France From The Inside

France From The Inside: Driving in France

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During a vacation in France, driving a car can be useful to get out of the beaten path. Some knowledge of the driving rules will make the trip easier.

While there are many mass transportation options in France such as trains and buses, driving is often the only way to get to smaller more remote areas. Itís also a great way to travel on your own schedule.

France has many scenic routes from tiny Departementales to the larger Autoroutes. To have the best possible experience here are some tips and rules.

Speed Limit

The speed limit in most towns in 50km/h (31mph), once through the townís name sign (a white rectangle with a red border) it should be followed unless posted otherwise.

Off cities in the departementales and nationales roads the speed limit is 90 km/h unless otherwise marked.

Most four lane highways are 110 km/h (68mph) in dry conditions, 110km/h (62mph)when wet.

Toll highways called autoroutes ŗ pťage have a 130 km/h (81mph) speed limit in dry conditions and 110km/h (68mph) when wet. The fee is according to the distance traveled. A ticket has to be picked up at the entrance booth and an autoroute agent at the exit booth charges the driver.

Law Enforcement

In large cities the law is enforced by the Police, everywhere else in France the Gendarmerie takes over. Itís a branch of the military and they drive dark blue cars with a blue light on top. While they can cruise highways like in the US, their technique is mainly to set up radar devices to catch people speeding.

There are also set large radars that have been installed by law enforcement in the past few years, those usually come with a warning sign ahead.

It is not uncommon for drivers to warn others by flashing their lights on the road when they know there are either cops or radars ahead.

Other Driving Tips

Drive on the right side of the road.

Never pass from the right, not only is it illegal but strictly enforced, the left lane is a passing lane and not a fast lane.

The alcohol limit is 0, 5 gram of alcohol per liter of blood (0, 25 mg per liter of breathed out air).

Drivers with a round white sticker with a red ďAĒ in the middle are young drivers who have had their license for less than two years and have to follow lower speed limits. Other drivers to watch out for are all cars with an ďAuto EcoleĒ sign, those are driving schools cars.

Donít talk on a cell phone, itís illegal.

Children under age ten should seat in the back.

Seatbelts must be worn at all times.

Turning right on red is strictly forbidden.

Road Signs and Road Surface Marking

All white round road signs with a red border signal something forbidden.

All blue round signs signal something mandatory.

The road paint is white except for work zone where itís orange.

There are no double lines; one single straight line is the equivalent of the American double line.
Tags: france
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