Driving in France
Driving in France information from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
There is a bit more to driving in France...
…than just remembering to stay on the right hand side of the road. At Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, we want to make sure your holiday in France goes smoothly and is an enjoyable experience.
With that in mind, we have compiled some information to make your drive through France as easy as possible.
Car Insurance and motor breakdown
Third party insurance cover is a legal requirement but note that is does not cover any costs incurred by you as a result of an accident. Make sure your policy is fully comprehensive and that you have your Certificate of Motor Insurance before setting off.
Vehicle repatriation from Southern France could cost up to £1,300*. With that in mind we recommend that you have sufficient motor breakdown insurance cover in case anything happens whilst you are away. We offer comprehensive insurance packages from only £15.75** for you and your vehicle.
Be prepared for toll charges on the motorways - have your euros or credit card ready. Alternatively, you can purchase a "Liber-t tag" which will enable you to use the automatic telepeage / tag lanes and the payment will automatically be taken from your chosen bank account in GBP.
Exclusive Eurotunnel Le Shuttle offer
Buy a Liber-t tag and beat the queues at the French motorway tolls:
- Free application - no fee (save €10)
- Save 50% on the annual fee, only €3 (normally €6) from the second year onwards
- €20* refundable security deposit on the tag
- €5* active usage fee - only for the months in which the tag is used and capped at €10 in any subscription year
*Subject to French VAT
Petrol is more expensive on the motorway, so make scheduled stops at large hypermarkets as they have lower fuel prices. Look out for the following at the pumps:
a. Petrol = Essence ( super / super 97)
b. Unleaded Petrol = Sans Plomb ( 98 & 95)
c. Diesel = Gazole ou Gasoil
Speed regulations start at the town name sign and end on leaving the town. Speed limits are weather dependent. Heavy on-the-spot fines apply when breaking the speed limits. If you are over by 25km/h you can lose your licence and your vehicle can be confiscated if you are over the limit by 50 km/h. Here is a quick rundown of the speed limit changes in the 4 main zones, going from fine to difficult conditions:
a: Urban areas: 50 km/h – 50km/h
b. Rural areas: 90km/h – 80km/h
c. Dual carriageways: 110 km/h – 100 km/h
d. Autoroute: 130 km/h – 110 km/h
Satnavs and speed camera detectors
Speed traps, from fixed cameras to police hand held detectors, are very common in France. It is illegal to use or possess a radar detector. French laws prohibiting drivers from carrying devices capable of detecting speed cameras have been extended to include devices able to warn or inform of the location of speed cameras e.g. satnav or GPS systems capable of showing speed camera sites as a point of interest (POI).
In France, the alcohol limit is 0.05mg/ml. It is advisable not to drink and drive at all because if you are caught over the limit, the penalties are severe.
As from 1 July 2012, all drivers of a motorised land vehicle, excluding mopeds, must possess a digital breathalyser or an unused (and immediately available) breathalyser kit which conforms to NF standards. This rule equally applies to vehicles registered outside France. Only vehicles fitted with Breathalyser Interlocks are excluded. Failure to carry a breathalyser in your vehicle will NOT incur a fine.
Be fully prepared. Call into the AA travelshop, in our Folkestone Passenger Terminal Building, for all compulsory or recommended car equipment required for driving abroad.
The wearing of front and rear seatbelts is compulsory when fitted.
Children and car seats
One thing to be thankful for is that you now have the "ace" card to play if your children are arguing over who gets to ride up front. It is illegal for under 10's to be in the front seat. Children under 10 must be in the back seat and must use a proper restraint system appropriate to their weight, which means a child seat if they are between 9 to 15kg. Over this weight they can use a seat belt with a booster seat.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone behind the wheel, regardless of whether it is operated with a hands free kit. On-the-spot fines of up to €135 could be issued.
Priorité a droite
An old rule called priorité a droite is currently being phased out of the country, but for your own safety, it is best to be aware of it. At some junctions, you must give way to those approaching from the right, even if you are on a major road and they are on a minor. The rule is usually indicated as you enter or leave an area ( see below). In rural areas, junctions are indicated by white posts with red bands either side of the junction, but this is not an indication of who has priority so be extremely careful.
Currently it is advised that dipped headlights are used at all times outside towns in any weather. Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights during the day at all times. For motorhomes and caravans, lights must be used at all times when travelling in tunnels or in bad weather.
|Minimum Legal Driving Age||18|
|National Driving Licence|
|Original Registration Document (V5)|
|Motor Vehicle Insurance|
|Front & Rear Seatbelts|
|Daytime Running Lights - Motorcycles|
|First Aid Kit|
|Daytime Running Lights - Cars|
|Spare Bulbs and Fuses|
Be fully prepared. Call into the AA travelshop at our Folkestone Passenger Terminal Building for all compulsory and recommended items for your vehicle for driving in France. We also have maps and satnavs.
Alternatively, our Route Planner will help you choose the quickest, non motorway or most scenic route to your destination.
(1) GB Stickers are compulsory within the EU unless your UK registration plates display the GB Euro-symbol (Europlates) which became a legal option from 21 March 2001. The Euro plate must comply with the new British Standard (BS AU 145d). The Euro plate is only legally recognised in the EU; it is still a requirement to display a GB sticker when travelling outside the EU.
(2) Minimum of one reflective jacket. The jacket must be within reach of the driver without having to exit the vehicle.
(3) The legal requirement is to 'not dazzle oncoming drivers' rather than specifically to adjust/convert the headlamp beam pattern. Without adjustment the dipped beam will dazzle oncoming drivers and this could result in a fine. Headlamp beam converter kits are widely available but may not be suitable for all types of headlights. The AA shop sell beam converters suitable for all vehicles and individual fitting diagrams are included for the latest 'clear glass', 'projector and xenon' headlamps inside the packaging. In some countries it is compulsory to use dipped headlights at all times when driving during the day. Note: this adjustment is not required for two wheeled vehicles as the beam pattern is more symmetrical but check that any extra loading has not affected the beam height. On some cars it is inadvisable or impossible for anyone other than a qualified technician to change a headlamp bulb unit e.g. high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and carrying spares is not an option. However, it is recommended that spare bulbs are carried for any lights that may be easily and/or safely replaced by the owner/driver. Spare bulbs are compulsory for Croatia.
(4) As from 1 July 2012, all drivers of a motorised land vehicle, excluding mopeds, must possess a digital breathalyser or an unused (and immediately available) breathalyser kit which conforms to NF standards. This rule equally applies to vehicles registered outside France. Only vehicles fitted with Breathalyser Interlocks are excluded. The official text states that one unused breathalyser must be produced. We recommend that 2 single-use breathalysers are carried, so that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a replacement to produce.
Failure to carry a breathalyser in your vehicle will NOT incur a fine. However, as a precautionary measure, we recommend that drivers still carry in-car breathalysers.
(5) * Based on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle customers average European Motor Breakdown claims in 2010
(6) ** Price shown is for 1 day cover and includes Insurance Premium Tax
The information provided is indicative and should be checked before travelling as requirements may change from time to time.