France is a great holiday destination; especially for people in the UK who can’t stand long travel. Just across the pond, you can find art, viticulture, and beautiful scenery (and pay next to nothing in travel costs). Of course, you’ll want to explore as much as you can, so you’re getting around by car; but are you prepared for French driving laws?
If your vehicle kicks the bucket in the middle of the motorway, you can’t call your breakdown provider. In France, there are roadside motorway phones (very orange) every 2km, and you must report your breakdown to one of these. You’ll be towed away and taken to a destination, where you can finally meet your breakdown provider.
You have to be 18 years or older to drive or ride a vehicle in France. If you were speedy and passed your test at 17, you won’t be allowed to drive. EU and EEA driving licences are accepted, and you don’t need to carry an International driving permit. As well as your driving licence, you need to have proof of your insurance, your passport, and your V5C certificate.
Stocking Your Car
By law, drivers have to carry reflective jackets, a warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, and a breathalyser. Yes, a breathalyser! Maybe the police can’t be bothered to carry them anymore…
Between sunset and sunrise, there’s a strict ‘no honking’ policy, unless it is a serious necessity. To indicate a warning to fellow motorists, you may flash your lights.
On the motorway, the max speed you’re allowed to reach is 130km/h or 110km/h in rainy conditions. For other roads, the speed limit is 90km/h or 80km/h in rainy conditions. In built-up areas, do not exceed 50km/h. If you’re caught driving more than 40km/h over the speed limit, you will have your licence confiscated on the spot.
Bear in mind that you’re not allowed devices in your car that detect speed cameras (so it’s wise to stick to the specified speed limit at all times – don’t want to put a serious dampener on your holiday by getting caught speeding!).
If you have more than a 0.05% level of alcohol in your blood and you’re behind the wheel, you’re likely to get caught. The police are allowed to conduct random breath tests.
If you’re caught speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, it’s likely that you’ll be tested for drugs too. This goes for riding a motorcycle without a helmet too!
You should only drive and park on the right side of the road, if you’re part of a two lane system. Bear in mind that you’re forbidden from parking in an area with an unbroken yellow line. On one way systems, you may be able to park on either side of the road.