Driving in France


This post has been updated to reflect the up-to-date position for the Brexit Transition Period from 1st February to 31st December 2020.

If you are planning on driving in France then this website will prove to be very valuable to you. We tell you what you need to know to avoid the pitfalls, we point out some of the delights of motoring through France, and offer FREE information, hints & tips.

Whether you are planning short trips in and around Paris or driving huge distances across the length and breadth of France through the beautiful countryside then this website is what you need.

Whether this is your first driving trip to France, or you're an experienced traveller this website is guaranteed to be of some use to you.

Driving on the continent especially through the stunning French countryside is an experience to be enjoyed. So for all you ever needed to know about Driving in France, read on.

10 Things You Need:


So here are the 10 things you need.

Driving License


Insurance Documents

Proof of Ownership (V5 Log Book)

Vehicle Must be Taxed in the UK*

Headlamp Converters

Warning Triangle

Spare Bulbs

Hi Viz Vest

GB Sticker or GB marked number plates


3 Things You Don't Need:


An International Driving Permit

An insurance green card

A GB sticker (if your number plates have GB on a blue background)

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*Each additional passenger in the car should have a Hi Viz vest allocated to them, even children.

Before you go, please read our cautionary tale about driving safely in France.


Further Information


* Vehicle must be UK road legal so it has to be taxed in the UK, but as we no longer have to show a disc in the UK it is more difficult for the French police to be able to tell if it's taxed. However remember that without UK road tax your car is not legal and therefore your insurance will not be valid.


Relax and Enjoy

Driving in France really is nothing to worry about, at first you will feel a little strange “driving on the wrong side of the road” but the process is straightforward. Our in-depth FREE information on everything from speed limits to driver etiquette will prove a useful resource to you the motorist.

Motorways and dual carriageways are the easiest to drive on and as long as you take it steady through the towns you shouldn't have any issues. Paris is one place that people avoid driving in if at all possible though it's usually issues with parking that creates the biggest headache. Parking up somewhere and using public transport for sightseeing is actually a smart move in Paris if you can find somewhere to park!

You do of course need to carry some compulsory items in the car (See Driving in France Checklist here) and be aware that radar detection aids are illegal, even if they are just part of your normal Sat Nav.

Road Types

In France as in the UK the different types of roads range from the narrow single track country lanes right through to 8 lane motorways. Driving through historical towns and villages has its own difficulties and charm as they were obviously built many years before the motor car was invented and some of them are simply unsuitable for traffic.

Roads come in the following main types, Autoroute (Motorway) which has red number signs. “N” which are the National roads, “D” which are the departmental roads these have yellow number signs. You might also encounter “municipal” (white number sign) and “forestry” roads (green signs).

The motorway network throughout France is far superior to the UK network in my opinion and you will not generally encounter mile after mile of road works like we have to suffer in the UK.

In the countryside and mountainous regions you may well come across less well maintained roads and worse driving conditions.

I personally prefer to avoid the motorways not just to save on tolls but because I particularly enjoy that type of driving and I’m never in a hurry. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination and have had some fantastic meals in small villages along my route.

Mountain Regions of France

A lot of people visit France for a skiing holiday and the areas in the Alps, Vosges, Jura, and the Pyrenees offer up some additional things to consider. They get an awful lot of snow and roads often get closed through the mountains and snow chains are compulsory in these snowy conditions.

You and the Law

Law enforcement via the French police can be a little heavy handed so having everything you legally need to hand will definitely make things go a lot smoother if you get stopped and a smile is advisable.

They will almost certainly want to see your driving licence, insurance and MOT and if they are being bloody minded the items in our checklist like warning triangles, Hi Viz vests etc.

The driving age for France means you MUST be 18 to drive in France not 17 as it is in the UK.

France has a lower legal limit for drink drive blood alcohol levels than the UK so simply do not drink and drive as even one drink can put you over the limit. See new rules about the legal drink driving limits here.

You may have heard about breathalysers being a legal requirement to carry in the car, but read our page on that before deciding whether to take some with you. Breathalysers in France do you need them?

It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving even if you have a headphone set or headphones. Mobile or cell phones can only be used via a fully fitted wireless Bluetooth car kit.

Seat Belts

Drivers of a vehicle in which any occupant is not wearing a seatbelt face three points on their licence, plus a fine of €135.

Children Under 10

Children under ten should be seated in a special seat or on a special booster, suitably approved and adapted to their size and weight. Children’s belts should be fastened firmly, across the shoulder and the top of the thighs.

Accidents or Breakdown

What to do if involved in an accident or breakdown?


French Road Signs

Understand what the main road signs mean in France, or you could make some pretty bad mistakes. See Road Signs Here.

Also remember that in France a single continuous white line is the same as a double white line in our country, you must not overtake when there is one in the centre of the road.

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Why not visit our sister website EuropeanBreakdownCover 4u.co.uk

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