French Advice

Information is correct at the time of publishing (1st January 2016)

New French Law from the 1st January 2016 – Reflective Jackets / Fluorescent Vest

A New French Road Traffic Law has come into force for motorcyclists and scooter riders and three wheels vehicles i.e. Trikes regarding the requirement to carry a fluorescent vest, this must be in reach of the rider and pillion or passengers from the seat of the Motorcycle / Vehicle, “in other words you cannot get off your motorcycle then goto your luggage to put the jacket / vest on” So the best advise I can give is to wear your Hi Viz Vest or jacket while riding in France at all times.

The Fine / Penalty Reflective Jackets / Fluorescent Vest: There will be a €11 fine if you get spot checked by police and you don’t have one with you, though the fine can rise to €135 per person if you are caught not wearing it at the roadside. So if you get checked by the french police don’t get off your motorcycle just wait for the police to come to you…

Reflective Motorcycle Helmet Stickers: from the 1st January 2016: The EU commision response to MEP helmet sticker question. Regulation No 22 leaves the mandating of conspicuity marks to the discretion of individual Contracting Parties, allowing them to prohibit the use of helmets not meeting the conspicuity requirements. However, it is the Commission’s understanding that the obligation contained in the French legislation cannot apply retroactively to helmets already in use. As a consequence, foreign motorcycle riders carrying a helmet not containing these reflective markings cannot be obliged to bring their helmets in conformity retroactively. Only new helmet types placed on the French market must comply with the new requirements and bear this reflective material. But it is up-yo you?

Comment: World Motorcycle Rider Graham Saunders and Owner of Toursareus World Motorcycle Tours has said, to be clear Just put these stickers on your helmet then you will comply with the french road traffic laws and not get prosecuted (Fined) by the police authorities and it will save you a lot of hassle and money, this also goe’s for the Fluorescent Vest Just ware it while in France…

Remember in Europe many countries have different road traffic laws.

British Consulate Paris
18 bis rue de l’Anjou, 75008 PARIS 
Tel (0033) 1 44 51 31 02 / Fax (0033) 1 44 51 31 27

Currency
Currency is the €uro’s

Languages
Language spoken is French. There are regional languages spoken in some areas.

Documents
To prevent any difficulty whilst travelling, you should take the following documents with you (Applicable to UK Residents and most European Countries.)

  1. A valid full driving licence, photocard licence.
  2. An International Driving Permit (when necessary).
  3. The original vehicle registration document.
  4. Your motorcycle insurance certificate.
  5. Valid Passport. (You Must have at Least 6 Months Left to the Expiry Date to be Valid)
  6. Breakdown recover and reputation insurance. (This is Not Compulsory But I Would)

Driving Licence
Old style paper UK driving licences are only valid when accompanied by a photo proof of identity, Your passport will cover this.

Your Documents

  1. You must carry your documents with you when you travel in Europe.
  2. A valid full driving licence, with paper counterpart if you have a photo card licence.
  3. An International Driving Permit (when necessary).
  4. The original vehicle registration document.
  5. Your motor insurance certificate.
  6. Your Passport

Carrying the correct documents will help to identify you and your vehicle and your rights should you be stopped by the police.

You must carrying the correct documents this will help to identify you and your vehicle and your rights should you be stopped by the police or local authorities.

EIHC European International Health Card
Do carry your European International Health Card, Please click here for further information.

Health Advice & Insurance
Do have your own health insurance, it is advised to have emergency air ambulance cover in case you are involved in an accident. If you are travelling from within the EU, do take an EIHC

Breakdown recover

Breakdowns on motorways please use the emergency motorway phones. Assistance will get you off the motorway and take you to a garage, where you can call your own breakdown assistance. This costs can be as high as €200 or more in some area’s, which you can claim back from your breakdown company, (to a Limit please check your type of insurance breakdown cover) but do check your breakdown policy.

Age limits
Motorcycles up to 80cc – 16 years. 
Motorcycles Over 80cc – 18 years.
No one is allowed to drive on a provisional licence.

