Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (2023)

With swaths of stunning scenery and vibrant cities to explore, it's no wonder France is such a popular destination for a road trip. But if you're planning a trip, it's critical that you understand how driving in France differs from the UK.

To make your trip to mainland Europe as safe and stress-free as possible, we've prepared a guide with everything you need to know before you leave, from the necessary documents to traffic rules.

To start with, it's a good idea to get the RACEuropean breakdown coveragebefore you go away. This will give you a wide range of benefits if youcollapse in franceto ensure you stay safe. You can get coverage for asingle tripabroad orall year roundif you regularly travel to France.

As with any party, you must havetravel insurancefor your trip to France.

Need insurance for your trip? Ourtemporary car insuranceThe product is perfect if you are looking for flexible and complete coverage between 1 hour and 30 days.

Latest French road regulations

If you drive a car or motorcycle in France, be aware of the latest regulations:

  • alcohol limit:For drivers and motorcyclists with less than three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per liter. If you have more than three years of experience, the limit is 0.5 grams per liter. Both are below the English, Welsh and Northern Irish limit of 0.8 grams per liter (Scottish limit is 0.5).
  • Headphones:All drivers and passengers are prohibited from using headphones while driving, whether for music or phone calls. However, this excludes motorcycle helmets that have integrated systems.
  • reflective jackets:Passengers must wear reflective jackets in case of a breakdown or emergency.
  • Low emission zones:Paris has a low emission zone, which means petrol and diesel cars registered before 1997 are banned from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. As of 2020, only vehicles manufactured in 2011 or later are permitted. Diesel and gasoline trucks and buses manufactured before 1997 are also banned in Paris. know more aboutFrench emission standardshere.
  • Clean Air Sticker:you need aCrit'Air stickerit is displayed in your car when you travel to certain cities. It costs £3.60 and drivers face a spot fine of almost £120 if they don't have one.
  • Speed ​​Limits:HeThe speed limit has been lowered on many A and B roads in France.at 80 km/h (50 mph), in an attempt to save up to 400 lives a year.

Tips for driving in France

in an emergency

Important:As French motorways are privately managed, you cannot ask your own assistance company to take care of you in the event of a breakdown.

In the event of a breakdown, you should use the orange emergency telephones located every 2 km along the main roads and highways to call the police or the official assistance service operating in the area.

Alternatively, if there is no orange telephone available, you should call the emergency services through the number 112.

It will be towed to a designated secure area where, in the case of those with RACEuropean breakdown coverage, it can be received by the chosen fault provider.

Roadside assistance fees are set by the government and are reviewed and revised each year.

Most of the time, the government-appointed towing service that tows you off the highway allows the RAC to pay for it directly; however, it is at the towing company's discretion.

If you are a RAC customer and asked to pay,keep your receipt for the RAC European customer service team to refund you.

The recovery cost is:

  • €124.83 for vehicles of 1.8 tonnes or less or €187.25 between 6 pm and 8 am, weekends and public holidays
  • €154.36 for vehicles of 3.5t or less or €231.54 between 6 pm and 8 am, weekends and public holidays
  • For vehicles over 3.5 t, the cost is at the discretion of the towing service

European breakdown coverage

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Driver's license laws in France

Visitors must be 18 years or older and have a full and valid driver's license to legally drive in France. Riders of mopeds or motorcycles up to 125cc must be 16 years of age or older.

Driving licenses issued in UK, EU and EEA countries are accepted.International Driving PermitsThey are recognized but not required.

Things to keep in mind when driving in France

Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (1)

Documents for driving in France

UK vehicles can be temporarily imported into France for up to six months in any 12-month period. To stay on the right side of the law, the following documents should always be carried:

  • Full and valid UK driving license
  • Proof of identity (passport)
  • car insurance certificate
  • V5 registration document

Rent a car? you might want to considercar rental excess insurancethe equivalent of £2.99* per day; it might be cheaper than waiting to add it when picking up the car.

*Based on UK residents who purchased a single travel policy to cover 10 days of car hire in Europe

Do I need a GB or UK stamp to drive in France?

From 28 September 2021, the distinctive mark (or national identifier) ​​displayed on UK registered vehicles driven abroad will change from GB to UK.

This means that UK registered vehicles must display the letters "UK" when driven in France.

The identifier can be incorporated into vehicle registration plates (along with the Union Flag) or as a separate sticker. Please note that vehicles with the letters GB together with Council of Europe gold stars are no longer valid for driving abroad.

If your vehicle does not have the UK identifier on the number plate, you will need a UK sticker when driving in France. GB stickers will no longer be valid from the end of September.

Do I need a green insurance card?

As of August 2, 2021, drivers will no longer need the green insurance card to bring their vehicles into France.

