Top tips: Handy hints & useful phrases

Bags packed? Check. Excitement levels at fever pitch? Check. Ready to hit the open road? There are some important things to remember about driving abroad, but don’t worry, because this handy guide should provide the info you need to stay on the right side of the law.

Emergency number 112 is the European version of 999. Only to be used in times of severe distress.



Foot off the gas

The French take speeding very seriously and speed limits are implemented rigorously. Carrying speed detecting devices is illegal too so switch off your sat nav camera alerts or you could lose your licence and your car.


Cruise - don't booze

Don’t drink if you’re intending to get behind the wheel. French laws are much stricter than those in the UK. You also need to carry your own breathalyser. If you don’t, you can expect a fine of £8.


Be smart

Simple: obey the rules of the road and enjoy your break in peace BUT commit a traffic violation and, be warned, you could face an on-the-spot fine of up to €375. If you are fined make sure you get an official receipt.


Behind the wheel

Recent changes to the law mean it’s now illegal to eat, apply make-up, read a map or listen to excessively loud music while driving. The use of headphones or wireless earpieces while at the wheel is now also banned


Carry a hi vis jacket

Most UK drivers will find this one odd but, when in France, you MUST carry a high visibility waistcoat IN the car (not in the boot) in case you need to leave your vehicle at any point. Also, make sure you have a warning triangle.


No smoking

New legislation has now made it illegal to smoke in a car if you’re with a child aged 12 or under. It’s also illegal to smoke at children’s outdoor play areas - including those at motorway service stations.

My car has broken down

If things do go wrong, don’t panic. A few phrases (along with our helpful diagram) should ensure you get the message across:


Three more useful phrases:

Do you speak English? Parlez-vous Anglais?

I am lost! Je suis perdu!

Can you send me a mechanic/breakdown van? Pouvez-vous m’envoyez quelqu’un/une dépanneuse?

France Driving - Pocket Guide


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