France Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving In France
Roads are in good condition and driving standards are high though speeds in and around urban areas are higher than average in many countries. Driving in Paris, as with most large cities, is to be avoided. If you must drive in the centre, it may be worth paying a taxi drive you to lead you to the address you’re seeking. Alternatively, if trying to navigate your way out of town, ask the rental company if they can drive you to the outskirts or at least to a main road out of town. Take plenty of change when driving on motorways as toll booths are numerous and many are automated. France has some quirks relating to use of lights- ‘Flashing’ the car in front is an accepted form of telling them to move over so you can pass. In some countries this is seen as aggressive behaviour. In France its the norm. Also, the last car in a line of slow moving traffic on a motorway should put its hazard warning lights on.All motorists driving in France will need to carry a breathalyser kit with them under new rules coming into force on 1 July 2012. The law will apply regardless of whether drivers are just passing through or are on a day trip. The new law is designed to cut down on drink driving by ensuring that every motorist has the ability to test themselves at the roadside before getting behind the wheel.
Failure to comply will carry a penalty of 11 euros. Cheap single-use breathalysers which cost between 1 and 2 Euros will satisfy the requirements, and will be made available from ferry and tunnel terminals for crossings to France, though if you’re renting a car in France, the rental company should ensure their vehicles comply with the new rule. Also if driving into France from another European country, you should advise the rental company that you intend to cross the border and ask if they can provide a breathalyser to carry in the car.
In Summer 2012, the UK Foreign Office issued warnings to British visitors driving to mainland Europe in their own vehicles. Eastern European criminals were targetting the drivers of foreign cars, mainly in France but also close to the channel ports of Belgium and Holland. The ruse was usually that a passing car would signal some problem with the visitors vehicle as they passed and when the unsuspecting motorist stopped they would be robbed. If anyone signals to you when driving anywhere abroad, providing your vehicle appears to be running Okay, you should proceed to the nearest busy rest area or other public place before stopping. Another trick, which is more difficult to guard against is when the criminals deliberately shunt your vehicle from behind. In these cases, you obviously need to stop but be on your guard – lock doors and keep valuables safe and in sight at all times.
Many travellers drive abroad in France during a longer road trip taking in other European countries. Below are some destinations which could be driven in a day from Paris, and associated costs (fuel prices Nov 11) –
Paris – Nice – 941km , estimated travel time 8.5 hours, cost 170 Euros (Toll 70 Euro, Fuel 100 Euro)
Paris – Geneva – 541km , estimated travel time 5 hours, cost 127 Euros (Toll 41 Euro, Fuel 56 Euro)
Paris- Amsterdam – 504km, estimated travel time, 5 hours, cost 68 Euros (Toll 15 Euro, Fuel 53 Euro)
Paris- Brussels – 307km, estimated travel time, 3 hours, cost 46 Euros (Toll 13 Euro, Fuel 33 Euro)
Paris- London – 460km, estimated travel time, 5 hours (excl Ferry), cost 72 Euros (Excl Ferry) (Toll 20 Euro, Fuel 42 Euro)
Most of the large multinational car rental companies will allow cars to be driven to UK, though probably won’t allow one way rental. Given the cost of taking a car on the ferry though, its better to pay on the boat as a pedestrian, then rent a car in UK.
Paris- Barcelona– 1035km, estimated travel time, 9 hours, cost 175 Euros (Toll 65 Euro, Fuel 110 Euro)
Paris- Munich – 850km, estimated travel time, 8 hours, cost 125 Euros (Toll 35 Euro, Fuel 90 Euro)
Paris- Milan– 850km, estimated travel time, 8.5 hours, cost 200 Euros (Toll 110 Euro, Fuel 90 Euro)
France Car Rental –
Not surprisingly all the major companies operate in France -Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, National,Avis, Budget,Thrifty, Enterprise, Dollar,Easycar.com all have outlets across the country and in Corsica .It will also feature on all Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as ebookers.com. orExpedia. There will also be hundreds of small local companies in towns across France, particularly at the coast.
France Self Driving Rules-
You’ll generally be allowed to drive the car across international borders though there may be restrictions on taking higher spec vehicles into Eastern Europe. One way rentals will usually be allowed for a charge, including taking cars to Corsica.