Driving in France
Driving in France can be quite a daunting thought but it’s not actually that much different than driving in the UK.
There are however many minor differences to bear in mind when driving abroad. These include such things as a difference in driving habits, rules and regulations and laws.
That’s where we are here to help. We give you all the essential information you’ll need to survive your trip to France. So whether you are planning your yearly family camping holiday in France, a short break in Paris or are passing through in your caravan or motorhome we are here to help.
Driving France Aims
We have both holidayed and driven in France many times over the years. Although we’ve always been lucky and avoided any serious situations we are always prepared for the worst.
Our main aim is to provide you with a variety of information to help you on your travels. We always try to keep our website as up to date as possible but please don’t take everything we say for granted as rules and regulations do change from time to time.
Some of the information we’ll cover on our various pages and blogs will include details on the various French Laws and driving regulations. We’ll also give you some insight into the different types of French roads and road signs you may come across during your travels along with the different Autoroute toll roads and speed limits.
Rules of the Road in France
Driving on the right
The MOST important thing that you need to know is that in France you drive on the opposite side of the road and driving on the right-hand side of the road can be quite daunting when you do it for the first time but don’t let it put you off. There a few simple things you need to remember but we will cover many of them below.
Important points when driving on the right-hand side of the road
As soon as you drive off the cross channel ferry you will find yourself on the right.
In France when you turn left you must take extra care as you will be turning across oncoming traffic.
When travelling along motorways and dual carriageways the right-hand land is the slow lane and you must also give way to vehicles joining from a slip road.
you should give way to the right, including at junctions unless signs tell you otherwise.
Roundabouts are always a little confusing until you’ve got used to them. You always drive around them anti-clockwise and give way to the lest which is the complete opposite to in the UK. As we said it is a little confusing to start with but once you’ve gone around a couple you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Traffic lights in France
Traffic lights in France are similar in the UK but with a few differences which probably make them the most complicated. Firstly you’ll find that unlike in the UK there is no amber light following a red. Instead, the amber light means caution, slow down, and give way to the right.
Secondly, a flashing red light has a number of meanings including no entry, a level crossing is present and is also present where emergency vehicles exit.
Finally, if you see a red and amber light at the same time it means you can turn in the direction of the arrow but must always give priority to vehicles travelling in that direction along with any pedestrians that may be present.
Driving in France what do i need?
When you are driving in France there are a number of things that you must ensure you have with you. We have a variety of pages on the site which go into this in greater detail but as a quick overview, we’ve included our checklist below.
Driving in France checklist
Here’s our comprehensive checklist including everything you need to carry with you when driving in France
- Full and valid driver’s licence
- Insurance certificate
- Reflective jackets for all occupants of the vehicle including children
- Warning triangles
- Headlamp beam deflectors
- Spare light bulb kit
- GB Stickers
There are additional items that you may decide to take with you including first aid kit, fire extinguisher, snow chains etc.
Driving in France kits
Whether you have all the items you need for driving in France or will have to buy certain items to comply with the laws, there are many pre-made and packed driving in France kits available for you to buy You can find a selection in our chip which has all the items you’ll need for your trip and some have extra items such as a first aid kit.
French Driving Laws and Regulations
As in the UK, the French Police are very hot on those breaking road traffic laws. Unlike the UK however you are often required to pay the fine on the spot.
Unfortunately for those breaking the law deliberately or accidentally, French traffic fines can be somewhat heftier than the UK. This means that for something simple you could end up paying a fair amount of your holiday spending money.
For example, driving in the UK or France with a satellite navigation device is fine, however having the speed camera detector part of the sat nav turned on could lead to a fine in France.
Simply forgetting to turn this off when driving in France could mean you get a fine of up to €1500. Not only that but the police can also seize the device which means you could lose you sat nav. Worse still if it’s a fixed device in your vehicle, they also have the power to seize your vehicle.
Below we’ve listed some of the speed limits you may come across.
Motorways 130 km/h in normal conditions, 110 km/h in rain, 50 km/h when visibility is under 50 metres.
Dual carriageways 110 km/h in normal conditions, 100 km/h in rain, 50 km/h when visibility is under 50 metres.
Other roads 80 km/h in normal conditions, 80 km/h in rain, 50 km/h when visibility is under 50 metres.
Urban roads 50 km/h in all conditions.