Driving in France

Recently I was planning a short trip to France to visit friends as they’ve recently moved to Lyon to run a B&B. Anyway, another friend who I was meant to be travelling with has now broken their leg and the whole thing has been canned. Whilst researching the route and trip I noticed that there are a lot of conditions on driving legally in France. Far more hoops to be jumped through now than I remember my parents having to do on family holidays 15 years ago. So what things are you going to want to take aside from a jerry-can and warm Blanket?

Driving in France

French Flag by francois via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

There are many great resources online, and that’s where I began my research, with companies such as the AA and RAC. It’s worth noting (although I’m in no fear of this!) that to drive in Europe you must be 18 years old and even this may differ in some countries, but in France it is 18. So it’s probably not worth reading this until you’re old enough to put it into action!

Over the Limit? – Breathalyser

You may have heard of this one before but France asks each driver to carry with them a number of Breathalysers. Each one must be NF-approved and if you are stopped by the French police and you don’t have one then you can expect to pay a small on the spot fine.  Often the police will use their discretion however all of the major websites including the RAC, AA and Brittany Ferries suggest that taking Breathalysers with you is essential.

Being Seen – Warning Triangles & Reflective Jackets

Many cars sold in the UK come with a warning triangle and reflective jacket these days but unfortunately my old banger hails from a time when these weren’t common place. If you don’t already have them you can buy a triangle, reflective jacket and other European driving accessories at motor stores such as Halfords as you might expect. You may think that having a reflective jacket is quite straight forward however French authorities have added further stipulations; the jacket must be kept inside your car and not be in the boot, so that it’s on hand if needed.

Redi-Medic Europe Safety Kit

Safety Kit by Redi-Medic via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Other Essentials

There are only a few other things that French authorities require you to have and these include some of the most obvious things. For example you will need a copy of your insurance certificate, photo-card driving license (and counterpart!) and a sticker or euro-plates to let everyone know that you’re from ‘GB’. According to the RAC the only other thing that is required is some headlight converters. After all the French drive on the other side of the road (something else to remember!) and these converters will ensure that you’re not dazzling every oncoming driver with your lights.

Through browsing online you can see that there are many more suggested items to take but none as essential as those mentioned above. Any other items are a bonus and can help you out of a sticky situation or help you to enjoy the drive with peace of mind. It’s good to remember just how big France is compared to the UK and how long the driving distances involved are, especially if you’re heading south as I was planning.

Hopefully if I ever rearrange and actually take the trip then I’ll be sure to write a follow up to this post!