Getting around France by car – five top tips for safe driving throughout the country
We love driving in France! The roads are good, the motorways well maintained and of course there is far less traffic about.
This is the time of year when many British people are planning a road trip through the country. It is an absolute joy to meander through French country roads, discovering pretty little villages for stop off points. The journey should be part of the holiday in our view. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of driving in France.
You can now register in the UK for a badge which works automatically each time you pass through a toll.
1. Keep an eye on the speed limits
Speed limits are higher than in the UK with 130kph on the motorways (about 80mph) going down to 110kph in rainy conditions. Watch out for speed cameras though: there are far more of them these days across the country. It goes without saying that it is not worth the risk of drinking and driving. The permitted level of alcohol to blood is lower than in the UK and you may be banned from the moment you are caught.
2. Get hold of a “Liber T” badge for motorway tolls.
No more queuing in holiday times and no more stretching across your right hand drive car to pay: you can now register in the UK for a badge which works automatically each time you pass through a toll and you are billed from your English bank account each month. Here is the website: https://www.saneftolling.co.uk/ Another lovely perk: you can go through the tolls freely on your birthday!
3. Remember the “priorité a droîte” rule.
If there is no road marking, give way to traffic on your right, even if it is a minor road. This is something which is quite hard to get used to for us Brits. If you are in doubt, simply give way! Prices of petrol and diesel are broadly the same as in the UK and the cheapest fuel is usually to be found at the larger supermarkets such as Carrefour and Leclerc.
4. Consider investing in a new car
It may well be worth investing in a new car in France if you have a second home here. Prices are similar to the UK although second hand cars seem to be expensive. It may be worth considering buying a left hand drive car in the UK and re-registering it in France which is not difficult to do.
It is mandatory to carry with you a yellow jacket and red triangle in case of breakdown.
5. Always keep your log book and driver’s licence with you when you drive.
If stopped by the gendarmes you will be asked for them along with details of your insurance. Incidentally, it is the car which is insured in France, not the person so as long as you have given permission to anyone to drive your car, they will be automatically insured. It is mandatory to carry with you a yellow jacket and red triangle in case of breakdown.
You can drive in France with your UK licence, but if you are making France your home, it makes sense to change it to a French one. Your mairie will advise on the paperwork for this. Any speeding offence will mean you lose points though. In France you start off with 12 points and they are taken away for any offence. If you are close to no points, beware as this is when you will receive a driving ban.
Happy motoring in France!