Driving Tips (some of this information supplied by Holiday
Built-up-areas: 31mph/50kmh outside towns: 56mph/90kmh priority
roads and toll-free motorways: 68mph/110kmh toll motorways:
81mph/130kmh - From 2012, except for emergency breakdowns,
driving on the hard shoulder of an autoroute / motorway will
cost drivers €135 (previously €35).
are more and more speed cameras in France (useful web site
controleradar.org/) They usually have a warning sign a
few metres or so before you see the camera and it is often
set on a dual carriageway in the central reservation to capture
traffic on both sides of the road. They are much nearer to
ground level than those found in Britain and Ireland. They
are often located on motorways on more dangerous sections
particularly when the speed limit is reduced to 110 kmh. Remember
if you are driving a hire car your fine will be passed onto
you by the car rental company.
you are driving on foreign plates, don't think you are safe
from prosection now. A letter in the August/September 2007
edition of "The Riviera Reporter" concerned
someone whose son had passed an Italian radar camera that
flashed him. The fine was passed onto the French authorities
to pursue via the local Prefecture. The same writer also knew
of someone who had been speeding in Switzerland and the fine
demand went overeas. According to The Riviera Reporter "Harmanisation
and intra-EU cooperation is under way and not only fines will
have to be paid, but soon points will be deducted from your
licence no mater where the offence was committed. This will
include offences in the UK and any other EU country as well
Detectors: It is illegal to use
these and you can be fined up to 1,500 and lose 2 points
of your license. However it is not illegal to download a map
of where the speedcameras are from the French Government website
the February / March 2012 edition of this magazine (click
on image on left)
detectors After much debate, devices that detect speed
cameras are now formally forbidden. In theory, using a device
that actively warns of cameras is now punishable with a €1500
fine and the loss of six points. It is generally accepted
that passive devices which show known speed camera positions
without detecting them actively are acceptable if they are
dubbed "danger zone warning devices". In 2012, 400 new fixed
radar traps will be installed and there will no longer be
advance-warning panels on roads equipped with them.
In-car alcohol tester / alcohol breathalyser More
School buses must now be fitted with equipment
that tests the driver's breath before allowing the vehicle
to start. This is expected to be extended to include all buses
within a couple of years.
Police (including municipal police) can now test drivers for
narcotics, including cannabis. Driving while under the influence
of drugs is sanctioned like alcohol-related offenses.
A vehicle's first CT (MOT) must take place within 4 years
of the1ère mise en circulation shown on the registration paper.
The CT is then obligatory every 2 years for private vehicles
and every year for vehicles registered to a business.
vehicles must now have a pollution test every year. When you
are registering a newly acquired car the CT must have been
done within 6 months of purchase if the vehicle is more than
4 years old.
contrôle technique 2012 looks at more items than previously
and will take about 10 minutes longer and cost about €10 more.
The speedometer must now be shown to function but its accuracy
won't be tested. The horn must be in working order and its
fixations will be verified. Brake fluid lines are now tested
for cracks and potential leaks, as are power steering lines
and fluid levels. Wheel bearings will now be checked for wear
and excess play. Fog lights and rear windscreen anti-misting
are now tested as well.
body parts such as rigid decorative door guards must be firmly
installed with no risk of them coming off and injuring someone.
All doors must now function so that passengers can escape
in case of accident or fire. The petrol tank must be in good
condition and not leak. The anti-theft steering wheel lock
will now be verified to ensure there is no danger of it locking
while the car is in motion.
penalty for an outdated CT is €135 and results in immediate
confiscation of the vehicle. The registration papers will
be retained by police and you may then be granted a fiche
de circulation provisoire allowing you seven days to get the
car to a testing station. Once the car passes the CT, registration
papers will be returned. Except for registered collectors'
cars, even vehicles that are not used must now be tested although
it's hard to see how this can be enforced. The new CT sticker
shows the expiration date in much bigger letters than before
so police can read it from a greater distance.
valid contrôle technique is the only accepted indication that
your tyres, brakes, lights and other safety features were
working properly at the time of an accident. Without an up-to-date
CT you can be held responsible for an accident even if, in
theory, it isn't entirely your fault. This isn't new but it's
something too many drivers ignore.
Phones: If you are found to have
been using your mobile phone for speech or texting at the
time of the accident you will almost certainly be considered
at fault no matter what the other driver did. From 2012, the
fine for using a mobile phone or texting while driving has
been increased from €35 and a 2-point penalty to €135and 3
February 2012 - Riviera Reporter
and driving: Blood alcohol limit
is 50mg - barely 1 unit of alcohol. (0.5 grams of alcolol
per litre of blood) In the UK it is 0.8.
