Driving in France

Driving in France & French roads

Essential information for driving in France

About-France.com - a thematic guide to France

Driving in France - 2015 

A selection of maps
  • South from Calais
    best routes to the south of France
  • Real time map  showing traffic congestion and hazards on French roads. Zoom in.
  • French motorways map
  • Route maps showing hotels
  • S & SW: routes via Rouen - E5, E9, E11
  • Southwest : A10 Paris-Bordeaux - E5
  • Southeast :  A26  via Reims - E17, E15
  • East - West :  E19 - E44 from Belgium
  • Routes avoiding tolls:
    Options using minimal tolls,
  • ►  to SW France and N Spain
  •   to the Alps and the Mediterranean
  • Driving in Spain

  • French motorway tolls
    ► HGVs in France Avoid Paris ► Stop for the night Petrol prices in France
    Avoid tolls  using Toll-free routes Speed limits & cameras ►  New French driving laws ► Road numbers  & "bis" routes Accidents
  • Motorway service areas in France - les aires d'autoroute
  • Before driving in France - a checklist
  • Mileage chart - routes to the south of France Best ferry prices  Compare best rates  Ferries to France,   book directly  at cheapest rates

    Routes through FranceBy car through France - the main routes for driving to the south or west of France: click map for enlargement and details.

    About-France.com - over 200 pages of up-to-date general, cultural, travel and tourist information about France, written by people who know. All content on this site is  written exclusively for this website .
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      A guide to the main institutions of France - politics, administration, justice, education, health system, etc.
    Studying & learning French in France
    Travel websites directory
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    Relaxed motoring on France's backroads
    Quiet country roads....

    Motorway driving in France is normally quite relaxed...

    Related pages:
  • The Millau viaduct

  • Public holidays in France.

    The following days are public holidays ("jours fériés") in France, when all or most shops tend to be shut.
    • January 1st, New year's day
    • Easter Monday (though not Good Friday except in Alsace),
    • May 1st, Labour Day, Fête du Travail
    • May 8th, Armistice Day
    • Ascension Thursday
    • July 14th, Bastille Day, Fête Nationale
    • August 15th, French August bank holiday
    • November 1st, Toussaint, All Saints' Day
    • November 11th, Armistice, first world war.
    • Christmas (though not Boxing Day)
    Unlike in the UK, when a public holiday falls during a weekend, there is no extra compensating holiday on the following Monday.
    Note that on public holidays, hypermarkets will generally be shut, so unless you have a chip and pin credit card that works in French automatic petrol pumps, you'll need to fill up on the motorway or in normal filling stations.

    Other "driving in" pages....

    You may also like....

    Photo above: Joe Schlabotnik
    Licence CC.


    Here are the days on which to avoid the French motorway system if you possibly can. Heavy holiday traffic on these days will lead to delays and stoppages across the network, most particularly on the following motorways: A1 Lille-Paris, A6 Paris-Lyon, A7 Lyon Marseilles,  A8 Marseille-Nice, A9 Avignon-Perpignan, A10 Paris-Bordeaux (in parts). A63 towards Biarritz, and Alpine motorways in general.

      Official traffic density forecasts:

       Orange : delays likely in some places   Red= busy,  Black = saturated

    • July: Friday 10th, Saturday 11th, Saturday 18th, Saturday 25th, Friday 31st.
    • August: Saturday 1st (worst day of the season), Saturday 8th and Saturday 15th
    • July: Friday 10th, Saturday 11th, Saturday 18th, Saturday 25th, Friday 31st.
    • August: Saturday 1st, Saturday 8th, Saturday 15th, Saturday 22nd, Saturday 29th.
       All Fridays in August are classed orange.  Friday 21st and Friday 28th are red for the busiest regions.

