French Road Signs

If you don’t know the fundamentals of French road signs whilst driving in France, then you are a danger to yourself and other road users. 

Therefore, here at Drive-France we’d like to give you some of the basics of this crucially important topic, so you will know what do the French road signs mean?

We'll show you some common signs and point you towards other useful resources where you can find out even more detailed information, if you so choose.
French Road Signs
There are many thousands of UK drivers that load up the car and head for France during the summer months and an alarming number of them have no real knowledge of French road signs. 

You could argue that quite a few of them don’t know much about UK road signs either, but that’s another issue!

On the positive side the fact that you are taking the trouble to read this puts you a few steps ahead of most people.

After reading this page we suggest you also visit our "Checklist" and "Toll Road" pages.

French Road Signs and Meanings

Think about how potentially dangerous it is driving through a country when you don’t speak the language and therefore can’t read the written road signs or even understand some of the important ones without words.

Fortunately, France (and most other European Countries) has a lot of signs which you will immediately recognise as some are fairly universal but there are plenty that you just won’t know and would struggle to guess.

If you have your safety and that of your passengers to think about, I’d suggest you don’t want to be guessing.

French Road Signs Rappel

Even if you've driven in France before you may still find this section of the website a useful reminder. 

Which is a corny link into explaining what it means if you see the word Rappel under, for example, a speed indicator sign. It means that you are still in that speed zone both before and after the sign so it’s just reminding you of the limit not informing you that it is changing to a new limit.

Road signs in French with pictures

Ok so let’s give you the basics so you get a flavour of what to expect.

Yield & Stop Signs

At a yield sign in France, you must yield to traffic from the left and right, but don't have to stop if there is no one coming.

Yield signs are triangular with the point facing down and have thick red edges, they have no words on them.
Yield French Sign

Stop Signs

Fortunately, “Stop” means the same in English as French so you should have no trouble spotting these.
Stop Sign France

Right of Way

Types of Priority can get a little trickier as there are “One-Time Priority” (priorité ponctuelle) and also “Priority road”. (French road signs yellow diamond)
Priority Road
One Time Priority
priority road road sign
Priority Road
For more detailed information on the important topic of ‘Priorité à droite’ see our page on it here.

Priority on a Turn

Approach junctions with these signs on with caution as it isn’t always the road going straight on that has priority. See the example below it’s the road turning right that has priority.
Priority on a turn France

Triangular Signs

These are warning signs, and many are self-explanatory and some you will be familiar with.
Triangular Warning Signs

Traffic Signs - Directional

Most directional signs in France are rectangular in shape with pointed ends. The pointed end indicates the direction to the destination in question.
Directional road signs in France are colour coded:

Blue indicates Autoroute.
Green indicates 'important' or major roads.
Yellow indicates temporary roads - often with déviations – detours.
White indicates local roads.
It might not always be obvious, but all roads in France are numbered. There will be a small sign with a letter number colour combination at the top of the direction sign or signs. 

You can also find road markers bornes - on the side of the road. The letter tells you the type of road as does the colouring.
C & R = Communal/rural, black letters on a white background.
D = Departmental, black letters on a yellow background.
N = National road, white letters on a red background.
A = Autoroute, white letters on a blue background.
E = European roads, white letters on a green background.
French Road Sign Directions

No Entry

The French sign for “No Entry” is the same as the UK so that should be easily recognisable and the one with the Red edge and white centre means “Road closed to all vehicles”
No Entry Sign France
No Entry
Closed to Vehicles

Traffic Signs - Obligation

These show what you must do. They are circular with a white edge and a blue background and regulate what you must do.
Obligation Signs equals Must Do
Must follow these instructions

Entering/Leaving Low Emission Zone

In a bid to reduce air pollution in Paris and many other cities in France they have introduced a "Low Emission Zone" scheme whereby all vehicles must display a Crit Air sticker determining its carbon emissions. Failure to do so will result in a fine. 

See more details about the scheme and a list of the cities that have them. Crit Air low emission zones France.
Clean Air Zone France

Verglas Frequent

If you go to the skiing areas, in France then you may see a "Verglas Frequent" sign or some version of it. Verglas Frequent in English means that there is often ice and snow on this particular road. 

The word Verglas is "Ice" basically. So you may need winter tyres and in some areas even snow chains.  

Carpool Lanes

These have greatly increased in number over recent years. They signify a High-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) meaning they can only be used by “Car Pool” vehicles. 

The fine for using the lanes if driving on your own is 135 euros. They do have cameras to monitor the lanes so you must have 2 or more people in the vehicle. The sign shown below is Blue with a white diamond.

These are in use a lot on the Paris ring road and many other large towns and cities have them. This is yet another “green” initiative to go alongside the Crit Air Stickers mentioned above.
Hi Occupancy Vehicle Lane

French Road Signs Book

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jeff Steiner for his help with the writing of this article, for sharing his expertise on the subject with us and for kindly allowing the use of some of his images.

Jeff is an expert on the topic of French road signs.

Jeff is an American who has lived in France for over 20 years and because of a quirk in the driving rules between the US and France he had to take his driving test when he moved to France to be able to drive there! (One good thing about the EU is we can drive there legally) Jeff still takes many a road trip as he hasn't lost the car culture of his native Los Angeles!

Jeff's Kindle Road Signs Book

France is the largest country in Western Europe. Its Autoroute system has some 4200 miles of roads. That's not including national and departmental roads of which there are over 230,000 miles! That means there's lots of road signs you'll see and need to understand.

This paperback road sign book is by Christopher Anthony Malden.

In Summary

We are pleased at Drive-France to have had Jeff’s help with this excellent article on French road signs and we are happy to recommend his in-depth Book.

The book is available via Amazon and "As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases".


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