Driving in France is generally a pleasure. Away from the towns and cities, roads are not constantly clogged up by traffic jams and they are usually in good order. You can almost always avoid going through the more built up areas by using ring roads and tolls roads and there is generally less traffic than the UK (population density in France is 33 people per square mile, UK is 96 people per square mile).
For those from the UK the biggest difference is of course that the French drive on the right hand side of the road but most people find this is easy to get used to with just a little practice – just remember that in some cases priority is given to the right known in France as “priorité a droite“.
As you’d expect, there are differences in the rules and regulations – we have up to date information to help you make sure you keep aware and avoid fines and in extreme cases risk your vehicle being impounded – not what you want when you’re on a driving holiday in France!
French Road Network
The French road network is composed of a myriad of local roads (routes départementales) which are prefixed with the letter “D” followed by the route number, motorways (autoroutes) with a prefix of the letter “A”’ followed by the number and trunk roads (routes nationales) with the prefix “N” followed by the number.
Many of the motorways are toll roads and entrances to them are marked as such with the word “Péage” – a ticket or card based service. They are privately owned and you must pay to use them – and if you breakdown on a toll road you will need to use and pay for the services they provide.
Driving in France Tips
Make sure that you have the correct, legally required kit in your car:
Passport, driving licence, insurance documents, registration documents and MOT (UK).
Headlamp beam converters as appropriate (eg UK cars) – this is because right hand drive cars have headlamps pointing towards the left.
At least one yellow fluorescent jacket in the car itself – not in the boot (trunk). These jackets must be worn in the event of a breakdown or accident.
A red warning triangle which can be used in the event of an accident or breakdown. If used, it must be set up approximately 30 metres (100 feet) from the car facing oncoming traffic.
See our Driving in France Checklist for lots more tips.
Check out lots more information in our Driving in France section