Do not dismiss any of the requirements on the list as the French police will stop British-registered vehicles to check they have the correct equipment for driving in France:

  • Full and valid driving licence
  • V5C document (vehicle registration document) and MOT certificate if vehicle is over 3 years old
  • Proof of insurance
  • Identification document
  • Country of origin sticker
  • High Visibility Jackets – enough for all passengers in the vehicle, and these must be worn if you have to leave the vehicle when on a motorway. Must be kept inside the car (not the boot) so they can be put on before leaving the vehicle
  • Warning triangles – these must be put out at a sufficient distance from your vehicle to warn other vehicles if you break down
  • A spare bulb kit for your vehicle should you have a failure – in France it is deemed necessary to replace a failed bulb there and then on the grounds of safety
  • Personal breathalyser kit – at least 2 unused disposable units which must be in date and display the French certification mark NF (This is still a requirement but is not subject to a fine for non-compliance)
  • Headlight beam adjusters

Minimum Age for drivers

Drivers must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in France

Speed limits

France uses the metric system for all road signs, meaning speed limits and other road signs including distance are indicated using kilometres and metres. Speed limits are lowered in rain and other adverse weather conditions, while special speed restrictions apply to certain classes of vehicle, including coaches and cars with trailers, so check before travel. There is a minimum speed limit of 80 km/h on motorways for vehicles travelling in the outside lane. The speed limit on many A and B roads in France has been reduced to 80km/hr (50mph) in a bid to save up to 400 lives a year.


Motorways Priority roads and dual carriageways Other roads Built up areas
Normal traffic conditions 130 km/h 110 km/h 80 km/h 50 km/h
Rain or other precipitation 110 km/h 100 km/h 70 km/h 50 km/h
Visibility less than 50m 50 km/h 50 km/h 50 km/h 50 km/h

Speed camera detection is NOT permitted in France so if your satnav can show fixed speed cameras, then you must disable alerts before you drive in France. If caught using detection you could have to pay a massive fine of €1,500 !

Children in vehicles

Children under 10 years or age are not permitted to sit in the front, and all children under 10 must have appropriate seats.

Drink driving limits

For drivers and riders that have less than three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per litre. If you have more than three years’ experience the limit is 0.5 grams per litre. Both are lower than the English, Welsh and Northern Irish limit of 0.8 grams per litre (the Scottish limit is 0.5).


All drivers and riders are prohibited from wearing headsets and headphones whilst driving, be it for music purposes or for phone calls. However, this does exclude motorcycle helmets that have integrated systems.

Motorway Breakdown

Because French motorways are privately managed, you cannot request your own assistance company to attend to you if you break down. If you do break down, you should use the orange emergency telephones that are situated every 2km along main roads and motorways to call the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area. Alternatively, if no orange telephone is available, you should call the emergency services by dialling 112.

You will be towed to a safe designated area where you can then be met by your chosen breakdown provider. Charges for assistance on a motorway are fixed by the government and are reviewed and revised each year. For the most part, the government-appointed towing service that tows you from the motorway allows your breakdown provider to pay it directly (if applicable with your chosen cover) – however, it’s at the towing company’s discretion. If you are asked to pay, please keep your receipt in order to claim under your breakdown cover (if applicable).

The cost for recovery is:

  • €124.83 for vehicles 1.8 tonnes or under or €187.25 between the hours of 18:00 and 08:00, weekends and bank holidays
  • €154.36 for vehicles 3.5t or under or €231.54 between the hours of 18:00 and 08:00, weekends and bank holidays
  • For vehicles over 3.5t, the cost is at the towing service’s discretion

Low emission zones* have been introduced in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble and you cannot drive in these cities without displaying a sticker in the windscreen showing the rating of your vehicle. On certain days those vehicles with a high rating cannot be driven in the centre of Paris – https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/


Be aware that you cannot take the following with you into France:

  • Meat or products containing meat
  • milk or dairy products

You cannot take the following unless you pay to have them inspected before you leave and get a ‘phytosanitary certificate’:

  • fresh fruit (apart from bananas, coconuts, dates, pineapples and durians)
  • vegetables
  • plants
  • plant products

Safe journey! Bon voyage!