ETIAS - November 2023

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a visa program for visitors who do not need a Schengen visa, who want to travel to the European Union and some other European countries.

Visitors who purchase an ETIAS will be able to enter the 26 member states of the Schengen Zone, as well as Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.

This will be released in November 2023.Learn more about ETIAS here.

French 'clean air' stickers (Crit'Air cartoons)

Now you need a clean air sticker, called a Crit'Air sticker, displayed on your car when you travel to certain cities.

(Video) 11 Tips for driving in France

This six-category sticker system is designed to identify the emissions that vehicles produce and are classified according to the Euro emissions standard of your vehicles.

Find out when you need a French Clean Air Sticker and how to buy it.

Other elements

You are required by law to bring the following items:

  • reflective jackets– One for each occupant, these must be kept inside the vehicle for easy access
  • dangerous triangle– Mandatory on all vehicles with four wheels or more
  • headlight deflectors– Depending on your car you will need deflector stickers or you will have to adjust the beam manually
  • replacement bulbs– It is recommended, but not mandatory, to bring a spare bulb kit for your vehicle
  • snow chains– Drivers within 'snow zones' are legally required to install winter tires and/or snow chains on their vehicles during the winter period from November 1st to March 31st.
  • safety helmets– For motorcyclists and their passengers

Afrench driving kitwill have the items you need, so buy one for £20 to avoid hefty fines on the spot.

If you go camping, it might also be worth taking aInternational Camping Cardto give you extra proof of identity, liability insurance, plus discounts at a wide range of campsites and tourist attractions.

Note: Prior to 2020, it was mandatory to carry a breathalyzer kit with at least two disposable test units; In any case, this is no longer the case. It is still recommended to carry one with you while traveling for safety reasons.

Is there anything I shouldn't take with me?

Please note that you cannot bring the following with you into France:

  • meat products containing meat
  • dairy products

You may not take the following with you unless you pay to have it inspected before you depart and obtain a "phytosanitary certificate":

  • fresh fruit (in addition to bananas, coconuts, dates, pineapples, and durians)
  • vegetables
  • plants
  • plant products

Driving Kit in France from €24.99

Did you know you can be fined up to €530 for not taking the right kit with you in France?

Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (2)

Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (3)

french rules of the road

overtaking and overtaking

As a general rule, drive on the right, overtake on the left. However, when traffic is in lanes, vehicles may overtake other vehicles in slower lanes on the right.

On steep slopes, descending vehicles must give way to ascending vehicles.

Normally, only moving trams can overtake on the right; Left is allowed on one-way streets if there is not enough room on the right.

Who has priority?

At intersections, you must yield to vehicles approaching from your right, unless otherwise signaled.

Drivers approaching a roundabout must yield to traffic already on the roundabout.

You must also yield to emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens.

approach warning

Horns may only be used to give the necessary warning to other road users.

Between sunset and sunrise, warning must be given by flashing the low beams. The horn can only be used in cases of absolute necessity.

In all urban areas, the use of the horn is prohibited, except in cases of immediate danger.

The use of horns, sirens and multi-tone whistles is prohibited.

towing in France

With a normal driving licence, motorists can tow a trailer with a maximum authorized mass of 750 kg, including the trailer and its load.

It is not permitted to tow a motor vehicle, except in the event of a breakdown or accident and if the distance to be covered is short. This practice is prohibited on highways where the assistance of a rescue vehicle must be requested.

It is forbidden to transport people in a moving vehicle.caravan.

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Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (4)

Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (5)

French seat belt law

If your car has seat belts, both the driver and passengers must wear them. It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that all passengers under the age of 18 are properly secured in the car.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is set at €135, reduced to €90 if paid within 15 days.

Can I use headphones in the car while driving in France?

As of March 2017, it is illegal to drive in France with headphones or headphones. Make sure you remove your headphones when crossing the Canal, otherwise you could be fined on the spot.

traffic lights

France uses the international three-color traffic light system. However, there is no amber light after the red light.

A flashing amber light indicates caution, slow down or go straight ahead, but yield to vehicles coming from the right.

A flashing red light indicates no entry. It may also indicate a level crossing or an exit used by emergency vehicles.

If a red traffic light is accompanied by a yellow arrow, you can go in the direction indicated by the arrow, as long as you give way to vehicles circulating in that direction, as well as to pedestrians.

(Video) 2022 DRIVING WRITTEN TEST PART 1.Questions & Answers for Drivers Licence.

french speed limits

France uses the metric system for all road signs, which means that speed limits and other road signs, including distance, are indicated using kilometers and meters.

Speed ​​limits are reduced during rain and other bad weather conditions, while special speed restrictions apply to certain vehicle classes, including buses and cars with trailers, so check before you travel.

