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Parking ticket in France: advice


spospe

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We are back from a tour of France in our motorcaravan and during this visit; we got a parking ticket from the local Police Municipal, in Sts Maries de la Mere.

 

The circumstances were that we had parked in an area of a quiet road, which was prohibited to motorcaravans (this was not obvious at the time) and when we arrived back at the ‘van, a Police officer was writing out a ticket. I asked him what the problem was and he said that motorcaravans were not permitted to park in this particular location. I asked him why not and he said that it was due to a local ordinance dating from 1999 and that I should park in a specific area at the entrance to the village. All this time he was still writing out the ticket and when he had finished, he made a pantomime of placing it under the passenger windscreen wiper before telling me that I could pay the fine (€11) at the Police station in the village centre.

 

We walked to the tourist office and asked the very nice lady there what we should do. She said that given that the amount was only €11, she did not think that Interpol would get involved and that we should throw it away!

 

As the cost of the fine was so low and being good law-abiding citizens of the UK we walked round to the station and paid.

 

Two questions for the knowledgeable members of the Forum.

 

1) If I had driven off before the ticket was placed under the windscreen wiper blade, would I have escaped all consequences?

 

2) If I had simply thrown the ticket away (as suggested) would I have escaped all consequences?

 

 

 

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In answer to both your questions I would suggest NO would be the best answer, whether or not they followed up on the fine through the DVLA etc is probably questionable but I still think the answer to your question is NO as they do have the ability to follow up on outstanding crimes/fines.

 

 

 

 

spospe - 2008-11-19 6:28 PM

 

We are back from a tour of France in our motorcaravan and during this visit; we got a parking ticket from the local Police Municipal, in Sts Maries de la Mere.

 

The circumstances were that we had parked in an area of a quiet road, which was prohibited to motorcaravans (this was not obvious at the time) and when we arrived back at the ‘van, a Police officer was writing out a ticket. I asked him what the problem was and he said that motorcaravans were not permitted to park in this particular location. I asked him why not and he said that it was due to a local ordinance dating from 1999 and that I should park in a specific area at the entrance to the village. All this time he was still writing out the ticket and when he had finished, he made a pantomime of placing it under the passenger windscreen wiper before telling me that I could pay the fine (€11) at the Police station in the village centre.

 

We walked to the tourist office and asked the very nice lady there what we should do. She said that given that the amount was only €11, she did not think that Interpol would get involved and that we should throw it away!

 

As the cost of the fine was so low and being good law-abiding citizens of the UK we walked round to the station and paid.

 

Two questions for the knowledgeable members of the Forum.

 

1) If I had driven off before the ticket was placed under the windscreen wiper blade, would I have escaped all consequences?

 

2) If I had simply thrown the ticket away (as suggested) would I have escaped all consequences?

 

 

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For such a small amount why would you want to risk any consequences ?

 

I would say it was just a bit of bad luck, and a fair cop. Best to obey the laws in any countries you visit, as far as possible, and put this kind of thing down to experience.

 

 

 

:-(

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I agree - for the sake of nine quid best to pay up and smile and at least when you go back to France you will know two things.

 

1} Monsieur Plod will not be waiting at the port for you to appear, and,

 

2] Look out more effectively for no parking signs!

 

Back in the sixties when I worked in London and parking tickets were an occupational hazzard, yes, even then, the rule was that once the warden had started writing the ticket he had to complete it.

 

On the other hand according to folk lore there was no rule that said you had to wait around for him to finish so on more occasion than one I simply drove off and left him writing - never did get a ticket from so doing but I don't to this day know whether I broke the law or not. I may have been a bit of a rebel in them days but I've mellowed just a bit now!

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bob b - 2008-11-19 8:02 PM

I was also under the impression that the UK has agreed to trace and enforce tickets received in European countries.

I am sure that you are correct but I am sure I read recently that this will be enforced in the future (2009?) but not just yet.
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Thanks for the feedback, I agree that the amount was trivial, but that did not stop me from wondering about the possible consequences of either driving off, or binning the ticket.

 

As previously stated we paid up at the Police Station and the nice lady officer tried to chrge us €33 instead of the ticket fine of €11 (a sort of 'additional 'French' tax?).

 

The no parking sign, which we did not see until the policeman pointed it out to us, only applied to motorcaravans (not cars) and was unusual in that it was not graphical, but written. It said (in translation) something like "vehicles equipped for sleeping are not allowed to park here"

 

If you visit Stes Maries de la Mere, look out!

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spospe - 2008-11-19 10:52 PM

 

Thanks for the feedback, I agree that the amount was trivial, but that did not stop me from wondering about the possible consequences of either driving off, or binning the ticket.

 

As previously stated we paid up at the Police Station and the nice lady officer tried to chrge us €33 instead of the ticket fine of €11 (a sort of 'additional 'French' tax?).

 

The no parking sign, which we did not see until the policeman pointed it out to us, only applied to motorcaravans (not cars) and was unusual in that it was not graphical, but written. It said (in translation) something like "vehicles equipped for sleeping are not allowed to park here"

 

If you visit Stes Maries de la Mere, look out!

 

With regards to the attempt to charge you another 33€, I was very surprised that you were only fined 11€ as French fines are usually much more than that.

