Whether you’re planning a trip or already living in France, getting around is likely to involve driving a vehicle. Whatever the nationality of your driving license, here are some essentials you need to know before getting behind the wheel here in France.
Driving in France ‘Kit’
You should have with you
- A valid driving license for the vehicle
- Proof of identity
Your vehicle should contain
- The ‘Carte Grise’ or other proof of ownership document
- Proof of vehicle insurance, providing at least third-party cover, including an accident report form (click here for an example)
- Proof of CT (Controle Technique) (or MOT for a UK vehicle 3 years old or more)
- 2 emergency triangles
- Spare bulbs (a vehicle is illegal if an important bulb is not working)
- A high-viz jacket/vest for each occupant of the vehicle
If you are just visiting France you will also need
- An up-to-date passport (with at least six months validity) for each occupant of the vehicle
- A valid insurance document (green card or similar) covering your vehicle and any trailer or caravan that you are towing
- A valid document for a rented/hired vehicle
- A valid EU Pet Passport/Animal Health Certificate for any animals you have with you
- A valid visa if your stay within the EU will take you over 90 days in any 180-day period
- You must not use a mobile phone whilst driving (even hands-free or through a Bluetooth headset) – headsets or headphones are now subject to a fine even simply for music)
- You must not use anything which warns you about speed camera locations
- For right hand drive vehicles, your headlamps must be adjusted so drivers in oncoming traffic will not be blinded
Whilst the French have a certain reputation for their ‘intensity’ on the road, driving in France is not that different from driving in other countries, once you’re familiar with the rules!
Priorité a droite
Yes, here in France we drive on the right side of the road – but it doesn’t end there!
The ‘Priorité a droite’ rule applies on a select number of roads and dates back to the days of the horse and cart. Where this rule still applies – you must give way to traffic incoming from the right not subject to a stop or give way/yield. Keep your eyes peeled for road signs and markings, especially in busy urban areas, because if the car coming from the right has the priority and runs into you, you will be considered at fault!
There are thousands of roundabouts in France – and whilst there are some exceptions, vehicles already in the roundabout have the right of way, not the ones entering it. If you miss your turn to exit, keep going round the circle and try again – never hit reverse and back up on a French roundabout! (British drivers take note – the French are taught to use roundabouts in a different way to the UK, so keep your eyes open!)
To avoid the risk of a fine, park your vehicle in the direction of the traffic, not against it.
You’ll find a few more guidance notes on Rules of the Road in another longer article here.
A vehicle accident report form should be completed by the drivers involved in any collision or claim. If both parties complete and sign this form at the time of the incident, it will expedite the process for the insurance companies involved. If it is not possible to do this, or there is any dispute or personal injury, your accident will need to be reported to the nearest gendarmerie at the earliest opportunity. Dial 112 which will alert the emergency services.
If you are motoring in France this year we wish you a safe and wonderful journey. If you find a stop worth recommending – do let us know in the Facebook group.
Bonne route !
Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.
All articles by: Annette Morris