There is a minimum speed limit of 80 km/h on motorways for vehicles traveling in the outer lane.

The following national speed limits apply:

highwaysPriority roads and highwaysother roadsbuilt-up areas
normal traffic conditions130 km/h110 km/h80km/h50 km/h
Rain or other precipitation110 km/h100 km/h70km/h50 km/h
Visibility less than 50m50 km/h50 km/h50 km/h50 km/h
  • EU driving license holders who exceed the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licenses confiscated on the spot by the police.
  • French law prohibits drivers from wearing devices capable of detecting speed cameras and alerting drivers to their location.
  • Penalties can include fines of up to €1,500 and confiscation of the device and vehicle.
  • This has recently been expanded to include GPS-based systems capable of displaying fixed camera locations as points of interest.
  • HeThe speed limit has been lowered on many A and B roads in France.at 80 km/h (50 mph), in an attempt to save up to 400 lives a year. This took effect from July 1, 2018.

Speed ​​limits for caravans/trailers

The maximum speed of a car towing a caravan or trailer depends on its total weight:

highwaysPriority roads and highwaysother roadsbuilt-up areas
less than 3.5t130 km/h110 km/h80km/h50 km/h
3,5 of 12 t90km/h90km/h80km/h50 km/h
more than 12 tons90km/h80km/h60km/h50 km/h

If the weight of the trailer is greater than that of the car, the speed limits are reduced as follows:

  • If the allowance is less than 30%: 65 km/h
  • If the allowance is greater than 30%: 45 km/h

In these cases, a disk indicating the maximum speed must be attached to the rear of the caravans/trailers. They cannot be driven in the fast lane of a 3 lane highway.

Speed ​​limits for motorhomes/minibuses

The maximum speed of a motorhome, minibus or any other vehicle intended exclusively for the transport of people also depends on its total weight:

highwaysPriority roads and highwaysother roadsbuilt-up areas
less than 3.5t130 km/h110 km/h80km/h50 km/h
3,5 of 12 t110 km/h100 km/h80km/h50 km/h
more than 12 tons90km/h80km/h80km/h50 km/h

Speeding fines in France

The standard fine for breaking the speed limit in France is €135, with points added to your license depending on how much you exceed the limit.

EU driving license holders who exceed the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licenses confiscated on the spot by the police.

Traffic camera detectors in France

French law prohibits drivers from wearing devices capable of detecting speed cameras and alerting drivers to their location. In France, you can have to pay a huge fine of €1,500 if caught.

know more abouttraffic violations in europe here.

Traveling with children in France

Drivers are responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 18 wear a seat belt or proper restraint system.

Car seats for children in France

Children under 10 years of age may not ride in the front seats of vehicles without using a special child restraint system, unless there is no rear seat, the rear seat is already occupied by children under 10 years of age, or there are no Safety belt.

Children up to 10 years old must travel in an approved child seat or restraint system, adapted to their age and size. European regulations classify child restraint systems into five different groups according to the weight of the child:

Group 0: < 10 kgRear-facing child seat placed on the front passenger seat (airbag deactivated) or on the rear seat. Babies can also travel in a carrycot in the rear seat only.
Group 0+: < 13 kgThese are slightly larger versions than Group 0. They must be installed under the same conditions as Group 0
Group 1: 9 - 18 kgChild seat with 5-point harness or protective tray
Group 2: 15 - 25 kgBooster seat or seat belt pad for adults
Group 3: 22 - 36 kgBooster seat or seat belt pad for adults

Taxis are exempt, but other vehicles are fined if a child is not restrained.

Bicycle helmet law in France

Children under 12 years old must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, both alone and as a passenger.

The parent or guardian faces a fine of €90 for violating this law.

Driving a motorhome and towing a caravan in France

Motorhomes cannot exceed 12 meters in length and 2.55 meters in width. There are no height restrictions.

Cars with caravans cannot exceed 18.75 meters in combined length and 2.55 meters in width. There are no height restrictions.

Loads on two-axle vehicles must not exceed 19 tonnes. While weights on single axles should not exceed 12 tons.

If the weight of a caravan exceeds that of the towing vehicle, special speed limits apply:

  • if the excess is less than 30%: 65 km/h
  • if the allowance is greater than 30%: 45 km/h

It is illegal to tow another motor vehicle, except in the event of a breakdown or accident and the distance to be covered is short.

Note: The Department for Transport advises that A-frames are not legal for use in UK motorhomes and caravans abroad. In practice, this could mean towing the car while it is attached to a trailer.**

Sanctions and fines in France

Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit (6)

non-local fines

Visiting drivers should be advised that some French law enforcement authorities are authorized to impose and collect on-the-spot fines of up to €750 from drivers who violate traffic rules.

