Traffic rules France

Traffic rules France

The traffic rules in France are sometimes slightly different from those in the Netherlands. We have listed the most important general rules for you.

Winter tires and winter rules

  • Mandatory during the winter period in certain zones  – From  November 1 to March 31,  you are obliged to  drive on winter tires in the mountain areas in France  unless  you take snow chains with you in the car. 
  • Winter tires or snow chains are compulsory in Auvergne, Cantal in winter. A map with the exact zones where this obligation applies can be found at (in French).
  • From November 1, 2022 you can  get a fine if you do not drive on winter tires (and do not have snow chains in the car) in these zones. The previous winter season was considered an adjustment period for the new winter rules and therefore no fines were issued then   
  • A traffic sign with a red border and a black winter tire and snow chains on it indicates that you are entering a zone where you must drive on winter tires during the winter period or have snow chains in the trunk of the car.

  • Winter tires must be fitted on all four wheels.
  • In the rest of France it is recommended to use winter tires in winter. 
  • In France you can also see a round, blue sign with a white car tire with a snow chain. If you drive on winter tires and the road is covered with snow, you are only obliged to fit snow chains with this sign if the text on a bottom sign reads: Chaînes à neige obligatoires (snow chains required) is displayed.

Environmental sticker in France:

An important traffic rule in France concerns the environmental sticker or the environmental vignet. This shows that your car is clean enough to drive in the city. In many cities, this regulation only applies in the event of extreme air pollution. In Paris has been a permanent environmental zone for several years and the rules have been tightened in 2022. Only environmental stickers of types 0 to 2 are still approved in the area within the A86. As of 2023, type 2 environmental stickers will be refused in this area.

Maximum speed France:

In France, the maximum speed is 80 km/h on inland roads with one lane in each direction, without a central reservation. But beware: because this is a rule, this maximum speed is not indicated everywhere with road signs. Annoying! And the chance of a fine is high, since France is known to use speed cameras fanatically.

Reduction of maximum speed in Paris and other cities:

Since August 2021, the maximum speed in Paris has been 30 kilometers per hour almost everywhere. Since January 1, 2022, a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour has also been in force in other cities such as Lyon, Nantes, Lille, Montepellier, Bordeaux and Grenoble. Pay close attention to the signs when entering a French city.

Also pay attention to other maximum speeds:

  • Within built-up areas: 50 km/h.
  • Outside built-up areas with two lanes in each direction (without a median): 90 km/h.
  • Outside built-up areas with central reservation: 110 km/h in dry weather, 100 km/h in rain.
  • Motorways: 130 km/h in dry weather, 110 km/h in rain.

Phone and navigation:

  • While driving in France, you are not allowed to use your phone or even have it in your field of vision.
  • Hands-free calling with earphones is prohibited.
  • If you are stopped by the side of the road, you are not allowed to make calls in the car with the phone in your hand.
  • Do you use your phone for navigation? That is allowed, provided you place the phone in a holder and do not operate it while driving. Radar detectors are also prohibited. The fines can be up to 1,500 euros!

Other traffic rules in France:

  • During the day it is not mandatory to switch on dipped headlights, except in tunnels. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day.
  • On narrow mountain roads, ascending traffic has priority over descending traffic.
  • On narrow mountain roads, the most manoeuvrable vehicle has to give way to the less manoeuvrable one.
  • Make sure you have the right things with you that are mandatory in the car to France 
  • It is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke or touch up make-up while driving.
  • You must wear good footwear as a driver, so no flip flops, for example.
  • Smoking is prohibited in the presence of children under the age of 18.
  • Are you going to the mountains? Then you are obliged to drive on winter tires during the winter period from November 1 to March 31, unless you take snow chains with you in the car. From November 1, you can be fined if you violate this rule.