    ► ►  NEW driving rules & laws in France:  

    1. ► ►    PHONING AT THE WHEEL   BEWARE....   HANDS FREE mobile-phone use is banned in France as from July 1st. The new rule applies to all hands-free phones using a headset, bluetooth or wired. Drivers caught using a mobile phone while on the road in France are liable to an on-the-spot fine of 135 Euros  – and 3 penalty points if they have a French driving licence. Statistics show that phoning at the wheel increases the risk of accident by a factor of three. The only type of mobile phone now legal to use in France while driving is one that is entirely hands-free and headphone free.

    2. ► ►SPEED CAMERAS IN FRANCE  2015 .  Things have changed.....
    There are now in France over 150 unmarked police vehicles equipped with onboard speed cameras. Most of these  - but not all nor always - patrol on motorways, or other trunk routes, but they are now operating throughout France, on minor roads too. Since recording speed from a moving vehicle is not quite a perfect art, there is a slight  tolerance; but vehicles clocked at over 140 Km/h in a 130 stretch of motorway are liable to get pulled a ticket and may be pulled over for an on-the-spot fine.
       In the first fifteen months after their introduction in 2013, these mobile speed cameras issued 270,000 speeding tickets... and there were less than 100 cars during most of those months.
        Most of the cameras are on board unmarked Renault Mégane, Citroën Berlingo or Peugeot 208 police cars, so they are not easy to detect - apart from the fact that the cars tend to be very clean, specially the windows. However, drivers are unlikely to notice one until it's too late, if they notice them at all. Thanks to new technology, these new speed camera cars can even flash vehicles going in the opposite direction .
      Beware also of average speed cameras, which record your speed between two points, often several kilometres apart. These are increasingly showing up on normal main roads, and they are not always indicated in advance. When they are indicated, it is just with the normal speed camera warning sign.  So be warned! Observe speed limits, and you won't have any problems !
       Also see Speed cameras below

    3. ► ►  French Breathalyzer law  

    Since April 2013, carrying a brethalyzer with you in the car has been obligatory in France... by law - at least in theory. BUT this is a wonderful law that you are free to observe or not observe, as there is no penalty for drivers caught without a brethalyzer in their car.  
        Single-use certified breathalyzers are now available in many supermarkets, chemists and garages throughout France, at a cost of about 1 €uro each. So the cost is minimal. 
       Contrary to information posted on some sites, the new law (Decree no 2012-284) does not oblige drivers to self-test after having a drink. But those who plan to self-test to be on the safe side should have at least two breathalyzers in the car, if not more.
         To conclude - breathalyzer or not - don't drink and drive. And remember that the tolerated blood alcohol level in France is 0.5 mg. per ml - just over half the limit tolerated in the UK (0.8 mg per ml).

    ► ► Don't fall for the "cheap ferries" scam

    Some internet sites that announce "cheap" ferry prices are actually charging more than the Ferry companies themselves. When taking a car to France, avoid dodgy websites by booking directly with ferry companies

    4. ► ►    STRANGE GANTRIES SPANNING MAIN ROADS  In recent months, hundreds of strange gantries have been erected over French roads. Contrary to popular belief, they are not average speed cameras, but HGV eco-tax cameras. All HGVs, including foreign ones, were supposed to be liable to this new carbon tax, also being introduced in other European countries. The start date for the Ecotax system was first scheduled for July 2013, then 1st Jan. 2014: then it was postponed again to placate protesting Breton lorry-drivers. A new revised and slimmed down version of the system was  scheduled for January 2015, but in the end the whole project was scrapped. Final score: truck-drivers' lobby: 1 French government: nil.

