Brittany Ferries

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Driving in France

Apart from the yellow high visibility jacket (which must be kept in the vehicle where the driver can reach it), the red triangle, the set of spare bulbs, the first aid kit and the fire extinguisher there are two new laws for drivers to be aware of.

  • From January 2012 it is illegal for any one to have on board and/or to use a radar detecting device. We understand that it is possible to have this facility removed by using an update from the manufacturer's web site. The fine is €1,500 and confiscation of the piece of kit. Check the AA or RAC website (or the site for your manufacturer) for any updates on this subject. However, there is "legal" advice that the Gendarmes cannot enter your car without a warrant nor can they check whether your GPS has a radar detecting programme. However, you can choose to argue with a gun toting Gendarme if you wish!

  • It will be law, from 1st July 2012 to carry a breathalyser in your car while on the French road this summer. 
  • While, it is said that no-one will be fined for not having one it  would be best to check with the AA or the RAC for their advice before traveling. Costs for the simple balloon-type are no more than €1.50. They should carry the NF (Norme Française) logo and should be changed every two years. 

    Also make sure that you get the right ones as the limit in France (.5 mg per ml) is lower than that for the UK (.8 mg per ml). 



    France has recently invested in many more speed cameras, fixed and mobile. While I have not heard of anyone from the UK being fined as a result of going through a fixed camera, doing so, in excess of the speed limit, through a mobile one can mean being stopped and having to pay an instant fine of € 90. If you do not have the cash, they can take your driving licence away and only return it once you have visited the nearest town and the nearest cash machine.

     Be aware that there are 400 new, unsigned fixed speed cameras are currently being installed throughout the country and signs for existing cameras are being taken down. Keep to the speed limits if you don't want an on the spot fine! They are also reported to have vehicles which can check the speed of vehicles in both directions.


    The speed limits are:-


    Autoroutes                          130 kph (110 when raining)          (approx 80/70 mph)

    Dual Track                          110 kph                                     (approx 70 mph) (where so marked)

    Single Track                        90 kph                                       (approx 55 mph)

    Outskirts of towns                70 kph                                      (approx 42 mph)

    Towns                                 50 kph                                      (approx 30 mph)


    Near Schools                       30 kph                                      (approx 20 mph)




    French Law demands that you have on board a first aid kit, a set of spare light bulbs, a red warning triangle, they also recommend a fire extinguisher. You must also have, within reach of the driving position  a florescent yellow jacket for the driver. Failure to carry all of these can result in an on the spot fine.


    Dipped headlights must be used in poor visibility during the day.


    The Gendarmes are also tightening up on not stopping at “STOP” signs. Here, you are expected to come to a complete halt irrespective of whether the road is clear, and be there for at least 3 seconds – failure to do so is a fine of €90.




    Payages on Autoroutes take cash and credit cards. For details of the charges click on



    There is also the facility of buying a tag to use on the French Motorway system.


    Save Time and Money with an Autoroute Toll Tag


    Sanef the French motorway operator has now extended its Liber-t automatic toll payment service to UK motorists. If you drive through France often, Liber-T tags are a fabulous way to save time at tolls, spread the cost of toll charges and avoid currency conversion charges.

    To use the service just register online and Sanef will send you a small electronic tag that you attach to your car windscreen. As you approach the toll barriers, a device by the barrier will read your tag and automatically open the barrier without you having to stop. You will receive an invoice the following month for your tolls and then Sanef will automatically collect the payment in
    GBP Sterling by direct debit from your UK bank account.  to register for your Liber-T tag online.