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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This summer we will be towing a Smart car behind our 7.5m motorhome on a trailer mainly in France, Italy and Spain. How much more expensive is it towing a trailer on toll roads? Are there any pros and cons on non toll roads with trailer? All help and advice appreciated.

Any major problems experienced with stopovers/campsites? Any good advice on how to deal with this?
 

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We tow our Smart on a trailer behind our Frankia when we go down to Portugal for our winter break. We have never had any problems, and don't pay anymore at the tolls. Well I am pretty sure we don't!
We always stop at the same campsites on the way and are lucky enough not to have to unhitch.
Good luck
Ken
 

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We spent 3 months last Autumn touring France and Italy towing a Smartie on a trailer behind our Burstner Elegance A class. As far as I can recall we never paid any additional tolls for the trailer. No problems with towing at all on main roads, minor roads or autoroutes, however a reversing camera which can be switched on at all times meant that I could check on the car and trailer at any time when driving.

We used a variety of sites (official camp sites both private and municipal, aires, France Passion sites, Greenstop 24 sites, etc) and never had any problems at all with the Smartie/trailer. For the aires I used the "campingcar.infos" cd which has comments and in many cases photos of the aires so that I could check whether they looked large enough to take the trailer as well.

Hope this reassures you.
Tony
 

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Very useful thread for us as we're about to (end of June to mid-Sep) tour France and parts of Germany (Black Forest, Rhineland) towing a Smart on a trailer behind a 7m motorhome. We're relative newbies and this will be our first foreign tour towing the Smart. In general we hope to avoid autoroutes with tolls as we will have a very leisurely schedule and this will save money. In the same spirit we hope to use Aires, France Passion locations and Stellplatz quite a lot. Our timescale includes the mid-July to mid-August "high season" - most or all of that will be in remoter parts of France (we intend to avoid the most popular areas and haven't booked anything at all except the ferries!). By the time we reach Germany places should be less busy we hope!

Any advice is very welcome including Germany as well as France. How are trailed cars regarded in Germany in terms of campsites and Stellplatz? Is there likely to be a problem parking trailer and car and do campsites generally charge more if you are trailing behind a motorhome?

Roger
 

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Would love to know how you get on, we have a smart car that we want to tow and our motorhome is approx the same size 23 or 24 ft not sure.

I will watch your posts with intrest
Thanks
Jakki :D
 

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In the same spirit we hope to use Aires, France Passion locations and Stellplatz quite a lot. Our timescale includes the mid-July to mid-August "high season"
Rodger, you will be very unpopular with your outfit on the French Aires and German Stellplatz at any time of the year, in high season i doubt very much if you will able to do it at all.

The Aires system do not usually allow you to have more than one place so even if you leave the car on the trailer you would still require two places (bays)

You would be to long overall if you left the trailer hooked up too the m/h.

There are a very few Aires than do not have selective bays just wide open spaces so one can park anywhere, search the mhf database for such places, I could recommend a couple but I do not know your intended routes.

Anyone with a tag axle m/h in excess of 3mts high and a trailer you most certainly will be charged Class 4 on the French Autoroutes (the highest rate)
 

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We have never had any problems with a 7m motorhome and Smartie on trailer anywhere, including the many French aires we have stayed at. Admittedly we choose very carefully and, as mentioned earlier, try to view photos or at least look at as many comments as we can about any aires before we arrive. We avoid any that look too small for us or have delineated parking spaces.

Fortunately we speak fluent French, having lived and worked there for a few years, and we always strike up conversations with the other users of the aires. We have always been made to feel welcome and at no time has anybody ever complained about the trailer or the size of our outfit. Just make sure that you park up as sympathetically as possible for the other motorhomers.

In over 2 years of taking our Smartie with us we have only ever been charged extra on 2 sites - 1 in the UK and 1 in France. Regarding Germany I cannot comment as we have not trailed the Smartie there yet.

Provided you treat others with the respect that you would expect to receive yourselves you will have no problem whatsoever with your outfit.

Hope this helps to convince you that all will be OK!

Tony
 

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Hmmm! This is interesting as the last two posts seem to provide conflicting advice at least in relation to France.

Leaving the Smart behind isn't an option - we basically bought it for use on extensive tours like this and we're just not into taking a 7m MH on narrow mountain roads or into smaller towns and villages. Not going in high season isn't an option either this year as my wife teaches - but she's retiring at the end of June so next year we'll be going in Apr - Jun rather than Jul - Sep! :D

So it looks as if we'll have to be "creative" :wink: - I speak quite good French and have never had a problem conversing but I speak minimal German (kleine Deutsch???) - zwei biers bitte is about the extent of it! 8O

By the time we reach Germany the highest of the high season should be over but I'm slightly alarmed that if we're trailing we may not be welcome at any time! 8O But if that really turns out to be the case, the French border will not be far to the west of us! :roll:

Thanks to both contributors anyway for your advice even if it seems to be rather different and so leaves me :?

