Essential Cars & Driving in France Vocabulary, Terms and Phrases


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Essential Cars & Driving in France Vocabulary, Terms and Phrases

Whether you own a car in France, hire a rental, or bring your UK car to France, now’s the time to brush up on your French. We’ve put together all the essential French terms, phrases, and vocabulary related to cars and driving.

Essential Driving in France Terms

The key people, contracts, and legal jargon that you need to know when driving or owning a car in France.

Carte Grise Vehicle registration document

Assurance Auto car insurance

Crit-Air’ sticker  colored-coded vignettes required within France’s ‘low emission zones’

 ‘Priorité à Droite’  – the notorious French road rule that gives drivers entering a road from the right priority

Control TechniqueFrance’s MOT/roadworthy test which must be carried out every two years for all cars older than 4 years old.

Essential French Phrases: Driving in France

Key phrases to help when hiring a car, visiting a mechanic, or getting into a car accident in France.

Driving in France: Key Phrases

All exits must be kept clear Toutes les sorties doivent rester dégagées.

Follow the signs Suivez les panneaux.

Agricultural vehicles have right of way Priorité aux véhicules agricoles.

You do not have right of way Vous n’avez pas la priorité.

Filling your car up with petrol faire le plein

Car accident Un accident de voiture

Hiring a Car in France: Key Phrases

I would like to rent a car Je voudrais louer une voiture.

How much is it per day? C’est combien par jour?

Is insurance included in the price? Est-ce que l’assurance est comprise?

I made a booking last month J’ai fait une réservation le mois dernier.

I need a transfer from the city to the airport J’ai besoin d’un transfert ville-aéroport.

I need a 4×4 for the mountains Il me faut un 4×4 (quatre par quatre or ‘cat-cat’ phonetically) pour la montagne.

Do you have a camper-van available in Provence next week? Avez-vous un camping-car disponible en Provence la semaine prochaine?

Is it possible to have a car with a driver? Est-ce possible d’avoir une voiture avec chauffeur?

I would like to modify/change an existing reservation Je voudrais modifier une réservation éxistante.

I have to cancel my reservation Je dois annuler ma réservation.

Where is your office? Ou se trouve votre agence?

Essential French Vocabulary: Cars & Driving

Essential words and vocabulary you might come across when driving in France.

Petrol station/Service station stationsservice’ or ‘stations essence’

Exit for vehicles Sortie véhicules

Service stations (on the motorway) aire

Motorway Autoroute

Driving licence Permis de conduire

Fine Amende

Speeding/parking ticket Avis de Contravention

Péagetoll road

Sens unique – one way

voiture d’occasion second-hand car

Parking prohibited Stationnement interdit

Slow down (for our children) Ralentissez (pour nos enfants)

Exit Sortie

Cedez le passage Give way

One way Sens unique

Town centre Centre ville

Diversion Déviation

Railway station Gare SNCF

Narrow lanes Files étroites

Keep in lane Ne changez pas de file

Get in lane Mettez-vous dans/sur la bonne file

No overtaking Interdiction de doubler/dépasser

Deliveries Livraisons

No loading or unloading Interdiction de charger ou de décharger

Restricted parking zone Zone bleue

Pedestrian precinct Zone piétonnne/piétonnière

Traffic La circulation

A traffic jam Un embouteillage

Reminder of the speed limit Rappel de limitation de vitesse

An estate car Un break

A touring-car Une routière

Rond-point Roundabout

Driving in France

Whether you own a car in France, travel to France in your UK or EU-registered car, or hire a rental car – FrenchEntrée has all the need-to-know info about driving in France. Our Essential Reading articles will take you through buying, registering, and insuring your car, as well as offering tips and advice on driving and car ownership in France.

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  • Jean Mary Pickett
    2024-02-05 05:49:43
    Jean Mary Pickett
    I am a UK resident with a French registered car a Rav 4 stored here as I have a house in France which I have not visited for a few years and intend to drive it back to France for a holiday will a UK MOT cover it in France or do I need to get a Control Technique certificate? I have browsed through your website and many others and cannot find the answer to this question please help as I am looking forward to visiting


  •  Ronald Vickers
    2022-07-11 11:29:09
    Ronald Vickers
    I have a classic car of 1966 and travel to France twice a year do I need a Crit-Air Sticker for my September trip. MerciRon.