bought a sauce mix from "Look What We Found" and I found a lovely planter which will make a good birthday present. So I would thoroughly recommend the show for not only caravans, tents and motorhomes but also clothing, garden furniture (some great examples), garden play equipment, loft ladders !, cooking equipment and camping equipment.  I will definitely be going again and make sure you catch the show wherever you are in the next few months. Many of the exhibitors go from show to show and only sell through these shows.

And once you have bought or rented your motorhome or caravan or decided to stick with your tent for the time being then you will find some lovely sites to camp in France at our website at !

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