Driving to France from the UK can be a great way to travel to your holiday destination. However, before you pack your sunscreen and boules, it is best to know the driving regulations in force as these vary from those of the UK.
The first thing you will need to know is that in the rest of Europe, cars drive on the right hand side of the road. This can be a little strange to get used to at first, but within a couple of hours of driving on the continent you will soon become accustomed to it.
France has a system of toll roads known as péage’s, so it will be handy to have a few euros spare before you travel. But don’t worry if you do not have any handy, you will also have the option to pay by most major debit and credit cards at the relevant toll booth.
The péage will be well signposted and you take a ticket at the beginning of the autoroute and normally pay on exit. Don’t forget that the toll booths will be on the left hand side to take into account left hand drive vehicles in Europe. Toll prices can add up, so remember to take them into account when budgeting for your journey.
Alternatively you can elect to drive on slower roads where there is no toll.
The minimum age a driver can hold a Driving Licence is 18 years old, so if you were thinking of letting your 17 year old have some continental driving experience on your travels, this will not be possible, even with your expert tutorage.
The speed limits are not too dissimilar to the UK, but of course distance is measured in kilometres as opposed to miles. There are approximately 1.6 kilometres to a mile so a rough guide to quickly convert kilometres to miles is to multiply the distance in kilometres by six and then insert the decimal point.
The speed limit in built up areas is 50km per hour and outside built up areas it is 90km/h. Urban motorways and dual carriageways are 110km/h and motorways are 130km/h. In wet weather these reduce to 80km/h outside built up areas and 110km on motorways. These lower limits also apply to visiting drivers who have held their licence for less than two years.
If you go over 40km/h, or 25 miles per hour, you will have your license confiscated on the spot. Furthermore, parking violations could see your car towed away and impounded.
If you are a French wine lover, keep a check on your intake as 0.05 per cent or more alcohol in your blood whilst driving will attract severe penalties. With effect from 1 July 2012 all vehicles must have a breathalyser and fines will be imposed from November for non-compliant drivers.
If you are on a fly drive holiday you will usually pick up your hire car at the airport. This is a great way to travel as the hire car will come equipped with all the equipment required by French regulations such as a warning triangle and reflective jacket. Additionally it will be a left hand drive vehicle.
If you take your own vehicle to France, you must have third party motor insurance. As in the UK, seat belts are compulsory. Generally any children under the age of10 years old cannot be in the front seat and child seats and booster seats are required as applicable.
French petrol stations have unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG. A lot of pumps are operated by credit/debit cards; just make sure the one you hold is accepted before you fill up.
Get more tips on driving in France here: