Car Hire France
Car Hire France

Introduction

France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with more than 80 million international visitors per year. With one of the richest cultural histories of any country, France is full to brimming with landmarks and tourist attractions in the major cities as well as the countryside. Renowned for food, fashion and art, visitors can enjoy everything from water sports on golden beaches to skiing atop mountainous peaks on the Alps. Wonderfully diverse cultural experiences are on offer in the capital Paris, where tourists can indulge in all that France has to offer. With over 7,000km of roadway, driving is the best way to see the land of cheese and wine. From the highest through road in Europe (Col de la Bonette) to rugged coastline, dense forests and volcanic corridors, driving in France offers something for everyone.

Important things to note

The autoroute, the French equivalent of a motorway or freeway, is mainly linked by a toll road. You will be provided with an entrance ticket, which if you lose, you will be charged for by the distance you have travelled between tolls along with an additional fee. Coins and credit cards can be used to pay the toll fees, though only credit cards with the correct transponders may be used (these can be purchases from Sanef in the UK). Unless the road is marked otherwise, drivers give way to any vehicle coming from the right. This differs from the roundabout rules; drivers on the outside of the roundabout must yield to those on the inside.

Driving culture in France

What are the roads like in France?
The system of highways through France is well-treated, with major routes across the country home to wide smooth roads. However, many of the roads around urban areas, in cities and in towns, date back to the original construction of the town, which tend to be narrow, winding and made with cobblestone.

What are the drivers like in France?
Where once city drivers would drive rather aggressively (and rely heavily on the car horn), persistent policing has significantly reduced the amount of aggressive driving across the country.

What are the best times to drive?
Across the country, most driving conditions are reasonably consistent across the day and week. However, Samedi noir, aka "Black Saturday", takes place at the start and end of school holidays and marks a day of notoriously bad traffic. It is advised to attempt to avoid driving during this time.

What are the driving laws in France?
Be at least 18 and have a full driver's licence (sorry learners). Carry vehicle registration and insurance documents (originals, not copies). Have a warning triangle and high-vis vest in your car. The vest must be within reach of the driver. Carry snow chains if you are driving in mountainous regions during the winter. Use a hands free kit if using your mobile phone and do not touch or program a device unless parked in a safe place. Buckle up! Seatbelts for everyone at all times. Seat all children under ten years old in the back. If the child is under nine months old and weighs less than nine kilos, then the law permits a rear-facing baby seat in the front as along as the airbag is disabled. Keep a single use NF-approved breathalyser in your vehicle calibrated to the 0.05% French alcohol limit. If stopped and you have no breathalyser the Gendarmerie (the French traffic police) will, em, well, they won't actually do anything as there is no penalty for not having one. However, if breathalysed and you are over the limit you will be fined on the spot and held until fit to drive. If you are over 0.8g/litre, you face a hefty fine, possible jail time and a three-year ban from driving in France.

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