6 things to know when driving in France - AA Travel Hub
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19 May 6 things to know when driving in France

Image Source: decar66 used under CC Attribution 2.0 licence

You’re dreaming of eating brie and french onion baguettes, but before you set off on your well deserved French adventure there are a few things you should consider. Here is our list of six things you need to know before driving in France.

1. Car Rental

You may have rented a car before and have a preferred agency in mind. Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget and Sixt have branches at most major towns all over France. Keep an eye on their websites or your airline’s website as they may offer good deals or discounts. If you have booked your holiday through a travel agent, they may have discounts available as well. It’s best to do some research before you head off in order to secure the best deal for you. Car rental companies in France are required to provide basic liability insurance to renters for the duration of their trip. However, it’s important to check with each company about their collision damage waivers as these vary from company to company. If you plan on taking your own vehicle however, The AA offers European Breakdown Cover. Some of the benefits include:

  • 24 hour English speaking emergency telephone assistance throughout Europe.
  • Roadside assistance for the duration of your motoring holiday.
  • Emergency roadside repairs or towing to the nearest garage in over 40 European countries.
  • Location and dispatch of spare parts(s) needed to complete repairs overseas.
  • Vehicle recovery to the Republic of Ireland.
  • Provision for emergency car hire, accommodation or alternative travel.
  • Emergency accommodation if you have to wait for repair work to be completed.

2. Fuel

Unleaded, diesel and LPG are available in France. Most petrol stations accept credit cards but check with your credit card company about usage in France before you travel. If you rent a car, chances are it will come with a full tank of petrol. However, keep in mind that if you don’t return the car with a full tank, you may be charged you for the fuel as well an additional service charge.

3. Speed Limits

Speed limits are fixed according to the place, vehicle and weather. In built-up areas the limit is 50 km/h, outside built-up areas it’s 90 km/h, on urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation the limit is 110 km/h and it’s 130 km/h on motorways.

4. Drinking and Driving

As in Ireland, French police are empowered to carry out random breath tests. If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.05 per cent or more (0.02% for bus/coach drivers) penalties include a fine, imprisonment and/or confiscation of your driving licence and/or vehicle. Saliva drug tests can also be used to detect drivers under the influence of drugs. Never ever drink or take drugs and drive.

5. Parking and Tolls

You can get parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas from police stations, tourist offices and some shops. You should also factor in road tolls when planning your journey as well. It’s a good idea to keep money aside to cover these costs and to keep some spare change handy but don’t leave it lying about in your car. Every rental vehicle registered in France has a recognisable license plate number which makes it easier for thieves to identify.

6. Essential Documents

If you want to rent a car in France you must be at least 21 years of age. Car renters must also have a valid driver’s license and carry a major credit card. You are also required to carry your passport (or national ID card). You may also chose to get an International Drivers Permit (IDP) although it is not necessary. An IDP is simply a translated version of your drivers license. It must be accompanied by your drivers license to be valid. The AA can provide drivers with an IDP (click here for more info) which costs €15. Allow three working days for postal deliveries.

Esther O'Moore Donohoe

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