    BEWARE....   RADAR WARNING DEVICES  These have been banned in France since late 2011. Drivers using radar detectors (speed camera detectors) are liable for a fine of 1500 Euros and 6 points off their licence. This applies to specific radar warning devices, such as the Coyote, which must have their software updated to remain legal.
        With regard to TomToms and other GPS systems, which have speed camera locations programmed in to their software, the situation is confusing. These are not officially "radar detectors", but manufacturers are obliged to make new software available, and most have done so. Tomtoms and other GPS systems are technically in breach of the law if they still have radars listed in their Points of Interest software; and even if it is not clear how roadside police can stop and check for offending software, rather than hardware, drivers are warned to err on the side of precaution and download the latest map software for France.  This is advisable anyway, since older software is not up to date with regard to new routes, new speed restrictions, and other changes.
       For both existing radar warning devices and GPS devices, current radar information is being replaced with warnings to announce "danger zones", many of which will be areas with speed cameras.
    ► Car hire in France.
    Cars can be hired throughout France, at airports, in city centres, at mainline railway stations and other locations. The big names in car hire all have their operations in France, but there are also a number of cheaper suppliers. Visit our car-rentals page and get your quotes from a range of companies.    Click for car-hire in France


    It is generally accepted that today's France has an excellent road and motorway network; compared to the UK, France has the same population spread over twice as much surface area, which tends to mean less congestion on the roads, easier driving than in the UK, but longer distances to cover.  

     Up to 12% off
    travel insurance:
    quote code Flex512
    ► Travel documents, things you must have before driving in France:
    Click to visit "Before driving to France - a checklist".

    ► Children in the car, seatbelts. Children under 10 years old are not allowed to travel in the front seat of a car, unless there are no back seats. Children under 10 years of age must travel in the back, using an appropriate child seat or booster seat. Babies are allowed to travel in the front passenger seat, but only when placed in an approved rear-facing baby seat and the airbag is turned off.
    Seatbelts must be worn at all times when driving in France, by both adults and children, and both in the back and front seats. Rear passengers can only travel without seatbelts in the back of older cars in which they are not fitted (Article R412-1 of the French Highway code).

    ► Avoiding problems. When driving in France, in spite of the cost, it is generally worthwhile taking motorways (autoroutes) unless you have time to go at a more leisurely pace. However, there are some useful tips to help you cut down on the cost of your trip across France.
    a) Petrol (gasolene) (fr. essence): don't fill up on the autoroute! Wait until a major intersection near a town or city, and come off the autoroute. You will almost certainly find a hypermarket / superstore within a kilometer or so of the exit, offering cut price fuel. The saving can be us much as 15 centimes per litre.
    b) Anyone who intends to do lots of driving in France could find it in their interest to have a diesel car, particularly a modern fuel-efficient model. Diesel fuel in France (often called gasoil, pronounced gaz-warle) used to be about a third cheaper than unleaded, but that is no longer the case; today - 2015 - diesel retails for about 20 centimes a litre less than unleaded, but it also goes further. Very few service stations now stock the old leaded petrol, known as "super". See petrol prices in France below for recent updates.
    c) Use free autoroutes or dual-carriageways where they exist. See below for details.
      See below for ideas on avoiding accidents.

    ► French road signs:
    Signs indicating a motorway route (whether on the motorway or pointing to it) are indicated with white lettering on a blue background, as in the picture below left.
    Signs indicating a non-motorway main route (route nationale or other) are indicated with white lettering on a green background, as in


    French motorways, known as autoroutes, are designated with numbers preceded by the letter A (for Autoroute). Thus, when driving to the south of France from Calais, you can either take the A16 autoroute towards Amiens and Paris, or (normally an easier solution) the A26 motorway via Rheims. Most French autoroutes are toll motorways, and entrances to them are marked as such with the word "Péage" (pronounced pay-arje). The normal procedure is to pick up a ticket from a booth as you enter the autoroute (just press the button); tolls are paid either when you leave the autoroute, or else when the toll section comes to an end. In a few places, there are fixed toll points on the autoroute, notably in urban areas or toll bridges.