If the offense committed is not likely to result in license suspension or arrest, the driver may pay a reduced fine within three days. If you want to contest the ticket, you must request a court hearing within 30 days.

If the offense committed is serious and could lead to a large fine and the suspension of the driver's license or imprisonment, the driver who does not reside in France and does not have a job in France must deposit a guarantee.

The police may hold your vehicle until payment is made. This payment can be in euros, by check drawn on a French bank or by traveler's cheques.

Minimum and maximum fines in France

Standard fines are classified into four categories depending on the seriousness of the infringement, ranging from €11 to €750. They can be reduced if payment is made within 15 days (in the case of postal payments, three days if paid in person) or increased if payment is not made within 45 days.

(Video) Septic System Do's And Don'ts (Septic System 101)

vehicle confiscation

In some cases, instead of (or in addition to) a fine or imprisonment, the vehicle may be impounded. The main crimes to which it can apply are:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 50 km/h
  • Repeated offense for driving under the influence of alcohol (0.40 mg per liter of breath)
  • hit and run
  • Refusal to stop when asked
  • drive without a license
  • Driving a vehicle with a license category other than a category that does not cover that vehicle
  • drive without insurance

Any of the above cases can cause the vehicle to become the property of the French government.

The EU Cross-Border Enforcement Directive

An EU cross-border directive came into force in the UK in May 2017. Its aim is to track people who commit traffic offenses in cars registered in an EU member state other than where the offense occurred.

This means that if you commit a driving offense abroad, the offense will follow you back home to the UK where you could still be prosecuted.

Learn more aboutLesser known aspects of driving in France.

parking in france

parking regulations

Stopping and parking is only permitted on the right side of two-lane roads; on one-way streets, you are allowed to stop and park on both sides if the street is wide enough.

Restrictions and limitations are indicated by road signs or by yellow lines on the curb. A solid yellow line indicates that stopping and parking is prohibited. A dashed yellow line indicates that parking is prohibited.

paid parking

Traffic signs indicate areas where parking is restricted and must be paid for, either on parking meters or on automatic ticketing machines that indicate paid parking time.

Some machines accept 'parking a la carte' debit/credit cards.

parking inspection

Vehicles parked illegally can be towed and seized, even if they have foreign registration. The owner is responsible for the impound cost and for every 24 hours the vehicle is held.

In Paris and some other big cities, illegally parked vehicles are immobilized with wheel clamps. The driver will have to go to the local police station and pay a fine for nuisance or dangerous parking, as well as a fine for releasing the vehicle.

Disabled parking

There are spaces reserved for the disabled. In Paris, free parking is allowed where a fee is normally paid.

In principle, the disabled card allows its holder to park his vehicle in a designated place. This does not mean that you can park for free in a paid area.

In general, a disabled driver can park without a time limit on roads where parking is free but time limited.

Responsibility for parking concessions generally rests with local authorities, but police should show consideration for disabled parking as long as it does not cause obstruction.

French drunk driving law

legal limit

The legal maximum blood alcohol level for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05% blood alcohol. This is less than 0.08% in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the same as in Scotland.

For bus and coach drivers, as well as newly licensed drivers with less than three years of experience, the limit is 0.02%.

random breath tests

The police have the power to conduct random breathalyzer tests. The test is mandatory after an accident that has caused injuries or when the driver has committed a serious traffic violation.

A driver involved in an accident or who has committed a traffic violation, such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt, must undergo a drug test.

Police use saliva or urine tests to detect drivers under the influence of drugs. If the test is positive, a blood test follows.

french tolls

French motorways are operated by a variety of private companies, most with tolls.

Tolls can be paid in cash or by Mastercard or Visa (Maestro and Electron debit cards are not accepted).

french service areas

There are three main types of service areas in France.

Rest zone:with toilets, drinking water, picnic area and playground
Service area:open 24 hours with gas station, restaurants and shops

fuel availability

Unleaded gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricating oil are readily available throughout France.

SP95-E10 fuel is available, containing up to 10% ethanol and 90% 95 unleaded gasoline. This fuel can be used in 60% of gasoline cars, mainly the latest models.

Now there are many automatic gas pumps that work with a credit or debit card. There is also a growing network of electric charging points.

Fuel prices in France can be found in our up-to-dateeuropean fuel pricespage.

How do I pay for fuel in France?

Credit cards are generally accepted at gas stations.

Now there are many automatic gas pumps that work with credit or debit cards. However, cards issued abroad are not always accepted by these gas stations.

European breakdown coverage

Get coverage when driving in Europe from less than £6 a day.*

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Frequently asked questions about driving in France

  • Do I need a GB/UK sticker to drive in France?

    (Video) 1971: The year humanity became enslaved

    You will need to display a UK decal on the back of your car. GB stickers have been discontinued.

