On a practical note, although driving in the major French cities can be a daunting experience at first, driving through the countryside is usually delightful, with only relatively light traffic on most roads.
Driving on the right hand side of the road may be a new experience for some visitors as may well be the use of kilometres to measure distance - one good thing about using a rental car is that it will be adapted to local conditions with the steering on the left hand side and the speedometer marked in kilometres per hour.
The availability of rentals cars is very good throughout France and there is usually no problem in arranging for a hire car to be left at a different location from where it was originally rented.
The speed limits in France are:
On Auto-routes (Equivalent to British Motorways or Divided Highways designated as Auto-routes) the limit is 130 kilometres per hour. This equates to about 80 miles per hour.
On other roads not showing any lower restriction the limit is 110 kilometres per hour. That's just below 70 miles per hour, 68 miles per hour to be precise.
In towns the limit is 50 kilometres per hour, or 31 miles per hour.
Where no other indication is given it is best to regard the "Town Name" sign as the start of the speed limit.
Speed Limits can be enforced by "On-the-Spot" fines. A visiting driver caught exceeding the limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour risks confiscation of his driving licence on the spot.
Drivers face severe penalties if found driving with more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This is lower than the limit in Britain which is 80mg per 100ml.
Persons under the age of 18 years are not allowed to drive in France even though they may hold a driving licence issued in another country.
The wearing of seat belts is compulsory and children must be 10 years old or over to occupy a front passenger seat.
One of the more curious features of driving in French towns is the rule that traffic emerging from the right at a junction has priority. Many drivers have been caught out over this. A sign exhibiting a yellow diamond usually indicates that the road you are on has priority, a black diagonal line through the diamond indicates that the priority section has ended and the priority to traffic from the right once again applies.
Travelling long distances in France by road is made easier by using the Auto-routes, even though there is charge for driving on many of them. The toll roads "Payeage" are often very lightly used as many of the French prefer to travel for free on the older parallel routes. There are frequent rest areas along all the major routes, which provide, as a minimum, facilities such as parking, toilets picnic area and rubbish bins. The larger ones will often have fuel stations and restaurants.
Finally although unlikely to affect a hire car driver, using or carrying a device to detect radar or laser gun signals is illegal in France and can lead to confiscation of the device and or the car.
These notes are intended only to draw attention to some of the rules and regulations that apply to driving in France. They are not an exhaustive or complete set of regulations and may be superseded by changes in the law at any time. The publishers can accept no responsibility for any problem that may arise because drivers have failed to satisfy all the relevant legislation in any country in which they may use a vehicle hired through this site. It remains the responsibility of the driver to satisfy himself or herself that they are aware of all the relevant legislation that affects their conduct and the driving of vehicles in any country in which they may find themselves
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