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Useful Links
Rules of the Road
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Come join us in the Normandy Holiday Cottages for the best, relaxing holiday in France

This page is split into the following sections click on the section to link to the content:

  1. General
  2. Speed Limits
  3. Speeding Fines and Other Offences
  4. Motorways
  5. Speed tolls
  6. Seatbelts
  7. Fuel
  8. Parking
  9. Road Sign Translations
  10. Essential Equipment

1. General:

  • Drive on the right, overtake on the left.
  • Use dipped headlights at night or in poor weather, never drive on sidelights only.
  • Flashing your headlights means I am going first, not I give way!
  • Do not overtake or cross a solid white line in the centre of the road.
  • Yellow tinted headlights are no longer required.
  • Funerals and Troops may only be passed at a very slow speed.
  • Do not overtake trams when passengers are alighting or boarding.
  • Horns to be used for emergencies only!
  • Flashing amber on traffic lights means proceed with caution.
  • Take your vehicle log book, driving licence and insurance documents with you.

2. Speed Limits:

  • Built-up areas 50 km/hr (31 mph)
  • Major roads outside towns 90 km/ph (56 mph)
  • Motorways (non toll) 110 km/ph (68 mph) - Some are 130 km/ph
  • Motorways (toll) 130 km/ph (81 mph)
  • Motorways minimum left lane 80 km/ph (50 mph)
  • Motorways in rain 110 km/ph (68 mph)

Visitors with a full licence less than two years old are restricted as below:

  • Major roads outside towns 80 km/ph (50 mph)
  • Motorways (non toll) 100km/ph (62 mph)
  • Motorways (toll) 110 km/ph (68 mph)

Built-up areas are defined by the town or village name on a white background with a red border. This denotes the start of the 50 km/ph or 30 mph speed limit. It ends at the name sign with a red diagonal line though it.

© CRT Normandie. Photo: J.F. Lefevre

3. Speeding Fines and Other Offences

  • Speed radars and cameras are in use throughout France .
  • Do not take a radar speed trap detector with you to France . The police can detect its use and will stop you, remove the device from your car and stamp on it in front of you. They will then fine you, heavily. Under article L413-2 of the Code de la Route they have the right to confiscate any vehicle carrying such a device.
  • Penalties for speeding and dangerous driving are severe. Rental companies have the right to charge the driver's credit card for any fines incurred by their rented vehicle
  • Speeding offences attract an on-the-spot fine or possible imprisonment. An official receipt should be issued.
  • Blood / Alcohol limit is 0.05% - about half that in Britain . Drink driving fines range from 750 Euro to 4,500 Euro and confiscation of the vehicle. Imprisonment will result in certain cases. Random checks are often organized.

4. Motorways:

  • Most motorways (autoroutes) are toll roads (peage). Take a ticket on entering and produce it later for payment according to the distance travelled
  • Sometimes you enter without a ticket and pay a set amount on leaving. Payment may be made by credit card or cash.
  • Emergency phones (orange) are located every 2km. Rest areas are frequent on motorways - minimum facilities include parking, toilets and picnic areas. The major service areas offer reasonable meals and are good value for money.

5. Speed tolls

On some motorways when you collect your toll ticket there will be a start time printed on it. When you reach the next toll, the machine calculates your average speed. If you have exceeded the speed limit, you will be fined automatically. For rental cars, the fine usually goes to the company - who will charge it to your credit card.

6. Seatbelts:

The driver and passengers must wear seatbelts, whether in the front or rear seats. Children under 10 years must be in the rear using an approved seat or harness.

7. Fuel:

  • Unleaded, either 95 or 98 - Essence sans Plomb
  • Diesel - Gazole or Gas-oil or Gaz-oil
  • Major credit cards accepted for fuel payment.
  • A maximum of 10 litres of spare fuel may be carried in an approved can.
  • Check carefully before filling whether your rental car uses petrol or diesel. If you make a mistake and have filled the vehicle with the wrong fuel... do not start the vehicle as severe damage may result and you will be liable for repair costs. Inform the service station staff at once. They may be able to assist in arranging for the tank to be drained and refilled with the correct fuel. If you are a member of a motoring organization, they may be able to provide assistance through their French partners. If all else fails, contact the rental company for assistance

8. Parking:

  • Blue Zone systems operate in major towns – discs are available from tourist offices and tobacconists ( Tabacs ).
  • Parking meters and Pay and Display systems also operate.
  • Wheel clamps and the impounding of cars are likely for illegally parked cars, especially in Paris .

9. Road Sign Translations:

  • Allumez vos lanternes - Switch on your lights
  • Attention au feu - Fire Hazard
  • Attention Travaux - Road Works
  • Chaussée déforme - Uneven Surface
  • Fin d'interdiction de Stationner - End of No Parking
  • Gravillons - Loose Chippings
  • Interdit aux Piétons - No Pedestrians
  • Rappel - Repeat of sign
  • Route Barre - Road Closed

10. Essential Equipment:

  • Headlight beam adaptors.
  • GB plate.
  • Warning triangle.
  • Spare bulbs set.
  • First aid kit and fire extinguisher – Note: it is a legal requirement in France that if you are first on the scene at an accident you must stop and give assistance.
  • Reflective vests for the driver and passengers.

Remember, most insurance policies have a clause that states that it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle complies with the law and is roadworthy for the country they intend to visit. Failure to discharge this responsibility could result in the Insurance Company repudiating liability under the policy.

© CRT Normandie. Photo: G. Rigoulet


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