Roger
 

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Rodger, whilst I agree with some of Tony's comments its not impossible to take your trailer but as said you will have to be very selective in where you park especially in High Season. Also being fluent in French is a great advantage

If you search the database try and avoid places like this, Veules Les Roses (76) (ID:730) or this, St Valery En Caux dept 76 (ID:93) but then this one at Chateau-Gontier (ID:3351) across the river in the meat market car park is great with masses of space, its safe (with the usual precautions) (read my review). Research is the clue to a trouble free trip.

Likewise in Germany, you will have to plan your stops at the Stellplatz with care as you can get into all kinds of problems if you end up in a narrow road or car park with no room for manoeuvring, and yes I know you can remove the trailer and turn around if this happens, but its best avoided if possible.

It is illegal for the German m/homers to use the toad system at present, they have to use a trailer so you may get a more sympathetic view from the Germans.

Do not be put off with your intentions you will have a great time and of course you will then have an idea of what can and cannot be done for next year when your trip will not involve the High Season.

Safe travelling.
 

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snap

Hi
Rodger
WE have the same setup as you e560 & smart , you obviously have impeccable taste lol. What colour is smart ...no surely not silver cabriolet too!
We tend to do cheap sites in France and Italy. Don't use automatic peages and you never get charged extra!
We are off to Finistere Brittany this year. I am fluent in French and not bad in German so don't have any probs there.
All the best
Barry
 

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Re: snap

Bessie560 said:
Hi
Rodger
WE have the same setup as you e560 & smart , you obviously have impeccable taste lol. What colour is smart ...no surely not silver cabriolet too!
We tend to do cheap sites in France and Italy. Don't use automatic peages and you never get charged extra!
We are off to Finistere Brittany this year. I am fluent in French and not bad in German so don't have any probs there.
All the best
Barry
Hi just looking at http://www.becksmotorhomes.com/vehicle/2008-bessacarr-e560/ and the MH is more or less identical inside to our bolero..........I just wondered how you get on weight wise with towing the smart car ? as again it looks as if we have the same payload etc.
 

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Re: snap

Bessie560 said:
Hi
Rodger
WE have the same setup as you e560 & smart , you obviously have impeccable taste lol. What colour is smart ...no surely not silver cabriolet too!
We tend to do cheap sites in France and Italy. Don't use automatic peages and you never get charged extra!
We are off to Finistere Brittany this year. I am fluent in French and not bad in German so don't have any probs there.
All the best
Barry
Hi Barry, we met at Pickering last year (drinks beneath your awning :D )- also we had our towbar fitted at Hedleys on your recommendation.
Perhaps you remember us (Marian & Roger)?

The Smartie is metallic blue with gloss black tridion panels and is a cabrio - we love it especially with the roof down when the sun shines (not often here! :( )

I must admit that wg is putting us off our original strategy a bit. Quick research since yesterday shows a lot of aires to be none-too-practical for parking a trailer + the MH. The real problem is the high season - in France mid-Jul to mid-Aug - research also shows many campsites unavailable in that period even in places like the Cantal or Aveyron (hardly holiday hotspots I'd have thought). So we're scratching our heads a bit! 8O

Have you done France with the Smartie in tow in high season and if so how did you get on. Any particular tips or recommendations?

Roger
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well thank you all so much for all this information, it's really useful. Seems like nothing is impossible if you plan ahead. We also have a silver Smart cabriolet - are we all trying to recapture our youth!!!! We are new to this forum but the information on it is absolutely great and I am spending lots of time reading all of it. I hope we will meet up with some of you lot on our journeys.
Can't work out how to get the smiley faces on here but the intention is there.
 

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Hi

Hi
Oh its you! Nice to hear from you again! Enjoyed our last meet!
In our experience you will have no bother finding sites even in the high season as long as you arrive by say 3pm. If you are going to Aveyron, you MUST go to Najac and you absolutely MUST MUST go to the wine festival at Gaillac (Ist week in August). Why not camp there too (municipal site) 20 minutes staggering from the festival. On the way down there you might consider stopping off at heaven on earth!!!!!!!!!!! http://st-rome-de-dolan.com/fr/camping.htm
Obviously if you want the Alain Rodgers sites teaming with kids you might have probs but if you use the michelin Camping guide it gives the campsite websites and phone numbers so you can phone ahead anyway, but I have NEVER been unable to find a space. I'm also thinking of French passion (but don't tell the wife)sites this year!
All the best
Barry (and Lynda)
 

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Payload

Hi
I have a trailer custom built for a smart by Hedleys of Durham. It is built like a brick outhouse and doesn't have the nice holes cut out to save weight like some I've seen + has a solid floor so is very heavy even to move about empty. Yet even fully laden van manages admirably only slowing on long uphill motorway sections. I have set the speedo beep at 60 cos I find it difficult to keep the speed down. I get the same mileage towing as without as i'm going slower ie around 25 mpg.
I hate reversing and am totally useless apart from that no probs
Barry
 

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Re: snap

Briarose said:
Hi just looking at http://www.becksmotorhomes.com/vehicle/2008-bessacarr-e560/ and the MH is more or less identical inside to our bolero..........I just wondered how you get on weight wise with towing the smart car ? as again it looks as if we have the same payload etc.
Yes the Swift Bolero 680FB and the Bessacarr E560 are almost exactly the same van. Note that we also have the 3 litre 160MJ engine with the comfortmatic box; also have retrofitted the underslung spare wheel (now reinstated by Swift) and we have the option pack with the microwave etc. included - all of this reduces payload further from a not-very-generous starting point! :(

