Driving in France – what you need to know

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One in three UK and Irish drivers are unaware you have to drive on the right hand side of the road in France

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According to a 2016 uSwitch survey, one third of British drivers don’t know what side of the road you should drive on in France.

The survey also revealed that three quarters of respondents are unaware what the French drink-drive limit entails. But what exactly should you remember when you get in the driving seat in France? 

We had a look at our customers’ driving habits on the other side of the English Channel, and have created a guide to help you make sure you’re sticking to the law.

Is a UK driving licence valid in France?

Yes, your UK licence is valid in all EU or EEA countries.

What side of the road do you drive in France?

When driving in France, make sure you remember to drive on the right.

What is the drink-drive limit in France?

Be aware that the rules are stricter in France than in the United Kingdom. At 0.5mg per millilitre compared to the UK limit of 0.8mg per ml, you should be extra careful when driving the day after a drink. The best advice is to stay clear of alcohol altogether if you’re planning on taking to the wheel.

What documents do I have to carry with me if I’m driving in France?

There are certain documents that you must have in the car with you when you’re driving in France. These are:

  • Photo card driving licence
  • V5C registration certificate
  • Insurance documents
  • Passport

What should I pack when driving in France?

As well as the relevant documentation, you may be liable to pay a fine if you haven’t packed:

  • Reflective jacket
  • Warning triangle 
  • Breathalyser 
  • GB sticker
  • Beam deflectors
  • A set of spare bulbs

To make things easier, European Car Kits are available online to buy. 

For more packing ideas, check out our guide: 17 emergency items to keep in your car. 

If you’re travelling through Paris, Lille, Grenoble or Lyon you’ll need to remember to display a Crit'Air badge on your car window. These are available in 6 colours, and distinguishes older from newer vehicles. Since July 2017, these have helped cities to identify which types of cars are permitted to drive in the area, depending on their EURO emission standard. 

How can you claim for an accident in France? 

You’ll need to fill out the Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident form before you go. The form is known as the Constat Amiable in France and the version you fill in will be in French. Filling this in allows you to get your version of events across in the event of an accident.

Just like in the UK, be sure to get the name and insurance details of the other driver and any passengers, photos of the incident and damage if you are able, and the registration of the other vehicle. If the accident involves a lorry you’ll need the registration of both the trailer and cab.

If you do need to make a claim, just call us on 0800 600 840 and our friendly advisor will let you know what to do next.

Does my car insurance cover driving in France?

With Admiral Car Insurance, your policy will cover you for driving abroad as long as your trip doesn’t exceed 30 consecutive days (90 of the year as a whole).

However, make sure you take your certificate of insurance with you. If you’ve not been driving long or are under the age of 25 you’ll need to check with the DVLA if you are unsure whether you can drive abroad. Driving through France as part of a European jaunt? Read our guide to driving in Europe.

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