Latest Road regulations and breakdown services in France

Road regulations and advice for driving in France

Latest Road regulations and breakdown services in France. To make your trip as safe and stress-free as possible, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know before you go.

If you are driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle in France please take note of the latest regulations.

Latest French road regulations

  • Alcohol limit: For drivers and riders that have less than three years of experience, the alcohol limit is 0.2 grams per litre. If you have more than three years’ experience the limit is 0.5 grams per litre. Both are lower than the English, Welsh and Northern Irish limit of 0.8 grams per litre (the Scottish limit is 0.5).
  • Speed limits: The speed limit on many A and B roads in France has been reduced to 80km/h (50mph).
  • Reflective jackets: Riders are required to have reflective jackets in the event of a breakdown or an emergency.
  • Low emission zones: petrol and diesel cars registered before 1997 are banned from 8am to 8pm on weekdays. As of 2020, only vehicles made in or after 2011 are allowed. Diesel and petrol lorries and buses made before 1997 are banned in Paris as well. Find out more about France’s emissions rules here.
  • Clean air sticker: You need a Crit’Air sticker displayed on your car when travelling to certain cities. It costs around £3.60 ( €3,72 ) and drivers face an on-the-spot fine of almost £120 if they don’t have one.
  • Headphones: All drivers and riders are prohibited from wearing headsets and headphones whilst driving. However, this does exclude motorcycle helmets that have integrated systems.

Advice for driving in France

Because French motorways are privately managed, you are not permitted to request assistance from your own preferred company.

Instead, you should use the orange emergency telephones located approximately every 2 kilometers along main roads and motorways. Easily contact the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area.

If there is no orange telephone available, you can call the emergency services by dialing 112.

Charges for assistance on a motorway are fixed by the government and are reviewed and revised each year.

For the most part, the government-appointed towing service that tows you from the motorway allows to pay it directly – however, it’s at the towing company’s discretion.

French motorway breakdown services cost

A decree published in 24 September 2022. Breaking down on a French motorway just got more expensive, as the government raised the prices that breakdown services can charge.

For on-site repairs (including the return of a specialist and a repair of up to 30 minutes) the flat rate is €138.01.

For repairs that require towing the new rates, which vary depending on the weight of the vehicle, are as follows:

  • €138.01 for vehicles less than or equal to 1.8 tonnes.
  • €170.65 for vehicles over 1.8 tonnes and under 3.5 tonnes.

Important: these prices are increased by 50% if the emergency call is made between 6:00 PM and 8:00 AM or on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Driving licence laws in France

Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in France. Riders of mopeds or motorcycles up to 125cc must be aged 16 or over.

Driving licences issued in the UK, the EU and EEA countries are accepted. International driving permits are recognised but not required. 

Update January 2023 about Latest Road regulations and breakdown services in France
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