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Driving in France: Tips for Success

Driving in France: Tips for Success

Are you planning a road trip and driving in France? Or are you going on holiday to France to visit the country? If yes, this article might help you a lot to understand how to drive in France and what to expect from them. It can be difficult to drive in France since French people tend to drive fast and the government is really working on getting fewer people getting killed on the road. For your information, they were 8160 people killed in 2001 on French roads. In 2018, France manages to reduce the number to 3259 deads.

The laws about driving in France are getting stricter by the time and it is working. You might understand why there are radars everywhere when you will see some of the French people driving. By the way, if you want to learn more about this subject go read my article about French cars: The main French car brands.

What are the speed limits in France?

One of my advice would be for you to respect the speed limitations. First, this is for your safety. Second, there are a lot of radars on the roads mentioned by a sign, and, the police sometimes hide to catch the cars that are not respecting the law. The government of Macron voted for a new law to reduce the speed on certain roads.

The main rules about speed limitation in France:

  • 50 km/h in a city or village: It can be less sometimes like 45 km/h or even 30 km/h next to a school.
  • 70 km/h: Most of the time this speed limitation is on curving roads or around a town where there are still habitations.
  • 80 km/h: This is the new speed limit. On the road where you could normally drove at 90km/h, it went to 80 km/h. This new speed applies to the road with no physical separation between the two ways.
  • 90 km/h: This is the speed limit for secondary roads in France
  • 110 km/h: This for “Voie rapide” or translated into English” Expressway”. There are like highways expect there are free. On that kind of road, there are 2×2 ways. Fun fact, Brittany does not have highways, this region got only expressways.
  • 130 km/h: This is the maximum speed in France. This is the speed limit for highways. Be careful sometimes the speed can be reduced to 110 km/h or even 90 km/h for the highway in between Saint-Etienne and Lyon.

There are speed reductions for “wet roads”. This only applies if it’s actually raining. For example, the speed on the highway will be reduced from 130 km/h to 110 km/h.

Tips about driving in France:
You can use the Waze app or the ViaMichelin app for the variable speed limits, if you put in directions for where you’re driving, it updates as you’re driving.

Read moreBanks in France: A Guide to the French System

Road signs that you should consider in France

Red circle sign: It is forbidden or it is an order

Road signs France cercle
Road signs France cercle

Red triangle sign: It is a danger

Triangle road sign France
Triangle road sign France

Priority from the right: Meaning that unless there’s a give-way line at a junction, the driver on your right has the right of way.

Priority from the right France
Priority from the right France

Stop sign: This information is for our American readers, I have been in the USA 🙂 When you see a STOP sign at a junction, you have to physically stop. You can receive a fine of €135, and, if you are French you will lose four points on your driving license. There are 12 points on the French driving license.

Radar sign: a sign, few meters before, will announce the radars, watch out for them. France is developing radars that check your speed in between two points and calculate your average speed.

Radar sign in France
Radar sign in France

How do you take the highway in France?

A blue sign will indicate French highways. Most of the highways in France are not free. You will have to go through a toll. Facing the tolls, you will have different options. You will need a highway pass to get through the “Télépéage” with the orange “T” and you might not have one in your car. Go to the toll with the green arrow, the credit card, or cash signs.

Toll in France
Toll in France

Rent a car in France

Are you driving through France with a rental car? If yes, you should know that rental car companies would not overcharge you if you drop your car in another city. If the company charges you, it would not be pricey. Planning to drive an automatic car? I recommend you book it in advance.

How is the French people’s way of driving?

Don’t be intimidated into speeding because someone is driving too close to you, if it bothers you, pull in and let them race on ahead and get fined themselves. French people love overtaking and then nipping in front of you really close but it is a nationwide thing and they do not mean anything by it. Drive defensively, expects the oncoming car to be coming round the corner on your side of the road, French people often cut corners.

Also, they tend not to use indicators and sometimes they are using them in the middle of the road at a speed exceeding the legal limit to show that they are in the hurry.

Some random French driving laws

You need to have a yellow gilet and breakdown triangle in the car. A weird law to me is that you cannot drive barefoot, in sandals, open toes/heels, or flip flops but you must wear full shoes at all times.

No-license car in France

The no-license car exists in France, and the maximum speed is 45 km/h. They are so slow and so small that they can be dangerous on the road. That car can be driven at the age of 14! Can you imagine! Also, a French teenager can ride a moppet at 14 years old.

Driver gestures that you will see while driving in France

When a motorbike overtakes you, the driver might pull his leg. This gesture means “Thank you” for pulling your car a little bit on the right. In a parking lot, you might be looking for a spot for your car. Sometimes, you would not tell if the person has just arrived or he is leaving. If the person has just arrived, he or she will make a sign with one finger to the left and to right. This means, the person has just arrived and the spot is not free to park.

Circle roads everywhere in France

Circle roads are quite popular in France. This is a national competition among French cities. The city halls love to decorate circle roads with statues or art objects using bad taste, most of the time. By the way, this is one of the fun facts about France, I wrote about it: 10 Fun Facts About France That are Mindblowing.

Are you lost?

Your GPS does not work anymore? No panics follow the sign “Toutes directions”, “Every direction”. This sign will take you to the big junctions where you can find your way.

I hope that this guide will help you with your next trip to France and do not get offended if a French driver overtakes you 🙂 Now, I invite you to read my article about How to call French phone numbers.