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Driving rules


Road Rules, Laws and Regulations

France recognizes the driving licenses issued by several different countries and if you are visiting this country for the very first time, the traffic rules and regulations may appear to be rigorous to you. In order to steer clear of all possible trouble while driving across all destinations in France, here are a few rules that every traveler must be aware of. There are, in fact, on the spot fines liable for all defaulters of safe and regulated driving in the country.


  • Drivers must carry their insurance documents, international driving license, headlight adjustment stickers, documents showing the proof of ownership of the car, high visibility jackets for all occupants in the car, breathalyzers as well as a warning triangle.
  • Like in other European countries, there are different speed limits set for the rural and urban regions. In Residential areas, the limit is set at 30kmph, 70kmph on trunk roads and 130kmph on motorways. These speed limits also vary based on the weather conditions.
  • There is no road tax to be paid in France if you are driving a private vehicle. However, while driving on the motorways through tunnels and bridges, you will be required to pay tolls. Based on the car type that you are driving, you may also be subjected to pay an emission tax.
  • Children below the age of 10 years are not allowed to sit in the passenger seat. They are required to be seated in the back and all children below 9 months are required to be seated in a protective child seat.

Parking Rules in France

Across many towns in France, parking is allowed on one side of the street for the first half of the month as well as the other side of the street during the second half. For instance, you can park cars on the streets which have odd- numbered houses during the first half and on the street with even- numbered houses during the second half. This system is known as “stationnement alterné semi-mensuel” and it is usually depicted with a sign. In some regions, parking is allowed on even/ odd roads on every alternate day, known as “Côté du Stationnement – Jours Pairs/Impairs.”


  • In some places, you will see a parking sign marked with “horodateur or Stationnement payant”. It means that you are required to buy a parking ticket from the ticket machine. This ticket is to be placed face up on the dashboard on the street side so that its timestamp can be confirmed. Drivers are supposed to pay for parking between 9:00- 19:00; however, it is free from 12:00- 14:00 during lunch hours.
  • If you see blue markings/ blue zones on the road, it means that you can park here freely for a specified period of time provided that you have kept the parking disk on the windscreen. These parking discs known as “disque de contrôle/stationnement” can be purchased from shops, garages, tabacs as well as police stations.
  • For parking in cities, there are parking meters (horodateurs) which are to be operated using a specific credit card only. There are specific pay spaces which are indicated by “Payant” written on the sign boards.
  • Vehicles are generally parked in a street in the direction of the traffic on that street. In some cities, there are resident parking permits/ reduced parking meters within that particular neighborhood. You can park your cars here at reduced prices.

Road Types & Traffic Lights

In France, roads generally vary from narrow single- lane roads in the countryside to major 8- lane highways in the cities. Driving across all the cities and villages in France has its own share of ups and downs with the traffic rules and signals here being a little tricky for first- time visitors. There are several different kinds of roads, namely the Motorways with red number signs, the departmental roads with yellow number signs as well as the municipal roads with white number sigs and forestry roads with green number signs.


  • Throughout France, traffic lights directly turn from red to green. There is no in- between colors for warning drivers about the change and in case you make any delay in moving forward once the light is green, it is usual for the cars beyond you to honk and make some noise.
  • Lights are mounted very high and hence difficult for the first car to see. This is why there is repeater lights mounted at a head height on the post as well. Turning right on a red light is strictly prohibited until and unless there is a right- arrow flashing.
  • Some of the traffic lights may have a yield sign with a yellow arrow and bike inside it. This means that only cyclists are allowed to turn right on the red light once the right way is yielded to other vehicles and pedestrians.
  • If during any time you see drivers flashing their high- beams at you, it means that they are asking you to shift to the right lane. If you are planning to drive along the passing lane itself, be prepared for fellow drivers to get annoyed. Moving into the right lane is a polite gesture here.