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Driving in France is not stressful if you are prepared.

"Requirements for Driving in France"

Driving in France is fairly hassle free, most of the laws and road signs are the same as the UK. Another great thing is the roads are generally well maintained and empty compared to UK roads.

My wife found driving on French motorways less stressful than UK motorways even though she had never driven abroad before. 

Compulsory paperwork and equipment.

You will need to carry your vehicle registration document, insurance documents (valid for driving in France) and driving license. If the vehicle isn't registered in your name you also need an authorization letter from the owner. You must be over 18 and have a full driving license. Your car should be fitted with beam benders and a GB sticker.

You should also carry a spare set of bulbs, a warning triangle and a florescent jacket (for each person in the vehicle) to wear if the car breaks down. (Please note that you are required to wear a fluorescent jacket whenever you get out of the car. So if stopped by the police put it on before you get out.) A first aid kit and fire extinguisher are recommended (these are compulsory in some EU countries). A recent requirement added stipulates that drivers carry a breath alcohol testing kit.

Common sense applies when driving in France, a lot of the rules and regulations are similar to the UK.

Driving in France.

Speed Limits

N.B. Built up area speed limits start from the town name sign and end with the sign that has the town name crossed through.

The reduced limits for wet roads will also apply to inexperienced drivers and visiting drivers who have held a license for less than 2 years.

 

Dry Roads

Wet Roads

Built up areas

50kph

31mph

50kph

31mph

Single Carriageways

90kph

55mph

80kph

49mph

Dual Carriageways & Non-Toll Motorways

110kph

68mph

100kph

62mph

Toll Motorways

130kph

80mph

110kph

68mph

Motoring Offenses

There are on the spot fines for speeding, and the UK and French authorities are working together to target reckless UK drivers, so use our printout to remind you of the limits.

The French police are also strict about stop lines, you must come to a complete stop. Also, when overtaking do not cross a solid white centre line. The legal blood alcohol level is also lower than in the UK.

Main Differences in France compared with the UK - you do not always have the right of way approaching roundabouts and at junctions.

A yellow diamond with a white border means you have priority. Passage protégé also means you have right of way. 

A yellow diamond with a white border and black line through it means your priority ends and you must give way to traffic to your right. For example, if you are on a main road and you pass the crossed out yellow diamond sign you must give way to traffic coming from side roads to the right unless the side road has a stop line.

This also applies on some roundabouts, mainly in towns. Unless the signs or road markings show otherwise you must stop on the roundabout to allow traffic from the right to join the roundabout.

At traffic lights, a flashing orange light or arrow means proceed with caution. Red means STOP and green means GO. Lights change more quickly in France than they do in the UK so you have be pretty sharp.

Printout this page for easy reference when driving, it helps to keep the table below near your dashboard for quick reference.

Common phrases you will encounter on French road signs.

Feu Rouge - Red Light
​Feu 
Vert - Green Light

Piétons - pedestrians
Ralentissez - Lower your speed
Chaussée déformée - uneven road surface
A gauche - left

droite - right

Tout Droit - Straight ahead
Essence (sans plomb) - Petrol without lead (unleaded)
Parking Payant - Paid parking

Parking Gratuit - free parking

 

Dry Roads

Wet Roads

Built up areas

31mph

31mph

Single Carriageways

55mph

49mph

Dual Carriageways & Non-Toll Motorways

68mph

62mph

Toll Motorways

80mph

68mph

Emergency services: 112 for the local emergency services but you can also dial directly to the following.
Police/Ambulance 17
Ambulance (SAMU) for emergency medical assistance 15
Fire Service 18

Have a great time on your trip, stay safe and enjoy the wonderfully smooth and straight French roads savoring the stunning scenery.

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