  • Do I need a fire extinguisher to drive in France?

    No, it is not mandatory to carry a fire extinguisher in private cars in France. However, public transport vehicles with more than nine seats must have at least one on board.

  • Do I need a breathalyzer to drive in France?

    Strictly speaking, you must have a breathalyzer kit in your vehicle when driving in France, but the reality is that you won't be penalized if you don't present it during a police roadside check.

  • What does abseiling mean on French road signs?

    You can sometimes see the word "rappel" below a speed limit sign on French roads. It's just a reminder that you're still in that speed zone and should already be at the limit. It doesn't tell you that you are moving to a new limit.

  • Do I need my V5 to drive in France?

    Yes, you will need to bring the original V5 vehicle registration document (logbook) with you to prove that you are the legal owner of the vehicle.

  • Do I need headlight converters in France?

    Yes. Depending on your car you will need deflector stickers or you will have to manually adjust the beam. This is to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic when driving on the right side of the road at night.

  • How much are tolls in France?

    The amount you pay will depend on which highways you take and how long you stay on them. Costs also depend on the type of vehicle you drive, while caravan towers also pay more.

    Visithttps://www.viamichelin.comto calculate the cost of your trip.

  • Can you turn right on red in France?

    No, unless there is a yellow arrow pointing right. Please note, however, that the yellow arrow does not give you the right of way.

  • What is the national speed limit in France?

    The normal speed limit on French motorways is 130 km/h (just over 80 mph). If you are on a main road outside of an urban area, the speed limit is now 80 km/h after the law was changed in 2018, and for urban areas it is 50 km/h. In the rain, speed limits are reduced.

  • Do I need an international driver's license for France?

    As a general rule, all valid UK photo driving licenses should be accepted in other EU/EEA countries, therefore it is not necessary to have an International Driving Permit in France.

  • Do I need snow chains in France?

    Winter tires are not required by law in France, but snow chains must be fitted to vehicles traveling on snow-covered roads in mountainous regions according to signage or local conditions. Therefore, if you are visiting in winter, it is recommended that you take them with you.

  • How old do you have to be to drive in France?

    To legally drive in France, you must be 18 years of age or older and hold a full and valid driver's license.

  • How are toll roads paid in France?

    On most toll roads, you get a ticket as you enter the highway and pay the toll as you exit at a booth with a green arrow. Just insert your ticket into the machine and it will show you how much you have to pay. You can pay in cash or by credit card.

    If you regularly use toll roads, it is worth signing up fortelevision headsscheme that puts you in the fast lane without having to stop and pay.

  • Can you pay cash at French tolls?

    Yes, tolls can be paid in euro notes and coins. You can also use a Mastercard or Visa card. However, Maestro and Electron debit cards are not accepted.

  • Does France require a cartoon?

    To drive in certain cities, you will need to display a vehicle emissions label on your windshield, known as a Crit'Air vignette. There are six categories of stickers, which are color-coded by the number of polluting vehicles. They range from the cleanest (Crit'Air 1) for electric vehicles to the most polluting (Crit'Air 6).

  • How do roundabouts work in France?

    Traffic flows counterclockwise at roundabouts in France, not clockwise as in the UK.

    Drivers approaching a roundabout indicated by a triangular sign with a red border and three arrows forming a circle in the center must yield to traffic already on the roundabout. In the absence of a signal, the priority rule applies to vehicles coming from the right.

  • ¿France usa mph ou km/h?

    France uses the metric system for all road signs, so speed limits and other signs, including distance, are displayed in kilometers and meters.

  • Is it mandatory to take a spare wheel in France?

    There is no legal requirement to carry a spare wheel as most cars no longer have them. However, you should make sure you check all your tires before you set off. All motor vehicles and their trailers must have tires with a minimum depth of 1.6 mm.

  • Can I drive in France with a printed UK license?

    Your license is recognized in France as long as it is valid. Paper licenses are generally valid up to age 70. For plastic photo card licenses, the expiration date is on the front.

UK government travel advice

View up-to-date travel advice

If you're thinking about driving in the UK, get peace of mind at home or on the road with RACbreakdown coveragehoy.

*Price for 1 day coverage for up to 9 people traveling in a vehicle for up to 1 year in Zone 1.
RAC European Breakdown cover arranged and administered by RAC Financial Services Limited (Reg. No. 05171817) and provided by RAC Insurance Ltd (Reg. No. 2355834). registered in England; Registered Offices: RAC House, Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall WS5 4AW. RAC Financial Services Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to insurance brokerage activities. RAC Insurance Ltd is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Source: The information in this document comes from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) and the FIA ​​(Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of RAC's knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (November 2020) .

