Driving in France
It’s easy to take your car on the ferry to France with DFDS seaways, with just a short ferry trip over the English Channel you can be there in no time. Here are our top tips for staying safe and legal while driving in France.
For the most part, motoring while in France is it’s just like being in the UK. The main difference is that when driving in France, you drive on the right hand side of the road and overtake on the left. Take things slowly at first and use your mirrors, you’ll be sure to pick it up in no time and enjoy your trip in France.
What should you take with you to France?
If driving in France you should carry the following documents:
- Full, valid driving license (with paper counterpart)
- Motor insurance certificate
- International Driving Permit (if necessary)
Motorists in France are required by law to have access to specific items when driving. Be prepared and ensure you have the following:
- Warning triangle (this excludes motorcycles)
- Reflective jackets (which must be kept inside the vehicle, not the boot)
- Headlamp Adaptors (available in our onboard shop)
- GB sticker (UK registered vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) do not need a GB sticker)
- Headlamp adjustment for driving on the right
- 2 disposable breathalysers
- Spare bulb kit
- Snow chains (for vehicles using snow-covered roads – see relevant road signs).
Upon arrival at the ferry port in Dunkirk or Calais it’s easy to follow the signs to the motorways you need for your journey. It's a good idea to keep some spare change in Euros with you, as motorway tolls are common when driving in France.
French driving regulations
Car : minimum age of 18
80cc motorcycle : minimum age 16
80cc+ motorcycle : minimum age 18.
Our advice: if you drive, don’t drink alcohol.
Motorists must have no more than 0.05 per cent or more (0.02% for bus/coach drivers) of alcohol in their bloodstream, which is lower than when in the UK. Saliva drug tests may be used to determine if alcohol has been consumed and penalties include fines, imprisonment and/or confiscation of license.
Passengers in the front and rear seats must wear seat belts.
When driving in France it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers under 18 are appropriately restrained with either a child sea or booster seat if appropriate and a seat belt.
Children under the age of 10 must not travel on the front seats of vehicles, unless there are no rear seats or the rear seats are already occupied with children under 10 or there are no seat belts. In this situation, babies (under13kg) must be carried in a rear facing baby seat.
The following national speed limits apply:
Built-up areas : 31 mph (50 km/h)
Outside built-up areas : 55 mph (90 km/h)
Urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation : 68 mph (110 km/h)
Motorways : 80 mph (130 km/h)
Holders of EU driving licenses exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licenses confiscated on the spot by the police.
French law prohibits drivers from devices capable of detecting speed cameras and warning drivers of their location. Penalties can include fines of up to €1,500 and confiscation of the device and vehicle.
Disabled parking access:
Parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas can be obtained from police stations, tourist offices and some shops.