Driving in France

We’ve previously told you about Highlights of Normandy and Highlights of Brittany to consider visiting, if you’re taking the car to France. If driving in France though, there are several things to be aware of, that are different from driving in Ireland. So, to help you avoid trouble with la police, here’s our guide to driving in France.

What you need to have while driving in France

You must carry the following items with you at all times while driving in France:

  • A full driver’s licence. Learner drivers won’t be learning here!
  • Your vehicle registration cert and insurance cert (originals, not copies).
  • A red warning triangle, to be placed at least 50 metres behind your car in the event of a breakdown.
  • A high-vis vest for the driver and anybody else likely to exit the vehicle in the event of a breakdown.
  • A single-use breathalyser. While there are no actual penalties for not carrying one, it’s best to have one anyway, to avoid awkward ‘conversations’ should a police officer ask to see it. They can be bought online in advance, or on your ferry crossing, usually for less than €10.

Other regulations for driving in France

If for some reason your number plates don’t include the IRL logo and EU symbol, you must display a separate IRL sticker at the back.

If you’re towing a trailer or caravan, it also needs a sticker if IRL isn’t on the number plate. It also needs two red lights, two triangular reflectors and a light illuminating the registration plate at the rear and orange reflectors on each side. If the trailer is more than 1.6m wide or is wider than your vehicle by more than 20cm there must be two white reflectors and two white side lights at the front of the trailer.

Since you’ll be on the right-hand side of the road while driving in France, you also need to adjust your headlights, so that the dipped beams shine right rather than left. Convertor kits are available at all good motor factors, and are easy to fit.

Speed limits for driving in France

French roads are divided into four categories, with different speed limits for each. Note that speed limits are reduced at times of wet weather. It’s difficult to give a precise explanation of exactly how much rain needs to be falling before the lower limits kick in, so it’s best to just err on the side of caution in these circumstances.france speed limit 200x300

Road TypeSpeed Limit (Dry)Speed Limit (Wet)
Tolled Motorway130 km/h110 km/h
Dual Carriageway110 km/h100 km/h
Other Roads90 km/h80 km/h
Urban Roads50 km/h50 km/h

Other points to note

You’ll probably be using a sat-nav or other GPS device while driving in France. If yours has a feature to ‘advise’ you of ‘safety camera’ zones, note that this is illegal there. Be sure to disable it before you drive.

Expect to pay a toll sooner or later on every motorway. Tolls start at about €3 and go up to a whopping €75 or more if you’re going on a long drive to the South of France. Larger tolls can generally be paid by credit card.

Finally – don’t even think of driving in Paris! The congestion is horrendous. There’s nowhere to park. And there are new regulations in force this year too, about how all vehicles must carry a sticker to show what emissions band they fall into. Stop at one of the plentiful Park & Rides outside the city instead, and use public transport.


If you and your family are looking forward to a motoring holiday in France this year, then we wish you all the best for a wonderful time.

We’d like to offer you a word of advice too. Remember that many things can go wrong on any family holiday, no matter how careful or well prepared you may be. That’s why carrying family travel insurance is so important.

Family travel insurance from Insuremyholiday.ie is the best value you will find – because when you take out insurance for mum and dad, the kids can go for free!* This applies to both our single trip travel insurance and annual multi-trip travel insurance policies.

It means you get great cover for all your family, without having to pay for them all! Just look at the benefits you will receive –

Key benefits of our Gold Plan travel insurance

  • Medical Expenses Cover of €5 Million
  • Personal Luggage Cover of €2,000
  • Personal Money and Documents Cover of €1,600
  • Delayed Departure Cover of €200
  • Cancellation or Curtailment Cover of €4,000
  • Abandonment Cover of €4,000
  • Missed Departure Cover of €500
  • Personal Accident Cover of €55,000
  • Personal Liability Cover of €2,000,000
  • Third Party Supplier Insolvency Cover of €2,000
  • Schedule Airline Failure Cover of €1,000
  • Legal Expenses Cover of €10,000
  • Hijack Cover of €1,000
  • Catastrophe Cover of €750
  • Credit or Cash Card Fraud Cover of €300

Key benefits of our Platinum Plan travel insurance

  • Medical Expenses Cover of €10 Million
  • Personal Luggage Cover of €3,000
  • Personal Money and Documents Cover of €2,000
  • Delayed Departure Cover of €400
  • Cancellation or Curtailment Cover of €6,000
  • Abandonment Cover of €6,000
  • Missed Departure Cover of €600
  • Personal Accident Cover of €95,000
  • Personal Liability Cover of €2,000,000
  • Third Party Supplier Insolvency Cover of €2,000
  • Schedule Airline Failure Cover of €2,000
  • Legal Expenses Cover of €20,000
  • Hijack Cover of €2,000
  • Catastrophe Cover of €1,000
  • Credit or Cash Card Fraud Cover of €500

All are as generous or more generous as you will find with any other travel insurance provider, so it all adds up to even more great reasons to choose Insuremyholiday.ie for all your travel insurance needs.

Just get a quote now to see how much you can save!

 

* Up to three children insured for free with every adult policy. Terms & Conditions apply. Children must be under 18 years at time of travel.

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