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Home > France > Driving In country

Driving in France:

Before you collect your car hire in France, it's probably worth having a look through some of the rules and regulations about driving in France - just so you don't come unstuck!

Driving license requirements in France:

Visitors to France can drive using their national license, as long as it's in a language that uses the Roman alphabet. If your licence is in any other language then you are legally obliged to carry International Driving Permit in English (available through motoring organisations such as AA, AAA, RAC, etc.) - that'll be enough to see you right.

Remember you must carry your driver's licence with you at all times. If your driver's licence has no photo you'll need other ID to prove who you are (a passport is ideal here). Also make sure that you have the vehicle registration document (V5) handy,  as well as a certificate of motor insurance.

Age requirements for driving in France:

French car hire companies employ strict age restrictions, which can vary across companies. Make sure you check your quotation for exact restrictions and/or requirements, as there may be an extra fee (included in the quote of course) for drivers below the minimum age or over the maximum age.

A bit of advice for driving your hire car in France:

  • Always drive on the right. Don't obstruct fast lanes. On some motorways and open roads you can overtake slow moving traffic on the left, just keep an eye out for the signs.
  • Like when your driving at home stay aware and try to get comfortable with the loc.
  • Take the time to have a word with the car rental staff about local driving requirements - it pays to be in the know.
  • The French require the driver and front seat and back seat passengers to wear seat belts that are fitted.
  • Children must wear seat belts even in the back seats. Children under the age of 10 cannot travel in the front passenger seat.
  • Maximum speed limit in France is 130 Km/h (75mph)
  • Remember that in the cities and built up areas that all streets and roads on the right have priority, unless indicated otherwise by signs.
  • Speed limits are enforced and there are plenty of radar controls. Radar detectors are illegal and you will be prosecuted for possession.
  • Always be polite and respectful with other drivers on French roads, it pays to be courteous.
  • Don't argue with police. Be polite, be patient and use 'Monsieur or 'Madame'.
  • Drinking and driving incurs heavy fines or even prison sentences. The French allow 0.05 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood

Speed Limits in France:

Motorway (if wet) 130 km/h (110 km/h)
Dual carriage way (if wet) 110 km/h (100 km/h)
Open road (if wet) 90km/h (80 km/h)
In town and villages (if wet) 50 km/h (50 km/h)

France & Fuel Types:

  • Unleaded Petroleum (gasoline and all grades)
  • Diesel
  • LPG
  • Always check carefully before filling whether your rental car uses petrol or diesel. If you do make a mistake do not start the vehicle as you could cause severe damage to the car which you'll be liable for. Instead ask the service station staff for a hand draining the tank, then you can refill with the correct fuel and hit the road.
  • Gas stations often open 24 hours a day and many are self-service, but times vary hugely, especially if you're out in the country - so be sure to have a full tank if your driving by night through rural spots. 
  • Most credit cards are accepted when paying for fuel.

Parking in France:

  • It's always best to use designated 'off street' car parks as strict laws apply for street parking, and you don't need the hassle of getting clamped or fined. If you're going to park on the street:
  • Always obey no parking signs - you could well end up with a clamping or an on-the-spot fines if you don't
  • Watch where you park as you would at home - penalties can be implemented for dangerous parking
  • There's a 90 minute parking limit in towns centres and commercial areas, so keep an eye on the time as you may be fined if you exceed it.
  • Always use the bins provided for rubbish, you might find yourself in hot water with the locals and/or French police if you're seen littering. 
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