Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Weather Forecast with XC Weather

I really like this weather forecasting application from XCWeather to check out the weather in France or in the UK as well. It was recommended by a campsite manager here in the UK as we were hoping to go camping this week but the winds were far too high. So if you want to plan your camping holiday this might be a good tool to use. I like the fact you can click on the arrows to zoom into the information for a particular place.

I've no idea if its more accurate than the Met Office or the BBC or France 2 weather but we find we increasingly can't rely on forecasts so anything which helps a bit would be useful. We have even gone as far as cancelling plans for a weekend at one point only to find out the weather was lovely and I think the opposite has happened too.


Go Back to Best French Campsites

Monday, 16 May 2011

Drought continues in France

The drought is continuing in France into the month of May after a very dry Spring.

There is a meeting today of a "drought committee", which meets at the request of the Minister for Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, to take stock.
Wildlife in the Loire and Cher is threatened by drought. The sun, combined with the lack of rain has caused the rivers to be at their lowest. This could cause fish to suffocate by lack of oxygen in the limited water available.

Twenty-six départements, mainly in the West, are either limiting water supplies to certain uses or are considering doing so.

The worst hit area is the four départements of Poitou-Charentes, which have implemented the strongest measures, so have banned any watering of parks or filling of swimming pools. Poitou-Charentes is popular with tourists. It lies south of the Vendee on the West of France and includes the popular tourist resorts of La Rochelle and Cognac.
Measures are also being taken in the north of France (Somme, Oise, Eure), Ile-de-France (Essonne, Val-de-Marne, Seine-et-Marne), in the Center (Indre, Cher, Nièvre ) in the Lyon region (Rhone, Isere, Ardeche) and Eastern (Jura, Doubs, Territoire de Belfort).

But the problem extends well beyond French borders. Throughout northern Europe there have been unusually dry conditions this spring. The situation could last "a few weeks or even months" because of an area of "very persistent high pressure" announced in early May by the World Meteorological Organization.

We will need to see how this might affect holidaymakers - there may be increased risk of forest fires etc. However the worst effects will be to farmers and food production. The drought has occurred just at the time that seeds and seedlings are expected to take in the fields and when they have small root systems so this could have devastating effects on agriculture and as a result food prices in France.

Update on 24/5/11 - the Government has asked banks to be considerate to farmers who may have cash flow problems. The harvest date of 15 June has also been brought forward.  The départements which have water restrictions in place can be seen on this map of France :

Thankfully there is some rain predicted in the next week so lets hope the situation improves before this year's harvest is badly affected.

Update at 13th June - cracks have appeared in homes built on clay soil in drought hit regions and problems predicted for electricity supply if the heat and drought continues : http://www.connexionfrance.com/drought-homes-subsidence-structural-damage-cracks-insurance-claim-12791-view-article.html

Go Back to Best French Campsites

Friday, 13 May 2011

New Road Safety Measures in France

As a result of an increase in road deaths seen so far this year on French roads (an increase of 20% in April and more than 10% overall since the start of the year), the French government has decided to tighten up on road safety and appears to have introduced the following measures. (from my translations of French websites - please correct me if I am wrong !) If you are planning on driving in France this summer then its important to be aware of these as they may affect you. The most severe sanctions are against alcohol and speeding, 

Using a cell phone while driving will be penalised and if you are caught holding a cell phone and using it while driving will now mean you get 3 points on your license instead of 2 points.
Drink-driving will be severely punished due to its being responsible for many traffic accidents. If a driver is arrested with a blood alcohol above 0.8 g / l, 8 points will be put onto their driver's license, currently it is 6 points. The alcohol limit is also to be lowered I believe to 0.2 g / liter. So basically avoid drinking if you plan to drive.

Fixed Speed camera position will now not be publicised on roadside signs and detection radars are to be banned in cars. I believe this excludes the type that is integral to a sat nav or gps system though. However any radar equipment which is purely for speed camera detection is now banned and also banned from sale.
It will now be regarded as a crime if break the speed limit in a 50 km/h limit zone.

Reference : http://www.tf1.fr/auto-moto/actualite/securite-routiere-nouvelles-mesures-et-plus-de-sanctions-6451188.html

Update at 25th May 2011 : Confusion reigns about whether to remove the speed camera/radar warning signs from the roadsides in France. A number have already been removed. However they often have the effect of acting as traffic calming measures although I am sure we all know how drivers slow down when they see these signs !

Go Back to Best French Campsites

Monday, 9 May 2011

Tickets for France tourist attractions and Groupon too - Good websites to follow

I found a couple of interesting websites this week which might be worth investigating if you are looking for holiday bargains.

First of all there is a ticket observer website http://www.ticketobserver.fr/ which might find you some deals on tickets for tourist attractions in France. It might also give you some ideas of places to visit near where you are camping.

And the other website I found is the French Groupon site http://www.groupon.fr/  I follow this in the UK and have managed to get some deals for restaurant meals. You have to follow a particular city so I imagine you could follow the city near where you are planning to go on holiday. I have done this for France and it came up straight away with a farm visit and also an F1 simulator experience near where we are going on holiday as well as a deal for a weekend at a Gite - so could be worth trying out.

Has anyone got any experiences of these sites - either good or bad to let us know about ? Or any other useful sites to recommend ?

Go Back to Best French Campsites