Self-Drive Motoring holidays in France.


Tips on driving abroad in France. Motoring rules and regulations in France. French motoring laws.

Driving in France. French motoring laws.

Tips on driving abroad in France. Motoring rules and regulations in France.

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Make sure you Drive Alive! Drive on the right!

  • Be especially careful when setting off from service stations or restaurants on the left side of the road.

  • Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead.

  • Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent, with 400 additional fixed cameras installed early 2012. In France, anyone caught travelling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot. NEW RULES AS FROM JAN 3RD 2012: Radar speed camera detectors are illegal (including SatNav - see below) .

  • France has strict drink driving laws, blood alcohol levels being stricter than in the UK (0.5 mg/ml rather than 0.8). Rather than present you with meaningless figures relating to blood/breath alcohol levels, our advice is if you're driving, don't drink. NEW! From July 1st 2012 you must carry a breathalyser kit in the vehicle more....

  • Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere. 

  • Remember - Speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on-the-spot fines.

  • Be aware that urban speed limits begin at the town or city sign (not always where the first 50km/h sign is situated), usually denoted by a white name panel with a red border, and the limit ends where the name panel has a diagonal black bar through it.

  • When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signed otherwise.

A full UK driving licence is required. As in the UK, seat belts should be worn front and rear. Below are motoring regulations relating to France.

Take care in built-up areas where the old rule giving priority to traffic coming from the right (Priorité a droite) still applies unless a yellow diamond indicates you have priority. On roundabouts you generally give priority to traffic already on the roundabout, in other words, coming from your left as you enter the roundabout.

Speed Limits Motorway Open Road Dual Carriageway Town Alcohol mg/ml
France 130 km/h (110 when wet) 90 km/h (80 when wet) 110 (100 when wet) 50 km/h 0.5
vehicles towing trailers with combination gross weight over 3.5t 90 km/h 80 km/h 90 km/h 50 km/h  
Visiting motorists holding a licence for less than 2 years 110 km/h 80 km/h 100 km/h 50 km/h  

Children in cars: children under 10 are only allowed in the front seats if there are no rear seats or the rear seats are already fully occupied with children under 10, or there are no seat belts. If a child must travel in the front under the above circumstances then they cannot be placed in the front seats with their back to the direction of travel if the vehicle is fitted with a passenger airbag, unless it is deactivated. They must travel in an approved child seat or restraint adapted to their size. In the rear they must use a proper restraint system appropriate to their weight, which means a child seat if they weigh between 9 and 15 kg. Over this weight they can use seat belts with a booster cushion.

Documentation: always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. If your licence does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.

Drinking and driving: Don't do it. Over 0.05 per cent and you could face anything up to imprisonment. From July 1st 2012 it is compulsory to carry a breathalyser kit in the car. Two kits per car are advised as the kits can only be used once, so if you use one you will need a back-up. 11 euro fines for non-compliance will be levied from November 1st 2012.

Fines: On the spot fines are issued. Ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.

Fire extinguisher: advised but not mandatory

First-aid kit is advised, but not compulsory.

Fuel: All grades of unleaded petrol and diesel are available. As in the UK, LPG is only available at some stations. Leaded no longer exists. It is allowed to carry petrol in a can. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they often won't work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps in rural areas open out-of-hours, which also means lunch-time from noon to 3pm. Supermarket fuel stations tend not to be manned on Sundays, but will accept notes at their automatic pumps. It's a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.

GB sticker: UK registered vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need a GB sticker  when driving in European Union countries.

Headlamp converters are compulsory.

Lights: dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.

Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car and a motorcycle over 125cc and 15 for a motorcycle under 125cc.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets.

Motor insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory. A green card is not required but your insurer should be advised of your trip.

Radar detectors are illegal in France even when they are not in use. If you are caught with a radar detector in your vehicle, you could be fined up to €1500, have the detector confiscated, or even face confiscation of the vehicle. So make sure you remove any such device before taking your car to France. NEW! As from January 3rd 2012 even SatNav and GPS systems which can show where speed cameras are located are illegal, so ensure this function has been disabled on your device. Software updates are available for some systems which remove this function. If your device still shows speed cameras in France we suggest you leave it at home since you can be fined up to €1500 and have the system, and even the vehicle, confiscated.

Replacement bulb set recommended.

Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted.

Snow chains arecompulsory in mountainous regions in France during winter. They must be carried and if you do not fit them when conditions demand the police can prevent you continuing your journey. Click for general information on winter tyres and snow chains.

Supermarkets: Most supermarkets are closed on Sunday.

Visibility Vests are compulsory in France, and in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car, and put on before getting out. Do this and you will not have a problem.

Warning triangle is compulsory as from July 1st 2008. The triangle can be used in conjunction with hazard flash

Winter tyres are recommended but not compulsory. Snow chains are compulsory in mountainous regions, especially the Alps, during winter, and if you do not carry and fit them when conditions demand the police can prevent you continuing your journey. Click for general information on winter tyres and snow chains.

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All information on this page is provided as a service to our clients. It is intended as a guide to the more important rules for the different countries to which we offer driving holidays. It is not meant to be a comprehensive document. We try and keep the information on this page up-to-date, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies. If you find a mistake or would like to send us some additional information, please email us. Your co-operation is appreciated.

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