How to Drive in France Safely and Legally?

Driving through France nowadays is a real pleasure, due, in no small part, to the excellent network of roads and autoroutes that connect the various departments.

Apart from some very minor roads, they are always in almost perfect condition and state of repair.  Most of the country is now interlinked with the straightest and most well-maintained highways to be found anywhere in the world.

France is a country five times bigger than the United Kingdom, but with as many inhabitants.

Driving in the UK is now more stressful than it has ever been, with drivers fighting for what little space there is on the roads, especially during times of peak congestion. The rush hour has become a nightmare for most commuters.

For anyone choosing a destination in Europe for a driving holiday, France is the ideal option. However, there are some very important points to remember,

Both for safety reasons, and to ensure you comply with strict French law. A driving holiday needs more consideration than one which involves flying from an airport.  It’s not just a passport that the holidaymaker in a vehicle needs to take with him.

There are rules and guidelines of which the driver must be aware, as well as particular items he must carry in his vehicle, before he sets off on his trip. These are listed below:

  1. Driving-related documents must be carried at all times when on the road, and must include the driver’s full valid driving licence, motor insurance certificate, and the vehicle’s registration document.
  2. A warning triangle must  always be carried, for use in the event of an accident whilst driving.  The triangle must be placed on the road to warn other road-users of the accident.
  3. A high-visibility vest must be available, and worn whenever there has been an accident.
  4. Spare bulbs and fuses for the car must be carried, along with a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.
  5. The vehicle’s headlight beams must be altered for driving on the right-hand side of the road.  This is easily achieved by purchasing and applying simple ‘beam-benders’ from your local motor accessories store. Many modern cars have headlights that can be adjusted for continental driving at the touch of a button, so check your vehicle’s manual first.
  6. A sticker, showing the country in which the car is registered, must be applied to the rear of the vehicle, even if it is already indicated on the car’s registration plate.
  7. Front and rear seatbelts must be worn by driver and passengers at all times. Children under ten years of age are not permitted to sit in the front of the vehicle. Such children must be restrained by way of child safety seats or booster cushions, depending on their age and weight.
  8. To drive on the autoroutes in France, you are required to pay tolls at certain points.  The payment points for these are called ‘péages’. Signs along the route will warn you of a péage ahead, and the distance to it. As you drive onto a road for which a charge is made, the péage point will require you to press a button to collect a ticket. You will need to keep this ticket handy because, At the next péage, you will have to insert it into a machine which displays the relevant charge, pay at the manned booth, and wait for the barrier to be raised to let you through. Each péage will also have unmanned points which allow the driver to pay by credit, debit or pre-paid card.  For those of you who will be travelling in left-hand-drive vehicles, you will need to position yourself close enough to the booth to be able to reach across the passenger seat to make your payment.  Obviously, this is no problem if you have a passenger.  If you know you will be paying tolls with cash, it’s important to make sure you have Euro notes and coins to hand.

A driving holiday in France makes for a memorable holiday for the whole family and, by following the guidelines listed above, you can be sure that it is safe, too.