Taking your car to France? 11 rules and regulations you should know

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Thanks to our great range of ferry ports and the Eurostar, driving your own car around Europe is easier than ever, and a lot nicer than having to arrange and learn the foibles of a foreign hire car. One of the easiest countries to access for us Brits is France. We must remember though, that not every country has the same rules and regulations for being on the road as the UK, and France is no exception. A little awareness goes a long way, especially if you end up trying to converse with local law enforcement.

1. The minimum age for driving in France is 18, so youngsters shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

2. If you’re stopped by the police, they will ask to see your vehicle registration document (V5) and proof of your vehicle insurance.

3. Foreign cars must prominently display a sticker showing their nationality.

4. French law states that all vehicles with more than two wheels must carry a warning triangle and reflective hi vis jacket, in case of accident or breakdown,

5. You must carry a working breathalyser in your car, although the law says there’s no penalty if you don’t as the fine has not yet been agreed. This must be approved by the French authorities, and stamped with a safety code starting with “NF”.

6. Because your headlights will be set to lean to the left in the UK so that they’re not shining directly into the oncoming traffic, they’ll need to be adjusted for driving on the other side of the road. You can buy stickers to do this.

7. French police can, and frequently do, issue on-the-spot fines.

8. It had been suggested that motorbike riders and their passengers would be made to wear reflective clothing from 2013, but that law has now been abolished.

9. Speed camera detectors and warning software is illegal in France, so make sure you deactivate it on your satellite navigation device.

10. Many motorways in France are toll roads, so check your route carefully before you depart.

11.French law does not require you to carry a first aid kit or a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.

Still raring to go? Remember to apply for your EHIC card from and you’ll be on the European roads in no time at all. Your EHIC card will grant you access to state-funded healthcare across the EU, so make sure you don’t forget!

Photo: paris by étoiles filantes licensed under Creative commons 2
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