Speed limits
Please Obey the local and national speed limits.

GB Registration Number Plates (Sticker’s)
Must be displayed on your motorcycle. Failure to comply with this regulation could result in an on-the-spot fine.

Motorcycle Headlights
It is a requirement to adjust your headlights if you’re driving on the Continent so that the full beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers. In many countries it is a requirement to ride day and night on dipped beam. Please Note on the that some motorcycle are fitted with a led headlamp like the BMW R1200 GS/GSA 2013 TE onwards, these have a daytime horseshoe light please switch this off while riding in France you could be fined on the spot by the local and french authorities.

Depending on your bike, adjusting your headlights could be as simple as stickers or a bit of tape, however it may require a converter. Remember to remove the converters/stickers as soon as you return to the UK. You must carry a complete set of replacement bulbs for your lights.

Vignette
Vignettes (a form of road tax) are not used in France. However tolls are payable on some roads.

First Aid Kit
Whilst not compulsory in most European countries it is recommended you take a small first aid kit – you can buy these to fit under your seat or tuck away in a small pocket of your luggage.

Driving
General Traffic rules are almost the same as in Britain, except you drive on the right. 
Stop signs mean STOP.

Speed Limits
Unless otherwise signposted. In built up areas 31mph (50km/h), other areas 55mph (90k/h). Urban motorways and dual carriageways 80mph (130km/h). Minimum speed limit on motorways is 49mph (80km/h) EU driving licence holders exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h will have their licences confiscated on the spot if caught. Speed limits are mostly marked in kilometers. 1 mile = 1.609344 kilometres

Fines
On the spot fines are high, get an official receipt. Vehicles parked against regulations may be impounded.

Fuel
No leaded petrol (only replacement lead petrol) available.

Horn
In built up areas, use of the horn is prohibited except in cases of danger.
International Driving Permit
Is not required if you have a UK Licence. May be required for other countries.

Motorcycle Insurance
3rd party compulsory.

Pillion
Only one pillion passenger may be carried on motorcycles. Children under 5 years of age must be fastened in a special seat. All pillion passengers must be covered by insurance.

Public Holidays
There are 11 public holidays in France each year. These are the 1st January, the 1st and 8th May, Easter Monday, Ascension day, Whit Monday, the 14th July, the 15th August, the 1st and 11th November and the 25th December. On these days Government Depts, banks, shops etc are usually closed.

Radar detectors
If you are using a sat nav with Radar Detectors as a point of interest, this option must be turned off. Radar Detectors are forbidden in France.

Reflective Strips
The law which was introduced in January 2013, in regards to motorcyclists wearing reflective strips was scrapped soon after it’s introduction. However, the law regarding reflective strips on your crash helmet is being more heavily policed.

Reflective Clothing
Any rider or pillion on a motorcycle over 125cc has to wear reflective material on their body. The total size of the reflective material must be 150 cm2. The reflective material may consist of a High Visibility waistcoast, or High visibility strips. You can wear several pieces, for example two Hi-Viz armbands. These must be worn at all times day and night if you are operating or a passenger on a motorcycle. If you are not wearing these there are on the spot fines. The reflective materials must be on the upper body (not on legs or on crash helmet)

Warning Triangles
Compulsory for cars, but not required on motorcycles

Spectacles
If you wear glasses for riding, you will need to carry a spare pair with you.

Tolls
Some roads are toll roads. These are mostly the main highways (Autoroutes) and are payable at checkpoints en route. The amount payable depends on the distance you have travelled. They also can work out your average speed, so speeding along these roads is not advised.

Drink & Drugs
Alcohol – 0.05 limit. Penalties include fine, loss of licence and/or imprisonment. Penalties for drugs same. Random breath tests are common.
A new law was to be introduced that you must carry a breath test with you, whilst this law was suspended early in 2013, it is not clear if a fine will be introduced. The AA (as of April 2013), still recommend carrying two unused breath analyser tests.

Vaccinations
No vaccinations are required for entering France.

Visas
No visa is required for UK or for any citizen of the European Union. However a photo identity card is required.