Driving In France

Every country has its own regulations and driving practices. Driving in France will be made easier if you are aware of the common practices and the basic legal requirements described below.

Complete with 950,000 kilometers (600,000 miles) of well maintained roads, including 11,000 km (6,800 miles) of motorways, France has one of Europe's busiest and most efficient road networks, offering excellent connections to the rest of Western Europe.

The French are notorious for their fast driving and you will need to pay some extra attention particularly in and around Paris. Driving on the right hand side of the road also calls for extra concentration, particularly when you are pulling away from a parking space or petrol station but it is surprising how quickly British drivers adapt to this change.

Below are some tips that will help you drive safely and legally in France:

  • It is illegal to drive with side lights on, so you will need to have lights switched on in all poor visibility.
  • Headlamp converter stickers are compulsory.
  • Warning triangles must be placed on the road 30 metres behind a broken down vehicle.
  • Identifying roads: Motorways are prefixed by the letter “A” and national roads with the letter “N”. “D” roads are minor roads that are yellow on the roadmaps.
  • Parking laws are strict, particularly in large cities, and you could be fined on the spot or have your car towed away if you park in the wrong place. Many towns have pay-and-display machines, with free parking often between noon and 13:30 hrs. Parking is also normally free of charge from 19.00 – 09.00 hrs and on weekends, public holidays and the month of August.
  • Speed limit: Motorways, 130kph. Towns, 50kph. Major roads, 110kph.
  • Speeding is subject to on the spot fines.
  • Drink driving is heavily penalised. The limit is 50mg blood/alcohol level. Your license will be taken off you immediately and you could face fines of up to 30,000ff and 2 years in jail.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory in the front and back of your car, while children under 10 must travel in the back.
  • Motorbike helmets must be worn for mopeds and motorcycles and stiff fines are enforced for non-compliance
  • The minimum driving age is 18 years old
  • Documentation required: You will need an international driver’s license, insurance certificate (Green Card), registration document and car ownership papers to drive in France
  • If you have an accident involving another driver, you will need to note down the registration number of the other vehicle then go with the other driver to find a policeman, who will complete a police report in triplicate for presentation to the insurance company.
  • Emergency telephone numbers for incidents on the road: Police/Ambulance, 17. Fire, 18.

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