Gazole pump close up

When you pick up your motorhome (campervan), you should get a briefing on how to correctly fill it up with diesel and water. You’ll also be taught how to empty your septic and grey water tanks and get shown where to find the LPG tanks should you need to refill or replace them.

Here are a couple of tips that we learnt on filling up your motorhome.

1. Diesel = ‘Gazole’

Gazole pump handleDepending on where you are travelling in Europe, the gas stations will use different terms for diesel fuel. In Belgium, Denmark, the UK and elsewhere (eg. Canada, Australia and New Zealand), pumps at gas stations will use diesel terminology. But in France, you’ll need to look for the ‘Gazole’ pump. It’s still standard diesel fuel – and that’s the stuff you put into your motorhome. (More info:

2. Paying for fuel in France

credit card machineBy far the quickest and easiest way to pay for fuel in France is with your chip-enabled credit/debit card. Make sure you have (and remember!) your PIN code. Many places can’t process your credit cards with signature verification.

3. Gas station services

Rest AreaEuropean service stations are excellent. On the major freeways in France, you’ll find huge gas stations many of which have motorhome service areas where you can refill your water tanks and empty your septic tanks.

4. A note on septic and grey water tanks

You can also empty your septic/grey water tanks at some ‘Aires’ (ie, Rest Stops/Rest Areas).

In our experience, septic tanks are best kept less than two-thirds full. With all the driving in the high mountains, it doesn’t take long for full tanks to start ‘burping’ some pretty nasty smells – it’s much better to dump your tanks before you go anywhere near steep and twisty roads!

If you’re new to motorhome septic tanks, check out the embedded video for a quick crash course on preparing and emptying your tank. Your motorhome rental company should provide you with the necessary chemicals to turn your waste into a (relatively) pleasant smelling slurry.

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