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France - Road Rules

France has a good but expensive network of toll motorways, connecting the majority of cities efficiently and quickly.  Back roads are much slower but quieter too.  Heavy traffic can be a problem in summer months, with many holidaymakers.  Driving in and around Paris can be challenging - there is no unified outer ringroad and traffic can be very busy at times - if passing through it's worth giving the city a wide berth.

Speed limits

  • Built up areas – 50km/h
  • Normal roads 90 km/h reducing to 80km/h in the wet
  • Dual carriageways – 110km/h reducing to 100km/h in the wet
  • Motorways – 130km/h reducing to 110km/h in the wet.

Emergency numbers




  • Warning Triangle
  • Reflective Jacket (one which must be used when exiting the vehiclein breakdown or emergency situation)
  • Snow chains where signs indicate


  • Spare headlight bulbs


Minimum driving age on imported licence is 18


3rd party compulsory

Drink Driving

Blood alcohol limit is 0.05% (0.02% for bus and coach drivers). France has recently introduced a law that all vehicles must carry personal brethalysers. The law states that an unused brethalyser, approved by the French authorities, must be produced – so take two just in case. Enforcement of the law for foreigners has currently been suspended, however this may change in the near future.


On the spot for minor offences

Seat Belts

Compulsory for all passengers if fitted.

Other Rules

Watch out for the 'Priorite a droite' signs – here priority is given to the vehicle coming from the right. Many of these junctions have now been replaced with normal give way junctions or roundabouts – in which case traffic on the roundabout (from the left) has priority.

Road conditions and drivers

Many of France's motorways are toll roads – these are privately run and charge for the distance travelled. These can be expensive but the quickest way of moving through the country. Minor roads are much more sedate and scenic, although the speed of these can vary as they pass through towns rather than rolund them.

Driving around Paris can be a nightmare and is best avoided. Unfortunately the city doesn't yet have an effective outer ring road - instead all roads run towards the centre and you need to switch from one to the other to bypass the city.

French drivers are generally good but have a tendency to speed and tailgate on open roads if you aren't overtaking fast enough.