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Photo of Desmond Lomas


Written by: Desmond Lomas

Recently, I was in Northern France for a few weeks to work on an international event. When the event was over, my wife joined me and we rented a car to enjoy some vacation time together. It was amazing and we would return in a heartbeat. If you, like me, have only been to Europe a few times I hope you’ll get value out of my Top Five Tips for European travel.

1. Rules of the Road: Be prepared and know the traffic rules before you take to the road.  You can’t turn right on a red light in France. Seriously … and this is enforced. There is a lot more use of photo radar and cameras than in North America. Finger’s crossed that no tickets find their way to me.

2. Look out: Watch out for bicycles, scooters and motorcycles … everywhere. I was warned about this in advance (thank you Brenda Howes) but you need to experience it to really understand.  In Amsterdam, bikes whiz through your blind spot constantly. In Paris, when cars are stuck in gridlock, motorcycles routinely weave quickly between the cars. It can be a little stressful.

3. Safety: As I write this blog from the comfort of my home, sadly there has been another terrorist act in Paris where a police officer lost their life.  We felt very safe in and around the major landmarks in Paris. There were uniformed police officers, military patrols and plainclothes police officers were everywhere. However, you should take extra care in the higher numbered arrondissements where there is less police presence. The criminal element feels more comfortable in these areas.

4. Credit Cards: You will notice that in some establishments when you pay with your credit card you have an option to pay in Canadian dollars instead of Euros. From what I have read, you are best to pay in Euros. If not you will be subject to an unknown exchange rate from the retailer.

5. Enjoy your journey: When you travel from city to city – if you have the time and the patience – limit your time on the busy freeways. You will discover beautiful small towns and chateaus that you can’t see from the freeway. You’ll also enjoy great food and truly local hospitality.

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