In-car alcohol tester / alcohol breathalyser
From July 2012 it is obligatory for all drivers in France
to carry a breathalyser (éthylotest) in the glove box (not
in the boot). Costs will be from €2
January 2013 - From Total website
- En cas de contrôle routier, le défaut de possession d'un
éthylotest serait sanctionné par une amende de 11 euros à
partir du 1er mars 2013. Un décret a été publié en ce sens
au Journal officiel du mardi 30 octobre 2012. L'éthylotest
donne un indice de la présence d'alcool dans l'air expiré.
En France, Il est interdit de conduire en cas de concentration
d'alcool dans l'air expiré égale ou supérieure à 0,25 milligrammes
par litre. Source : service-public.fr.
you are stopped by traffic police, the lack of having a breathalyzer
will mean you will be fined 11 euros from 1 March 2013 as
per the decree that was published on Tuesday, October 30,
2012. The breath test gives an indication of the presence
of alcohol in the breath. In France, it is forbidden to drive
when alcohol concentration in exhaled air greater than or
equal to 0.25 milligrams per liter. Source:
Driving Laws in France -July 2012
alcohol tester / alcohol breathalyser becoming law in France
from July 2012 More information Here
Drive laws in Italy Update.
Magazine's March 2009 edition reports that the new Codice
della Strada (The Highway Code) has stated that if you drink
more than three glasses of wine or more than one brandy you
will not pass Police alcohol tests. Apart from having the
driving license suspended up to a year, the vehicle can also
be confiscated and sold by the state.
on major roads has priority. Where two major roads cross,
traffic coming from the right has priority as warned by the
sign 'danger priorité à droite'. Where there is no sign, give
way to the right.
on a roundabout has priority and signs saying 'cedez le passage'
or 'vous n'avez pas la prioritè'. In some areas the old rule
of traffic entering roundabouts having priority applies so
be cautious where there are no signs
a driver flashes his headlights in France, he is generally
indicating that he has priority and you should give way. This
can be confusing as in the UK it usually indicates that a
car is usually indicates that a car is letting you out.
for someone waiting at a zebra crossing is a fineable offence
for holding up traffic. The crossings indicate where is best
not overtake a tram when it is stationary with passengers
alighting or boarding.
lights don't show amber after red. Flashing amber means continue
is compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat
belts if fitted.
hazard warning lights or a warning triangle is compulsory.
It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with replacement
bulbs. From July 2008 A reflective vest is also complusory
(like in Italy and Spain - In Spain you must carry reflective
vests for all occupants).
valid driving licence - If it is issued in the UK and the
driver has passed his / her driving test at 17, you cannot
drive a car in France till you are 18. The minimum age for
car rental is 21.
is registerd in the UK, you are not obliged to show
an international insurance certificate or green card, however
proof of insurance may be needed so take your insurance certificate
showing fully comprehensive insurance.
Registration Documentation: Take your vehicle registration
document with you, but don't leave it in the car (in case
the car is stolen). If the car does not belong to you you
should have a letter of authority from the registered owner
and a copy of the registration document.
Lights: Traffic light sequences are like those in Ireland,
Spain, Belgium, Italy and many other European countries. They
are unlike the UK in so much as when the light has gone red,
instead of going to amber, they go straight to green. However
they go from green to amber to red to stop traffic. You will
often find that at night or at other quieter times some traffic
lights flash amber from every direction. This means that no
one has a right of way, but all drivers must proceed with
Belts: It is complulsory to wear seat belts in front and
rear and children under ten years old are not allowed to travel
in the front seat (unless there are no seats in the rear).
In the rear they must use a proper restraint system - bolster
cushion. If you are driving with a dog, it is advisable to
harness the dog in using a special dog harness. A dog like
a human that is not secure in the back can cause serious injury(or
death) to the front seat people if it is not secured by a
Warning Triangles - First Aid Kits - Fire Extinguishers -
Headlight convertors: These should always be carried -
many manufacturers issue them as standard. In the event of
a breakdown this should be displayed as well as hazard warning
lights. It is recommended that a first aid kit be carried
- again many manufacturers issue them as standard and a fire
extinguisher. If you are driving a right hand drive car, you
should put convertors on to stop dazzling oncoming drivers.
cyclists: Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights
during the day. A crash helmet is compulsory for driver and
- Autoroutes: The motoway network in France is excellent.