    Principal signs on French toll gates:
    • X -  Red cross: closed -
    • Green arrow: open, all methods of payment
    •   Blue CB rectangle or black and white credit card pictogram :  debit or credit cards only  
    •  Orange T :  Télépéage – slow down only, no stopping - only for vehicles fitted with toll charging sensors.
    Many toll-gates are for both credit-card payment and Telepéage... meaning that if you have a télépége transpondre, you may still get held up behind people paying by card, if there is a queue.
      Cash payment toll-gates (green arrow or pictogram of coins) will provide change – even the automatic ones.

    Frankly, for occasional French motorway users, subscribing to the Liber-T system is a waste of money - unless you think that 20 € a year is worth paying in order to save perhaps a total of 10 minutes at the tolls, or are only travelling at very busy periods. On normal days, you can be through a credit-card payment booth in a minute or less.
    The "Liber-T" charging sensor is available in the UK, but Sanef, the French motorway operators' company, charges higher rates for users applying via its English language website than for applications from its French website - which can only be used by people having a bank account in France. 

    2015 Motorway tolls in France  - Tolls valid as of April 2015

     The cost of motorway travel for a car without caravan or trailer is about 1 €uro for 10 miles. For example, in March 2015 motorway tolls on the 1060 km trip from Calais to Marseille, via Reims, almost all of it on toll motorways, cost 88.2 €uros, about £64. . Here are the toll costs for a selection of other common journeys that use toll motorways over long distances:
    Sample selection of motorway tolls : April 2015 (for cars)
    (For Car + caravan or normal size motorhome ; add about 50%).
    Truck / HGV toll rates (class 4)
    : approximately three times the rate for cars.
    From Calais :
    Calais - Abbeville (- Rouen). 8.00 €
    Calais - Paris, via A 16: 20.60 €
    Calais-Marseilles, via Reims: 88.20 €uros
    Calais-Bordeaux, via Rouen & Chartres
       57.00 €
    Calais-Bordeaux, via Rouen & Le Mans
       72.50 €
    Calais-Toulouse, via Paris 56.40 €
    Calais-Toulouse via Rouen, Dreux: 37.10 €
    Calais - Perpignan via Rouen, Chartres & A 71: 55.20 €
    Calais-Nice, via Reims, Dijon & A39:
      103.80 €
    Calais-Grenoble, via Reims, Dijon, A39:  74.00 €
    From Le Havre :
    Le Havre - Montpellier via Chartres & A 71: 44.70 €
    Le Havre - Bordeaux, via Alençon: 62.80 €
    Le Havre - Bordeaux, via Paris: 74.20 €

    Roscoff - Toulouse via Bordeaux: 43.00 €

    Paris - Nice via Beaune 75.00 €
    Paris - Bordeaux via A10: 54.40 €
    Paris - Bordeaux via A10 to Poitiers then N10 via Angoulême: 34.60 €
    Bruxelles / Brussels - Marseilles, via Valenciennes and Reims: 78.60 €
    Strasbourg - le Perthus (Spanish border): 69.80 €
    Freiburg im Breisgau / Mulhouse - Perpignan: 68.20 €
    Freiburg / Mulhouse - Montpellier, via Lyon: 54.30 €
    Freiburg im Breisgau - Bayonne, via Châlon sur Saône and Bordeaux:  64.80 €

    The average cost per kilometre depends on what proportion of the journey involves free motorways or other roads. Drivers wanting to avoid French motorway tolls should remember that it is not necessarily the best solution to avoid all tolls, particularly in fairly populated areas. using other roads, with their traffic lights, speed restrictions and roundabouts will mean longer journey times and more stress. ... even if you have a satnav to help you along...  
    Alternatively, check out this low-tolls or no-tolls route to Southwest France and the Spanish border.