** https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/travelplanning/eurotraveladvice/europeancampingguide/page5/


Driving in France Advice | what are the laws | RAC unit? ›

Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in France. Riders of mopeds or motorcycles up to 125cc must be aged 16 or over. Driving licences issued in the UK, the EU and EEA countries are accepted.

What are the driving laws in France? ›

Generally you should give way to the right, and this is compulsory at all intersections unless signs tell you otherwise. Emergency services vehicles always have priority over other road users. You must give way to traffic already on a roundabout (so on your left) unless signs say otherwise.

Can I drive in France with a US license? ›

If you are a temporary visitor in France, you may drive with a valid U.S. (State) driver's license. In addition to having your U.S. driver's license, visitors are advised (but not required) to carry an International Driving permit, or attach a French translation to their U.S. driver's license.

How is the driving rules in France compared to the United States? ›

While the United States is ruled by stop signs and traffic lights, France is primarily ruled by traffic circles. Known as un rond-point in French, roundabouts are super practical, allowing for a continuous flow of traffic.

Do you still need a breathalyzer to drive in France? ›

Do I need to take a breathalyser kit to France? The short answer is, no not anymore. Still, most UK drivers and motorcyclists take them with them as we are a law-abiding lot. The French on the other hand have just totally ignored the law since it came into force.

Is it illegal to eat while driving in France? ›

It is illegal to eat at the wheel

Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere there is no actual law in France that bans drivers from eating at the wheel, whether it's a baguette, a bonbon or a boeuf bourguignon.

Can you go over the speed limit in France? ›

Breaking the speed limit in France will likely result in being hit with a large fine, points on your licence, or worse – so stick to limits displayed on the road signs – no matter what type of road you're on.

Can Americans rent car in France? ›

Note: To rent a car in France you must be at least 21 years old or 25 years old (minimum age varies by rental agency), and have a credit card in your name. Some agencies may require you to have had your driver's license for at least one year. Check specific rules with individual rental companies before booking.

Can I legally drive in Europe with US license? ›

If you have a valid license from your home state, you can drive in European countries for up to 90 days without further documentation. However, once you have spent more than 90 days in Europe and wish to continue driving there, it is recommended that you get an International Driver's License (IDL).

What countries accept a US drivers license? ›

When visiting another country as a U.S. citizen:
  • Your state driver's license is valid while driving in Canada and Mexico.
  • In other countries, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) for foreign drivers.
Apr 11, 2023

What US states does France accept for drivers license? ›

The following US states have a driver's license reciprocity with France: Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Connecticut.

Which country has the most strict driving laws? ›

Japan. It is absolutely prohibited to drive while sprinkling any pedestrian with water in Japan. The restriction appears to be more strictly enforced during June when typhoons leave standing water on streets. Strange legislation permits anybody of legal age in a car to drink as long as the car's driver does not.

Is driving around France easy? ›

Is driving in France easy? Driving in France is not fundamentally different to anywhere else on the Continent. Driving on the different side of the road is the main difference, and if you are driving your own car (rather than a French hire car) this will take a little getting used to.

Can you turn right on a red in France? ›

In France, a red light means stop, but an amber light also means that you should stop at the stop line. (There's no equivalent of turning right on red in France.) Some traffic lights have 'filter' lanes for turning left or right, shown with a flashing amber or green arrow.

Can I drink one beer and drive in France? ›

The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Sanctions and Penalties : Drivers found with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in your blood can be fined € 135 (£ 112).

Can you visit France with a DUI? ›

The European Union does not consider DWI a “prohibited offense”. As such, if you have a DWI on your record, you may enter any member country in the European Union and travel freely between member nations.

What can you not bring into France? ›

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Is it polite to leave food on your plate in France? ›

Eat it all

Be sure to eat all the food on your plate, particularly if you're at a dinner party. French table etiquette dictates that you should finish all your food. If you don't, you risk offending your host - who may think that you don't like their cooking!

Is it rude to eat while walking in France? ›

Never eat on the go

Therefore, munching on anything while walking around in public places is highly frowned upon. This applies to public transport, too.

What does rappel mean on French road signs? ›

You'll often see the word 'rappel' underneath speed limit signs in France. It translates as 'reminder' and its purpose is to remind you that speed restrictions are still in place, so you need to stick to the specified limit.

What happens if a speed camera flashes you in France? ›

If you're caught speeding in France, either a speed camera or the Gendarmerie will register your offence. After being pulled over by the Gendarmerie, you'll be handed a fine and you'll have to pay that fine on-the-spot.

Can I ignore a speeding fine from France? ›

It may be tempting, but it is not advisable to ignore a fine from a trip abroad. Throwing the letters in the bin won't make a fine disappear. You will receive follow-ups and payments can be chased. The fine is also likely to increase the later you are with payment.

