driving in france
some do's and don'ts
Driving in France should not present much difficulty...unless you can't drive!
For British drivers unaccustomed to driving on the right,
extra care will be needed at first, but the rules of the road are otherwise
similar to those in other Western countries. Road signs generally use
easy-to-understand international visual symbols instead of words.
Here are pages about the different aspects of driving in France:
The Legal Niceties
Fuel prices and speed limits
Prioité à droite rule
Some bits and bobs that are useful to know
The French Government has recently introduced severe new
penalties for road traffic infringements. These include a sentence of up to ten
years’ imprisonment and a fine of €150,000 for causing death whilst over
the alcohol limit; a sentence of up to seven years and a fine of €100,000 for causing death by dangerous or negligent driving; and a
sentence of up to two years, plus a fine of €30,000 and
seizure of the vehicle and device, for having any radar
detecting device installed, even if this is switched off.
Key French rules of the road
The speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in cities,
90km/h (60mph) in regional areas and 130km/h (78mph) on motorways unless
indicated otherwise. There is an on-the-spot fine of 90 Euros if driver goes up
to 40km/h over limit. If speed breaks limit by more than 40km/h, police can
seize car and demand 750 Euro fine
Driver must have a reflective jacket and warning
triangle in car - fine can be 90 euros if either is missing
In-car radar detectors are illegal – see below
The use of a mobile phone while driving is
illegal unless in use with Bluetooth or hands free.
The maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.5mg/mL
The use of psychoactives whilst driving is
It is recommended to have your headlights on low
during the day.
As a foreign national
committing an infraction under the French Road Code, you will be subject to a
fine under the discretion of the state prosecutor. Otherwise, it is possible
that your vehicle will be impounded. The charges related thereto will be those
of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the infraction.
Satnav and speed camera alerts
The French law concerning speed cameras and in-car devices capable of detecting them has changed recently. It is unlawful to have a radar-detecting device in your car, such that radar emission from a speed camera can be detected. This is the offence mentioned above.
However, it is not unlawful to use a SatNav device which contains a database of the location of speed cameras.
Information (in French) is detailed at
controleradar.org and (in English) at Speed Cameras in France.
MOTORCYCLISTS around Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille are
now allowed to ride between lanes of traffic – a practice which 97.5% of bikers
say they already do.
The four-year experiment from
February will apply to all of the Ile-de-France region plus the Gironde, Rhône
and Bouches-du-Rhône departments, and its effectiveness will be assessed at the
end of each year.
French road safety body CNSR
recommended in 2013 that the practice be allowed in a number of pilot areas. A
major information campaign will be unveiled in the new year to ensure drivers
and motorcyclists are aware of the rules.
A decree published in the Journal
Officiel says riding between lanes will be authorised only on dual-carriageways
and motorways, where the usual speed limit is at least 70kph and when all the
available lanes have solid traffic.
Bikes must stick to the two lanes
furthest to the left and not exceed 50kph.