Wazing in and out to Paris…

I spent the last week of July in France and used Waze extensively to ensure we were going in the right direction and to the right place. Generally it worked fine, but I did have a few issues.

I do like Waze and I find that it is quite accurate in terms of arrival times, usually provides effective routing and I like the live traffic updates. I remember once it took me on what felt like a weird route out of Reading, but it took just ten minutes, whereas if I had taken the route I would have taken without Waze (as I didn’t know Reading very well) it would have taken at least thirty minutes. Waze took me down quieter less busy road, so I was out of Reading very quickly.

So I had used it already to get us down to the Eurotunnel Terminal and then after travelling on Le Shuttle to get us down to the campsite at La Croix Du Vieux Pont.

One quirk was that after taking us down lots of main roads, Waze then directed us down some very narrow country roads and lanes on the way to the campsite. I am not sure if this was faster, but was probably more direct. I did find driving down those roads a little nerve wracking, especially at the end of a rather long drive. However all was well in the end and we got to the campsite safely and in a reasonable timeframe.

I also used Waze to get us to Pierrefronds and back again, this time no issues.

So it was without any concern that I decided to use Waze to get a route to the outskirts of Paris. When we booked our holiday we thought it would be nice to visit Paris for the day. When I looked into this possibility at home, the obvious thing appeared to be, was to do the coach trip that the campsite put on, or catch the train. I didn’t really want to drive to Paris, as mainly we didn’t have the right pollution sticker (not enough time) and the thought of driving in Paris filled me with dread. However once at the campsite we found that due to Covid-19 that there wasn’t a coach trip running. As for the train, I did some internet searching and it looked like you needed to book tickets in advance. I then checked with the tourist information office on the campsite, they actually said not to catch the train, as Covid-19 was causing problems with the timetables. The office suggested we drive to the outskirts of Paris, park and catch the Metro into the centre of Paris.

This sounded like a practical plan. I programmed the car park, Q-Park Saint-Denis Université, into Waze the night before and all was fine.

The next morning we set off. Waze it was though was having none of it, and failed to set a route. I thought nothing of this, as I had been having a few 4G connectivity issues at the campsite and I thought once we got going and into an area with better connectivity, Waze would get sorted. On a visit to a nearby supermarket I had seen a road sign for Paris so we set off.

However despite getting better 4G reception, Waze was still failing to set a route. I think that the routing server was offline. So in the end as we approached Paris, we stopped and I changed to Google Maps to get us to that last leg to Saint-Denis Université. This worked fine, and I am glad I had directions, as I don’t think relying on road signs or even a map would have worked.

Having parked, we caught the Metro to the centre of Paris and made our way to Tour Eiffel.

This journey also demonstrated how much I have come to depend on Waze for getting to places (and back).

Interestingly, coming back from Paris, Waze was working fine!

Weak French Connection

Having recently gone on holiday I wasn’t that surprised to find, as I did the previous year, poor 4G speeds whilst on the campsite in France.

Over the last few months we thought we wouldn’t be going on holiday at all because of Covid-19 and the lockdown. We had thought about going away in the UK, we looked at York but it was proving expensive and things we wanted to do weren’t open. At the end of July we checked a few sites and found that we could book a Eurocamp holiday relatively cheaply, especially compared to the UK holidays we had been looking at. We did wonder about the impact of Covid-19, but the story in France appeared to be less risky than in the UK! So we booked the holiday and five days we were driving down to Folkestone to catch the Eurotunnel.

As we entered France, thank you EU roaming legislation as my Three account easily connected to a French network. I recovered the obligatory SMS from Three which stated that I could use my allowances in France as though I was in the UK. I have an unlmited calls, text and data plan, however I was limited to a 20GB limit on data. We were only in France for six days so I thought that should be okay.

We were staying at the La Croix Du Vieux Pont campsite and though the phone said I had a good 4G signal, alas the speeds were nothing to text home about.

In the morning the connection wasn’t too bad, but by early evening the connection was not just poor, but intermittent as well. I did an (unscientific) speed test and you can see I was struggling to get more than 3Mbps download speeds on 4G.

I am guessing partly that the issue was, we were in a somewhat rural location. When we visited Paris, though I didn’t use my phone much, I think the connection was much better (which was to be expected).

The campsite, in theory, had wifi, but this wasn’t very good either by our caravan. In the first half of the week we could connect to the wifi for free, but this was “fixed” by the second half, where we would have to pay. So we became dependent on the 4G connection.

This was critical towards the end of the holiday as we had to fill in an online UK government form before we got back to the UK. We did manage this, but using the connection for anything apart from e-mail or basic web browsing was out of the question.

It was interesting to see that we could get 4G in the Eurotunnel, I had assumed that this wouldn’t be possible, but it worked, partly because we had already switched and connected to the French mobile phone network, so we remained on that as we went through the tunnel.