Can a 75 year old rent a car in France? ›

In most of Europe, there is no car rental age limit for drivers over the age of 65. Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingdom all have all car rental over 80 years old.

What car insurance do I need to drive in France? ›

You must have third party insurance cover (a legal requirement) at the least, but it doesn't cover any costs incurred by you as a result of an accident. Make sure your policy is fully comprehensive and that you have your Certificate of Motor Insurance before setting off.

What side of road does France drive on? ›

France, on the other hand, chose to drive on the right. The French journey toward this decision might surprise you, however! When horses and carriages were first cruising through France, peasants and the poor ducked to the right side of the road while the aristocrats plowed through on the left.

Is it hard for Americans to drive in Europe? ›

Not really. If you prepare ahead of time and get the right documentation (IDP) and a rental car you're comfortable with (automatic transmission), you should be fine. Note that European roads are often narrower and more crowded than American roads, making it difficult to navigate sometimes.

How does a US citizen get an international driver's license? ›

How to get an International Driver's License
  • Can apply in person or by mail.
  • Completed AAA IDP application.
  • Two passport-sized photos.
  • Driver's license (either in person or photocopies by mail)
  • $20 IDP fee.
  • Accepts check, money order, or (in person only) major credit cards.

How do I drive in Europe with US drivers license? ›

Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver's license, but most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP) that you can get from the AAA (American Automobile Association) before you leave. IDPs may not be valid the whole time you stay abroad and/or may only be valid with a U.S. or local license.

Do I need an international drivers Licence USA? ›

If planning to hire or drive a vehicle abroad using a U.S. driver's license, individuals will need to obtain an International Drivers Permit (IDP) in addition to their driver's license.

What countries require an international driver's license? ›

An IDP is required in popular destinations such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Laos. Note that China never signed onto the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Travel. Americans cannot rent a car in China without first getting a Chinese driver's license.

Do I need an IDP to rent a car in France? ›

By law, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is not required for renting a car in France but providing one will definitely be beneficial for the renter. An IDP is necessary if the renter's driving license is not in the Roman alphabet (is in a language such as Arabic, Greek, Russian or Chinese).

Is my license valid in France? ›

All driving licences issued by a state not belonging to the EU or the EEA are generally valid on French territory during the 12 months following the date of establishment of normal residence in France (date of issue of the first residence permit by a Prefecture) (cf.

Can I travel to France with my US passport? ›

American passport holders are not required to obtain a visa prior to visiting France for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

What is the hardest country to drive? ›

Key findings
  • Liberia has the world's most dangerous roads with an estimated 35.9 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • India sees the highest number of road deaths with 150,785 reported (but 299,091 estimated) deaths occurring in total.
  • Other countries with a high number of road deaths include China, Brazil, the USA and Nigeria.
Feb 16, 2020

Which country has the hardest driving? ›

The Hardest Countries to Learn to Drive

Croatia is the toughest country to get behind the wheel due to their expensive and stringent driving tests that require a minimum amount of learning and monitoring to pass.

Which country has the most aggressive drivers? ›

The Most Dangerous Country For Driving Is A Highly Sought-After Caribbean Retreat
  • Dominican Republic – 64.6 per 100.000 inhabitants.
  • Saudi Arabia – 35.9.
  • Thailand – 32.2.
  • Vietnam – 30.6.
  • Malaysia – 22.5.
  • Iran – 21.5.
  • South Africa – 22.2.
Dec 12, 2022

Is it better to travel in France by car or train? ›

The vast majority of visitors to France choose to travel en voiture (by car). However, while driving is often the most convenient and comfortable way to get around – especially if you want to explore the French countryside – it's not always the easiest or even cheapest option.

Is France a walkable country? ›

France is one of the most walkable cities in Europe, and walking through its incredible cobbled streets feels like stepping back into a different century. France's walkable cities allow vacationers to enjoy beautiful culture, food scenes, and some of its most iconic tourist attractions.

What is the most efficient way to get around in France? ›

Travel France by Plane

A commercial jet will get you to Nice faster, but it won't be as fun as a bi-plane. Although nine out ten times, the best way to travel around France is by train, there are a few occasions when a flight is your best bet. Take Nice for example. The fastest flight time from CDG or Orly is 1:20.

Can I drive in France with US license? ›

If you are a temporary visitor to France (less than 90 days,) you may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license during this period only. In addition to having your U.S. driver's license, visitors must carry an International Driving Permit or attach a French translation to their U.S. driver's license.

Is it hard for Americans to drive in France? ›

Driving in France is not too different from driving in the United States and should be fairly manageable for an American to handle. Here are a few noteworthy differences to keep in mind before getting behind the wheel.

How is driving in France different from USA? ›

One of the big differences between French and American driving rules is “priorité a droite,” which basically means that you must yield to traffic coming in from your right. As with most rules, however, there are some exceptions. This rule does not apply on the major autoroutes.

