Driving Rules & Regulations In France

Thinking of taking a driving holiday in France in the coming months? Then it’s important not only to plan your route, but to get up to speed on French roads and the rules that apply on them.

France is well-known for the quality of its roads, and the best way to enjoy them is to drive them yourself. Car hire in France allows you to set your own agenda, visiting as many attractions you like at your own pace.

france driving

French Roads are classified as follows


· The Motorways or Autoroutes have the ‘A’ prefix before the road number. Remember that the majority of Autoroutes are toll roads, which are denoted by blue signs, as in the UK.  Autoroutes that have no tolls are denoted by green signs. Note that urban areas are generally toll-free.

When you enter the toll section area, collect the ticket that records when you entered the toll road and pay as you leave the toll section at the ‘Péage‘. Be sure to keep a store of euro coins – they are very useful for paying toll fees! (UK drivers can now buy an electronic tag online, which automatically opens the toll barriers.  Users are invoiced the following month and the payment is taken in sterling from the UK bank account 15 days later).

Note that lane traffic is monitored strictly in France. If in doubt, stay in the right-hand lane.

· Main roads are known as Route Nationale, and have the ‘N’ prefix. If you don’t want to pay toll charges – and you’re not in a hurry – these can be a useful alternative. They are of dual-carriageway standard.

· Minor roads have the ‘D’ classifications. Known as Routes Départmentales, they are of a good standard.

· Routes Communales are classed with a ‘C.’ These are local roads and may not be in optimum condition.

General Road Rules in France

· Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
· The legal age for driving is 18.
· In 2012,  a new law introduced the compulsory carrying of breathalysers in all motor vehicles, but sanctions for non-compliance have been postponed indefinitely.
· A 2012 law obliging all drivers to carry reflective clothing has been abolished, but it is advisable to carry a high-visibility jacket and warning triangle in the car.
· All passengers must use their seat belts, and child seats must be used. Children under 10 years cannot sit in the front seat.
· The speed limits are as follows: (a) 50km in towns (b) 90km on main roads (c) 110km on dual carriageways and (d) 130km on Autoroutes.
· Speed cameras are common on the main routes, so keep to the limits. On-the-spot fines are issued regularly. The installation of around 400 new, unsigned, fixed speed cameras is underway, and signs indicating the location of existing camera sites are being removed.
· Since 3 January 2012, it is illegal to drive with any device capable of detecting speed cameras – including SatNav or GPS systems capable of showing speed camera sites as Points of Interest. If you have a SatNav capable of displaying French camera locations, you must at least deactivate camera alerts.

Have you driven in France before and taken a self-drive holiday? If you have any French driving tips please let your fellow readers know. We appreciate your comments!