Driving in France
Driving in France
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a car or motorcycle (over 80cc) after passing a driving test and at least 16 years old to ride a motorcycle up to 80cc.
You must have a minimum of third-party insurance cover.
- Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane), diesel (Gazole) and LPG are available.
- Leaded petrol isn’t
- You may carry spare petrol in a can in France
Most filling stations accept credit. Cards issued in the UK aren’t always accepted at automatic pumps operated by credit/debit card.
Most electric vehicle charging stations in France work with swipe cards (badges de recharge).
In Leclerc, Auchan and other major service stations and supermarkets you can borrow a ‘badges de recharge’ from their shop during opening hours. They may ask to see the registration certificate for the vehicle and may also ask for a small deposit for the card. You can use the recharging stations in LeClerc using your loyalty card.
The most popular and extensive networks are KiwHi Pass and Sodetrel.
KiwHi Pass: http://www.kiwhipass.fr/la-carte.html
Speed limits in France are determined by place, vehicle and by the weather. (Standard legal limits which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers)
- Built-up areas 50 km/h or 30 km/h where noted
- Outside built-up areas 90 km/h, however it has been announced that this will be reduced to 80 km/h from the 1st July 2018.
- Urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation 110 km/h
- Motorways 130 km/h (can be lower in built-up areas. Minimum speed limit 80km/h)
In wet weather or if you’ve held a driving licence for less than three years, lower limits apply:
- Outside built-up areas 80 km/h
- Dual carriageways 100 km/h
- Motorways 110 km/h.
- Front and rear seat occupants must wear seat belts, if fitted. Passengers/children in cars
- Children up to the age of 10 must travel in an approved child seat or restraint suitable for their age and size.
- Children under the age of 10 aren’t allowed to travel in the front seat unless there’s no rear seat, or the rear seat is already occupied by children under 10, or there are no seat belts in the rear.
- The French Highway Code doesn’t specify a minimum height for children to use an adult seat belt.
- Children don’t have to wear restraints in a taxi, but you could be fined if a child isn’t correctly restrained in other vehicles.
- It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers under 18 are appropriately restrained.
· You must use dipped headlights in poor daytime visibility.
- You must use dipped headlight during the day.
- Riders on any two-wheeled vehicle must wear a crash helmet.
- All helmets must display reflective stickers on the front, rear and sides in accordance with the requirements of Regulation 22 - a sticker of minimum surface area 18cm2 must be visible from the front, rear, left and right and within each sticker it must be possible to mark either a circle of 40mm diameter or, a rectangle at least 12.5cm2 in surface area and at least 20mm in width.
- The driver and passengers of mopeds, motorcycles, motor tricycles and motor quadricycles must wear a pair of CE-certified gloves while riding. This applies all year round, whatever the weather and you could be fined for not doing so.
Drinking and driving
- The French police can carry out random breath tests.
- The legal limit is 49 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 19 milligrams for bus/coach drivers and new drivers with less than three years’ experience.
- Penalties include a fine, imprisonment and/or confiscation of your driving licence and/or your vehicle.
- Saliva drug tests are also used with penalties for drug-driving similar to drink driving.
- If you are involved in an accident or commit a traffic offence such as speeding, or not wearing a seatbelt or helmet you will have to take a drugs test.
- On-the-spot fines or 'deposits' are severe and may be up to €750. An official receipt should be issued.
- If you don’t comply with parking regulations your vehicle may be towed away and impounded.
It’s compulsory to carry:
- Warning triangle (not required on motorcycles)
- Snow chains - you must fit snow chains when driving on snow-covered roads in accordance with local road signs. A maximum speed limit of 31 mph (50km/h) applies.
- Reflective jackets (EN471)
- You must carry at least one reflective jacket within the passenger compartment of your vehicle and must put it on before you get out in an emergency or breakdown situation.
- Since 1 January 2016 riders of motorcycles must also wear a reflective jacket in the event of an emergency or breakdown.
- Breathalysers o Drivers of all motor vehicles including motorcyclists but excluding mopeds, must carry one unused, certified (showing an ‘NF’ number) breathalyser in their vehicle.
- Check that any single use breathalysers you’re buying or that you used for a previous trip are still in date.
- The fine for not carrying a breathalyser has been postponed.
· You must not use headphones and headsets (any device that is attached to the ear) when driving. o This applies to all drivers and riders for phone calls and also listening to music/radio etc. o Bluetooth or integrated systems in a motorcycle helmet are still permitted.
· It’s recommended that you carry a spare set of bulbs.
· It’s recommended that snow tyres (marked M&S) are used on roads covered with ice or snow. These must have minimum tread depth of 3.5mm.
· The sign “priorité a droite” (often seen in built-up areas) means give way to traffic coming from the right.
· At signed roundabouts bearing the words "Vous n'avez pas la priorité" or "Cédez le passage" traffic on the roundabout has priority; where no such sign exists, traffic entering the roundabout has priority.
· You must not overtake a stationary tram when passengers are boarding or getting off.
· You can obtain parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas from police stations, tourist offices and some shops.
· When overtaking a bicycle, you must leave a distance of at least 1m in builtup areas and 1.50m outside built-up areas between your vehicle and the bicycle.
· You must not use your horn in built up areas except in cases of immediate danger.
· A device with a screen which can distract a driver (such as television, video or DVD equipment) must be positioned so that the driver is unable to see them. You must not touch or program any device unless parked in a safe place.
· If you’re towing a trailer, it must have two red lights, two triangular reflectors and a light illuminating the registration plate at the rear and orange reflectors on each side. If the trailer is more than 1.6m wide or is wider than your vehicle by more than 20cm there must be two white reflectors and two white side lights at the front of the trailer.
Low Emission Zone (LEZ) Crit’ Air Vignette
Low emission zones – either full time or ‘emergency’ – are being introduced across France and, so far, affect Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble. Strasbourg is expected to follow in Autumn 2017.
The zones restrict access to all types of vehicles including passenger cars and motorcycles. If you drive in one of these restricted areas, you’ll have to display a ‘Vignette’ (sticker) in your windscreen.
Failure to purchase and display the vignette will mean a fine between €68 and €135
You can read more and apply for a vignette on the official website (In English) here: https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en/
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