Driving in France !!

You always dream about visiting Paris with your car but you always fear the unknown.

Don't hesitate to cross the channel tunnel and visit France !!

We provide you with a guide on how to drive in France and how to avoid the common errors on the French roads.

Put your seat belt on and let's go !!

By Albin Vidal

The most important thing about driving in France is that you must always keep your car on the Right side of the street. In most of European countries (Spain, Italy, Germany….) you must drive on the right side which this is Ok for folks from USA and Canada, it is a charge of thinking from those from the Uk, Australia , and New Zealand.

Secondly, all the distances are in Kilometres / Km and all the speed measurements are in kilometres per Hour / Km/h.

Likewise, if you rent a car in France, the speedometre will be in Km/h.

For information

1 mile = 1.61 km

70 miles/hour = 113 km/hour

100 km/hour = 62 miles/hour

General notes on Driving in France

When you drive in France, you must like everywhere in Europe have an insurance for your car.

If you use your own UK insurance you will need to check you are covered for any accident like a Third party. You can negociate and arrange a larger risk cover with your insurance company before Travelling to France.

In General in French Gas stations, Leaded petrol has been replaced by lead substitute petrol to limit gas emissions in France. This petrol is not the same as the Uk substitute but it will work well in your car.

In French Petrol is call “Essence”, you’ve got two type: one called “Super 95” and the other “Super 98”.“Diesel” is also called Gasoil and both terms are used in France.

In France, most French buy petrol in supermarket gas stations because it’s cheaper.

For LPG cars , “GPL” car in France are allowed everywhere on the road except in the Channel tunnel.This is to prevent explosion or fire. Lots of service stations close at 18.00 everyday and on Sundays. However, you can always find Automatic gas stations / 24 hour station with Credit Card especially in supermarkets.

Paperwork for those driving on the French roads

In France , the minimum age to drive is 18. Some French teenagers are allowed to drive at 16 with their parents but must have a government approval (This approval is called in French “Conduite Accompagnée”).

You must always keep your driving licence and car paperwork with you when you drive on French roads.

If the police request it and you don’t have it, you will have a fine (around 35 €) and you will be obliged to show the car paper to the police station.

Your driving licence should not be too old to drive in France (pink one or pink and green are allowed)

If you don’t drive your own car, you must have letter giving authority to use this car. This applies to company car also.

You should always keep with you an International accident declaration form from your insurance in case of minor knock or an accident.

Rules on the French roads


Don’t try to drink and drive in France, Police testing is common and very unpredictable.

Police are very strict on this rule and give large fines and penalties like confiscation of the car can be imposed or jail in case of accident.

Speed limits on highways in France

Don’t speed on the French road and motorway, French police have installed Automatic cameras and do a lot of random control on the motorway.

You can lose points on your driving licence or in some case lose directly your driving licence. Stop and “Priorité a Droite” / right priority

You should always stop completely to stop sign in France like for red lights.

In France, as everybody is driving on the right side, you should always leave the priority for people coming from the right.

Without any road signs, drivers from the right having always priority. This rules is also available for roundabouts.

Seat Belts

You must always have your seat belt on in France when you are driving. Seat belt must be worn by everybody without exception. Children under 10 are not allowed in the front unless in a specially adapted rear-facing seat.

GB Sticker

When you will arrive on France, Cars from the UK should always put a GB sticker available in UK supermarkets or to the channel tunnel shops.

Speed limits for those driving in France

The speed limits / limitations de vitesse for vehicules on French toll motorways(most of French motorways are not free) are at 130km/h which is 80miles/hours.

If you drive on a wet motorway, speed limits will be 110 km/h.

· You can drive at 110 km/h so 68 m/h on dual carriageways and non toll motorways.

· You are allowed to drive to 90km/h on the other main roads and 80km/h with wet floor.

· In towns and villages , you can drive at 50 km/h but sometimes it’s slower.

· Be careful, speed cameras and automatic cameras can flash you everywhere and polices fines are very high.

Parking in France

You must always pay and display in France (except free parking) police controls and clamping is becoming common in big cities like Nice or Paris. Fines are very expensive.

Like in England, you must check the details on the machines called in French “horodateur” as parking is often free during lunchtimes and after 18.00.

Toll / Péages

To use most of the motorways in France you must pay for your trip. To avoid the toll during your holiday in France, you should drive on normal road which is longer but really cheaper.

As everywhere in Europe, you shouldn’t leave anything of value on view in the car.

Learn some French Vocabulary before taking your steering wheel !!

Accelerating Accėlerer / Appuyer sur le champignon

To Brake Freiner

To brake at the last moment Freiner en extrĕme urgence

Gear stick Levier de vitesse (le)

Steering wheel Volant (le)

Hand brake Frein ă main (le)

Seat belt Ceinture de sėcuritė (la / les)

Windows Vitres (la /les )

Windscreen Pare-brise (le)

Windscreen wipers Essuis-glace (les)

Dash board / Instrument panel Tableau de bord (le)

Hood / Bonnet Capot (le)

Traffic Jam Embouteillages (les)

Exhaust pipes Pot d`ėchappement (le)

Heating system Systeme de chauffage et de ventilation (le)

Air conditioning Air conditionnė (l`)

Full beam Plein phares (les)

Head lights / Lamps Phares (les)

Fog lights Veilleuse (les) feux de position (les)

Crash barriers Barriėres de sĕcuritė (la)

Hard shoulder Bande d `arret d`urgence (la)

Road sign Panneaux de signalisation (le/les)

Ash tray Cendrier (le)

Sun roof Toit ouvrant (le)

Tires Pneu (le/les)

Wheel rim Jante (la, les)

To slow Ralentir

Grill Calandre (la )

Direction indicators Clignotants (les)

Luggage department Coffre (le)

Head rest Appui – tête (l’/les)

Horn klaxon (le)

To hit Heurter

Rear view mirrors Retroviseur interieur (le/les)

Wing mirrors Retroviseur exterieurs (le /les)

Hazard lights Warning (le)

Keys Clefs de contact (la /les)

You know about driving in France - Check out now some french lessons for your next trip!

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Driving in France
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©2004. Transcity Properties Ltd, 32 Alverton, Great Linford, Milton Keynes, MK14 5EF, Bucks, United Kingdom.

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