Heading to the Olympics? Here are the things you need to know before driving in France

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The countdown has begun, and the Summer Olympics are less than six months away. Fans from all over the world will be descending on Paris to watch the world’s best athletes compete for gold medal glory, and the halo effect of London 2012 is still glowing, with British fans snapping up more tickets for this summer’s Olympics than any other country outside France. According to Paris 2024 organisers, over 480,000 tickets have been sold to Brits – far more than US and Germany, who are the next closest.

For Brits driving to France via the Eurotunnel or hiring a car once there, here are six essential driving tips, plus useful information such as road types, speed limits and emergency numbers, from mobility experts, SIXT.


France has strict regulations on what you need to keep in your car at all times. If you are driving a private car from the UK and driving into France, your vehicle will require a GB sticker to be displayed clearly on the exterior. The law also requires that you always carry within the vehicle; a red warning triangle, a high-visibility reflective jacket, headlamp adjusters and a breathalyser testing kit – without these, you risk being fined. All SIXT cars rented in France come equipped with these items as standard, giving you one less thing to worry about.

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Certain areas of France require all vehicles to display a ‘clean air’ windscreen sticker – also called a Crit’Air vignette to identify their levels of emissions (with six levels overall). Vehicles with lower emissions can access a variety of benefits, including better parking and traffic conditions, whereas polluting vehicles can be denied entry to certain areas entirely, with each area setting its own minimum level requirement. You can check which cities require the Crit’Air vignette ahead of your journey and order one from the official website for around £3.60 – much better than an the on-the-spot fine of up to €135.


It’s important to remember the basic rules of the road. Fortunately, it’s very similar to the UK, just on the other side of the road. In France, you drive on the right, and overtake on the left, however you can overtake on the right in lane traffic when there are slow moving lanes. You also need to give way to traffic on the left at roundabouts, and if on a steep hill, uphill traffic has priority and downhill traffic must give way.

  1. TOLLS

French motorways are marked by the letter A for Autoroute, followed by numbers. Most French autoroutes are operated by private companies and are therefore toll motorways. Entrances to them are marked with the word "Péage". When entering an autoroute with a toll, you’ll pick up a ticket as you enter. Tolls are then paid either as you leave the autoroute, or when the toll area comes to an end. In certain places, there are fixed toll points, usually in urban areas or toll bridges – you can use a debit or credit card to pay, or coins.


Speed camera detectors, including those as part of sat-nav systems are illegal in the country so ensure that you stick to the speed limits! The speed limits in France are measured in kilometres an hour, rather than miles per hour and the standard speed limits are slightly higher than those in the UK so it is important that you familiarise yourself with them before you travel to the country. Our top tip is to look for the word ‘Bis’ on road signs – this indicates a ‘holiday route’ which is usually a less crowded and more scenic alternative.

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The maximum legal blood alcohol level for drivers in France is 0.05 per cent - which is less than the 0.08 per cent limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If your blood alcohol level is higher than 0.08 per cent you could be fined up to €4,500 or even face a prison sentence of two years. So, you may want to steer clear of alcohol completely if you know you will be driving, to be on the safe side.

SIXT’s resident travel expert Jamie Holt, Operations Director says: “When it comes to car getting the best prices, the further ahead of your trip you book, the cheaper the price is likely to be - and, just as importantly, the greater the chance of getting the car you want. It’s useful to know that if you are looking to rent a car for five or more days you might find that a weekly rate is cheaper. Booking via the SIXT app can also get you a better rate and company newsletters are always great to sign up to for news on deals and promotions.”

Visit www.sixt.co.uk for more information and to book your car rental now.


  • Blue sign marked with an A: Highway/Motorway
  • Green sign marked with an N: National highway
  • Yellow sign marked with a D: Departmental route
  • White sign: Town


  • Within city limits: 50 km/hr (30 mph)
  • 2-3 lane rural roads: 80 km/hr (50 mph)
  • 4 lane expressways (rural): 110 km/hr (68 mph)
  • Motorway: 130 km/hr (80 mph)


  • Police: 117 (from a mobile phone) / 17 (from a fixed line)
  • Fire: 118 (from a mobile phone) / 18 (from a fixed line)
  • Ambulance: 115 (from a mobile phone) / 15 (from a fixed line)
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