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Driving in France

Driving in France: Some find it wonderfully relaxing. Others are stressed because, especially in the south, the French take curves very sportily. What is different in the neighboring country, which rules apply, what you need to know - and what is being done to reduce the high number of accidents: Here you can find out.

In 2001, 8,162 people died on the streets of France. In 2016 the number had fallen to 3,469, in the Corona year 2020 to 2,326 people. You are particularly safe on the highways. Only seven percent of accidents happen there - the majority of them due to fatigue.

38 percent of accidents occur in city traffic. The front runners in the accident statistics are France's country roads with 55 percent of all fatal traffic accidents. Making them safer is a declared goal of politics. The official website provides information on rules, fines, etc.

Land speed: 80.Exception: 90

Since July 1, 2018, the speed limit has been 80 on country roads with no middle lane separation. The observance of the speed is monitored not only by mobile and fixed speed cameras and during controls, but also by 150 parked police vehicles.

Most of them are the Renault Mégane, Citroën Berlingo or Peugeot 208 models, which only differ from other vehicles by their very clean window panes.

The measure should result in 340 to 400 fewer road deaths. In 2019, the reduced speed on country roads was discussed again. Many demanded the return from 90 km / h outside the city. In the summer of 2019, then Prime Minister Édouard Philippe left it to the départements to decide whether and where it was allowed to drive at 90 km / h again.

Seven departments have clearly spoken out against the return of 90 km / h: Ardennes, Rhône, Gard, Loire-Atlantique, Var, Meurthe-et-Moselle and Pyrénées-Orientales.

Speed ​​limits in France

France has been consistently expanding traffic monitoring for years. The tall white round pillars, which you see especially along the highways, measure the average speed over long distances. Also on the A9 between Montpellier and Béziers.

Unless otherwise stated, the following speed limits apply in France:

  • In town: 50 km / h, from schools and in city centers (e.g. Grenoble) and old town centers 30 km / h
  • Out of town: Country road without a fixed central division 80 km / h, with center separation 90 km / h
  • Highway* (autoroute): 130 km / h
  • Expressway (voie rapidly) 110 km / h

* On the A 8 motorway in the Alpes-Maritimes, the speed limit is 110 due to the high traffic density. 130 km / h is permitted in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhône departments.

Special rules apply to novice drivers. You must comply with 110 km / h on the autobahn and 100 km / h on developed expressways for the first three years after obtaining your driver's license. In bad weather, these speed reductions apply to everyone!

Attention: There has been zero tolerance for all speed limits since 2019!

Lots of speed cameras!

Black and gray round pillars, as they are increasingly used in Germany, flash all around. Motorcyclists can also be recorded in this way for the first time. However, this has not bothered the daring speeders so far. Overall, the speed camera network is much denser than in Germany.

Since 2013, the gendarmerie has also been using civilian vehicles with an invisible infrared flash in the front bumper. The actual radar antenna is hidden behind the license plate, the camera on the dashboard. Only the uniform betrays the gendarmes.

Since 2019 there have been flash systems that can control 32 vehicles at the same time. The Mesta Fusion 2 overlooks up to eight lanes within a radius of up to 200 m from four-meter-high masts and its camera is equipped with 36 megapixels.

Traffic offenders are rarely stopped on site. Usually the notice of the fine flutters into the house weeks later. Failure to pay is consistently pursued - and expensive.

Speed ​​cameras, for example as a mobile phone app, have been banned in France since 2011. Anyone who uses them risks a fine of 1500 euros. French people will deduct six points from their points balance for this offense.

If possible, this function must be switched off for navigation devices. If this is not technically possible, the warning notices will still be tolerated and will not be fined.

In France, the owner's liability applies to speed measurement using a device. The excuse “I did not drive” then does not work. The driver is only liable if the speeding offender is stopped directly by the police or gendarmerie.

Use fine discounts

If you pay immediately, you can reduce your fine. Depending on the severity of the violation, the discount is between 13 and 45 euros. Anyone who drove up to 20 km / h too fast outside of town pays 90 euros instead of 135 euros. If you live in France, you have three days to pay for the discount.

If the notification is sent abroad, for example in Germany, the payment period is extended by one month (31 days). Those who object must bear the costs themselves. You will be charged the fine.


The French administration is the leader in Europe for its online offers and information. And so you can on the websitehttps://www.amendes.gouv.frPay your fines online too. Anyone who pays online immediately receives significant discounts on the amount of the fine!

Gyroscopes à la française

Roundabouts are very common in France - and have different rules.

Right of way

Anyone driving in the roundabout has right of way. But there are exceptions - especially in Paris. In large squares like the Place de l’Étoile (Arc de Triomphe), incoming traffic has right of way - and everyone in the roundabout has to stop. Road markings are painted on the pavement for this purpose. It applies there: right before left.

Spinning properly

First exit: drive in, keep right, blink right, out.

Second or later exit: blink left, left lane, after exiting before your exit, blink right, cross over to the right and take the exit.