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Tread carefully!

 

Recently all european motoring offences have been taken up by contract through UK bailiffs. They charge them for 'finding and informing you'. These can be parking fines, speed camera offences etc. The argument is that on many occasions the rules are not clearly stated anywhere in the street.

 

It would appear that in many countries, that is of no importance! It has been gather from numerous and growing reports that they actually take 'local knowledge' as being far more important that putting up signs for us tourists, and have no sympathey when we fall foul!

 

For the cost of it, throw it in the post as registered, trackable delivery and then it is done! If it really bothers you, give it in GBP so they have to convert the currency!! lol!

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The forum is full of threads complaining about Johnny foreigner not paying road tax or getting away with paying fines, and yet there were still 1 or 2 suggestions that you "bin the ticket and forget about it."

 

No doubt the French police are as sick of British drivers ignoring fixed penalty notices, as our police are of foreign drivers. This will prompt them to issue even more, and probably in circumstances when they would not usually have bothered.

 

But in response to your original questions.......

 

1. He would have probably shot you.

 

2. I doubt it, but would you risk it for such a trivial amount.

 

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Many years PM (Pre-Motorcaravanning) we visited Honfleur in our car.

 

It was winter and the weather was awful. We stopped in a large, near-empty car-park, where ours was clearly the only UK-registered vehicle, and walked into the town for a brief sight-see.

 

When we arrived back, beneath our car's windscreen-wiper was a half-sodden envelope containing a notification that a fine of 10 francs had been imposed for not displaying the appropriate 'ticket' and this sum should be taken, or posted, to the Honfleur mairie.

 

No registration-number was stated on the envelope or fine-notification, so I looked for the most expensive car in the car-park (a large Mercedes if I remember correctly) and stuck the envelope under that vehicle's wiper-blade. Then we hightailed rapidly out of Honfleur and have never been back.

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If you'd been French, you'd probably have pointed out to the officer that the restriction was itself illegal, as has been spelt out numerous times in "Camping-Car" and "Le Monde du Camping-Car."

Under French law, unlike our own, a "camping-car" is a CAR, and it can park anywhere a car can park, as long as it doesn't have any external extensions (awning, corner steadies, furniture etc). Furthermore, in French law what you do inside your legally-parked van is no business of the authorities (I'm talking about cooking and sleeping - what minds you've all got!).

Of course, that doesn't stop some French local authorities, perhaps fed up with abuses of their hospitality, from putting signs up banning motorhomes, and even collecting the fines, but they'd be overturned on appeal.

However, see my first four words, and Donna's "no.1." There's no way I'd be arguing with a GendARMe!

 

Tony

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Regarding what Tony Jones said about Camping Cars being regarded as cars in France.

 

There were ordinary cars parked in the street where we got the ticket and they were not fined.

 

The Policeman did say specifically that there was a local ordinance dating from (I think) 1999 stating that "vehicles equipped for sleeping are not allowed to park here", but this was a written sign and there was no picture of a Camping Car with a red line through it.

 

OK, I have got it all off my chest now, but I was sore at the time!

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Brian Kirby - 2008-11-20 1:49 PM

 

Yes but, as Tony correctly says, the local statute - probably introduced by the Mayor - is, in itself, illegal, and has no basis in law.

 

Brian I am not sure whether I am correct or not but as far as I know any local statute is law in that area i.e. in the statute book like our Bye-laws and if the local mayor signed it then remember he is next to God in the French hierarchy and only just behind the President.

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donna miller - 2008-11-20 3:41 PM
Brian Kirby - 2008-11-20 1:49 PM Yes but, as Tony correctly says, the local statute - probably introduced by the Mayor - is, in itself, illegal, and has no basis in law.
Try telling that to Boris Johnson.

Well, yes Donna, and although a lot of Southern England (or at least our services) seems to have been bought by the French, London, so far as I know is still British and so not yet subject to French law.  :-)

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spospe - 2008-11-20 2:22 PM I hear what you said Brian, can I ask you what you would have done in my circumstances?

There is no question that you should, in the first place, pay.  The officer is carrying out his duty, as instructed, and will not be in a position to let you off if you wish to challenge the local restriction.  Since the charge was relatively small, I'd probably have done what you did, and gone on my way grumbling.

However, the type of parking restriction that can, legally, be imposed by local Mayors is limited.  They can restrict parking where it might impede circulation.  They can restrict parking on market days.  They can restrict the time/s that vehicles are allowed to park - in the absence of restriction defined by statute as limited to 7 days.  They can restrict the parking of categories of vehicles (remember, a motorhome [camping-car in France] is categorised as a private car) on grounds of nuisance or unreasonable risk, or on grounds of size (length, height and/or width may be cited) or weight.  However, restrictions aimed a camping-cars alone are deemed discriminatory, and so illegal.  How this might play would inevitably depend on the exact circumstances, the actual wording used, and whether there were other restrictions on the same notice that would equally have excluded your vehicle (for example a size restriction). 

If you still have your ticket, and a picture of the parking restriction notice, and provided you feel strongly enough, you could try sending both to the Mayor challenging him to show the legality of his restriction and how it is not discriminatory.  However, life is for living, so I guess I wouldn't bother!

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