Driving in France, Episode 16

Drinving in France, road with bend

Driving in France

In this episode, Annie and guest David talk about driving in France. Should you rent a car? How safe is it? Is driving hectic in France? We start with misconceptions, then we explain differences you should know about, and we also give you tips so you can relax. Have you considered setting out on your own to explore the French countryside? This episode will help you decide if it’s for you or not. Where will you go? Vineyards? French villages? Renting a car does open a lot of options for you!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

«I just returned from a trip to France. We could not take a train due to the strikes and ended up driving across France from the Dordogne to Paris. What a wonderful experience! The podcast on driving in France was a HUGE help with parking, highways and the red plus signs at traffic lights. Thank you so much!» Robin Friedberg OConnor

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If you found this episode helpful, also check out Tips for Driving in France, Episode 138.

Episode Highlights

  • Common misconceptions about driving in France
  • Things to consider before renting a car in France
  • French terminology you need to understand
  • Navigation tips
  • Speed limits in France (that’s a gotcha!)
  • More gotchas (unexpected rules and customs)
  • Indication signs
  • Danger signs
  • Direction signs
  • How do roundabouts work?
  • Parking in France
  • In case of emergency
  • Final thoughts


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10 thoughts on “Driving in France, Episode 16”

  1. Great podcast. I wish I had heard it 10 years ago when I learned of driving in France the hard way.

    1. Thank you Ron and welcome to Join Us in France! Are you still driving in France or have you moved on to more challenging places? 😉

      1. Hi Annie, we lived in Paris for 7 months following my retirement, no car. I could not convince my wife to live in France, not Paris, so we are now living in central Florida, US, there’s a come down.
        We travel to France for a month or so at least once a year, most recently to La Dordogne, which we loved and where I’d live in France.
        You must tell your husband that he solved the mystery of La Place de l’Etoile for me. I must have spent hours on the top of L’Arc de Triomphe trying to figure out how one gets trough without dying. I twice took the Peripherique to avoid the Place. I am convinced that you must be a Frenchman/women to navigate the Place de L’Etoile. I know, I am an old traditionalist
        Thank you for your blog and podcast.
        Ron Witzke

    1. Hello Nancy, welcome to Join Us in France. Driving in France is definitely not for everyone, thank you for sharing your point of view.

  2. my wife and i had a wonderful two weeks – flew into CDG, got a rental car, and made a grand counterclockwise circle around france. the only hectic part were the first and last days – getting out of and back into paris. there’s no way we could have seen the countryside as we did any other way. normandy, the loire, perigord, biarritz, the pyrennes, narbonne, and on across the riviera and up into the alps. the highlight for my wife, a edward and wallis simpson fanatic, was finding and touring chateau cande, where they were married. the highlight for me was finding and driving on the corniche, the high road above the coast near monaco. driving is very intuitive and i just took to it – even got some of the hand gestures offering commentary on other drivers’ skills down toward the end 😉 it’s much lower stress for me to be driving around in the countryside than being a pedestrian in paris.

  3. After returning to the States, this past June, from a trip to France including traveling from Monpazier to Tours and then Paris , I received a speeding ticket in the mail at home for going 5km over the limit. I don’t know where I received the ticket, as it was by camera. 5 km is about the width of the speedo needle. I paid the fine on line, 40Euros, but it is a reminder that in France, unlike the States, the speed limit is not guidance, but unforgiving.

    I always reread/listen to this episode before returning to France which we will be doing this week.

    1. Absolutely! My last ticket was for going 3kph over the speed limit AND they could totally tell that I have a clean record (12 points on my license which is the maximum) but they still sent me the ticket. My brother swore he’d never get a car with cruise control, “pfff that’s for Americans” he said, guess who uses cruise control now???!

  4. I drove in France for 3 weeks after spending a week in Paris. I found driving in France no more challenging than driving in the US northeast where you also do not want a car in a large city. It gave me the freedom to go where I wanted and to stop at any place that looked interesting. You can not do that using mass transit.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Cars in most cities are a liability. But outside of the city, they allow you to see much more than you could without them, and give you the freedom to truly make your own way on vacation.

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