Driving in France / Road Signs To Know

Important Information for Driving in France

Important – Need to Know, Need to Have in Car at all times

  • Car Insurance, a little green piece of paper in a plastic stick on in right hand corner of windshield plus it’s full piece of paper.

Assurance Drivers licence,CG

  • Carte Grise
  • Yellow Vest
  • Red Triangle
  • Breathalizer, alcohol breathe test.
  • “Constat d’accident”


Car insurance is obligatory in France. Liability coverage is required. On every wind shield, right hand corner you should see a little green square of paper that your insurance company gives you to show proof of insurance. Also keep in the glove box the rest of the paper sent along with your « Carte Grise ». These are asked for whenever you are stopped by the police. Some French friends I know don’t like to leave all of these important documents in the car because if ever it is stolen the thief has everything.

In the car at all times you must also have a yellow vest for safety visibilty to be worn during an emergency. In the event of a breakdown the vest must be put on before exiting the car so needs to be in the glove box not in the back of the car, passengers also need to wear a vest so think of the number reqired when purchasing the vest.

A red triangle should then be put 30 meters behind your car to warn oncoming traffic in the event of a breakdown. The red triangle and yellow vest are easily purchased at a garage or supermarket.

And the newest requirement to have in your car is an alcohol test. If you don’t have these articles in your car at all times you will have to pay a fine. You can buy them at Pharmacys and some Supermarkets.

Accident in France

If ever you are in an accident you’ll have to fill out a « constat d’accident », provided to you by your insurance company. In a hired car, it can usually be found in the glove box along with the insurance papers and « carte grise ». Always better to have one if possible in English cause between the stress and anger of getting in an accident having to write in French will just make the situation even worse. Some insurance companies suggest partly filling in the form with your information. Personal details, driving licence number, etc. Things that don’t change. However, this doesn’t work if there is more than one driver using the car. Be familiar with the form. Sorry I can’t seem to copy a direct link to the pdf. Type this in your search engin and then you can print it.


Getting your driving license in France

You have to be 18 years old to drive in France. It is a lengthy and costly ordeal, like other countries, a written section called « La Code » and the driving section called « La Conduite ». These are both done in a private « Ecole de Conduite », driving school. If you need any help with this please write to me because I am starting the process with my second child. My first child still doesn’t have her license because she started the process too late. In saying this, I mean that she waited until after the age of 17 and as the Baccalauréat is so difficult, well, she didn’t have time to do both. This is very common in France. It is better to do the « Conduite Accompagnée » as soon as possible, which is at 15 1/2. This way the « Code » can be obtained and the 20 hours of driving with the « Ecole de Conduite » is under your belt. You can pass the « Code » when there is less to do scholastically and can begin to get in the 3000 Km year of driving necessary to obtain your license at 18. If you decide to obtain your license after 18 you must drive with « Ecole de Conduite » for 30 hours. Find suggested Driving Schools above under Driver’s License Exchange.

What’s the A on the back of the car

Have you ever seen the « A » on the back of some cars. It’s to warn you that there’s a driver with a first year permit. Watch out! It’s a requirement to keep the « » for a year. Most law enforcement will be harsher on permit drivers.

They’re talking about implementing an « S » sticker for Senoir’s because here in France you do not have to renew your license every four years like in the States. You have your license for life which as you can imagine can cause problems.

Tid Bits

  • Urban areas: 50 kmph (31 mph)
  • Open roads: 90 kmph (55 mph)
  • Dual carriage ways, Highways: 110 kmph (68 mph)
  • Motorways, Freeways: 130 kmph (80 mph)


Watch out during wet weather conditions. The weather changes the speed limit. For instance, on the motorway the limit of 130km/h is automatically reduced to 110km/h.

In France, anyone caught traveling at more than 25km/h above the speed limit can have their license confiscated on the spot.

Do not drink and drive. The amount of legally allowed alcohol in the blood is 0.5 mg/ml.

France requires the use of either seatbelts or a safety seat for everyone in the car, both at the front and back.

Children under 10 years of age are prohibited from travelling in the front seat. They must be seated at the rear with a seatbelt tightly fastened or in a safety seat.

The police have the authority to collect fines and press charges on the spot.

One thing I do miss from the States is turning right on a red light at an intersection. It seems to keep the traffic flowing. Don’t do it here ! The small traffic lights at your eye level to the right are surprising for us Americans too. Lights can be confussing so be attentive ! Stop lights are meant for traffic coming out of the intersection.

As already mentioned, there are days when it’s better not to travel the Freeways and Motorways of France, Savoie (Savoy) and Haute Savoie. Plan ahead. Way too many people!! Weather conditions only add to the panic.

These Motorways/Freeways are a mess :

A1 Lille-Paris / A6 Paris-Lyon / A7 Lyon Marseilles / A8 Marseille-Nice /A9 Avignon-Perpignan / A10 Paris-Bordeaux (in parts) / A63 towards Biarritz /….

……and Alpine motorways in general on these days during the summer months:


  • July: Friday 10th, Saturday 11th, Saturday 18th, Saturday 25th, Friday 31st.
  • August: Saturday 1st (worst day of the season), Saturday 8th and Saturday 15th


  • July: Friday 10th, Saturday 11th, Saturday 18th, Saturday 25th, Friday 31st.
  • August: Saturday 1st, Saturday 8th, Saturday 15th, Saturday 22nd, Saturday 29th.
  • All Fridays in August are classed orange.  Friday 21st and Friday 28th are red for the   busiest regions.

During any trip on the French autoroute tune into the radio station « Autoroute 107.7 ». Which gives regular updates when you are traveling on the motorway/freeway – very useful. They also give updates in English during peak holiday seasons. However, they use a computer generated translation system so don’t use it as a pronuncation guide for the local cities and towns! If there is a hold up they can give indications of where to get off to avoid being held up.

Again Christmas Holidays 2015:

Saturday 19th December

Saturda y 26th December

Saturday 2nd January

Winter holidays 2016, Saturdays for all zones:

Saturday 6th February

Saturday 13th February

Saturday 20th February

Saturday 27th February

Saturday 5th March

This is when the automatic « t » badge comes in handy. Seriously your wait can be cut by 30 minutes. With the « t » badge you are able to pass through the designated lane reducing your speed to only 30km/h.



Disclaimer: The information contained on « Alpsfairy.com » should be regarded as a guideline only. I update information on a regular basis, but it is possible that something has fallen through the cracks. I would love to be the source of all knowledge, but unfortunately I am not!  All situations are different and the information contained here may not be applicable to all cases.  Please get in touch with me if you would like me to check any information in relation to your particular situation. I am trying hard to remember all of the confusion and unanswered questions that I and my friends have suffered when first relocating in this beautiful, but sometimes difficult country. Ask me the questions you would like answered and I will do my very best to get you correct, current answers. My goal is to help you through this minefield, but I can make no guarantees that I have caught all of the changes, all of the time, in all areas, but I sure am trying! Alpsfairy7374@gmail.com



Thanks Katie and Pat for your help with this !!!



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