Your driving licence
To drive in France, whether in your own vehicle or a rental vehicle, you must hold a driving licence issued by a country that belongs to, or is part of, the European Economic Area or EEA. Please note that for licence to be valid, it must be valid in your own country and be used in accordance with any medical-related conditions or requirements stated on it (disability, compulsory wearing of glasses, etc.).
You must also be at least 18 years of age and not be the subject of any suspension, restriction or cancellation of your driving licence in the country that issued the licence.
Where all these conditions are met, you may legally drive in France during the period of validity of your licence.
If you do not have a European driving licence and are visiting France for a period less than 185 days, you may drive under the terms of your driving licence, although this must be either issued in French or accompanied by an officially endorsed French translation.
Holders of international driving licences may drive in France without restriction.
Speed limits apply to roads throughout France. They are defined for each type of road, and may vary depending on weather conditions. These regulations apply to all vehicles and all drivers.
For cars and motorcycles with engine capacities above 50 cc:
The maximum speed on the motorways is 130 kph (110 kph when wet).
On urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation, the maximum speed is 110 kph (100 kph when wet).
On national roads with at least two lanes allocated to a single direction of travel, the maximum speed is 90 kph (80 kph when wet).
On two-way single carriageway roads with no central separation, maximum speed is limited to 80 kph, regardless of weather conditions.
Lastly, the maximum speed in built-up areas is 50 kph.
The wearing of seat belts is compulsory for front seat and back seat passengers. It is also compulsory for the vehicle to contain a hi-viz safety vest and warning triangle.
The use of mobile phones when driving is strictly forbidden, as is the wearing of headsets.
It is also illegal to drive in France with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.5g of alcohol per litre of blood, and to drive under the influence of narcotics.
Parking in France is regulated. Since 1 January 2018, the cost of parking on a public road is set by local councils, which may outsource parking management and supervision to private companies.
The fine for non-payment of parking fines has been replaced by a ‘post-parking’ fixed penalty of up to €60. This penalty must be paid within three months of receiving the notice of infringement or the date on which it was posted.
Major road links
Nouvelle-Aquitaine has an extensive motorway network, which makes the region particularly easy to access for holiday travellers.
It is important to note that the A20 motorway is toll-free from Vierzon to Brive-la-Gaillarde, which is the majority of the main arterial route from northern France to the Limousin. The A10 motorway also brings the western part of the region within easy reach of Paris.
Via the A10 motorway
Paris – Poitiers: 3 hours, 45 mins.
Paris – Bordeaux: 5 hours, 45 mins.
Via the A20 motorway (toll-free from Vierzon to the south of Brive)
Paris – Limoges: 4 hours
Routes Nationales trunk roads in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Limoges – Poitiers: 2 hours
Bordeaux – Poitiers: 2 hours, 50 mins.
Bordeaux – Limoges: 2 hours, 50 mins.
Bordeaux – Biarritz: 2 hours, 15 mins.