Cars, ferries and a sneaky festival stopover

Got a carload of belongings to transport back to the UK? Why not hire a car, drive for six hours, go to a three day festival, drive another six hours or so, take a ferry to England and then another to bring the car back? Doesn’t sound like a good idea to you, well surprisingly, I can tell you that it is.

The first hurdle was getting a car pass for the Ecusson but this turned out to be pretty easy. All you need is proof of your address in the form of a Justicatif ie a bill or the rental agreement. Or, in my case, a piece of junk mail from Orange seemed to be perfectly adequate. You’ll find the Aire Piétonne office at 19 -21 Rue Durand and the people there are really helpful and friendly. Just tell them it’s for déménagement and bingo you have a free pass for any car.

Now to hire the car, we used Hertz as they’re based near Gare St Roch and have reasonable rates. The staff there speak both English and French, which can be handy if you don’t have the necessary specialist vocabulary.

Next step, negotiate the one-way system of the Ecusson using Google maps, show your piece of paper to the camera at the entrance by the Prefecture, pack up the car, find the nearest exit out of the Ecusson, not as easy as it may sound, and you’re on your way.

The drive to Les Eurockéennes was largely drama free until a stray piece of gravel hit the windscreen causing a steadily growing crack to form in its corner. After a frantic phone call to the Hertz emergency number, thankfully in English, we were told not to worry it was perfectly safe to continue driving. In the end the crack reached the full half of the windscreen and was probably highly illegal, but nobody stopped us. If they had, they probably would have been more concerned about the lack of éthylotests (breathalysers) as these are now required by French law. We would recommend you buy your own, they are available in the supermarkets, to avoid the fine and a probably very confused conversation with the police.

Finally we reach the festival, spend three days being baked by the sun and wading in mud in turn and return to the car to find our belongings still intact. Hooray! Now all we have to do is get them to the ferry, unpack in England and then bring the car back to France. Sadly, it costs a lot more to drop it back on English soil. So there ends my story, watch this space for details of how to drive on the wrong side of the road and other useful tips.

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