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Top tips for driving in France

Driving in France - 15 Things You Need To Know

Going on a road trip in France can be an exhilarating adventure as you cruise through the charming countryside, halt at picturesque locations, and generally live la vie belle. Driving in France is easy if you follow the rules, however, there are a few quirky rules to keep in mind as well. Here are 15 things you need to know when driving in France:


Put your phone away

It is now unlawful to use a cell phone while driving in France, even if you are stopped, pulled over, or have your hazard lights on. Drivers who use a hand-held phone while driving face a six-month suspension of their driving privileges if they are caught doing so, especially while committing another traffic violation.


Adjust your headlights

To adapt to driving on the right in France, use headlamp converters to alter the beam pattern of headlights so that the dipped beam does not distract oncoming drivers.


Driving in France seatbelts
Driving in France speed limits

Avoid beeping as much as possible

Unless there is an emergency, you should never use your horn between dusk and daybreak. In urban areas, it can only be used to provide appropriate warnings to other cars.


Wear a seatbelt

Seatbelts must be worn at all times by all passengers in a vehicle. Children under the age of ten must ride in the back seat, and children weighing 9 to 15 kg must use a child seat with an appropriate restraining system. They can use a booster seat with a seat belt if they weigh more than this.


Do not drink and drive

The alcohol limit in France is 0.5 mg/ml per litre. It is not advisable to drink and drive because there are severe consequences. Drivers with less than three years of experience are only allowed 0.2 mg/ml per litre. If you test positive for a narcotic substance, you might face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 4500 euros.


Follow the speed limits

The nationwide speed restrictions are as follows unless otherwise noted by particular signage. On highways, the speed limit is 130 km/h in normal conditions, 110 km/h in rain, and 50 km/h when visibility is less than 50 meters. Normal speed limits on dual carriageways or inner-city motorways are 110 km/h, 100 km/h during rain, and 50 km/h when visibility is less than 50 metres. On other roads, the speed limit is 90 km/h in normal conditions, 80 km/h in rain, and 50 km/h when visibility is less than 50 meters. It is 50 kmph in all conditions in urban/built-up areas. If you exceed the speed limit by 40 kilometres per hour or more, the police will take your license on the spot. Your car may also be impounded. You could potentially face a fine and possibly be arrested.


Procure the right insurance

Before driving in France, double-check your insurance coverage. In EU countries, most insurance firms provide 90 days of coverage, however, it is typically third-party coverage.

Driving in France insurance
Driving in France speed cameras

Respect the speed cameras

Drivers in France are not permitted to carry anything that can detect speed cameras. Radar and laser detectors, as well as SATNAV and GPS systems, are examples of these. If your GPS system already has it, you must turn it off in order to drive in France. Infractions of this rule may result in penalties such as fines of up to 1,500 euros and confiscation of the gadget and vehicle.


Pay heed to priorité à droite

It is an antiquated regulation that the driver of a vehicle arriving from the right gets priority over the driver of a vehicle approaching from the left. Officially, the rule is no longer in effect. However, you may come across signposts with a yellow diamond inside a white diamond. Until you see a black diagonal line through the sign, it indicates that you are on a priority road. Even if there is no sign, priorité à droite is frequently presumed in villages and rural regions. When approaching a junction, you can expect that cars arriving from the right will not stop. The car on the left must slow down and, if necessary, yield the right of way. If an accident occurs, the car approaching from the left will be held responsible. The exceptions are roundabouts (ronds-points) when motorists on your left have the right of way.


Pay attention at roundabouts

When driving in France, keep an eye out for signs indicating that traffic on the roundabout has priority; however, if no indications are present, traffic entering from the right has priority.


Carry the right documents and tools

You must have readily available warning triangles and reflective jackets, original registration paperwork (V5c), also known as a motor insurance certificate, a passport, and, most crucially, a fully legal driving license.

Driving in France autoroutes
Driving in France car hire

Paste a pollution sticker on your windshield

If you drive in Paris, you must purchase a pollution sticker. Displaying a clean air sticker demonstrates how much pollution you produce. These can be purchased online for roughly 4 euros. Failure to comply with this rule may result in a fine.


Pay for parking and toll roads

Parking meters control parking and are activated by a special smartcard. The laws vary and can be extremely specific, so you must carefully study the parking signs. The highways are always toll roads. You pay per kilometre, pick up a ticket as you enter, and pay in cash or by debit card at the exit.


Hire a car

To hire a car in France, you must be at least 18 years old. Some companies, on the other hand, demand drivers to be 21 or older and to have maintained a full driving license for at least a year.


Call an emergency number

The emergency medical assistance number is 15, the police number is 17, and the fire department's number is 18. In case you experience a breakdown on a highway or toll road, you must utilize the orange emergency phones located along the road. A local company will tow you to a recovery zone, where you can contact your breakdown insurance provider.

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