If you’re vacationing in Europe by car, there is a big chance that you will be driving through France at some point. With the beautiful countryside and mountains, it’s easy to see why holidaymakers would want to drive through France. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the road laws and rules are just as pleasant as the views. Thousands of foreign drivers get caught out each year whilst driving through France, unaware of new laws and regulations. If you don’t abide by these rules you can get landed with a hefty fine or even worse face prosecution. Stay two steps ahead of the game; here is a quick guide to driving in France.
Image Source: Sixt
From the 1st of March 2013, it becomes a compulsory measure for all drivers of all types of motorised vehicles (not mopeds) to carry a breathalyser with them. If the driver fails to produce a breathalyser on request, an on the spot fine of eleven euros will be issued. The breathalyser must be unused and state-certified (should have the NF certification mark upon it). It is advised that two breathalysers are always kept in the vehicle, just in case one gets damaged. However, you can’t leave these breathalysers in your car year in year out – they have a yearly expiry date.
Beginning last year, the French government made it illegal for drivers to carry any kind of equipment capable of warning drivers of detected speed cameras. For example, sat navs or other gps systems which warn drivers of upcoming speed camera points would be strictly illegal. If this wasn’t enough, the French government is now considering installing four hundred brand new unmarked speed cameras, as well as taking the signage down for some of the existing ones. If you have a car with an inbuilt satnav which detects speed cameras, get in contact with the manufacturer. In any instance, it is best just to follow the speed limit in order avoid any holiday road mishaps!
One of the most important things you must remember when driving in France is to always drive on the right. As a driver, you should always give priority to drivers from your right side from a different public thoroughfare. Like England, France has many roundabouts. These roundabouts are marked by a triangular yield sign.
Another important thing to note is that traffic lights turn red to green, without any amber light in-between. If you are slightly slow to get off the mark, you may get a toot from the vehicle behind yours as a reminder.
Carrying the right documentation whilst driving around France is vital; forget something and you might find yourself in hot water with the French police. Here is a list of things you will need to bring with you in your car:
- Valid driving license
- Vehicle Registration Document (V5)
- In the event of the car not being registered in your name, you will need a letter from the owner with their permission
As you can see, driving around France might not be as easy as a day on the sunny beaches of Bordeaux. However, stick to the rules set out by the French government and you’ll be well on your way to successfully getting to your destination and enjoying your holiday.
By Andrew Hirst
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