There are a number of mandatory items required for driving in France, the AA travel kit illustrated provides all the mandatory items required for France, including spare light bulbs, and a first aid kit which is only a recommended item for France but a mandatory item if you ever want to drive in Austria.
It also now includes the mandatory French breathalyser kit, but not a First Aid Kit which is required if you decide to visit Austria on your trip.
A Few Practical Tips
Be especially careful when taking off after a stop at a service station or roadside picnic area for example and make sure you drive on the right
Seat belts front and rear are mandatory
Urban speed limits begin at the town or city sign and speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on the spot fines so make sure you are able to pay, have a photocopy of your driving license just in case they ask for a copy and always get an official receipt
Don't drink and drive blood alcohol levels are stricter than the UK (no more than 0.5 mg/ml)
If you are driving a right hand drive car leave more space from the car in front so you can see more of the road, especially when overtaking
Children under 10 are not allowed in the front of the car with the exception of a baby seat facing backwards (airbag disabled) or if there is a legitimate reason the back seat cannot be used e.g. a 2 seater car or back seats already taken by other children
A booster seat is required for children between 135cm to 150 cm tall to ensure the seat belt can be worn correctly and over 150cm the seat belt can be used as normal. The fine for not carrying a child properly secured is €135
You cannot drive a car legally in France until you are 18 even if you have qualified in the UK at 17 years of age
For traffic information on route tune in to 107.7 FM; includes occasional bulletins in English
Don't forget your European Travel Kit which for France includes a high visibility vest
You are now also legally required to carry a French NF Approved Breathalyser in your car when driving in France. The recommendation is to carry 2, bit of a nuisance but the law is the law. Having said that, the gendarmes no longer fine anyone that doesn't have the breathalysers, so up to you if you can be bothered.
Speed Limits in France
130km/h dry (110km/h wet )
110km/h dry (100km/h when wet)
90km/h dry (80km/h when wet)
Towing Vehicles (combined weight over 3.5t)
License held for less than 2 years
This is just a general guide and you should always ensure that you know the speed limits wherever you are driving so that you comply with the law.
You should also ensure that your car insurance and breakdown insurance covers you for driving in Europe so that you don’t get caught out in the event of an accident or mechanical problem. Pay attention to the detail to ensure you have the level of cover required, not all insurance automatically covers you for Europe, even if it is fully comprehensive.
As satellite navigation equipment becomes more affordable, it is worth considering procuring one for European travel, particularly if you want to avoid the ‘Peage’ motorway routes and prefer to opt for the free (par RN) roads to see a little more of the French towns and villages you would otherwise bypass on the motorway. A big benefit of a satellite navigation system is that it gives you the confidence to go off route knowing you can easily find your way back to your intended destination. Some sat navs also provide other useful features like hands free mobile connection, travel reports etc.
If you are traveling with your children, keep in mind you may need some help to keep them entertained on the trip, an in car DVD player or one of the many other portable entertainment devices are a great way to pass the time away on a long journey.
Driving in France is usually a pleasurable experience especially in Southern France where traffic is much less intense generally than the UK (French national holidays aside) so if you follow the advice and stick to the rules you should have no problems and can relax and enjoy the experience.
There are a number of channel ferries operating out of Dover providing options to dock at Calais, Boulogne or Dunkerque but you can also take an alternative route if that is your preference, use the form below to get cost comparisons and crossing times for all ferries to France.
If you prefer to go directly to a ferry service, my strong recommendation is DFDS, I have always found them to be very competitive on price and generally the cheapest when crossing the channel. The Dover to Dunkerque option is quite good as not only do you get to cash in on their very competitive pricing, but when you dock in Dunkerque and join the motorway heading south, the long first section down to just south of Lille is toll free, giving you a further saving on your travel costs. All you need to do is click on the banner to find out the prices for your trip, happy holidays.
If you don't want to use a ferry then the other main alternative is to take the channel tunnel which you can book online at Eurotunnel
The Michelin Guide is a useful point of reference for establishing recommended routes and associated costs for using the route options, the web site can be found at viamichelin.com For convenience I have included a table of driving time and distances from the available ferry ports to Carcassonne in the heart of the Aude department using the Michelin recommended routes, but you can access the route planner for information on any desired route and destinations using the link provided.
Distance to Carcassonne
For a relatively easy route around Paris the following 2 options will get you either side of Paris without too much trouble when you are travelling North to South or visa versa..
Going South approaching on the A1 past Charles de Gaulle airport:
Generally it is best to follow the signs to Bordeaux, this is clearly sign posted as soon as you hit Paris and will take you down the A3, A86, A6 then onto the A10 which is the route South to Orleans and the best way for travelling to Toulouse.
Going North approaching Paris on the A10:
Going North it is the reverse but as you approach Paris use Lille as your general guide. This route takes you around the external periphique to the east of Paris which is motorway all the way and tends to keep moving at all times, absence of accidents permitting.
There are many other options available, but for a speedy transition past Paris I have always found this to be one of the best routes.
Stop Over Information
Orleans is about mid way between the channel ports and Languedoc Roussillon and is a convenient place to stay over for the night, other options are Paris, which although it is not that far south is a very interesting and vibrant place to visit, also Chateauroux, Limoges or Brive-la-Gaillarde could be considered, they are all stop over's that are further south than Orleans, Brive-la-Gaillarde being the furthest south. You can find hotels at any of these locations or elsewhere in France to suit your needs by completing the form below.
Another alternative for Stop Over Connections can be found via this link. There are choices for both bed and breakfast or hotels throughout France.
Call 0033 (0)4 68 94 08 66 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking
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