Driving in France, Laws and Regulations
Use this table to check distances in miles between the main entry points into France, in the north and east of the country, and the main cities and centres in the south and west of France.Vertical columns: distances from the nine principal entry points into France (cities on or near the border) Horizontal lines: the main regional centres and significant points in the south and west of France.
NB: distances are in miles, not in kilometres. They are calculated using the best route possible under normal driving conditions.
The Autoroute system in France consists largely of toll roads, except around large cities and in parts of the north. It is a network of 12,000 km (7,450 miles) worth of motorways. Autoroute destinations are shown in blue, while destinations reached through a combination of autoroutes are shown with an added autoroute logo. Toll autoroutes are signalled with the word péage (toll).
Unlike other highway systems, there is no systematic numbering system, but there is a clustering of Autoroute numbers based on region. A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A10, A13, A14, A15, A16 radiate from Paris with A2, A11, and A12 branching from A1, A10, and A13, respectively. A7 begins inLyon, where A6 ends. A8 and A9 begin respectively near Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. The 20s are found in northern France. The 30s are found in Eastern France. The 40s are found near the Alps. The 50s are near the French Riviera. The 60s are found in southern France. The 70s are found in the centre of the country. The 80s are found west of Paris.
Some of the autoroutes have their own name in addition to a number: for instance, A6 and A7 are autoroute du Soleil (sun motorway), for they lead from northern to southern France and its sunny beach resorts. The A13 is named the autoroute de Normandie as it traverses Normandy. The A29 is part of the route des Estuaires, a chain of motorways crossing the estuaries of the English Channel. Additionally, the A40 is named the autoroute blanche (white motorway) because it is the road that goes to Chamonix and other French winter resort towns, and the N104, one of Paris’s beltways, is also known as La Francilienne because it circles the region of Ile-de-France.
Sanef Tolling are a UK based subsidiary of Sanef, the French motorway operator. Sanef France have now extended the Liber-t automated French tolls payment service to UK motorists through Sanef Tolling. All of Sanef Tollings IT systems are located in the UK, so customers can enjoy UK based customer service from Sanef Tollings service centre in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Sanef Tollings telepeage tags enable UK motorists to use the automatic telepeage / tag lanes, which have previously been reserved for French residents
read more and buy your Motorway passes at – www.saneftolling.co.uk
France has one of the highest set speed limits for limited access roads in Western Europe:
- Under normal conditions – 130 km/h (80 mph)
- In rain or wet road conditions – 110 km/h (70 mph)
- In heavy fog or snowy/icy conditions – 50 km/h (30 mph)
The safety measures are:
- one way driving: the lanes driving in the opposite direction are separated by at least a crash barrier which is designed to resist the oblique impact of a car at up to 180 km/h (110 mph); no intersecting roads but bridges and tunnels;
- larger lanes, at least 2 (often 3) lanes driving in the same direction, with a larger turning radius – some recently built autoroutes have one-lane-only sections;
- long acceleration and slowing lanes to get in or out of the autoroute without disturbing the traffic;
- presence of an additional emergency lane where it is forbidden to drive (except for the emergency services) and to park (except in case of emergency);
- presence of emergency call boxes every 2 km (1.2 miles) on each side, that allow to call for help with the possibility to locate the call; some call boxes have flashing light that warn when there is a problem ahead;
- presence every 10 km (6 miles) (4–6 minutes of driving) of resting zones (aire de repos, i.e. car parks with public toilets), and every 40 km (25 miles) (20–30 minutes of driving) of a resting zone with a restaurant and a gas station – on most recently built autoroutes these distances are longer;
- regular patrols of the security services, to clear any obstacle and protect drivers in trouble (usually a breakdown or a flat tyre) with appropriate warning signs and beacons;
- dynamic information panels which warn about possible difficulties ahead (accident, men at work, traffic jam);
- an FM radio station (107.7 MHz) dedicated to information about traffic conditions on most of the network;
- on heavy traffic days (e.g. beginning and end of school holidays): organisation of specific information and recreation events at rest areas;
- radars automatiques (speed cameras) currently being installed in many locations.
- In France you drive on the right hand side of the road.
- · The legal driving age is 18.
- · Full licence holders in the UK under the age of 18 are not permitted to drive in France.
- · All passengers are required to wear a seat belt when driving in France.
- · Make sure you have your driving licence, insurance certificate and vehicle registration with you at all times.
- · Children under the age of 10 are not permitted to sit in the front seat.
- · It is compulsory that all cars have seatbelts, both in the front and back of the vehicle.
- · All cars must carry a yellow fluorescent jacket, which the driver can put on in an emergency. The jacket needs to be kept in the car, not in the boot. If you fail to carry a yellow fluorescent jacket you may receive an instant fine of up to 130 Euros if stopped by police.
- · Drivers are also required to carry a red warning triangle which can be used in the event of an accident or breakdown.
50km/h in towns,
80km/h on the Paris péripherique (51 mph),
90km/h on main roads (56 mph),
110 km/h on dual carriage ways (68 mph),
130 km/h on motorways (81mph).
Be warned if you are caught over the speed limit you could be fined on the spot. Fines are very expensive and you are required to pay in cash!
· Sometimes French police check your toll ticket as you’re leaving a toll road. From this they will be able to calculate your speed over a long distance.
· One major thing to look out for is a sign with a yellow diamond and a black outline called ‘Priorite a droit’, this causes major confusion and can be very dangerous if you are not paying attention!
This sign is not as common in recent times but if you see it remember the following:
If you are driving along a road and you see this sign, anyone who wishes to join the road on your right hand side has priority over you! Even if you are travelling at speed you are required to give way to traffic entering from the right hand side!
When this rule ends you will see the same sign with a black line going through it to state the rule no longer applies.
- · Headlights must be used during poor visibility such as heavy fog and mist as well as at night!
- · Bus lanes are only for buses, taxis and bicycles.
- · Toll booths in France are known as “Peages”. Drivers should be prepared to stop a number of times to pay at tolls.
- · Drink driving – Blood alcohol levels are stricter than in the UK – 0.5 mg/ml rather than 0.8 mg/ml. The best option as always is not to drink and drive!
- · Parking spaces are indicated by white dotted lines. If you see parking spaces marked “Payant” that means you have to pay, unmarked spaces are free.
- · The following sign translations are very helpful:
Allumez vos lanternes – Switch on your lights.
Attention travaux – Road works.
Fin d’interdiction de stationner – End of parking restrictions.
Interdit aux pietons – No pedestrians.
Route barree – Road closed.
Vouz n’avez pas le priorite – Give way
Attention au feu – Fire hazard.
Chausee deformee – Uneven surface.
Gravillons – Loose chippings.
Rappel – Repeat of sign.
From 1st July 2012 it became obligatory for all vehicles (including motorbikes) driving in France to carry a breathalyzer or alcohol-level test.
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