    TIP : Ways to save on motorway tolls when driving to southwest France
    Though it is usually easiest and in the end worth it to take direct motorways and pay the tolls, there is one journey where you can make an appreciable saving for just a few extra kilometres.
    If driving from Paris to Bordeaux and southwest France, do not follow the A 10 motorway all the way. Leave the A10 at Orleans, following A71 > A20 Toulouse. At Limoges, follow N141 > Angoulême. At Angoulême, follow the N10 for Bordeaux. All but about 60 km. of this alternative route to Bordeaux is on autoroutes or dual carriageway, but after Vierzon, it's all free. Saving: about 36 €uros less in tolls, for a distance of about 15 miles extra.... and cheaper off-motorway petrol if you need it.
        Alternatively, check this low-tolls or no-tolls route to Southwest France and the Spanish border.
    Click here for a zoomable detailed road map of France.
    For more information on French motorway tolls, follow this link to the French motorway network website in English: this site provides a form to fill in, to calculate the cost of a motorway trip through France.
    For a detailed route, use the route-finder map and distance calculator page on About-France.com.

    Free motorways and routes avoiding tolls 

    There are a few free motorways in France, and some long-distance dual carriageways that are up to motorway standard.  It is even possible to drive right through France avoiding all tolls - though this is not necessarily the best nor the most economical solution. The two links below show our recommended routes to the South of France avoiding most tolls - and alternatives avoiding all tolls.

    Among free motorways note in particular
    • two thirds of the section on the A16 - A28 route between Calais and Rouen
    • the A 84 from Caen to Rennes
    • 275 km of the A20 from Vierzon to just south of Brive la Gaillarde (the longest stretch of free motorway in France, and the main Paris-Toulouse route).
    • the A75 motorway between Clermont Ferrand and Beziers - an alternate route for people driving to Languedoc and the Spanish border. Note however the Millau viaduct has a toll (Toll prices). Mountain motorway not recommended for caravans or in winter.
    • the motorway between Dunkerque and Lille.
    • Most urban and peri-urban autoroutes in France are also free; and even when they are not, it makes more sense to pay the toll and avoid miles of traffic lights and congestion.
    ► Major dual-carriageway routes 
    For other dual carriageways, check on a detailed map of France.


    These in France are still popularly known as "routes nationales". However, in the framework of "regionalisation", responsibility for most roads has been devolved to local authorities, and the concept of "routes nationales" has largely disappeared. The only "N" roads that now survive are ones that - in the absence of an "autoroute", form part of the strategic national road network, such as the N21 from Limoges to Tarbes, or the N13 from Cherbourg as far as Caen.

    Road numbering in France

    "A" roads, such as A71, are motorways, or Autoroutes
    "N" roads are strategic trunk routes - the National network.
    "D" roads are roads whose upkeep is paid for by the local Department, or county. They can be anything from busy local routes or former National routes now downgraded, to the quietest of country backroads.

    When driving in France, it is always best to follow destinations rather than road numbers. Following the regionalisation of responsibility for many roads, the result - if you want to travel by following road numbers - is a classic state of confusion; Drivers following the N13 south from Cherbourg lose it at Caen, as it becomes the D 613 thereafter! From Evreux to Mantes the "N 13" signs reappear, but after that it's the D 113....For another example, anyone wanting to avoid the toll motorway and drive along the old "route nationale" to the southwest corner of France, from Chartres to Biarritz, will follow three disconnected sections of main road known as "N 10"; but in areas where the old N10 is now close to a parallel motorway, the road is now signed as "D 910" or the "D 1010". Some old "N" roads now blithely change their number each time they pass from one department to another !!
    This is all very confusing for foreign visitors driving in France, but not so much for the French, since with the exception of motorways, they  follow a destination, rather than a road number. Destinations via main trunk routes are indicated by the names of towns in white letters on a bright green background, as shown above.

    French motorway signNote that France also displays European route numbers where appropriate; these are marked with a white number on a green background, and are in addition to the French road number. For example the A 6  motorway from Paris to Lyon is also marked as E15 - E15 being a European route running from Inverness to Algeciras.

    In the motorway sign on the right, the A43 autoroute is also indicated as being the E70; the main towns it leads towards are indicated in normal lettering; other destinations, such as airports, are indicated in italics. The word "Péage" at the bottom indicates that this is a toll motorway.

