French Road Types
There are a whole array of different French road types ranging from the motorway right down to the country lane or track. It’s hardly surprising really, bearing in mind France is such a vast country.
French roads are classified into the following types.
Autoroutes / Motorways
Autoroutes are recognised by the prefix letter “A” followed by a number so for example: Axx
Autoroutes are sometimes free but the majority are toll roads and they are the best way to travel quickly across large areas of France.
Autoroute signs are blue in colour with white lettering. The road number is usually at the top and consists of a white A and number on a red background.
National Roads or Route Nationale as they were once known are recognised by the prefix “N” and followed by a number for example: Nxx
National roads are trunk roads and mainly consist of dual carriageway. They can tend to be quite busy as they are a free alternative to the Autoroute toll roads.
The signs on National roads are usually green with the road number located at the top of the sign consisting of a white N and number on a red background.
Departmental Roads are recognised by the prefix “D” and sometimes “RD” followed by a number so for example: Dxx or RDxx
Departmental roads are roads that have, over time been transferred from national roads, overseen by the French government to Departments (or Counties as in the UK) hence the name. You will therefore find many with the same number in different departments throughout France.
Departmental road sign numbers usually consist of black numbers on a yellow background.
Finally are the Routes Communales which are linked to each French Commune (similar to Parish). The roads are generally single track roads similar to the lanes you’ll find in the UK countryside. The roads have the prefix “C” followed by a number for example: Cxx
Please note that although the majority of “C” roads do have numbers, many are not signed.