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General Driving Tips (some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos)

Speed limits : Built-up-areas: 31mph/50kmh outside towns: 56mph/90kmh priority roads and toll-free motorways: 68mph/110kmh toll motorways: 81mph/130kmh

1st July 2018: New Speed limit - The speed limit on two-way roads without a central reservation or barrier has been lowered by 10km/hr from 90km/hr to 80km/hr. The new measure which means that France now has some of the tightest speed limits on this kind of road in Europe came into effect on Sunday 1st July. Source Riviera Radio News

Speed Cameras: There are more and more speed cameras in France (useful web site is They usually have a warning sign a few metres or so before you see the camera and it is often set on a dual carriageway in the central reservation to capture traffic on both sides of the road. They are much nearer to ground level than those found in Britain and Ireland. They are often located on motorways on more dangerous sections particularly when the speed limit is reduced to 110 kmh. Remember if you are driving a hire car your fine will be passed onto you by the car rental company.

Drink and driving: Blood alcohol limit is 50mg - barely 1 unit of alcohol. (0.5 grams of alcolol per litre of blood) In the UK it is 0.8.

Traffic on major roads has priority. Where two major roads cross, traffic coming from the right has priority as warned by the sign 'danger priorité à droite'. Where there is no sign, give way to the right.

Traffic on a roundabout has priority and signs saying 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la prioritè'. In some areas the old rule of traffic entering roundabouts having priority applies so be cautious where there are no signs

If a driver flashes his headlights in France, he is generally indicating that he has priority and you should give way. This can be confusing as in the UK it usually indicates that a car is usually indicates that a car is letting you out.

Stopping for someone waiting at a zebra crossing is a fineable offence for holding up traffic. The crossings indicate where is best to cross.

Do not overtake a tram when it is stationary with passengers alighting or boarding.

Traffic lights don't show amber after red. Flashing amber means continue with caution.

It is compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts if fitted.

Carrying hazard warning lights or a warning triangle is compulsory. It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with replacement bulbs. From July 2008 A reflective vest is also complusory (like in Italy, Belgium and Spain - In Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants).

Additional driving Tips

Driving Licence: A valid driving licence - If it is issued in the UK and the driver has passed his / her driving test at 17, you cannot drive a car in France till you are 18. The minimum age for car rental is 21.

Motor Insurance: If your vehicle is registerd in the UK, you are not obliged to show an international insurance certificate or green card, however proof of insurance may be needed so take your insurance certificate showing fully comprehensive insurance.

Vehicle Registration Documentation: Take your vehicle registration document with you, but don't leave it in the car (in case the car is stolen). If the car does not belong to you you should have a letter of authority from the registered owner and a copy of the registration document.

Traffic Lights: Traffic light sequences are like those in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Italy and many other European countries. They are unlike the UK in so much as when the light has gone red, instead of going to amber, they go straight to green. However they go from green to amber to red to stop traffic. You will often find that at night or at other quieter times some traffic lights flash amber from every direction. This means that no one has a right of way, but all drivers must proceed with caution.

Seat Belts: It is complulsory to wear seat belts in front and rear and children under ten years old are not allowed to travel in the front seat (unless there are no seats in the rear). In the rear they must use a proper restraint system - bolster cushion. If you are driving with a dog, it is advisable to harness the dog in using a special dog harness. A dog like a human that is not secure in the back can cause serious injury(or death) to the front seat people if it is not secured by a harness.

Warning Triangles - First Aid Kits - Fire Extinguishers - Headlight convertors: These should always be carried - many manufacturers issue them as standard. In the event of a breakdown this should be displayed as well as hazard warning lights. It is recommended that a first aid kit be carried - again many manufacturers issue them as standard and a fire extinguisher. If you are driving a right hand drive car, you should put convertors on to stop dazzling oncoming drivers.

Motor cyclists: Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights during the day. A crash helmet is compulsory for driver and passenger.

Motorways - Autoroutes: The motoway network in France is excellent. The majority of the country is covered by pay autoroutes and in most places they accept credit / debit card payments at the pay points (Tolls) Péage. In many city areas the autoroute will be free in the zone around the city (not in Nice for example) and you will stop at a Péage to collect a ticket and stop at another at then of that section's toll road to pay. Most autoroutes are very well served by fuel stations, some with hotels. Approximately every 15 kilometres you will find an Aires - This is rest area with parking, tables and chairs for picnics and toilets, but no fuel. There are normally emergency telephones on the autoroute network every 2 km. These are orange and marked SOS.

It is illegal to drive on a French motorway at less than 80km/h (approx 50 mph) in the fast lane.

Fuel: Petrol - Essence | Unleaded - Sans Plomb (Green on pump handle)| Diesel - Gazole (Black on pump handle)| LPG - Gepel/GPL| Please note that most larger petrol stations will accept credit cards, however many of the automated ones will only6 accept a French one.

Road offences between Italy and France - Riviera Radio Daily News reported on the 8th January 2016 that a new measure has been introduced concerning road offences in France and Italy. Both countries will work together and as of the 1st of January all French motorists who commit a driving offence in Italy will receive a fine by post at their French address. The same will apply to any Italian motorists fined in France.

Drink Drive laws in Italy Update. Italy Magazine's March 2009 edition reports that the new Codice della Strada (The Highway Code) has stated that if you drink more than three glasses of wine or more than one brandy you will not pass Police alcohol tests. Apart from having the driving license suspended up to a year, the vehicle can also be confiscated and sold by the state. Take great care if you take the car you rent in the South of France into Italy for the day.


Identifying car hire cars in France HERE



Warning from Car hire Rental companies

On a recent visit to France the car hire company had included a very useful "Warning for renters" in French and English.

If you are hiring a car these days it is well worth considering the following advice on vehicle security:

  • When returning the car you should hand the car keys to a uniformed member of staff at the rental desk. DO NOT leave the keys in the car. DO NOT give the keys to anyone, particularly in the return car parking area. If you do not follow this return procedure you may be liable for the full value of the vehicle if it is stolen.
  • When you leave the car unattended (for example at a petrol filling station) always take the keys with you and lock the doors.
  • As a precaution, when driving in some city areas, it is suggested you keep the doors locked and the windows closed.
  • Do not leave personal belongings on display in the car.
  • When parking, if possible leave the car in a secure, well lit parking area

Thanks to Alamo, National and Citer car rental for this information - July 2009



Driving in France and Monaco

Cancellation insurance for car hire - Blog February 2010

Top tips for cheaper car hire

Useful tips for a great car hire experience when hiring a car

Useful tips when hiring a van

Nice Airport Car rental terminal


Before you rent a car, have you thought about car rental excess insurance?


You will need Travel insurance for your holiday in the South of France



Enjoy your stay in the South of France ....

eat - drink -stay & wake up on the Riviera


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