    "Bison Futé" and the backroads of France

    Alignement de platanes - row of plane trees

    : In bygone times many great "alignements de platanes" - or avenues of plane trees - were planted to give shade to travellers on French roads, specially in the south of France. Though the plane-lined road remains one of the iconic images of France today, few remain, except for short sections on country roads, such as here in Languedoc.

    Sometimes you may see direction signs starting with the word Bis, in italics. These are the equivalent of the British "HR" (holiday route) itineraries, using less crowded main roads. Thus a sign saying "bis Lyon" is an alternative route avoiding the main roads, and generally with less lorry traffic. Bis, in French, means second (as in the prefix bi-).
    The "Bison futé" (in English the cunning bison) is the motorist who does not follow the crowd, but seeks out less crowded easier roads, the "routes bis", thus the "bis-on". If you see a bison futé sign, it will be directing you either  to alternative routes themselves or to an information point. On summer Saturdays, being a cunning bison is often well worth it, unless you love driving in heavy traffic or sitting in traffic jams.

    Driving on the backroads of France requires a good map - or a Satnav that allows you to wander off the beaten track; but in many places, it can still make driving a pleasure, rather than a chore

    ► Avoiding Paris
    This is a good idea on most days. When driving from Calais to the south of France, use the A 26 motorway via Reims, Troyes and Dijon.
    If driving to south western and central France, avoid Paris going via Rouen, Evreux, Chartres and Orleans. There is no motorway between Evreux and Orleans, but the road over this section is currently being upgraded to dual carriageway, and over half of it is now complete. Avoiding Paris- click for details and route map

    ► Avoiding peak periods
    If you can avoid travelling on Saturdays between July 10th and August 30th, this is very advisable. On these days, many French autoroutes - and in particular all the main arteries to the south - are liable to reach saturation. The worst bottlenecks are in the Rhone valley south of Lyons, along the south coast, and around Bordeaux.
    In January and February, Alpine motorways can get hyper-snarled up with traffic.
    Check out the busy holiday weeks for 2015

    However, outside these periods, Saturday and Sunday are the best days for driving in France, on motorways and arterial roads. Indeed, on these days, HGV's - lorries or trucks - are banned, meaning that unless you get stuck behind caravans or camper vans, combine harvesters or other various slowdowns, driving is relatively hassle-free.

    ►HGV restrictions in France

             See themed page :  HGV information for France

    ► Petrol (Gas) stations in France

    Almost all petrol stations in France accept Visa and Mastercard; however take care with 24h automatic pumps in supermarket forecourts. Many of these do not accept credit cards without integrated chip and PIN number. Most UK cards now have integrated chip and pin, so the times when UK cards did not work in French petrol stations are now history for most travellers. However, if you think you may need to fill up in an emergency while driving in France, check your card out at a supermarket self-service pump well before you run out. If it doesn't work, nip round and join the queue for the pay-at-the counter pumps. Make sure that you don't have to fill up in an emergency using an untested card at an unmanned filling station at night or on Sundays.

    France Fuel price watch:

    Compared to the UK, there is not a big difference, except for diesel which is much cheaper (about 15%)  in France. In early  July 2015 typical supermarket fuel prices in France were :
    Unleaded 98 octane 1.45 Euros per litre
    Unleaded 95 octane 1.40 Euro per litre
    Diesel 1.15 Euros per litre.
    In non-supermarket and motorway filling stations, petrol prices can be anything from 5 to 20 cts. a litre more expensive, depending on the location.
    E10 graded fuels (containing 10% of ethanol bio-fuel) are a couple of centimes cheaper, where they are available.  These are compatible with most modern cars; if in doubt check with your supplier.

    (There are 3.79 litres to 1 US gallon; but generally speaking cars in Europe are smaller and consume less fuel than cars in the USA.)

