Driving in France

Many of the same driving rules apply in France as in the UK, but there are some key differences to bear in mind.

Rules of the road

  • Drive on the right: As with most other countries, apart from a few (including the UK), drivers in France drive on the right and overtake on the left.
  • Giving way on a hill: If driving up or down a steep hill, make sure to give way to whichever can is travelling uphill.
  • Give way to the right: In the same way as British roundabouts, drivers need to give way to vehicles approaching from their right
  • Quiet that horn: Unlike many overseas drivers, in France the horn is only to be used as a warning signal to other drivers and is only to be used during daylight hours.
  • Fines for careless driving: French police are permitted to impose immediate fines on the spot if any traffic regulations are violated. They can collect this directly from you at your car or you have around 30 days to pay.
  • Parking safely: You are only allowed to park on the right hand side of the road, unless it is a one-way road in which case drivers can park on both sides if there is room.

Stay well-stocked

You will need to make sure you have all of the necessary items in your car with you at all times:

  • Breathalyser - since April 2013 it is obligatory to carry one in your car. Single use breathalysers are available at many supermarkets, chemists and garages at about 1 Euro each.
  • Reflective jacket - in case you are walking around the car in an unexpected place.
  • Warning triangle - for placing on the car should you need to stop unexpectedly.

Tolls

Be aware that you are likely to be charged for driving on some of France’s major motorways and some smaller roads. The AA has a useful guide showing the cost of tolls for both cars and caravans/trailers in France, so you can plan and prepare for the extra costs before you set off.

Embassies

In case of an emergency, you can contact your embassy for help:

British Embassy Paris - +33 (0) 1 44 51 31 00

British Consulate Bordeaux - +33 (0)5 57 22 21 10

Consulate Marseille - +33 (0) 4 91 15 72 10

 

Date published 01/08/2014

Information correct as of August 2014.

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