Driving abroad: France

Now that you've booked your car hire for France and secured the best deal on your rental and excess insurance, it's time to get ready to drive off.  But what about once you arrive. Here are TravelSupermarket's top tips for driving in France.

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Now that you’ve booked your car hire for France and secured the best deal on your rental and excess insurance, its time to get ready to drive off.  But what about once you arrive.

Here are TravelSupermarket’s top tips for driving in France.

Drive on the right

We know it’s obvious, but the first thing to remember is that as soon as you get into your hire car and start driving, you’ll be driving on the right, rather than on the left. You should also check, before you drive off, that you have the emergency contact details for your rental car just in case you have a breakdown or run into any unexpected mechanical problems.

Know your road signs and speed limits

The signage in France is different to the UK. Get used to signs such as ‘Cedez le pasage’ for Give Way as an example.  Be aware that priority at junctions and roundabouts may not be the same as at home and all speed limits are in kilometres per hour and not miles.


Breathalysers are also required by law in France, you need to have two, unused breathalysers in the car at any time should you be stopped by local police and these should be provided by the hire company, so check this before you drive away. There is currently no fine in place for not having them, however this could change at any time and we recommend checking the latest information before you travel. Check with your rental company.

Be seen!

Something else which you should check before driving away in your hire car, is that you have been equipped with a warning triangle and enough high visibility vests for all passengers of the vehicle by the hire company. To avoid a fine of up to 90 euros, these must be inside the car, so you can put them on without getting out. Again this should be already in your car.

Sat navs

Sat navs are a great device for finding your way in a different country, though the French have slightly different laws around their usage. It’s illegal to use or carry any equipment that can be used for detecting speed cameras, even if it’s switched off, this includes any sat nav device which has speed cameras marked as a “point of interest”. Many rental companies supply them at a cost but you can bring your own from home.

Front seat passengers

If you have children with you and they are under 10 years of age, it’s against French driving laws for them to travel in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. And don’t forget child and bay seats in the rear of the car. You can bring your own from home or rent them from the car hire desk.


In France petrol is often referred to as essence and diesel is referred to as gasoil and, like in the UK you will often pay a premium near ports or motorways, so it might be worth planning a lunch break off the motorway. Don’t forget to confirm which fuel your hire car takes before you set off to avoid costly mistakes.

Toll roads

Toll roads, or ‘payages’, are common place across major French roads and while many now accept credit cards, it’s worth remembering to have some euros coins at the ready.


There are numerous restrictions on parking in France and these often vary between towns, countryside and cities so it really is worth doing your research around the specific area you are visiting. The “Blue Badge” parking scheme for disabled travellers is also recognised throughout Europe, again, check your rights before you travel.

And finally……

Don’t forget, wherever you travel by car it’s advisable to research your destination before you travel. Not only will you find the best places to visit, but it will make your journey easier and more hassle free.

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