    ► Speed limits and other rules

    Here are the normal speed limits for driving in France:
    • The normal speed limit on French motorways is 130 km/hr (just over 80 mph). - or 110 km/hr in rain.
    • The normal speed limit on dual carriageways (divided highways) is 110 km/hr
    • The normal speed limit on main roads is 90 km/hr (outside built-up areas)
    • The normal speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/hr – unless otherwise indicated.
    Note: there is not necessarily a specific speed-restriction sign at the entrance to a built-up area, particularly at the entrance to small villages. The | name-board | at the entrance to a village or town ( dark blue letters on an off-white background) automatically indicates a built-up area with a speed limit of 50 km/h, unless otherwise indicated. Police speed cameras are often set up in villages where traffic too often forgets to slow down.

    Over the limit? Generally, there is a small tolerance for drivers who exceed the speed limit - but be advised that it is best to observe speed limits which are there for a reason. Until recently, speed cameras tended to be stationary and visible; nowadays, the gendarmerie are using more and more mobile radars, in unmarked cars. Be warned ! Otherwise you may face an on-the-spot fine or - if your are caught driving more than 50 km/hr over the limit - an instant ban and an impounding of your vehicle.

    Speed cameras 

    There are now well over two thousand stationary speed cameras on France's roads and motorways.
    Unfortunately, the official French radar speed camera map was removed from the Internet in May 2011, following a government decision to stop warning drivers of upcoming speed cameras. A lot of the warnings haven't really gone -  just changed : but others have really gone, and have not been replaced, so take care !

    Speed warning► Speed camera warnings .  Some of the big old signs that used to warn drivers of an upcoming speed camera have been removed. But most of those that have gone have now been replaced by automatic speed detectors, which flash up the speed of each approaching car on a luminous panel. 
       It's best to understand what these are about:  if you see a luminous panel flashing up, say 101 then 99, then 97 as you approach it while decelerating, that is your speed. The photo, right, is flashing a red 75, because the car approaching is exceeding the 70 Km/h speed limit in the location. So keep down or drop down to below the speed limit, as there is quite likely to be - though not always - a speed camera coming up. Some speed detectors just flash up your speed in white lights, others in green or red lights depending on whether you are within or above the speed limit. Some show a smiley below the speed - grumpy if you're above the limit, smiling if you're within the limit.
       Latest news (2014) : Most fixed speed cameras now have warnings of some sort or another. This goes for static cameras and for the new average speed cameras. But obviously, it does not go for mobile cameras carried round and set up by gendarmes. The only warning you may get of these is when approaching cars flash their headlights at you.

    New radars are being set up all the time, so any unofficial maps that may be available on the Internet are unlikely to be complete, and in any case cannot include the mobile radar cars or the movable stationary speed cameras, of which there are currently about 1000. So the best rule - not to say the most sensible one - is "Do not exceed the speed limit".

    Average speed cameras - "radars tronçon" : The first average speed cameras, known in French as radars tronçon, were introduced on French roads and motorways in 2012. These cameras, already used in several other countries, calculate the average speed of a vehicle driving between two points. Their use is being developed, and there is no specific warning saying "Average speed cameras in use" nor even the equivalent in French. You just need to be aware that posts at the side of a road carrying a couple of cameras or more are liable to be average speed cameras.
    Contrary to a sometimes-heard myth, toll tickets are not knowingly used to compute a car's average speed between two points.
    Mobile phones: it is an offence to hold and use a mobile phone while driving in France. Hands-free use of mobile phones is not illegal. Though many drivers ignore this rule, traffic police are clamping down on drivers holding phones to their ears while driving, and drivers are liable to an on-the-spot fine.
    Minimum age: The minimum age for driving a car in France is 18; thus no-one under the age of 18 can drive a car in France, even if he or she holds a valid licence in another country.

    "Priorité à droite" - Priority to the right.

