France Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In France

France drives on the right and you can use the photo licence of any EU country to drive here.Drivers from other countries need their own licence plus an international driving permit. Speed limits range from 130kmh on motorways to 90kmh on other roads and 50kmh in urban areas.

All vehicles must also carry -Reflective jackets for each occupant, to be worn if you exit the vehicle after a breakdown or accident; warning triangle; Headlamp beam deflectors for right hand drive vehicles ;Breathalyser/alcohol test ; Spare headlight bulbs. Many online stores sell a kit covering all the above items. For people that have less than three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per litre. For experienced drivers and motorcyclists (more than three years’ experience) the limit is 0.5 grams per litre.

Some French cities, including Paris,Strasbourg and Grenoble have introduced ‘Crit D’air’ or clean air stickers and you can be fined if your vehicle isn’t displaying one. Other cities have ZPA zones where temporary restrictions are applied dependent on pollution levels.

The categories are –

Green – Crit’Air E (zero emissions – electric and hydrogen vehicles)

Purple – Crit’Air 1 (gas and rechargeable hybrid vehicles)

Yellow – Crit’Air 2 (Euro 5 and Euro 6 vehicles)

Orange – Crit’Air 3 (Euro 4 vehicles)

Burgundy – Crit’Air 4 (Euro 3 vehicles)

Dark Grey – Crit’Air 5 (Euro 2 vehicles)

You can check if restrictions apply in the city you’re visiting here

French rental cars will already have a certificate. If driving your own vehicle, you can apply online for a Crit D’air certificate here

France has a well maintained motorway networks connecting all parts of the countrya nd interconnecting with major national routes. Many motorways are toll roads, with charges that can paid at toll gates. However, in my opinion the easiest way to pay the toll is via the Peago mobile phone app which allows you to enter your vehicle details and pay a balance by credit card which is reduced as you use the roads. Some approximate toll charges for main route are-

A1           Paris – Lille -17 EURO

A4           Paris – Strasbourg -40 EURO

A6           Paris – Lyon – 35 EURO

A8           Aix-en-Provence – Nice -18 EURO

A10        Paris – Bordeaux – 56 EURO

A11        Paris – Nantes -38 EURO

A13        Paris – Caen -16 EURO

A16        Paris – Calais -23 EURO

A26        Calais – Troyes- 32 EURO

A31        Dijon – Nancy -16 EURO

Roads are in good condition and driving standards are high though speeds in and around urban areas are higher than average in many countries. Driving in the centre of Paris, as with most large cities, is to be avoided if you can. If you must drive in the centre, it may be worth paying a taxi drive you to lead you to the address you’re seeking. Alternatively, if trying to navigate your way out of town, ask the rental company if they can drive you to the outskirts or at least to a main road out of town.  France has some quirks relating to use of lights- ‘Flashing’ the car in front is an accepted form of telling them to move over so you can pass. In some countries this is seen as aggressive behaviour. In France its the norm. Also, the last car in a line of slow moving traffic on a motorway should put its hazard warning lights on.A

Many travellers drive abroad in France during a longer road trip taking in other European countries. Below are some destinations which could be driven in a day from Paris-

Paris – Nice – 941km , estimated travel time 8.5 hours

Paris – Geneva – 541km , estimated travel time 5 hours

Paris- Amsterdam – 504km, estimated travel time 5 hours

Paris- Brussels – 307km, estimated travel time 3 hours

Paris- Barcelona– 1035km, estimated travel time 9 hours

Paris- Munich – 850km, estimated travel time 8 hours

Paris- Milan– 850km, estimated travel time 9 hours

Paris- London – 460km, estimated travel time 5 hours (excl Ferry),

Most of the large multinational car rental companies will allow cars to be driven to UK, though probably won’t allow one way rental. Given the cost of taking a car across the channel though, its better to travel as a pedestrian, then rent a car in UK. The channel tunnel is a popular option for taking a car from mainland Europe to the UK.The 50km tunnel runs from Coquelles near Calais to  Cheriton ,near Folkestone, in Kent, 70 miles South of London. Vehicles don’t drive through the tunnel, but are transported on board closed railway carriages. Passengers stay with their vehicle for the 35 minute journey. You can get out to visit the toilet but are encouraged to stay in the vehicle. Ticket purchase and more information for the channel tunnel can be found here.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

France Car Rental –
Not surprisingly all the major companies operate in France -Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, National,Avis, Budget,Thrifty, Enterprise,  Dollar all have outlets across the country and in Corsica .It will also feature on all Car rental broker sites  and Web discount sites. There will also be hundreds of small local companies in towns across France, particularly at the coast.

We currently have no local car rental partners in France. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

France Self Driving Rules-
You’ll generally be allowed to drive the car across international borders though there may be restrictions on taking higher spec vehicles into Eastern Europe. One way rentals will usually be allowed for a charge, including taking cars to Corsica.

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