Driving In France This Summer

Very soon, the children will finish another school year and then it’s that long summer break before they go back. For some families, this means having a ‘staycation’ in the UK, and for others, a driving trip across to our friends in continental Europe might be on the agenda. France is the easiest and closest place to motor abroad, so it’s no surprise that a huge proportion of Brits head there. To stay on the right side of French law, there are some things you’ll need to arrange before you depart. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.

Motor Happy

It has stunning countryside, awesome food and wine – and families adore it. Whether you’re driving by old stone villages or fields of lavender in Provence, canoeing or camping in the Ardeche, or cruising to the Cote D’Azur’s sun-drenched beaches, you need to adhere to French driving laws.

French Driving Laws

From a ban on hands-free devices, headlight beam deflectors for right-hand drive cars, a lower alcohol limit for driving, to different speed limits, and the items you need to carry in your vehicle, don’t just cross your fingers, do nothing, and hope all will be well.

To Stay Legal In France, Carry These In Your Car:

  • Two NF certified disposable breathalysers.
  • Reflective jackets for all passengers.
  • Headlamp beam deflectors.
  • Warning triangles.
  • A GB label to attach to your vehicle if your registration plate doesn’t already show it.


  • Tell your insurers that you’ll be motoring abroad, some car insurance policies won’t cover you as standard and need your travel dates.
  • Bluetooth earpieces or wired earpieces are strictly forbidden and mean a €135 fine. An integrated hands-free ‘phone kit is okay, though.
  • Drive on the right and keep an eye on your speed. Speed camera sensors are prohibited in France. Legally, if your sat nav comes installed with them or with camera locations, you are expected to deactivate the alerts or face a €1,500 fine.
  •  Motoring in Paris means you need to purchase a clean air sticker for your vehicle that shows how much your car pollutes. You can buy these online for approximately 4 euros/£3.50. If you forget to do so and the police stop you, you’ll get a fine anywhere between 68 and 135 euros.
  • Take your full and valid UK driver’s licence that will enable you to motor in all EU countries, including France. Also bring proof of ownership (V5C is recognised), your ID (Passport/national ID) and proof of car insurance.

Alcohol Driving Limits and Local Laws

Don’t drink and drive at all. And be conscious of ‘next day’ drink driving. It’s much easier to be over the alcohol limit the morning after without realising than you might think.

Legal Requirements At A Glance