Driving in France

Driving safely in France

We want to make sure you have an enjoyable family camping holiday in France and so we’ve put together some information on driving in France and the legal requirements you will need to abide by.

The main thing you have to remember is that in France, vehicles drive on the right and that on roundabouts you MUST give way to vehicles already on the roundabout and coming from the left.

Many accidents in France involving UK drivers occur on dual carriageways and autoroutes. This is normally for one reason – that drivers must give way to vehicles entering from the right. This means that YOU must allow the other driver to enter the road…either by slowing down or by changing lanes.

You will find that in France, ‘on-the-spot’ fines will be enforced for non compliance.

Driving documentation

A valid UK driving licence:

The minimum driving age is 18 for anyone who holds a full UK driving licence. It is compulsory to carry your driving licence whilst driving in France.  If you fail to carry it you may incur an on the spot fine. If you have a photo card licence you must carry both the card and paper segment. If you still have the older paper only style licence without a photo then you will need to carry your passport for validation purposes.

Your vehicle registration document / log book (V5):

The vehicle registration document must be carried at all times. If you are not the registered keeper then you will need to carry documentary evidence to state you have the permission of the owner to drive the vehicle in France. Failure to do either of these may incur an on the spot fine.

Your vehicle insurance certificate:

Vehicle insurance must be in place to cover the driver at a minimum of third party liability. Insurance documents must be carried in the vehicle and it is essential to inform your insurance company which countries you intend on travelling to as they will issue you with a special accident/claims form known as a Green Card.

Legal requirements and recommendations

High visibility jacket or vest:

When in France you are legally required to carry a high visibility jacket or vest in the vehicle should the driver have to get out of the car in an emergency. There is a grey area as to whether anyone else in the vehicle needs to have one. At Go Camp France we recommend you carry a high visibility vest or jacket for every occupant of the vehicle as the cost is relatively low and you must always put safety first. If you fail to comply with the wearing of a high visibility jacket/vest you will be subject to an on the spot fine.

Warning triangle:

In the UK there is no requirement to carry a warning triangle and drivers normally rely on hazard warning lights alone.  In France, however it is compulsory to carry a red warning triangle in the vehicle and if you fail to comply with this requirement you may receive an on the spot fine. You must remember to place the warning triangle far enough behind the vehicle to warn other road users of your location.

Headlamp adaptors:

In France vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road. UK vehicles are designed to drive on the left so unless you use headlamp adaptors you lights will dazzle oncoming vehicles. If you fail to fit headlamp adaptors to your vehicle you will render your vehicle unfit for the road and you may be subject to an on the spot fine.

GB sticker:

It is required by international law for all vehicles to display their country of origin. The GB emblem is available in either a sticker or magnet form.

Spare bulb kits:

In France all car lights must be in working order at all times. In the UK police are relaxed enough to offer advice on most occasions when faulty lights are spotted.  In France however if you fail to replace a faulty bulb you could be liable to an on the spot fine and so we suggest you carry a replacement set at all times.

First aid kits:

A first aid kit is not compulsory but we suggest that you have one in case of an emergency whilst driving in France or whilst on your family holiday to France.

Fire extinguishers:

It is not compulsory to carry a fire extinguisher in France however you could commit an offence subject to a fine if you fail to render assistance in the event of a fire or fail to take necessary precautions to prevent a fire from escalating.

Snow chains:

It is compulsory for vehicles travelling in certain areas of France to use snow chains when there is snow . If you impede the flow of traffic or causes an accident through non compliance then you may be subject to a fine.

Speed limits:

The speed limits in France vary depending upon the type of vehicle, location and weather conditions so you must be vigilant when driving.

Speed traps are common on tourist routes and the police will severely punish anyone caught speeding. This can vary from on the spot fines to having your licence confiscated if travelling in excess of 40kph of the speed limit.

Children:

Children younger than ten years old are not allowed to travel in the front seats of any vehicle. There are certain exceptions in the cases if there are no rear seats , or rear seat belts or if the seats are already taken up by children under the age of ten. Children in the rear of vehicles must be in restraint systems suitable for their weight, size and age.

Drinking and driving:

Drinking and driving in France is not to be taken lightly. An alcohol reading of just 0.05% could lead you to feel the brunt of the French legal system including imprisonment in some cases and so we recommended you don’t drink at all when driving. Since July 2012 there has been a requirement for every driver to carry with them 2 breathalysers and failure to do so will incur and on the spot fine.

Accidents and breakdowns:

Suitable breakdown cover is highly important when travelling to and through France and so we recommend you take out a breakdown policy before travelling on you family holiday.

If you have an accident in France you are required to remain at the scene until the police have arrived and completed the relevant paperwork including your green card. To call the emergency services in France you should call 112.

Fines:

On the spot fines have to be paid there and then in the local currency. Credit cards and travellers cheques are not acceptable and an inability to pay in some areas may result in the vehicle being impounded until the fine can be paid. By following the guidelines above we hope you will enjoy a pain free and fine free family holiday in France.

If you do require any items mentioned above we recommend you visit Halfords or Amazon.