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Any advice for driving through Europe?

We're travelling to France in September on a motoring holiday in a MINI Countryman Cooper D. We'll be travelling into Northern Italy and possibly Switzerland. What advice can you give us about motoring in Europe?

Martin Moroney (Dublin)

May 2016 Filed under: miscellaneous

Expert answer

Hi Martin,

Sounds like a lovely trip you have planned. First thing I suggest is check out the AA website and have a look at the items you are required to have in your car for each country. If you have a satnav system capable of displaying speed camera locations, then you must at least disable camera alerts.

Paris and Milan have low emission zones and road charging schemes in place and these apply to foreign registered vehicles too. So make sure you know your car's emissions rating and if you have to register your car to pay a congestion charge. All this info can be found on But, to be honest, it is much better to park and ride into the big cities as parking can be a hard to find and the parking rules and regulations difficult to interpret, and we won't even mention the cost.

Also, you will have to pay toll charges in France and Italy, and you can usually pay for these with a credit card or sometimes cash, but not all tolls accept cash. Check out the tolls in France on the ASFA website and the Italian tolls on Tolls are also charged in Switzerland, but you buy a sticker at the border that costs 40 Swiss Francs. Yes, Francs! Make sure you have Swiss Francs as they don't take Euros.

Apart from that, remember to always give way to the right and try to adapt your driving style to that of the locals, as scary as that may seem, especially if you drive in Paris!

Get satnav and make sure the maps are up to date and also buy a good road map. It is a great backup, especially if something happens to the satnav.

Also, try get off the motorways and drive on smaller, more scenic roads. There are some terrific driving routes in France, Italy and Switzerland. Make sure you find them and enjoy them and take lots of breaks to take photos and enjoy the surrounds. Bon voyage.

Melanie May - Complete Car Advisor

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