Motorists urged to fill up before heading to France

Motorists heading to France for the bank holiday are being urged to fill their tanks before leaving the UK and "accept delays and rationing" due to fuel shortages.

Drivers in France should try to top up regularly and drive as efficiently as possible once they cross the Channel, the RAC said.

A dispute over labour reforms has led to blockades in towns and cities, and on motorways and bridges, prompting the fuel shortage.

Cars queue near a poster that reads Fuel Shortage in northern France (AP)

Cars queue near a poster that reads Fuel Shortage in northern France (AP)

"People will have spent a lot of money on holidays so they will naturally be very reluctant to cancel their trips," RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said.

"The best advice is to make sure you have a full tank before you cross to France. Ideally, you should have enough fuel to get you comfortably to your destination."

Thousands are expected to head across the Channel this weekend despite the risk of being stranded.

Mr Williams went on: "I t's vital you go in search of fuel well before you need it and accept delays and rationing.

"Motorists should also know how far a fuel tank will take them at their vehicle's average fuel economy, and drive fuel efficiently at all times by not accelerating too harshly and maintaining a steady speed wherever possible."

Motorists are being advised to check the website, which indicates the availability of fuel in each region.

Many UK holidaymakers normally wait to fill up until they have crossed the Channel, because petrol and diesel is cheaper in France.

But AA president Edmund King said around a third of France's filling stations have run dry of one or more fuel products.

He added: "About a third of the calls to our Lyon contact centre relate to fuel difficulties. Most members are looking for advice on where they can fill up and we are advising them of forecourts where we know there are supplies at that time.

"We are also assisting members in serious difficulty as a result of the industrial action in France that has led to approximately one third of garages running dry. "

Breakdown recovery firm Green Flag said on Thursday that it was experiencing a 14% rise in the number of its UK customers reporting fuel-related breakdowns in France.

A spokesman for P&O ferries said its passengers are allowed to take five litres of spare fuel on board in an approved container.

He described the fuel situation in France as "continuing to improve" and "relatively trouble-free".

Brittany Ferries issued a statement which claimed "there is now almost no rationing at the pump". Its customers are banned from travelling with petrol cans "for safety reasons" but five-litre diesel containers are being accepted.

Speaking about the fuel shortages in France, the French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann said: " We are doing everything in fact to press through the reforms in France and that's the reason it's difficult for the time being."

She said that with the forthcoming Euro 2016 football tournament, the country was doing "everything possible" to ease travel problems.

"I think you can travel, obviously, but if you can have some fuel before that, maybe it's better," she added.

"The economic situation is much better than it was but unfortunately the people are reacting against any kind of reforms.

"I hope we resolve that soon and of course the British will always be welcome in France."

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