For many travellers planning holidays to France, taking their own car on a ferry is a popular, and convenient, option. Driving in France may seem a little daunting to begin with but you’ll quickly get the hang of it as you drive away from the French port. The first thing to remember is to check your blind spots carefully as having the driver’s seat on the “wrong” side of the car can make visibility for turning and changing lanes more difficult.

You’ll need to ensure you comply with European Motoring Requirements by carrying the following essential items in your car in case of accident, emergency or breakdown.

driving in france near some sunflowers
Courtesy of Brittany Ferries

What should I have in my car?

  • GB sticker
  • A hi-vis jacket for each passenger in your car
  • Two NF certified breathalyser kits (recommended but not compulsory)
  • A warning triangle
  • A spare bulbs kit for your car
  • Headlight beam reflectors (correctly fitted)
  • Full UK driving licence
  • V5 certificate of car ownership
  • Car insurance certificate (make sure your policy covers driving in France)
  • A ‘Clean Air Sticker’ (required if you’ll be driving in Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble)

There are also several other regulations you’ll need to comply with on the road in order to avoid a fine.

Driving in France down cobbled French street
Courtesy of Brittany Ferries

What other laws should I know about?

The minimum age for driving in France is 18 most people will have third party insurance cover through their insurance, however we would always recommend contacting your insurer to confirm you have adequate cover when driving abroad.

It’s important to remember that in France the speed limit varies depending on the weather conditions. The limit for A and B roads in dry conditions has recently been reduced to 50mph (80kmh) so don’t be caught out as French police can impose on-the-spot fines for speeding offences.

In France the legal alcohol limit is 0.05% (or 0.02% if you’ve been driving for less than 3 years). This is less than the 0.08% limit in the UK, so if in doubt it’s best to avoid any alcoholic drinks when you need to drive.

Using any kind of phone, headphones or headset at the wheel for listening to music or making phone calls (including hands-free and Bluetooth devices) is prohibited, and is punishable by a €135 fine. It’s also illegal to use safety camera warning devices when travelling in France even if this is in-built within your Sat-Nav. The advice is to disable safety camera alerts before driving in France as fines can be heavy if you get caught.

Children under 10 years old are not allowed to travel in the front seat of the car without specialist seat belts (unless there are no rear seats with seat belts or the rear seats are already full with other children under 10).

What else should I remember about driving in France?

Using the main motorways (apart from in Brittany) will require you to pay tolls at various points. You can pay in cash and increasingly with a credit or debit card. Please note that if you break French driving laws and need to pay an on-the-spot fine it must be paid in cash (they will issue you with a receipt).

Where can I find out more?

For more information about driving in France please visit our friends at Brittany Ferries.

Brittany Ferries help you with driving in France
Courtesy of Brittany Ferries