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Driving in France

Driving in France, beyond the obvious point of being on the right-hand side of the road, is not the same as in the UK and rules differ, to some extent.

The age to be to drive a car on your own is 18 years old. In 2019, the law changed and it was made possible for people to start learning to drive at the age of 17, but only if they were accompanied by someone else that had their driver's licence. So, you can take the test from 17 onwards, but you can't drive alone until 18. Driver's licences and insurance documents should be carried with you all the time, otherwise you run the risk of being fined. The maximum fine for each document is 38 euros. The driver will then have to go to the nearest police station and show those papers within 5 days, otherwise there will be a fine of up to 135 euros per document and if it has to go to court, a fine of 750 euros.

Rules and regulations out on the road

  • While driving around, it should be remembered that a high-viz jacket must be in reachable distance (without getting out of the vehicle) in case of an accident or need to stop on the side of the road because of a break-down, etc.

  • A warning triangle must also be used. If you should break down, then you will need to use your own mobile, as French motorways and roads are progressively getting rid of emergency phones along the roads (since 2017).

  • It is forbidden in France to use earphones, or headsets while driving.

  • Radar-detectors are also illegal.

  • At any intersection, you have to give way to traffic from the right.

  • Regardless of what the signs might say, you should take into consideration the fact that the maximum speed is 130km/h on motorways, but that is reduced to 110km/h if it's raining. Be careful of the road signs though as the speed limit can change, even when you're not expecting it and there are road cameras everywhere these days.

  • Since May 2020, it is no longer an obligation to have an alcohol test in your car.

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