Driving In France: What You Need & Why You Need It

Being just a short ferry trip or train journey across the Channel, many holiday-goers decide that driving to France is a better option than flying.

However, before you hop in the car and head to the south coast, there are various things you need to consider about driving in France. Obviously (hopefully) you know that you need to drive on the right rather than the left, but you also need to ensure you have a number of specific items with you in the car.

Read more: European Driving Laws – A Comprehensive Guide

Here’s your guide to what you need with you when driving in France…

Driving documents

Should anyone need proof that it’s legal for you to drive in France, it’s important that you have all of your relevant driving documents and ID with you. You’ll need:

  • UK driving licence
  • V5c document
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • Passport(s)
  • Travel insurance documents

Hopefully you won’t need to present any of that to anyone once you’re in France, but you still need to have it just in case.

Reflective jacket

You must keep a reflective jacket in your vehicle for everyone travelling and they need to be easily accessible. This is so, if you break down or need to get out of your car for any reason at the side of the road, you’re much more visible. Makes sense.

man in high vis jacket next to broken down car

We stock both adult high-visibility jackets and reflective jackets for kids.

Headlight converters

If you’re driving your own car in France (rather than a rental), then it’s imperative you fit some headlight converters onto your lights.

headlight converters

 

The headlights on our cars are designed for right hand drive cars to be driven on the left. However, when we take them to countries that drive on the right, the headlights can dazzle oncoming drivers, making them potentially unsafe.

Headlight converters work by redirecting the light slightly so that the beams don’t blind drivers coming the other way. You won’t just need these when driving in France, but when in any European country that drives on the right.

Check out our range of headlight converters that are simple to fit and work on any vehicle.

Breathalyser

Since 2012, it’s been compulsory for drivers in France to carry a self-test breathalyser. An €11 fine was initially supposed to be enforced for anyone not carrying one, although the French authorities have since postponed the introduction of the fine indefinitely. So although it’s unclear what would happen if you’re caught without a breathalyser in your car, it’s best to have one just in case.

AlcoProof breathalyser for driving in France

Take a look at our AlcoProof breathalyser, approved by the French authorities so you know it meets all the relevant standards.

In France, the drink drive limit is 0.05%, which is slightly lower than the 0.08% in the UK. However, if you’ve been driving for less than three years, then the limit is reduced to 0.02%. As always, if you’re driving, it’s best just not to drink at all.

Warning triangle

It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in all vehicles with four or more wheels. You car may have one already, but if not you can pick them up pretty cheap – right here, in fact!

Warning triangle behind a broken down car

As you’d expect, having one of these is to warn other drivers if you’ve crashed or broken down, so it’s for both their safety and your own.

Get your warning triangle today.

GB stickers

While at one time it was compulsory for all UK drivers to put a GB sticker on the back of their car, this isn’t necessarily the case any more. If your vehicle is fitted with Euro plates (seen below with the little EU symbol on the left) then you’re fine to drive anywhere in the EU without the stickers.

GB euro plates

 

However, if you don’t have Euro plates for whatever reason (or you’re travelling on to a country outside of the EU) then you’ll still need to display GB stickers on your vehicle. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered here as well – check out these GB stickers that are magnetic and reusable.

Other advisable items when driving in France

We’ve covered all of the legally required items for UK drivers in France, but there are a few other bits and pieces we’d recommend you take with you…

First Aid Kit

You never know when someone is going to need medical attention, so it’s always handy to carry a first aid kit with you. It doesn’t need to be an all-singing, all-dancing kit, just a travel first aid kit with some basic supplies will suffice. They are a legal requirement in some countries, so if you’re driving around Europe, it’s best to carry one.

travel first aid kit

 

Stock up with one of our handy travel first aid kits.

Snow chains/tyres

Head into the French Alps and, as you’d imagine, it gets pretty snowy and icy. As such, if you’re driving in that region, it’s mandatory to equip your car with snow chains or tyres so your vehicle can better cope with the slippery conditions.

Fire extinguisher

Another one of those items where it’s pretty obvious as to why you might carry it. Like first aid kits, you don’t need to carry fire extinguishers when in France, but you do for some other European countries, so if you’re on a tour around the continent, best take one anyway.

Spare bulbs

If a bulb blows in your vehicle when driving in France, you really don’t want the hassle of having to go and buy a replacement. Unless you’re fluent in French, this could well be a pain in the backside – even worse if you have a light out and the police pull you for it.

Therefore, it’s best to carry a spare set of bulbs with you so you can quickly change any that go pop. Again, carrying spare bulbs is the law in some EU countries, so just put a set in the boot to be safe.

Spare bulb set for driving in France

The above set of spare car bulbs should see you through any blown bulbs.

Check out our full range of European driving essentials or read our comprehensive guide to driving laws in Europe.