What is the speed limit in France? ›

What are the speed limits in France?
Road TypeSpeed Lmit
Motorway130 kph / 80 mph
Dual carriageways110 kph / 70 mph
Main roads outside built up areas/A & B roads80 kph / 50 mph
Main roads within built-up areas50 kph / 30 mph
Apr 4, 2022

What is the speed limit tolerance in France? ›

If you're caught with one in your vehicle, you could be fined up to €1,500 (£1,312). The authorities may also confiscate the vehicle and device. It is also important to note that speed cameras in France have a tolerance margin of just 5% not 10% as you might assume.

What is the speeding fine in France? ›

French speeding fines

The standard speeding fine in France is 135 euros. However, if you pay this within 15 days it's 90 euros. If you pay it after 45 days, it is 375 euros. If the offence warrants a trial, the maximum fine can be up to 750 euros.

What countries won't let you in with DUI? ›

Canada and Mexico have generally refused entry to individuals with DUI convictions. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Iran hold sacred religious beliefs that condemn alcohol consumption. These views can make it a challenge for a DUI holder to enter.

Can you walk around with alcohol in France? ›

Alcoholic beverages are sold in grocery stores, specialized shops and supermarkets in Paris. Even if the wine is one of the national drinks, drink alcohol with moderation or you can be arrested for drunkenness and disorder in public roads. However, and unless you disturb someone and drive, you will not be bothered.

Can a passenger drink in a car in France? ›

You can't do that in Canada, you can't do that in France. You can have all the beer you want if you stop at a cafe but the driver shouldn't have any at all. The alcohol limit in France is. 05.

What can 14 year olds drive in France? ›

In France, you can drive a car without a licence from the age of 14. The AM licence, which is required for everyone born after 1 January 1988, is issued after an 8-hour training course at a driving school.

Is it illegal to drive with flip flops in France? ›

"You can't drive barefoot, in claquettes or tongs (flip-flops). It's something you learn in driving school," one gendarme told regional newspaper Le Progrès. "You've got to have closed or attached shoes otherwise there's a risk of the foot slipping or that it won't grip the pedals sufficiently."

What happens if you speed in France? ›

The standard speeding fine in France is 135 euros. However, if you pay this within 15 days it's 90 euros. If you pay it after 45 days, it is 375 euros. If the offence warrants a trial, the maximum fine can be up to 750 euros.

What is the slow lane in France? ›

Drive on the right-most lane

- If the right-most lane is reserved for slow vehicles, you should only use it if your speed is below 60 km/h.

Can you drive in France with a US license at 16? ›

GENERAL INFORMATION You must be at least 18 years old to drive in France. If you are a temporary visitor to France (less than 90 days,) you may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license during this period only.

What is the youngest country you can drive in? ›

Youngest Driving Age in the World
  • 16 years old: American Samoa, Cameroon, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guam, Isle of Man, Northern Mariana Islands, Saudi Arabia, United States*, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
  • 16.5 years old: Australia.

Where is the youngest age to drive? ›

In the U.S., you can typically apply for your full driver's license between the ages of 16 and 18. What states can you drive at 14? You cannot get a full, legal driver's license at the age of 14 in any state. You can get a learner's permit at 14 in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Is it legal to drive with headphones in France? ›

The French ban is designed to prevent motorists becoming distracted from their environment due to the use of headphones or earphones. Ignoring this could result in an on-the-spot fine of €135 (around £113).

What happens if you get caught drink driving in France? ›

Sanctions and Penalties :

If the breath-test reveals that a driver has more than 80mg of alcohol, it is considered as a major offense. The driver could be fined to € 4,500 (£ 3,744) with his driving licence confiscated immediately for three years and a possibility up to two years emprisonment.

What country has the strictest speeding laws? ›

Which European nation has the most speed cameras and strictest penalties? Norway has been revealed to be the strictest nation when it comes to enforcing road traffic laws with gargantuan fines far exceeding other nations the risk for anyone who breaks the law by speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol.

Do French speed cameras flash? ›

Do speed cameras in France flash? Most static speed cameras will flash, but police use mobile speed cameras which will not. Average speed cameras — which check average speed between two points across several kilometres — will not flash, nor will those in private speed camera cars.

Can you use hands free in France? ›

Distracted driving laws

It is against the law to be on your phone while driving in France. Notably, while hands-free use via an integrated Bluetooth function is allowed, using an earpiece or headphones is against the law.

What are the warning signs on the road in France? ›

Directional road signs in France are colour coded:

Blue indicates Autoroute. Green indicates 'important' or major roads. Yellow indicates temporary roads - often with déviations – detours. White indicates local roads.


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