Driving in France is generally easy, but there are certain requirements you should be aware of before you start your journey. A simple but essential precaution is to ensure that your driving licence and car hire insurance documents are with you at all times. If your licence does not include a photo, carry your passport to validate the licence. Another law worth remembering, is that children under the age of 10 are not allowed to sit in the front seat of a vehicle.
Unlike in the UK, cars in France are driven on the right. One aspect of French driving that may cause confusion to British drivers are the arrows pointing left on the right hand side of the road, which indicate to drive straight on. For a left turn, this is signposted on the left hand side of the road pointing left.
Radar speed traps are common in France and heavy, on the spot fines, as well as points on your license, are issues if you’re caught. Speed limits on roads in France vary depending on the weather condition, for example, a toll motorway is 80mph in dry weather and lower when wet. It’s also worth noting that new drivers are restricted to 55mph for 2 years after becoming a qualified driver.
Whilst the alcohol speed limit in Britain is 0.8g/l, France has a lower limit of 0.5g/l (0.2mg/l for commercial drivers). Penalties for drink driving are severe and can including anything up to imprisonment. With French Police cracking down on drink driving, the standard advice is – if drinking, don’t drive.
Since July 2015, eating or applying make up at the wheel has been forbidden. It's considered to be driving with out due care and attention so remember, plan a safe spot to stop for snacks or to freshen up.
If you’re hiring a car in France, it’s also recommended that you take out car hire excess insurance for peace of mind, especially if you plan to drive on France's more remote rural routes. Learn more about UK & Europe Car Hire Excess Insurance before hiring a car.