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Driving in France

Welcome To France, Driving in France
Information about :-
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•   Driving in France - Road Signs - Priorité è droite
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Before you Travel Required Documentation Obligatory equipment
Road Signs Speed Limits Traffic lights
Priorité à Droite White Lines


Before you Drive in France

You must be 18 or over to drive in France.
Your vehicle must be taxed, insured and roadworthy.
Your vehicle must display a sticker to identify the country of registration, this should be visible on the rear of your car or may be an integral part of an EU style registration plate.

Documentation that you will need to carry

Your Passport or Identity Card
The vehicle registration document or proof of hire.
A valid driving licence.
Your motor insurance certificate.
A valid test certificate if required.

Obligatory equipment

A self-test breathalyser. It is recommended that 2 single-use breathalysers are carried, so that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a replacement to produce.

A warning triangle, 2 are recommended which must be placed at least 50 and 150 metres behind your vehicle in case of breakdown.

A reflective jacket for use in a breakdown.

Headlamp converters (for RHD vehicle) are compulsory to prevent dazzling oncoming drivers.

A First Aid kit must be carried in your vehicle at all times.

A set of replacement bulbs.

Most car accessory shops, the AA and RAC sell kits containing all the required equipment.
French Road Signs

The majority of Road Signs in France are modelled on international standards and are self explanatory, for example :-

Spacer; Spacer; Spacer; Spacer;
No Entry
No Entry
Arrêt - Stop
With hazard
Spacer; Spacer; Spacer; Spacer; Spacer;
  Give way ahead
Give way ahead.
The distance to the junction will be indicated.
Give way to
the left.

Some text information signs


Chaussée déformé

Road is deformed and/or in bad condition.

Chaussee glissante

Slippery road.

Toll station - booth.

Toll station - booth.

Slow down

Slow down.

Reminder of previously signed hazard

RAPPEL : Reminder of previously signed hazard.

This image combines 3 road signs, It is a reminder that you are travelling along a priority road with a 110 km/h speed limit.

There are a few “unusual” road Signs :-


Priority Road

Priority road.
You have priority but in France it always pays to be vigilant, some older Drivers in France seem to take the priorité à droite rule as being universal.

Priority Junction

Junction ahead.
You have priority (see above).

priorité à droite rule applies

Priority road ends.

You must apply the "priority to the right" rule.

Priority Junction

Junction ahead.
You must apply the "priority to the right" rule.

Speed Limits
speed Limits Motorway


Dual Carriageway


Open Road




Dry Conditions Rural 130kph (80mph)* 110kph (68mph ) 90kph(55mph) 50kph (31mph)*
  Urban 110kph (68mph)*      
Wet Conditions Rural 110kph (68mph)* 100kph (62mph) 80kph(49 mph) 50kph (31 mph)*
  Urban 100kph (62mph)*    
If you have held your licence for less than two years the speed limits are reduced to :- 110kph (68mph)* 100kph (62mph) 80kph (49mph) 50kph (31mph)*
If you tow a trailer or caravan with combined gross weight over 3.5 tons the speed limits are reduced to :- 110kph (68mph)* 100kph (62mph) 80kph (49mph) 50kph (31mph)*
  * Unless otherwise Stated      
Paris   Note, the the sign indicating you are entering a town or village signifies a speed limit of 50kph unless otherwise stated, exceptions are 30, 40, 60 and 70 kph and are always marked with a speed limit sign. Usually, the only indication that this restiction is ended is the sign when leaving the town/village.

Traffic lights
Traffic Lights

Tri (three) colour traffic lights have the sequence

Red = Stop
Green = continue if the passage is clear
Amber = Stop unless you are unable to stop safely

Sometimes you will see traffic lights that are set to use only red for stop and flashing amber when you can proceed with caution, the priority to the right rule applies unless otherwise indicated .

Repeater lights are not (usually) located across the junction, they are displayed on the post with the main lights at about a car drivers eye level.


Priorité à Droite

Priority to the right

A throwback to the days of horse and cart that for some reason has not been repealed is the "priorité à droite" (priority to the right) rule where you must give way to traffic entering your lane from the right.

Confusingly there are exceptions, on major N roads (national routes) and some D roads (department routes) a road sign with a yellow diamond with a white border (see unusual road signs above) indicates that "priorité à droite" is not in force on that stretch of road ahead. A similar sign with a diagonal black line through it indicates this exemption ceases and "priorité à droite" is the rule.

The exemption ends when you enter a town or village. Like speed limit signs the "priorité à droite" enforcement sign is not always displayed at village boundries. The same applies to side roads where the exemption finishes.

White Lines

Most National roads and some Department roads have dotted or solid white lines along each side in addition to lane markers. They indicate that nobody has the right to cross them if it will impede the path of another vehicle.

The rules state that you cannot drive cross a line if :-

A/ There is a car coming in the opposite direction.

B/ You cannot change lanes on a dual carriageway or multiple lane road if it will impede the path of a vehicle using the target lane.

C/ At a giveway sign, roundabout or slip road, if it will impede the path of another vehicle.

If the road you are travelling on has such lines at each side it means that traffic from the right cannot cross the line if it impedes another vehicle and therefore a good indicator that the priorité à droite rule does not apply.

This use of the dotted line is widespread throughout france but usually ends at a town/village boundry sign and continue again as you leave the town/village.