Driving in France

Apr 21, 2023

Driving in France as a UK driver requires you to be aware of certain rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Here is a summary of the main rules and tips for UK drivers in France:

  1. Drive on the right: In France, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road, which is the opposite of the UK. Be cautious when entering roundabouts, as you will need to give way to the left.

  2. Minimum driving age: The minimum driving age in France is 18. If you hold a full UK driving licence, you can drive in France. However, drivers under 18 with a UK licence are not allowed to drive in France.

  3. Carry essential documents: When driving in France, you must carry the following documents:

    • A valid UK driving licence (either a photocard licence or an older paper licence)
    • Your vehicle registration document (V5C)
    • Proof of insurance (a valid insurance certificate or green card if required)
    • Passport or national ID card for identification purposes
  4. Crit'Air emissions sticker: Some French cities have implemented low-emission zones, and you may need a Crit'Air emissions sticker to drive in these areas. Check if the places you plan to visit require this sticker and apply for one in advance on the official website.

  5. Mandatory equipment: In France, you are required to carry certain items in your vehicle at all times:

    • Reflective safety vests (one for each occupant)
    • Warning triangle
    • Headlamp beam deflectors (if your car has UK-spec headlights)
    • GB sticker or Euro-plate with the GB identifier
    • Breathalyzer (although no longer enforceable by law, it's still recommended to carry one)
  6. Speed limits: Familiarize yourself with the speed limits in France, which are generally as follows (unless otherwise indicated by road signs):

    • 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways
    • 110 km/h (68 mph) on dual carriageways separated by a central reservation
    • 80-90 km/h (50-56 mph) on other roads outside built-up areas
    • 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas
  7. Alcohol limits: The blood alcohol limit in France is lower than in the UK, at 0.5 mg/ml (compared to 0.8 mg/ml in the UK). Be aware of this difference and avoid consuming alcohol before driving.

  8. Seat belts and child restraints: Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers, both front and rear. Children under 10 years old must use a suitable child restraint, and children under 10 are not allowed to sit in the front seat unless there is no rear seating or all rear seats are occupied by children under 10.

  9. Mobile phone usage: It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving in France. You can use hands-free devices or headsets, but the use of headphones or earphones is prohibited.

  10. Tolls: Many French motorways have tolls (péages). Be prepared for this expense and have cash or a card ready for payment.

It's essential to familiarize yourself with French driving rules and regulations before your trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. For the most up-to-date information, consult official sources like the French government's website or your country's foreign office.