Driving a car with a cell phone

Telephoning while driving is only permitted when using the hands-free system - without a headset! Bluetooth or other headsets have been banned since March 2017. Since May 22, 2020 you risk the immediate (!) Surrender of your driver's license and vehicle if you hold a phone in your hand and at the same time commit another traffic violation with regard to driving rules, speeding, driving past, intersections and right of way.

The police may collect the driver's license for up to six months if a cell phone is used while driving. There is also a fine of 135 euros. French get three penalty points. You are also not allowed to listen to music with headphones while driving.

France's point system

As in Germany, there is also a point system for traffic violations. In France, the points are deducted from a credit. Points from France are not yet reported or transferred to Flensburg.

However, this is not a carte blanche. Because if you have a place of residence in France, you commit an offense with a point penalty and have a German EU driving license ... then you have to exchange it for a French driving license.

Children backwards!

In France, children are generally only allowed to sit in the front of the car from the age of 10. In Germany you only need a suitable child seat. Info:

blind spot

Heavy vehicles need since 1.1. 2021 a new sticker. Since then, not only trucks, but also mobile homes with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 tons (agricultural and forestry vehicles, winter service vehicles or other emergency vehicles are excluded) have had to wear warning signs on the sides and rear that indicate the dangers of blind spots ( angles mortes ) Clues.

Rules you may not know

Since 2015 it is forbidden

  • to eat or drink something behind the wheel (fine: 75 euros)
  • read the card (fine: 75 euros)
  • to rummage in the glove compartment because you are looking for something (fine: 75 euros)
  • listening to music loudly (fine: 75 euros)
  • Applying make-up or lipstick, even when you're standing (fine: 75 euros)
  • Smoking in the car in the presence of minors: 68 euros
  • Without a warning triangle / warning vest for every passer-by on the way: 135 euros

Replacement bulbs do not necessarily have to be carried. However, if you are on the road without a light because it is defective, you risk a fine of 180 euros. The police have the right to locate your vehicle.

Colored car glass

Since January 1, 2017, an excessively colored car glass has been prohibited on the windshields and the side windows on the right and left of the driver's side. The window glass of your vehicle may be colored up to a maximum of 30 percent. Violation threatens a fine of 135 euros and three points.

This ban does not apply to the rear windows of cars!


On July 1, 2012, France introduced compulsory carrying for breathalyzers. This obligation was abolished on May 22, 2020. Instead, night clubs etc. have since then been obliged to provide breathalyzers.

France has been focusing more on prevention for years. At village festivals you see more and more stands of organizations and government agencies, where you are invited to take a breath: alcohol test as party fun - that works. And as a result, it often surprises those who have blown into the tube. Your alcohol level was always significantly higher than expected ...

In France - as in Germany - the alcohol limit of 0.5 applies. Bus drivers are allowed a maximum of 0.2 per thousand, cyclists 0.8. Anyone who sits behind the steering wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 to 0.8 per mille (BAK) or 0.25 to 0.4 mg breath alcohol content risks a fine of 90 to 750 euros.

With a BAK of more than 0.8 per mille - even if you do not appear drunk - a fine of up to 4,500 euros ... and possibly even imprisonment for up to two years!

Clear the way for me!

Which routes are closed? What is being built? Where is the traffic jammed? When is it going well? The French don't look at Google, they rely on Bison Futé. The “clever bison” provides real-time information in the app and on the web - and gives 7-day forecasts.

Pay tolls: faster with a box

Almost all highways in France cost money. You can pay less and less of the toll in cash, but more and more with credit cards (Eurocard, Mastercard, Visa) or via electronic fee recording using a chip (so-called telepage) pay. Attention: EC / Maestro cards are occasionally not accepted.

How expensive your motorway trip will be can be found here calculate in advance. Standing in line, looking for a toll ticket, digging out a bank card: if you get the toll booth before your trip, you can relax at 30 km / h péages, the toll booths on the French motorways.

The electronic toll box is offered liber-t from a German renter for the first time since 2020. from Rosenheim in Bavaria delivers the e-Maut-Box for four countries: France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. You can find detailed information about this hereon the blog.

Toll-free on the way

Not all motorways are toll roads in France. You can use city bypasses for free. There are also toll-free routes overland. Brittany, for example, waives this income in the entire region. It is also toll free - except for that Millau Viaduct - the A75 from Béziers to Clermond-Ferrand. In addition, there are these highways:

  • A35 (Alsace, from the German border to Mulhouse and on to Basel)
  • A36 Mandeure - Bessoncourt
  • A31 (from the Luxembourg border to Nancy)
  • A28 (Abbéville - Rouen)
  • A84 (Caen - Rennes)
  • A20 (Vierzon - Brive-la-Gaillarde)
  • A63 or A660 (Bordeaux - Arcachon)
  • A68 (Garidech - Albi)
  • E70 (Lyon - Saint-Etienne)
  • A34 (Sedan - Reims)
  • A10-A25-A23 (Calais - Valenciennes)
  • A77 Saint-Père - Sermoise-sur-Loire

Europe's largest rest area

Just a little north, where the French A1 motorway about 120 km north of Paris the A 29 after Amiens and Saint-Quentin crosses, she lies Aire d’Assevillers - Europe's largest and most frequented motorway rest area. The system is at the same time the most modern and exemplary that I know. 2.5 million travelers rested each year in the first one village commercial the sanef group.

