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Bon Voyage! Driving in France in 2022

If you have managed to book an escape to the chateau this year (or campsite or apartment or hotel), then congratulations! Whether you plan to fly and hire or drive your own, it is vital that you are aware of the regulations for drivers and the recent changes that have come into force. Local or not, if you fall foul of the law, you could find yourself in trouble.

Whether you are planning on staying in France or you are just passing through on your way to your final holiday destination, here’s what you need to know about French driving expectations.

  1. Pack the high vis kit – this means a high visibility vest for every passenger and a warning triangle. This is a legal requirement, and French police are within their rights to stop you and check that you have these on board. You can pick them up very cheaply in the UK, so make sure you are prepared.
  2. Be light savvy – as you will be aware, in France, you will be driving on the right side of the road. This means that your high beam lights need to be adjusted to avoid dangerous glare for other drivers. You can get headlight beam adjustors from vehicle shops or online. In the UK, if you are stopped by the police with a faulty bulb, you will be asked to go and get it replaced as soon as possible. This is not the case in France, where it is compulsory for you to carry a spare set of bulbs with you in case one fails.
  3. Know your limits – you may be in full holiday mode, but don’t get carried away with the drinking. In France, the blood alcohol limits are lower than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – they are the same as in Scotland (50mg per 100ml of blood) for experienced drivers, and lower (20mg per 100ml of blood) for drivers with fewer than three years’ driving experience. The best tactic is to avoid drinking and driving, and be aware of your alcohol intake the night before. Carrying a breathalyser kit is compulsory; if in doubt, use it (but make sure you have a spare).
  4. Check your passengers – in France, children under ten years old can only sit in the front if they have a suitable car seat or restraint. The only exceptions are for rear-facing car seats containing babies under 9 months old, and in cases where there are no seats in the back because it is full of other children under ten (if you are a lone adult with a car full of children under ten, then good luck!)
  5. Check your speed. Make sure that you are aware of the speed limit where you are and be sure to switch off speed camera alerts; if you are stopped by the police and you have your speed camera alert switched on, you could be rewarded with a significant fine.

If you are driving abroad for the first time or you are nervous about driving overseas, check in with your local driving instructor; some offer specialist courses to help improve confidence. For more tips, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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