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
Driving tips
Autoroutes
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. Moreover, in 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that it is illegal to speak on or use your smartphone in your hand while in your car, even if you are stopped, pulled over, and with your hazard lights on.

The rule comes after the court judged that a stopped car is still considered to be “in circulation” even if it is pulled over at the side of the road with its engine off and hazard lights on.

·         The maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.5mg/mL

·         The use of psychoactives whilst driving is strictly prohibited.

·         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.

LATEST NEWS

USING A MOBILE PHONE IN A CAR: In 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that it is illegal to speak on or use your smartphone in your hand while in your car, even if you are stopped, pulled over, and with your hazard lights on.

The rule comes after the court judged that a stopped car is still considered to be “in circulation” even if it is pulled over at the side of the road with its engine off and hazard lights on. 

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.




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