Tag Archives: driving

What is driving like in France – update

Driving in France is changing. None of the plus points in my previous post have changed, but regulations to ensure public safety are coming into force this year.

Here is a brief summary of the points which holidaymakers should be aware.

Control of speed.

Radar detectors have been illegal for some time, but now radar warnings on satnav equipment are also illegal. New systems will not include this facility, but it will be necessary to update existing ones systems so this information is no longer available.  The non-technologically inclined driver may find difficult to disengage this function although the website for our own Garmin was very helpful.

For the police, enforcing the new law will not be an easy task particularly as many vehicles now come with embedded software systems.

Nonetheless, the penalty for the new offence is steep – a fine of up to 1500 € and the loss of up to 6 points on a driver’s licence.

Using a mobile phone whilst driving.

 The fine has been increased for using a telephone whilst driving to 135 € and the loss of 3 points on your licence.  (The French systems deducts points rather than adds them!)

Straying on to the hard shoulder

The principal cause of drivers staring on to the hard shoulder is driver fatigue and up till now, straying temporarily into the emergency lane on autoroutes in France was not an offence. Under pressure from autoroute companies anxious for the safety of their workforces, the French government has introduced a new offence, effectively  clipping the hard shoulder, for which the penalty will be 135 €. Also, the existing fine for driving on the hard shoulder on French autoroutes increases from 35 € to 135 €.

Motorcyclists – high viz clothing and number plate requirements

Motorcyclists riding a motor-bike with an engine capacity exceeding 125 c.c. must wear a reflective garment. The French Department of Transport has still to define the criteria for reflective garments and the measure compelling motor-cyclists on French roads to wear something hi-viz will not come into effect before 1st January 2013. In the case of non-compliance, the offender would be liable to a fine of 68 € with a 2 point licence deduction.

There is also an alteration to the law concerning non-conforming number plates which applies to all road-users but especially bikers. The penalty for driving with a non-conforming plate increases from 68 € to 135 €. The Ministry of Transport will also introduce a new regulation concerning the size of registration plates carried by motor-bikes with the aim of making motor bikes more identifiable, especially if flashed by a speed camera.

In-car breathalysers

Local authorities have already begun to introduce on-board driver’s breath testing equipment on French school buses and such equipment will become mandatory in all vehicles in July 2012. Breathalysers will be for sale in supermarkets.

Subsequently to writing this article, The Daily Mail has published a very useful article summarising what you should be aware of.


What is driving in France like?

Rainbow on the A28

Stopping distance? No problem!

This year we’ve been asked more than ever for advice on driving in France for the first time. We’ve driven in Poland, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom within the last 12 months and have always felt a sense of relief to be back on French roads again.

The plus points

Uncrowded motorways with good surfaces which make for less stressful driving.

A compulsory reduction in speed during wet weather.

Roadsides which are generally clean, without drinks cans and polystyrene decorating the verge and polythene which looks as if it grows on the roadside trees.

Well maintained roads even in the smaller villages. Pot holes are rare.

Most lorries over 7.5 tonnes are banned from the roads and motorways at the weekends from 10.pm Saturday to 10 pm Sunday and also on public holidays. From early July to mid August the ban starts earlier – 7 am on the Saturday.

As well as Service Areas on the motorways there is a plentiful number of rest areas which often have children’s play areas, trees or artificial shade and picnic benches.

Cheaper fuel. Petrol tends to be very similar to UK prices (depending on the exchange rate) but diesel is 20% less. The Carrefour website at Calais has a ready conversion of their prices to the current exchange rate.  Link

Minus points

Motorway tolls –  an extra expense, but no constant changing of speed which saves fuel.

Directions tend to be posted at the last minute.

A new law – you must stop for anyone indicating they wish to cross the road!  This does not apply if they are within 50 m of a zebra crossing.  However, stopping for a pedestrian still causes some strange reactions.

The reputation of French drivers!

Driving in Style

This post is based on our own experiences, but you may have a different comment, a useful tip, an  interesting experience or amusing tale about driving in France to share?