New laws came into force in 2016 for motorcyclists and scooter riders, regarding the requirement to carry a fluorescent hi viz vest or jacket while riding in France.
The new €11 fine applies if you get spot checked by police and you don’t have one with you, though the fine is €135 if you are caught not wearing it at the roadside (or on the hard shoulder) in the event of an emergency due to an accident, flat tyre or breakdown. (pillion passengers need to have one as well)
The introduction of the fine has come into force following yet more poor figures on the number of road deaths in France.
Image Via: Pinterest
It seems to have taken an age to finally implement this law as it was originally talked about seven or eight years ago. It was up until recently a classic case of “we used to be indecisive but now we’re not so sure” from the French government.
Originally the (former) French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, wanted to bring this in however under pressure from the French motorcyclist’s pressure group (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers), he backed down.
Spare bulbs are needed along with a Hi Viz vest. I personally don't take breathalysers any more because they are no longer a legal requirement (as of January 2020). Though they are still listed as a legal requirement by many websites that sell them.
Read all about the back story to the breathalyser rules and my opinion on it here. Breathalysers do you need them?
You also should have reflective stickers for your helmet in four places - one on the front, one at the back and one on each side. They must be fitted in a way that doesn't hinder the opening/closing visor of your helmet. Some helmets have them fitted as standard.
Stickers must have a minimum surface area of 18cm2. You can buy top quality stickers from us here at Motorcycle Helmet Stickers for France.
Also the new rules state that wearing gloves for motorcyclists will be a mandatory requirement, though I would guess that most serious riders would be wearing gloves these days without it being compulsory.
If you want to purchase any/all the items you need see the requirements page here.
See also this new Motorcycling legislation about riding in-between lanes of stationary traffic in France. People have always done it, but it looks like they might have finally made it legal.
We appreciate, and sometimes even the French police do, that it is very difficult to fit a GB plate anywhere on a motorcycle. We sell these small car GB number plate ones which have a peel off backing and just stick on (not the magnetic ones) and they can be slightly trimmed with scissors to fit on a lot of bikes so you might want to try one. (Trim it before peeling off the backing)
Here at Drive-France we don't pretend to be experts regarding Motorcycles but from what I remember from my youth bike headlights used to shed their beam forward and to the left on UK bikes and forward and right on European bikes (similar to cars) so as to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.
I believe though that in more recent years bike headlights just point forward so there is no difference in the direction of the beam between a UK or Euro motorbike. If you have such a bike then headlamp converters wouldn't be required.
It is compulsory though for dipped headlamps to be used day and night when riding in France. We therefore suggest that although the beam adapters we sell are for cars if you have a headlight that points the beam with a left side bias then our converters will do the job of preventing you from dazzling oncoming drivers.
Headlamp Converters for France. The ones we sell come with fitting instructions for cars (no one has ever made one specifically for bikes) but you should be able to work it out, and you'll get 2 in the pack so if you mess up the first attempt you'll at least have a spare.
Anyway it is up to you, but we feel that with a lot of newer bikes with stacked headlights or whatever our headlamp converters may not actually make any difference. However if you have a beam that points left then you really should use the converters as you will be dazzling oncoming traffic.
Try as I might I cannot find any information on the subject of headlamp beams for motorcycles on any official French government website.
Motorcycle holidays through France can be terrific and many people enjoy the thrill of biking through some of the great French countryside which has fantastic scenery, quiet roads and friendly locals who generally like bikes and bikers more than the UK do.
It's not compulsory to have breakdown cover while riding in Europe but you will be taking risk if you don't have it. You can never be sure of a trouble free trip. At Drive-France we have a sister website called "EuropeanBreakdownCover 4U" who offer cover for cars, motorcycles and even commercial vehicles.
As a motorcycle rider you will be used to people pulling out without seeing you but in France they may have seen you but be driving under a very old system known as ‘Priorité à droite’. So read about it here and here - and make a note of the signs because people will pull out from side roads onto the main carriageway without warning.
Details of other important French Road signs can be found here.
Ride on the right! Sounds daft but you’d be amazed how many forget that small fact. It’s not usually when you first get there as you are always concentrating then, it’s when you have been there 3 or 4 days and slip into autopilot mode.
Ducatis on France’s Cote d’Azur, Image Via Pinterest
Some of the very best routes around France are the minor roads and of course this will save you going through so many toll booths.
Many motorbike forums and magazines offer inspired choices for routes from the well-travelled so I certainly suggest some research prior to setting off!
Choose motorcycle friendly accommodation if possible, preferably where you can get advice on routes etc.