Driving Etiquette in France – The Rules and Guidelines

As with any trip to a foreign country, it’s important to prepare yourself with vital rulebook information so that you naturally comply with the laws and guidelines put forward by the country in question. One of the many examples of how friends or families must adapt when abroad is the rules of the road and typical driving etiquette.

However, it’s not all as simple as that. Firstly, you’ll need to have a detailed list of all the specific rules of the road in France and identify the differences between your own country and the country you are visiting. You will also need to do your best to memorise the typical etiquette of the road, whether that’s joining the motorway from a slip road or simply overtaking.

Here is a guide to the rules of the road in France, provided by luxury car hire company www.apexluxurycarhire.com – so that you are more than prepared for any changes you need to make to your driving etiquette. Most of the rules are simply guidelines and not exhaustive, while others are set in stone.

Typical Driving Rules

The legal age to drive in France is 18 years of age. You will require a full UK licence to drive and anyone under the age of 18 may not drive regardless of whether they own a full licence or not. If you are a new driver (passed your test less than 2 years ago) you can travel at a maximum speed of 90km/h.

Passengers must always wear a seatbelt and children under the age of 10 are not allowed in the front seats. You must use headlights at night and also in fog, mist or poor visibility during the day. Zebra crossings must be acknowledged and stopped at when a pedestrian is crossing.

Here are some examples of speed limits commonly found throughout France:

  • 50km/h in towns
  • 90km/h on main roads
  • 110 km/h on dual carriageways
  • 130 km/h on motorways

Speeding can result in an instant fine, while travelling too fast over the limit can result in losing your licence and a substantial fine. French police may also check toll tickets to calculate your speed on occasion. The drink driving laws in France are stricter than in the UK, with the standard advice being “if you’re drinking, don’t drive”. Mobile phones cannot be used while driving.

Etiquette on the Road

Etiquette is where it gets a little more complicated. Firstly, the most confusing etiquette guideline of the roads in France is who has priority over who. If you are driving along a road and someone joins the road from your RIGHT, they have priority over you. If you’re sued to the roads in the UK, this is something you’ll definitely need to focus on.

This rule has changed slightly in recent years however, with it becoming a little more lenient. This can now only occur when clearly signposted, so keep an eye out of for these signposts. The “critical” sign means that road has priority until the cancellation sign appears.

Some of the places in France you need to be especially careful is Paris, small villages and the countryside. In Paris, roundabouts are particularly cruel and don’t be surprised if you’re cut up halfway round. Just keep your eyes open at all times and you should be fine. Slow speed is recommended for these roundabouts and any country roads you may be travelling on.