The majority of the country is covered by pay autoroutes and
in most places they accept credit / debit card payments at
the pay points (Tolls) Péage. In many city areas the autoroute
will be free in the zone around the city (not in Nice for
example) and you will stop at a Péage to collect a ticket
and stop at another at then of that section's toll road to
pay. Most autoroutes are very well served by fuel stations,
some with hotels. Approximately every 15 kilometres you will
find an Aires - This is rest area with parking, tables and
chairs for picnics and toilets, but no fuel. There are normally
emergency telephones on the autoroute network every 2 km.
These are orange and marked SOS.
Petrol - Essence | Unleaded - Sans Plomb (Green on pump
handle)| Diesel - Gazole (Black on pump handle)| LPG - Gepel/GPL|
Please note that most larger petrol stations will accept credit
cards, however many of the automated ones will only6 accept
a French one.
to French registration plates from 2009 - Black on White registration
plates on French cars from 2009.
the 15th April 2009 the département number will no longer
be on the French registration plate. The registration plates
will no longer be black on white at the front and black on
yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the
front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland,
Germany, Poland and many other European countries.
are made up of two letters, three numbers and two letters
these are separated by hyphens(e.g. DE-354-FG) and will be
allocated to a vehicle for life unlike presently if the owner
moves from département to département. The new plates do not
contain any element that identifies where the car owner lives.The
Government claimed that this would facilitate police dealing
with stolen or suspect vehicles. There was opposition from
the suppression of department numbers (75,62,48,06 etc) on
the registration plates and there was a Government climbdown.
A car owner may add the official logo of their a French département
to the their new style plate together with the département
number below it on the right hand side of the number plate.
This does not have to be the département where the owner lives.
hand cars: The new regulations apply to second hand cars
from the 15th June 2009 will get these as well when la carte
gris (registration document) is updated with a new address
you are moving to France from another EU country uyou can
keep your old British, Irish, German registration plates,
but you must display where relevant Contrôle Technique. However
if you are caught by a speed camera, don't think your foreign
plates will help you.According to Transport Minister Dominique
Bussereau the British are the worst followed by the Germans.
Drivers will be tracked down to their French home address
or via the home country of the registration plate.
limits in France: Don't put yourself in the frame Stick to
the speed limit in France, warns Chris Dearden of The Independent
– foreign motorists are being targeted - October 2010
gendarme on his BMW motorbike overtook us and gestured for
us to follow. Half a mile later, we turned in and parked alongside
a dozen other cars, all caught in the same speed trap -My
friend's on-the-spot fine had been €90, but a Dutch Audi driver
had been relieved of €700, courtesy of a nearby cash machine.
Working on an average fine of, say, €250, and 20 cars an hour,
10 hours a day, that speed trap could be pulling in €18m a
French are un-ashamedly targeting foreign drivers with mobile
speed traps along with instant on-the-spot penalties. And
the penalties don't stop at relieving you of some of your
holiday money, either. If you are 50kmh over the limit, your
licence will be confiscated, posted back to Britain at some
indeterminate date in the future, and your six-month ban on
French roads starts immediately. Just in case your reaction
to this possibility is to turn on your UK legal radar detector
as you drive off the ferry, you need to remember that if caught,
its use in France will bring about immediate arrest."
the full article here
(Pompiers) 18 Police 17 European
Municipale - Town
& City areas
Nationale - local district area
by army deals with serious crime
in France - Mobile phones
- All mobile phones start with 06. Calling a mobile from a
land line can be very expensive. If you are visting France
for a while instead of relying on your home country mobile
you can buy a "nomad" Pay as you go sim card. You
will need a French address.
phones - The
French telephone network is run by France Telecom. Peak hour
(heures pleines) rates run from 8am - 7pm Mon-Fri. The weekends,
national holidays & hours between 7pm & 8am are classed
as off peak (heures creuses).
Diesel & Service Sations
Service Station - la station service
Services - une aire de service
area on motorway (Toilets, parking etc) - une aire de repos
petrol - l'essence sans plomb
- le gasoil
fill it up with fuel - faire le plein
service - libre-service
the tyre pressure - Vérifier
la pression de pneus
checking station - serice de conflage
- l'autoroute (A)
- la route nationale (N)
- la route départementale (D)
Road - le péage
phone - une borne d'appel d'urgence
Lights - les feux