Driving in France
Driving restrictions due to COVID in FranceThe current restrictions are not related to driving. There are restricted to either distance from your house, time of day, or reason for being out.
France is a big country in the middle of Europe. Whether you come to France by air and plan to rent a car there, or plan to drive through the country from your home to your vacation place, say from the UK to Spain, or whether you plan to drive from your country to your vacation place in France, say from Germany to Perpignan, you are likely to experience driving in France.
Everyday, new speed traps are being set up in France... You think you are immune to them with your foreign car? Think again. The legislation is about to change, and anyway big speed offenses may put you into the hot spot. Why take the risk?
France is well covered by an extensive network of highways linking most main cities. It is more than 7000 kilometers (4000 miles) long. The network is very dense around Paris and gets somewhat less dense at the edge of the country, especially in Brittany. It is of course connected to the highway system of adjacent countries. It is complemented by a network of free dual carriageway roads.
First point is that in all major cities of France you can expect traffic jams weekdays at rush hour, from 7 to 9 in the morning, and from 17 to 19 in the evening, except Paris where congestion is omnipresent except at night and mid-summer.
However, the major roads also suffer from congestion now and then, especially during the holidays. Here are the traffic jams days:
The limit is 0.50g per liter of blood (it is 0.80g/l in the UK). It is not much : about two glasses of wine for an average person. Your alcohol level might be measured by law and order forces via a breath analizer (usually done should the police/gendarmerie officer suspects you drank, or done randomly).
A few facts to be known about gas/petrol stations in France :
If you are a citizen of any country of the European Comunity (EC, including the European Union, EU) : you can drive in France with your foreign licence.
If you are not a citizen of an European Community country, you can drive in France with your licence provided that : your national driving licence is valid and up to date, written in french or with an official translation, or you hold an international driving licence.
First rule for you to remember (should you come from the UK) : drive on the right part of the road! Be especially careful when setting off from service stations or restaurants on the left side of the road.
Driving in France is not really different from driving in most other countries. French drivers may be a bit more law-abiding than drivers from southern Europe, and a bit less than drivers from northern Europe, but overall, there is no big difference. Except of course for you people coming from the UK (or Australia etc), as the driving usually takes place on the right part of the road!
There are two families of speed cameras detectors available:
- Real radar detectors, forbidden by law in France.
- Radar warning systems, using a database of the location of the speed cameras coupled with a GPS. Allowed in France.
It all comes to where the car is registered. If you drive a french registered car, yours, a friend's, a lender's, the owner will receive a fine, and probably get back to you.
The speed limits in France are somewhat similar to speed limits in other european countries. They are indicated in kilometers per hour.
Here is a little map of France and its main cities, with the driving times and distances :
Foreigner or not, speeding is punishable by law (usual speed limits). Having a french driving licence or not, driving a vehicle with french driving plates or not, will make a difference in the outcome: