France - Road System
France has a well developed system of roads and highways. At times on highways, you may have to pay a toll. Toll stations may be only situated as you enter, others have entrance and exit toll stations. All toll stations accept major credit cards but you can use the automatic booths only if your card is equipped with a chip.
Liber-t : Is a tag to apply on the windshield of the car and allows you to avoid to stopping at toll stations. It's valid for all French motorways .
Go to the French Autorute website for more info on routes, toll charges and methods of payments. The site has an ample amount of information in English.
Speed limits and alcohol limits
Speed limits are implemented rigorously, especially on highway and on the main entry roads into towns. Radar traps are frequent. In France, anyone caught travelling at more than few km/h (even 3 or 4 ) get an expensive fine and people travelling 25 km/h above the speed limit can have their licence confiscated on the spot.
You are considered intoxicated while driving if you have above 0.05 % of alcohol in your bloodstream.
Mandatory in front and in back seats. Children under 10 must be seated in the back.
Gasoline stations open from 9:00 to 19:00. All grades of unleaded gasoline, diesel and LPG are available as well as lead substitute additives. Leaded no longer exists. It is allowed to carry gasoline in a can.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they probably won't work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps in rural areas open out-of-hours, which also means lunch-time form noon to 3pm.
Security - attention to your right!
Unless clearly posted on the road you are travelling on that it is road with priority over intersecting roads* you are to yield to ANY vehicle coming from your right from another public road.
(*) A priority road is indicated by a diamond shaped sign with a smaller yellow diamond in the centre and a white border.
The end of a priority road is indicated by the same sign but with a black diagonal line across the diamond.
Be very careful and ALWAYS remember to give the right of way to vehicle coming from your right, even if you are on a large road and the approching car enters from a minuscule path onto the main road. In fact, drivers in France are adamant regarding their right of way, even if it means, at times, to get into accidents they could have avoided easily, or they will let you know that you have violated their right and will be noisily honking their horn or perform intricate hands signs.
Signposts used in France are patterned according to EU recommandations and use mostly pictograms (and a little bit of text). Here are the common text that appear on some signs
Arrêt = Stop
Cédez le passage = Give way
Chaussée glissante = Slippery road
Chaussée déformer = Road in bad condition
Douane = Customs
Fin de chantier = End of works/site/roadworks
Passage piétons = Pedestrian crossing
Rappel = Reminder (this is often in conjunction with speed limit sign posts)
Ralentir = Slow down
Vous n’avez pas la priorité = You do not have the right of way
Here is a list of useful words:
French to English
Aire de repos = Lay-by
Autoroute = Motorway
Bande d'arrêt d'urgence = Emergency lane
Bouchon, embouteillage = Traffic jam
Carambolage = Pile up
Chaîs = Snow chains
Dépassement = Overtake
Déviation = Divertion
En panne = Broken down
Feu (de signalisation) = Traffic light
Limitation de vitesse = Speed limit
Panneau (de signalisation) = Road sign
Passage piétons = Zebra crossing
Péage = Pay Toll
Piéton = Pedestrian
Pneu clouté = Studded tyres
Pneu neige = Snow tyres
Pont = Bridge
Rond-point = Round-about
Route = Road
Sens interdit = No entry
Sens unique = One way
Tomber en panne = To break down
English to French
Lay-by = Aire de repos
Motorway = Autoroute
Emergency lane = Bande d'arrêt d'urgence
Traffic jam = Bouchon, embouteillage
Pile up = Carambolage
Snow chains = Chaîs
Overtake = Dépassement
Divertion = Déviation
Broken down = En panne
Traffic light = Feu (de signalisation)
Speed limit = Limitation de vitesse
Road sign = Panneau (de signalisation)
Zebra crossing = Passage piétons
Pay Toll = Péage
Pedestrian = Piéton
Studded tyres = Pneu clouté
Snow tyres = Pneu neige
Bridge = Pont
Roundabout = Rond-point
Road = Route
No entry = Sens interdit
One way = Sens unique
Having a break down = Tomber en panne