    Once upon a time, this was the general rule in France; at any intersection, traffic had to give way to cars coming in from the right.  Today this is still true only on very minor rural roads, and at junctions in suburbia and villages, between roads of similar status. All main roads - N roads and D roads - are generally priority roads, marked with a yellow diamond sign. Priority ends when there is a yellow diamond with a black strike-through. While on a priority road, you have priority over all traffic coming in from a side road, unless your priority ends.
       Priority may end at the entrance to an urban road system, or at a roundabout. It must be signaled.
         When not on a priority road, for instance on a small rural road, you must give way to traffic coming in from the right, unless the road on the right has a stop or give-way sign.
         Roundabouts: in 99.9% of cases, priority is indicated. Traffic already on a roundabout has priority over traffic entering it.... so no priority to the right here.  EXCEPT at some big urban roundabouts such as the place de l'Etoile on the Champs Elysées in Paris, where it is priority to traffic entering, or trying to enter, the roundabout system.

    Wining and driving
    Wine is available with meals in French motorway service areas - a fact that surprises a lot of visitors. But don't forget that the drink drive limit in France is lower than it is in the UK. The best advice is the same everywhere; don't drink and drive.

    ► Overnight stops.
    Motorway hotels or something else? France is very well equipped in hotels and other types of accommodation. Many of the chains , such as Novotel (3 stars) , Mercure (3 stars), Ibis (2 stars) , Ibis budget (2 stars), and Formule 1 (1 star), have outlets clustered near motorway exits, notably near the exits from toll motorways and around towns and cities. The hotel links below list only the French motorway hotels that are really easy to find.
    Find and book an overnight stop ....
    Click here for hotels beside motorways to west and southwest France.
    Click here for hotels beside motorways to east and southeast France.
    For quiet B&B accommodation, check out the B-and-B in France website.

    Accident and breakdown information

    Drivers taking their car abroad are strongly advised to have some form of breakdown cover that will ensure repatriation of the vehicle in the event of problem or immobilisation.

    1. Avoiding accidents

    Driving in Bad weather conditions

    Heavy rain on the motorwayHeavy July rainstorm on a French motorway 
    While the tourist brochures always show happy motorists using dry roads in sunny conditions, France is not Saudi Arabia, and it can rain, even in mid-summer. Indeed, summer rainstorms, when they come, can be very heavy, and call for particular care when driving. On motorways, the 130 km/h speed limit automatically drops to 110 km/h when it is raining. In very heavy rain, when vehicles are sending up a lot of road spray, it is advisable to drop down to considerably less than that, even on the open motorway.
       Turn on your headlights whenever driving in rainy conditions, specially on motorways and main roads. In very heavy rain conditions, when there is lots of road spray, use fog-lights and in particular rear fog-lights, if you have them. This is not a legal obligation, it is just plain common sense. Leave a greater distance than usual between you and the vehicle in front.
        In the most torrential downpour conditions, put on your emergency warning lights,  pull onto the hard shoulder, or completely off the carriageway, and stop until it is safe to proceed.
        Fog is uncommon in summer, but can be encountered in mountain areas. Put on headlights, and fog lights if you have them, Reduce your speed, and proceed with caution.

    2.  What to do in the event of a road accident in France
    If you are involved in any accident involving two or more vehicles while driving in France, you will be asked to fill in a "constat amiable" (an amiable declaration) by the driver of a French car involved. This is standard practice.
    If possible, call your insurance company at once on your mobile phone. They may put you in touch with a local French representative.
    If you are involved in an accident involving any sort of injury - even if it is not your fault - you MUST remain until the police have come.
    Click this link for further information about doctors, hospitals and using the French health service.

    Breakdown or accident:
    if your car is immobilised on, or partly on, the road due to a breakdown or an accident, you must set up your red warning triangle at a suitable distance behind the vehicle, to alert approaching traffic to the hazard. All cars driving in France must carry a red warning triangle, available from any motoring store, and also a yellow fluorescent jacket.

    Stop to shop...
    See the French shopping guide page for useful information if you are planning to stop to shop on your way back home...


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