All the rules to respect when driving a car in France: speed limits, permitted blood alcohol level and types of roads.
Before you leave for your trip to France, remember to take the following documents with you to avoid incurring heavy fines in the event of a police check:
identity card or passport
driving licence (in French ‘permis de conduire’) that has not expired
vehicle ownership certificate if you are travelling in your own car (carte grise)
a document proving unlimited liability insurance
Unlimited third-party liability insurance is compulsory. European travellers are recognised as having third-party liability insurance taken out in our country and therefore do not need to obtain a green card, although it may be useful to do so in order to ensure more comprehensive insurance cover.
Driving in France is governed by the following rules:
Driving on the right.
All passengers, including those sitting in the back seats, must wear a seat belt.
Children under 10 kg must travel in approved rear-facing child seats, while children over 36 kg must be seated in safety seats in the rear seats.
Turning right at a red light is always prohibited in France.
Mobile phones may only be used with a headset or hands-free set.
Helmets are compulsory for all two-wheel motor vehicles.
Priorité à droite, i.e. right of way, is compulsory : only if you come across a sign saying ‘vous n’avez pas la priorité et cédez le passage’ must you give way, even if you are coming from the right.
If you encounter a sign indicating DFCI (défence forestiére contre l’incedie), this means that transit is completely prohibited for private vehicles as it is reserved for fire brigade patrols.
We advise you to pay particular attention to speed limits: the traffic police are extremely strict in respecting the rules and it is enough to exceed the limit by even 10 km/h to incur heavy fines.
Let’s look at the current limits in detail:
50 km/h in built-up areas, even if very small
90 km/h (80 with rain) on N and D single carriageways
110 km/h (100 in rainy weather) on dual carriageways or short stretches of dual carriageway with a central reservation strip
130 km/h (110 with rain, 60 with ice) on motorways
French roads and motorways
Driving in France is very easy and the risk of traffic jams and queues is practically non-existent except when approaching large cities and the coastal areas of the south that are very popular with tourists during the summer months.
There are 4 types of interurban roads
Autoroutes (A): these are similar to our motorways, i.e. multi-lane fast-flowing roads where you almost have to pay a toll. On autoroutes, there are no entrance tickets but barriers every few kilometres where you are asked to pay a flat-rate toll. We advise you to carry coins or payment cards as, of course, our telepass is not accepted. Beware of speed limits as these roads have very strict electronic controls.
It is absolutely forbidden to drive with a blood alcohol level above 0.05 %. Remember that checks by the traffic police are frequent and very strict.
Fuel in France
Those travelling by car should be aware that many petrol stations are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
Fuel may be more expensive at motorway service stations while it is cheaper at stations inside supermarket areas.
To see the current cost of fuel in France, we refer you to the Cargopedia website.
Roadside assistance and spare parts
If you should ever have a breakdown, i.e. if your car breaks down, we recommend that you contact the mechanic workshop of the make of your vehicle.
Obviously, Peugeot, Renault and Citroën garages can be found almost everywhere, whereas for the other makes, it will be more difficult to find mechanics who can repair them quickly, especially in more remote and rural areas,