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Driving

Speed Limits

Speed limits are fixed according to the place, the vehicle and the weather. Standard legal limits which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers. In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h), but 68 mph (110 km/h) on urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation and 80 mph (130 km/h) on motorways.

 

Lower speed limits of 49 mph (80 km/h) outside built-up areas, 62 mph (100 km/h) on dual carriageways and 68 mph (110 km/h) on motorways apply in wet weather and to visiting motorists who have held a driving licence for less than three years. Additionally, speed limits are reduced on stretches of motorways in built up areas. Minimum speed limit on motorways 49mph (80km/h).

Licence / Insurance

Minimum age at which an Irish licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle (up to 80cc) 16, motorcycle (over 80cc) 18.

 

Third party insurance is compulsory.

Fuel

Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane), diesel* (Gazole) and LPG available. No leaded petrol (lead replacement petrol ‘Super carburant’ available or lead substitute additive). Petrol in a can is permitted but forbidden by ferry operators.

 

SP95-E10 (Sans Plomb 95 Octane, Ethanol 10% = Lead Free 95 Octane containing 10% of Ethanol) is now being sold throughout France. This fuel is not suitable for use in all cars and you should check compatibility with your vehicle manufacturer before using it. If in doubt use the standard SP95 or SP98 Octane unleaded fuel which continues to be available alongside the new fuel.

 

* B8 biodiesel is now available in France. Similar to SP95-E10, this Diesel is not suitable for use in all cars and you should check compatibility with your vehicle manufacturer.

 

Credit cards accepted at most filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in France before travel. There are many automatic petrol pumps operated by credit/debit card however, cards issued in Ireland are not always accepted by these pumps. If accepted, automatic/unmanned petrol stations operate by authorising a transaction of between €100-€150. Any ‘overpayment’ i.e. the amount between the price of the fuel and the amount authorised is usually refunded straight away. However, in some circumstances the ‘overpayment’ stays on hold and can sometimes remain unavailable for up to a week.

Tyres

Snow tyres marked M&S are recommended on roads covered with ice or snow. These tyres must have minimum tread depth of 3.5mm.

Tolls

Pay-as-you-go tolls are charged on most motorways in France. You can pay toll fees by credit card or cash.

Other Requirements

The regulation requiring motorcyclists to wear reflective jackets was abolished on the 2nd January 2013.

 

It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with a set of replacement bulbs.

 

In built-up areas where you see the sign “priorité a droite” give way to traffic coming from the right.

 

At signed roundabouts bearing the words “Vous n’avez pas la priorité” or “Cédez le passage” traffic on the roundabout has priority; where no such sign exists traffic entering the roundabout has priority.

 

Overtaking stationary trams is prohibited when passengers are boarding / alighting.

 

Parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas can be obtained from police stations, tourist offices and some shops.

 

When overtaking a bicycle, drivers must leave a distance of at least 1m in built-up areas and 1.50m outside built-up areas between their vehicle and the bicycle.

 

In built up areas the use of the horn is prohibited except in cases of immediate danger.

 

Apparatus with a screen which can distract a driver (such as television, video, DVD equipment) should be positioned in places where the driver is unable to see them. It is prohibited to touch or program any device unless parked in a safe place.

 

It is absolutely prohibited to carry, transport or use radar detectors. Failure to comply with this regulation involves a fine of up to 1500 Euros and the vehicle and/or device may be confiscated.

 

Road signs indicating the location of fixed speed cameras are being removed and additional fixed speed cameras added. A GPS based navigation system (Sat Nav) which has maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera PoI (Points of Interest)’ function deactivated, ideally they should be removed.

Travel Advice

Entry Requirements

You need a valid passport to visit France and the Department of Foreign Affairs advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Local Laws & Customs

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties. If you are found in possession of illegal drugs or smuggled goods, you can be held in pre-trial detention for the period of the investigation (which can last for several months or even years). If your vehicle was carrying illegal drugs or smuggled goods, French Customs can impound it for the investigation period.

Buying property in France

If you’re planning to buy property in France, we strongly advise you to consult an independent legal advisor from the beginning of the process. Be aware that as a property owner, you may be liable for annual taxes on the value of your property.

The Embassy cannot advise you on buying property or intervene in property disputes.

European Health Insurance Card

The Department of Foreign Affairs advise you to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel to France. This card replaces the E111 form and entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as French nationals.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Therefore they also recommend that comprehensive private medical insurance is still obtained before travelling as the EHIC covers emergency treatment in public hospitals only. You can apply for an EHIC online at www.ehic.ie.

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Contact the Embassy

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Paris.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

How they can help you

Irish Embassies have a lot of experience helping Irish citizens who run into problems when they’re abroad. Learn more about the kind of emergency assistance they can offer you.

Security

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has made the following statement –

Due to ongoing terrorist threats to France, the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its security measures. A greater police presence may be expected in public buildings and around transport hubs. Irish citizens are advised to take extra care at this time and to follow the security advice issued by the French authorities.