Travelling in France

Driving licence, certificate of insurance, rules... all you need to know to drive in France.

By car

To drive in France you’ll need your driving licence from your home country (or an international driving licence if you live outside the European Union), your vehicle registration certificate (known as a “carte grise” in France) as well as a certificate of insurance.

If your stay is less than 6 months, you can drive freely in France with your car. You can also rent a car in France. Rental companies can be found at all airports and most railway stations around the country. If your stay exceeds 6 months, you will need to change your licence and your vehicle will need to undergo an inspection.

Some rules of the road when driving in France:

  • Speed is restricted to 50km/hr in towns and cities, 80km/hr on major roads and 130km/hr on motorways unless stated otherwise
  • The minimum driving age is 18
  • Vehicles drive on the right
  • The wearing of seatbelts is compulsory in the rear and front seats of your vehicle
  • The use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is prohibited
  • The legal blood alcohol limit when driving is 0.5mg/ml
  • The use of psychoactive substances whilst driving is strictly prohibited
  • It is recommended that you switch on your headlights whilst driving during the day (dipped headlights)
  • It is compulsory to carry a fluorescent safety vest and a warning triangle in your vehicle

NB: Foreign drivers who break French driving regulations are liable for a fine determined by a state prosecutor. Alternatively, their vehicle may be impounded. All associated costs must be paid by the driver.

By train

The extensive and highly centralised French rail network is without doubt the most practical form of transport for travelling around the country, with every major city boasting a comprehensive network of services to its suburban areas. Towns are linked by TER (Trains Express Régionaux) trains with major cities served by high-speed TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse) services.

By plane

A number of towns and cities have an international airport and offer daily flights to Paris. The national airline, Air France, offers several daily services between most major cities and Paris, with an average flight time of 1hr, as well as flights between provincial cities.

  • Paris
  • Bordeaux
  • Lyon
  • Marseille
  • Nice
  • Strasbourg
  • Toulouse

By coach

The Eurolines network is extremely well developed, with coach services from Paris to every European capital. Eurolines has recently introduced domestic coach routes between major French cities.