We tow the Smart on a Brian James Micromax 4m long trailer with pull-out ramps. The car is within the trailer payload and the car+trailer+laden mh is within the gross train weight of the mh. With the outfit coupled up the towball loading (trailer nose weight) is 20Kg. With care in packing the mh, 25% full fresh water, empty waste tank, full diesel, driver+passenger (me + OH) and tools carried in the boot of the Smart, the uncoupled mh weighs at 3460Kg (40Kg below MTPLM) with both axles within loading limits. Coupling the trailer therefore increases the mh loading to 3480Kg (20Kg below MTPLM) - as already stated the total outfit weight is well below GTW and the trailer is also well within its limits. The most marginal aspect in the mh loading itself, especially with the trailer hitched - 20Kg isn't much of a margin for error, is it? These figures were obtained by 6 separate weighings on a local weighbridge to determine the various component loadings. As you can see, we take this a bit seriously! 8O

Like I said, we have to be very careful - we allow for 4 bottles of wine at any time and are VERY economic with clothing - lots of washing (of the clothes and ourselves!!! :D ). The biggest problem is paperwork - all these damn campsite guides etc that are encyclopaedic tomes :roll: - why can't the publishers put more of this stuff on DVDs? Yes we carry a laptop and that's included in the weighings of course. We don't have a "privacy room" or sat TV or habitation aircon etc etc. - any one of those would certainly put us overweight and we don't miss any of them. All our other kit is chosen to be lightweight where possible (can be more expensive and NO real china or glass). It helps that we both weigh within the 75Kg standard (only just in my case! :wink: ).

Yes, limited payload is an important factor on these vans and may put off some buyers, but towing the Smart (in our case) only adds 20Kg to the MH weight (in effect). And it tows superbly - nicely balanced - you wouldn't know it was there.

Hope this helps,

Roger
 

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Has anyone read the article in the May issue of MMM page 11/12 titled trailers in Portugal. The driver of a uk m/h was given an on the spot 600 euro fine because his trailer [ under 750 kg ] was not legal in Portugal.He paid the fine and has now written to his MPE and is fighting to get his money back .The MPE has confirmed that his trailer was legal as it was on a UK registered vehicle and the EU directive 1997/37/EC has been quoted.
Given the above case and many others I have decieded to always carry a copy of all EC directives concerning such matters on board, that way you can argue your case and proof it on the spot.It is no good trying to explain to pc plod the law on these matters if you do not have the means to proof it and as they are rready to issue a fine then they clearly have little knowledge of EU law.
 

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phil4francoise said:
Has anyone read the article in the May issue of MMM page 11/12 titled trailers in Portugal. The driver of a uk m/h was given an on the spot 600 euro fine because his trailer [ under 750 kg ] was not legal in Portugal.He paid the fine and has now written to his MPE and is fighting to get his money back .The MPE has confirmed that his trailer was legal as it was on a UK registered vehicle and the EU directive 1997/37/EC has been quoted.
Given the above case and many others I have decieded to always carry a copy of all EC directives concerning such matters on board, that way you can argue your case and proof it on the spot.It is no good trying to explain to pc plod the law on these matters if you do not have the means to proof it and as they are ready to issue a fine then they clearly have little knowledge of EU law.
 

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Just to add to my previous posting about never having had any problems using French aires with a trailer. Of course what I should have added are that our trips tend to be out of high season so there could be issues in high season. However with careful planning and selection of aires (I try to select those that are listed as having more than 10 or so places) I still don't think that you should have too many problems. I found the French campingcar infos CD, which is updated every 3 months particularly useful as it has lots of photos and comments (mainly in French but some in English). As I recall the website is something like campingcar_infos.com (a Google search should bring it up) and you can then order the CD using their website for delivery to your UK address.
Tony
 

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Re: Hi

Bessie560 said:
Hi
Oh its you! Nice to hear from you again! Enjoyed our last meet!
In our experience you will have no bother finding sites even in the high season as long as you arrive by say 3pm. If you are going to Aveyron, you MUST go to Najac and you absolutely MUST MUST go to the wine festival at Gaillac (Ist week in August). Why not camp there too (municipal site) 20 minutes staggering from the festival. On the way down there you might consider stopping off at heaven on earth!!!!!!!!!!! http://st-rome-de-dolan.com/fr/camping.htm
Obviously if you want the Alain Rodgers sites teaming with kids you might have probs but if you use the michelin Camping guide it gives the campsite websites and phone numbers so you can phone ahead anyway, but I have NEVER been unable to find a space. I'm also thinking of French passion (but don't tell the wife)sites this year!
All the best
Barry (and Lynda)
Hi Barry and Lynda - we enjoyed meeting you at Pickering too. Thanks very much for the advice - we think the Aveyron is a great area and rather less crowded (we hope!) even in high season than the obvious hotspots. I'm a bit reassured by your reply, so thanks again! :D

Roger
 
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