A car is a convenient way to move around in France, roads are well maintained, outside of the main cities congestion is almost never heard of, the French road network includes over 5000 miles of motorways, many are peage (toll road) which link all the main provincial towns and cities.
For most rental locations in France you must be at least 21 years of age, but this is not always the case so be sure to ask us first!. If you are less than 25 years then an additional young drivers charge may apply. There is no upper age limit to hiring a car in France.
A valid driving licence needs to have been held for at least 1 year and be in Western Script. For British license holders you should supply both the card and paper versions at the rental desk.
You may wish to visit a country bordering France during your visit, for the most part this is no problem as long as you do not take a ferry to reach the destination country, there are other restrictions to some eastern countries, please contact us if you need clarification
Every 10km there are rest areas for short stops where you can get out and stretch your legs. Every 30 or 40 km: service stations and restaurants for coffee, snacks and toilets. Every 100km or more there are motels where you can park up for the night.
When to leave? Which route to take?
Information on the cost of the peage (toll road), the total mileage, restaurants, service stations and hotels along the way are all available on the web site: auto routes. More than 13 million routes and itineraries can be consulted to travel between any of the 3600 towns featured. Information on cultural sites and heritage of each region is also available from this site.
Road maps can be found in bookstores and in all service stations. I.G.N. maps give the most detailed coverage of France. Michelin maps cover main road networks and regions. Sat Nav is available from most rental locations - please request this at the time of booking, or bring your own Sat Nav with you!.
Cars in France drive on the right. Unless indicated otherwise, speed limits are 30 - 50km/h in towns, 80km/h on the Paris beltway, 90km/h on main roads, 110 km/h on dual carriage ways and 130 km/h on motorways - Please note these speed restrictions change when it rains, e.g. 130 km/h reduces to 110 km/h. Vehicles on main roads have priority in the main. In cities and towns the right of way is sometimes given to vehicles coming in from the right, look out for the large flashing 'X indicating you do not have priority! or if the road entering from the right does NOT have a thick white line where it meats the main road (stop line) the road has priority over the main road
As mentioned above it is wise to respect the speed limits - please be aware of speed cameras, more information is available from this website;
Controleradar - speed radars locations in france and other useful information regarding speed limits and law enforcement. If you do get caught for speeding then an immidiate cash penalty may apply, you may even be driven to the closest cash point. Please note Sat Navs with speed camera dtection are not allowed in France, you will need to turn this feature off if bringing you own GPS
Most motorway service stations have 'baby corners' with changing facilities and high chairs.
All passengers must wear seat-belts.
All cars most carry 2 breathalisers, these are normally 'once' only use and should be in the car when you pick it up, if not please mention this to the rental desk.
Bus lanes are reserved exclusively for buses, taxis and bicycles.
Drivers license, insurance certificate and vehicle registration documents must be presented at any roadside controls, and must be kept with you (in the car) at all times.
In the event of a car accident, you must fill out a damage assessment form (you will find them in the glove compartment of your rental car or you may request it from your insurance company). It must be signed by the other party, and in the event of a dispute or a refusal to complete the form, you should immediately obtain a constat d'huissier. This is a written report from a bailiff (huissier). In the event of an dispute, call the police so that it can make out an official report. In the event of an injury, call the SAMU (15) or the fire brigade (18). The police are only called out to accidents when someone is injured, a driver is under the influence of alcohol or the accidents impedes traffic flow. Please notify your car hire office as soon as possible.
In Paris and all major towns, traffic is at its most congested at rush hours when people set off for or return from work - usually between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. On Fridays, traffic can be difficult earlier, especially at the exits from Paris. Between rush hours, traffic is usually fluid, even in Paris. The rest of France is a joy to drive around, little traffic and good roads.
Parking is strictly regulated in many areas. Dotted road markings indicate parking spaces. Remember that you can only park on white spaces; those marked 'Payant' are pay-for-parking spaces and unmarked spaces are free. Yellow markings indicate spaces reserved for utility vehicles and other markings (GIC-GIG) for people with the relevant card. Dotted yellow lines on the edge of a pavement indicate that brief stops are authorized (for dropping off passengers). Many parking spaces in major cities are regulated by parking meters that can be found along the edge of pavements. You can pay for between 15 minutes and 2 hours (from 1 euro to 2.5 euros an hour). Your ticket must be displayed clearly inside your car. In case of non-payment or parking longer than the time allowed, you risk a fine of 100 euros. A large number of modern and safe underground parking lots exist in town centers. They cost more than parking at ground level, but guarantee a space and flexible hours of stay. In smaller tourist towns and cities you may find 'blue' parking spaces, these spaces are free for one hour but you must obtain a parking disk from the tourist board, this disk can then be used in other cities and towns across France.
For information on road conditions, consult regional information centers before you set off:
Ile-de-France/Centre 33 (0) 1 48 99 33 33
North 33 (0) 3 20 47 33 33
East 33 (0) 3 87 63 33 33
West 33 (0) 2 99 32 33 33
South-West 33 (0) 5 56 96 33 33
Rhone-Alpes/Auvergne 33 (0) 4 72 81 57 33
Mediterranean 33 (0) 4 91 78 78 78
For motorway conditions throughout France:
Autoroute info 33 (0) 1 47 05 90 01
Autoroutes (Marked on signs with A) Express highways for which you must pay tolls. Routes Nationales (Marked on signs with N) National motorways for which there are no tolls, often with several lanes. Routes Departementales (Marked on signs with D) Smaller scenic country roads with less traffic.
Highway tolls in France are generally cheap, and travelers should be prepared to stop several times during their trip to pay (toll booths are called peages). Cash and all major credit cards are accepted.
Seat belts are required for all passengers riding in cars.
If your car breaks down, try to move it to the side of the road so that it obstructs the traffic flow as little as possible. You are advised to seek local assistance as, at the present time there is no nationwide road assistance service in France. On autoroutes, emergency phones are located every 2km. The use of warning triangles or hazard warning lights is mandatory in the event of an accident or break down, as is the wearing of a bright jacket (yellow or orange) for anyone leaving the vehicle.