If you followed our guide to driving and speed limits in France, hopefully, you won’t find yourself in the position of receiving a parking or speeding fine in France. However, even the most careful of drivers can occasionally get caught out. Here’s what you need to do to pay your fine and avoid any further consequences.
What Happens If You Get a Parking or Speeding Fine in France?
If you’ve been caught out by a speed camera in France, you will be sent a speeding ticket or ‘Avis de Contravention’. For parking fines, the ‘Avis de Contravention’ may be either issued directly on your vehicle or sent to your address – a similar notice will be sent out in the case of any other traffic violation that has been caught on camera or by police.
The exact penalty for a speeding, parking, or other driving offence will depend on the nature of the offence (read our guide to penalties and driving offences in France for more details), but generally speaking, you will be issued a fine (an ‘amende’) and one or more points will be deducted from your licence. You will have a maximum of 45 days to pay the fine or contest the ticket, or else the amount increases substantially (more about that in a moment).
Note that the ticket will always be sent out to the address at which your car is registered (the address on your Carte Grise), in the name of the person to whom the car is registered. This is one of the reasons why it’s crucial to update your car registration details in the instance of a change of address.
If you have a French driving licence, the points will be automatically deducted from your licence, although this may not happen straight away. Find out how to check how many points you have on your French licence here. If you have a foreign driving licence, you will probably not receive the points on your licence (note that this might not be the case if you have an EU licence as information is shared between EU countries); however, you will still be liable for the fine.
If you have a foreign licence but are resident in France, there is a good chance you will be asked to exchange your licence for a French one in order for the points to be deducted.
Understanding a French Avis de Contravention
The above is a standard speeding ticket or ‘Avis de Contravention’. In the top left corner, the ‘Numéro de l’avis de contravention’ – the ticket number, which you will need to type in when you pay your payment. In the top left corner is the date the ticket was issued – you have 45 days from this date (not the date you received the ticket or opened the envelope!) to pay the fine or risk a fine much higher.
On the next row, you will see your name and address. Below this on the left are the details of the driving offence – ‘description de l’infraction. Here you can see that the offence was an ‘exces de vitesse’ (speeding), and the details include the date, time, and location, as well as the amount by which you were speeding and the speed limit (vitesse limite autorisée). If you want to know the exact location of the speed camera, you can look it up on the official map of French speed cameras here.
Below this, you will find the points deducted ‘Effet sur la permis de conduire’ – here, the driver loses just one point ‘un retrait de 1 point du permis de conduire’. Below this, you’ll find the details of the fine ‘montant de l’amende’ and how to pay.
On the right-hand side of the ticket, you’ll find the details of your camera, and details for how to contest the fine.
How Much is the ‘Amende’ and How Do I Pay?
Most speeding and parking fines are €135 – as shown in the example Avis de Contravention above. However, an important point to note is that the fine is reduced to €90 if you pay within 15 days – so if you do receive a ticket, it’s within your own interest to pay it swiftly.
Conversely, if you don’t pay your ticket or contest it within 45 days, the amount shoots up to €375.
The easiest way to pay your speeding fine is online at the address given (www.amendes.gouv.fr), and you can pay the fine by credit or debit card. The website is available in English and is easy to follow. Alternatively, you can send a cheque using the attached payment form.
Contesting a Speeding Ticket or Fine
If you wish to contest the speeding ticket – for example, it wasn’t you driving the vehicle at the time the offence was committed – you can also do this online on the site antai.gouv.fr. The site is also available in English and will talk you through all the information you need. You will need your driving licence details and those of the person who committed the offence. A separate Avis de Contravention will then be sent out to them either by post or email, depending on your selection.
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.