Driving in France
Driving in France
Every country has its own rules and regulations which road users have to adhere to. Not doing so can cost you money; and in France this is particularly true. Roadside fines can be very expensive, so it is worth taking some time to prepare yourself and understand the rules you need to keep to, before you set off on your journey.
The minimum age for a driver in France is eighteen. This also applies to motorcycles, although, you may drive a motorised bike up to 80cc from the age of sixteen. If you drive in France it is illegal to drive without spare bulbs and fuses. If you bring your own car over from the UK you need to have headlamp beam converters fitted even if you are driving in broad daylight. You also need to use your dipped headlights in poor daytime visibility. If you do have an accident or break down, you must have a warning triangle with you to place near the vehicle. In addition, you will need a fluorescent jacket in the car, rather than the boot and you must also have one for each passenger in the car. If you are considering hiring a car, the vehicle rental company, may not always supply them, so you need to check this when you book your rental vehicle. More information can be found here:
You must carry a full, valid driver's license with you when driving in France as well as your vehicle registration documents, insurance and MOT. It may be possible that you will require them at Customs, but probably more importantly, you will certainly need them if you do get stopped by the police.
Alcohol limits are lower than in Britain. In the United Kingdom, the alcohol limit is eighty milligrams per hundred millilitres of blood. In France, that figure is reduced to fifty milligrams per hundred millilitres of blood.
Priority can be given to traffic coming from the right so be very careful at junctions. Vehicles entering a roundabout, though, do not normally have priority over those already on the roundabout - watch out for signs stipulating "Vous n`avez pas la priorité", or alternatively, "Cédez le passage". Basically you need to give way to cars that are already on the roundabout. You may also wish to note that using a horn is prohibited in a built up area.
France has some beautiful drives to consider. This includes the French Riviera, with its cliff side roads, which border the Mediterranean and you can drive along the A8 from Cannes to Monaco, if you wish. You may also like to explore the vineyard areas of Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Should you be feeling a bit more daring, you may want to try the four hundred and sixty mile drive through the Alps. Many parts of rural France can still offer relatively traffic free routes where driving can still be considered a pleasure. Whatever route you choose, car rental can be a handy option. Prepare in advance by taking a look at websites such asThis can save you money and allow you to relax and enjoy your journey more. Many of the major car rental firms will offer block booking discount packages.
(Published November/December 2009)