It was laid out in 2007, only five kilometers away from the TGV train station. At that time, SANEF invested almost ten million euros in its pilot project. Delivered the draft ALFA Architectsfrom Paris. Alain Farel founded the office in 1997.

But we are particularly pleased that the toilets were clean, the showers were well maintained, and the service team of the motorway operator even when the main season was rushing sanefwas very relaxed and friendly. It goes without saying that it is for sanefto offer free WiFi, internet terminals and current traffic and weather data at various information stations throughout the shopping complex.

With six motorways in north-east France with a total length of 1,743 km, Sanef operates the third longest motorway network in France after Vinci Autoroutes and Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône (APRR).

The service for motorists also includes its own radio station. Radio sanef 107.7 reports around the clock on the weather, traffic, the region and the latest news.

Let yourself be driven: Autozug & Co.

Is the journey too long for you? Then let yourself go! North Germans can relax and get around the annoying traffic jams and construction sites along the motorways to the south with the DB Autozug to Lörrach. Because yes, it is still wrong! It is no longer operated by Deutsche Bahn, but by BahnTouristikExpress. All information is there here.

In France there was the autotrain the SNCF. That means 2020 Hiflow as "Autozug" of the SNCF. The name is deceptive: not trains, but car transporters on the road or chauffeurs fromExpedicarbring your vehicle to the destination.

Crit’Air: never without a badge!

Since the French environmental badge was introduced, I have received mine detailed blog articledaily emails with the question: Isn't it possible without it? What is the risk of getting caught?

The sticker costs 4.21 euros including the port within the EU. Do you want to risk the high fine and, as in Paris, the immediate towing away?

Every year, more regions and cities are added that require the badge. I wouldn't take the risk, but order the Wapperl online, stick it to the windshield and be safe on the road ...

Refuel - the right way!

On October 12, 2018, France implemented the new EU-wide labeling for fuels faster than Germany.

Gasoline-like fuels: Circle. E5, E10, etc. ("E" stands for specific biocomponents in petrol)

The previous SP 95 or 98 is now called E5, ethanol is now 85.

Diesel-like fuels: Square B7, B10, XTL, etc. ("B" stands for specific biodiesel components in diesel, XTL stands for synthetic diesel fuel and indicates that it is not based on crude oil)

gaseous fuels (e.g. CNG, LNG, LPG and hydrogen): diamond

Copyright and source: European Committee for Standardization

Electric vehicles

This official map reveals where you can charge electric vehicles:

Parking in France

France is increasingly pushing car traffic out of the city centers in order to improve the air and quality of life. More and more streets and squares in the inner city area of ​​large cities are already car-free.

In return, park + relay squares (P + R) were created on the outskirts or the outskirts of the city center. Usually there is free commute from there navettes (shuttle buses) to the center.

When it comes to parking, the bigger the city, the lower the chance of free parking spaces for the vehicle. Parking is chargeable almost everywhere, Monday to Saturday; Sundays, on the other hand, are usually free all day. Tourist hotspots like Collioure require a parking ticket all year round from early morning to late evening.

Electronic parking monitoring is gaining ground in the stronger. Sensors and electronic number plate recognition check whether the paid or limited free parking time has been observed. In Troyes, for example, you can park for ten minutes free of charge at designated locations. After the ten free minutes, the green signal changes to red.

Since May 22, 2020, motorbikes, tricycles and mopeds are no longer allowed to park five meters in front of pedestrian crossings outside the marked areas.

See the park colors

Money, red, blue and white, this is how the parking spaces are marked on the roadside. What do these colors mean on the edge of the road or the curb?

  • Solid yellow lines: Absolutely no stopping or parking
  • Dashed yellow line: no parking
  • Blue line: free of charge, time-limited parking with a parking disc is possible.
  • White line: stopping and parking is permitted.

Driving halfway on the sidewalk to park is prohibited in France. Sometimes parking at the roadside is also dependent on the date and the side of the road. There are quite a few places where you can park on the street side with odd house numbers from the 1st to the 15th of a month, and from the 16th to the 31st on the opposite side with even house numbers.

A different kind of sign forest

France also loves the forest of signs. And has hidden some signs in it that you may not be familiar with. At the Col du Pradel (Aude) I discovered the reference to one passage canadien.

The principle of the Canadian passage uses the animals' fear of emptiness as a barrier. You do not run over the grid of parallel ground poles. Vehicles, however, can pass without opening a door or an electric wire.

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