Our guide to driving in France 2023

July 20, 2023

Driving in France guide

If you're one of the five million British motorists heading to France this year, the ETA Guide to Driving in France is a free e-book packed with useful information.

However many times you've embarked on a Gallic driving holiday, recent changes to French law means it pays for even the most experienced driver to brush up on the rules.

For example, the speed limit on French secondary roads - the two-lane highways that crisscross 400,000 km of the country - has been reduced from 90km/h to 80km/h. The French government imposed the new limit to reduce road deaths, which reached nearly 3,500 in 2016. The change coincides with strict enforcement of speed limits on motorways - we've heard of drivers receiving fines at 2km over the 130km/h limit.

Our no-nonsense guide to driving in France covers what to bring with you, the basic rules of the road (including road signs), laws on speeding and fines, toll road information and advice for motorcyclists. To get your free copy, just press here.

ETA Euro breakdown

Emissions sticker for driving in France

All cars travelling in the cities of Paris, Lyon or Grenobles are now required to carry anti-pollution stickers which indicate the age and 'environmental classification' of the vehicle.

driving in France

The round stickers correspond to six different vehicle classes defined according to air pollutant emissions. In certain French cities the correct sticker must be displayed by every road vehicle, including all cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, buses and coaches.

This law was introduced in France in early 2017 and also applies to foreign vehicles.

How do I apply for the emissions stickers?

You can apply for a sticker through the French Air Quality Certification Service online here. Be sure to apply in good time as the stickers can take around 30 days to arrive. Failure to display the correct emissions sticker can result in an on-the-spot fine.

European breakdown cover

For short-term driving trips in France, European breakdown cover from the ETA offers the best value for money on the market. With English-speaking helplines and assistance available 24/7 you can rest assured that help is at hand should you break down abroad.


How to apply for an International Driving Permit

If you’re driving to the EU you’re now required to hold an International Driving Permit. You can apply for this permit over the counter at Post Offices. You will also be required to hold a green card which is proof that you have UK car insurance. A green card can be obtained from your insurance company.

It's also worth checking the expiry dates on your passports in case you need to renew any of them. There's a handy passport checker below at passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK's most ethical provider.

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