One of the great pleasures of driving south through France, perhaps to the Dordogne, Provence or even further south, is observing the changing landscape and, usually, the warming of the weather as you approach the Mediterranean.
Most people prefer to avoid the interestingly lively La Peripherique around Paris – even for the most competent drivers this can be a test of nerve. Travellers heading for regions south of Paris might be best to consider one of the Western Channel ferry routes (e.g.Roscoff, Caen, Cherbourg) to provide shorter driving distances whilst avoiding any need to circumvent Paris.
Driving in France is generally a safe and stress free experience, but there are a few pointers you should keep in mind:
- French drink driving rules are even stricter than the UK’s: The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5mg/ml (the UK’s is 0.8mg/ml) so even a small amount of alcohol puts you at risk of being over the limit. The best advice, as always, is just don’t drink and drive.
- Wearing seat belts is compulsory for both front and rear passengers on all roads.
- Speed limits are rigidly enforced with regular speed traps to catch the unwary. Offenders exceeding the speed limit by 25km/h or more are liable to have their license confiscated on the spot. Radar speed trap detectors are also illegal.
- Unlike the UK, traffic offences are punished by an on-the-spot fine.
- Speed limits in town usually begin at the sign displaying the town’s name and end at the sign with the name and a black diagonal bar through it.
- Give way at roundabouts to traffic on your left (unless signs say otherwise).
- A full driving licence is required.
- Speed limits on motorways, majors roads, and dual carriageways are lower when the road is wet (see below).
- For full details see the AA’s Guide to Driving in France.
Whichever route you choose we wish you a safe and happy journey. Bon voyage!