- Minimum age: The minimum age for driving a car in France is 18; it doesn't matter if you hold a valid licence in another country – if you're not 18 you can't drive in France. Additionally, new drivers in France are restricted to 90 km/h for 2 years after qualifying
- Cars in France drive on the right ;-)
- All passengers must wear seat-belts.
- If you are driving a foreign registered vehicle, a sticker showing the country of origin, must be attached to the vehicle regardless of what is on the number plate and, if you're towing a trailer or caravan that must also have a country of origin sticker.
- Children under the age of 10 are not allowed in front seats (except babies up to 9 months with rear facing child seats).
- You must stop at Zebra crossings – this is now enforced by law. If you're a pedestrian though take care as this rule is frequently ignored!
- Don't be tempted to exceed the speed limit you could be fined on the spot. Fines are very expensive and you are required to pay in cash!
- The drink drive limit in France is strictly imposed – you are allowed a maximum of 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood, less than in the UK where it is to 0.8mg/ml.
- Possession of a radar detector is a serious crime – you will be fined €2000 or more.
- You will be fined if you are caught using a mobile phone while driving
Priorité à droite:
This famous feature of French driving protocol is still causing confusion today even though it isn't as common as it was. Basically when you are driving in France, look out for a sign with a black cross in a white triangle with a red outline – traffic from the right entering into your road doesn't have to stop, you do…..even if you are travelling at speed. You'll also find that some right entry roads have very poor visibility so practice caution. We find that some smaller roads don’t have “give way” lines across them – often this is taken by local French road users as giving priority from the right so beware of this, particularly in rural areas.
There are at two main areas where you need to be careful:
Rural areas and small villages. You will often find that on minor roads priorité à droite is still assumed even if there is no French road sign. You need to look out for roads without a give way sign, slow down and don't wait for anyone to thank you. Assume that cars will simply come from the right without stopping on these roads – 99 times out of a hundred this is certainly what happens – cars do not slow down and check when they are coming from a road which has priorité à droite (priority from the right). The onus is on the car on the left to slow down and check and stop if a car is coming from the right. In the event of an accident the car from the left will almost certainly be blamed.
When driving in France there is a requirement to carry your Passport, driving licence, insurance documents, registration documents and MOT (UK). Some insurers recommend that you carry the documentation on you instead of leaving it in the glove box – if the car is stolen then you may have problems dealing with claims if you can't lay your hands on the relevant paperwork.
Headlamp beam converters as appropriate (eg UK cars).
All vehicles travelling on French roads must carry at least one yellow fluorescent jacket in the car itself – not in the boot (trunk). These jackets must be worn in the event of a breakdown or accident.
A red warning triangle which can be used in the event of an accident or breakdown. If used, it must be set up approximately 30 metres (100 feet) from the car facing oncoming traffic.
A spare set of bulbs and fuses and a first aid kit are not obligatory but highly recommended – you may find it difficult to buy bulbs in rural areas, or out of normal trading hours and you can be fined if a bulb is not working.