Why carry an IDP while driving in France?
Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.
It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. France highly recommends an International Driving Permit.
How to get your IDP
We’ve streamlined the application process down by creating a platform that guides you so you know exactly what you’ll need to successfully complete your application
1. Apply Online
Start your application for International Driver's License Get the IDP.
2. Upload Photos
Make sure to upload an updated photo and with the correct parameters.
3. Get approved
Wait for your confirmation and you are ready to go!
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France has always been a crowd favorite when it comes to international tourist destinations in the world. Touring the capital is such a fulfilling experience, especially with its magnificent architecture, which captivated even the infamous German dictator leader’s artistic and cultural structures during World War II.
Most of the cities and communes in France have trendy food districts, elegant architecture for urban areas, and picturesque sceneries in the countryside. What more is that you can drive further to some countries like Andorra, Spain, Italy, and Monaco, but an International Drivers Permit (IDP) is required there, unlike in France, so you might as well get one.
It is highly recommended to use an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in France along with your native driving license. For the very purpose of translating your native license’s data, it makes inspection from French law officials easier. Therefore, you do need an International Driving License or Permit when driving in France.
There is no authorized website or organization that can process an International Driving License. That is why the official name for the translation for your native driving license is called the “International Driving Permit.”
Their IDP services have reasonable prices depending on whether you want both digital and printed copies or order them a la carte. You won’t be disappointed when you get your International Driver’s Permit from us. First, you need to have a valid native driver’s license and settle all the essential documents from the application form on the website. From your address, zip code, contact number, and more, you need to secure them for a smooth process.
You can then get an IDP in just 2 hours if you want to drive seamlessly across the country through our website.
Top Destinations in France
First-time tourists and well-versed travelers alike flock to Paris to spend time in its most world-renowned spots like the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the famed Notre-Dame de Paris. But some other notable places you can explore are the Musée d'Orsay, the Luxembourg Gardens, or Le Marais. If you are into some creepy settings, you can visit the Catacombes de Paris. You’ll find that it is not “all scare,” but also rich in history and architecture.
In Paris, you can plan your own itinerary or book a guided tour. But if you want to enjoy the city freely, it’s best to keep your options open. When driving in France with an International Driving Permit, using your own or a rental car would do just that. Whether you want to shop, or tour museums, explore Paris districts, or attend some classic operas, driving to your target locations can make for an unrestrained experience.
- The Seine
A 780-kilometer river is flowing from Dijon through Paris with its mouth emptying into the English Channel. Its two remaining natural islands are central to the rich tourism Paris offers, one of which, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, was built on.
- Quartier Latin
It is named after the language taught in Parisian universities around it. It features the Boulevard Saint Germain, where you will find endless coffee shops and bookstores that are very popular with students in the area.
A 2 km long, prestigious avenue with many residences, shops, bars, and restaurants bestrewn with the clipped horse chestnut trees ending at the Place Charles de Gaulle where the Arc de Triomphe is.
- The Arc de Triomphe
It is a commemorative monument commissioned by Napoleon I. Its base is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, while the top observation deck lets you see the twelve avenues that meet at that point.
- Eiffel Tower
This French global icon is the tallest building in France and the most-visited paid monument in the world.
- Louvre Museum
It is home to the best-known works like Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.
It is a grand palace with the Hall of Mirrors situated on the outskirts of the city.
- Parc Asterix and Euro Disneyland
These are theme parks within 30 km with rollercoasters, hotels, bars, restaurants, shows, dancing, theater, and water features. Euro Disneyland even has a golf course.
- Catacombes de Paris
It is an underground “Paris Municipal Ossuary,” whose construction resulted from the need to transfer cemetery contents due to public health concerns in the late 18th century.
- June to August
Longer days of sun and moderate weather to enjoy activities
- September to October
Breathtaking foliage descent, lower travel rates, and shorter attraction queues
Deals for budget-friendly travels are common
- June to August
Also worst, most crowded, and most expensive time of the year.
The city where the history of cinema began as Auguste and Louis Lumiere had invented the cinematograph. Known as the "Capital of Lights," this city is bound to bringing you much excitement.
Lyon's French cuisine is superb, which is why it was dubbed as the world capital of Gastronomy by the food critic Curnonsky in 1935. Up to this day, the common passion for food by the French people resounds in the hallmarked fine-dining restaurants, prestigious in-door, and savvy outdoor markets, savory Lyonnaise specialties, and one-of-a-kind Bouchon eateries.
Lyon is also home to many top chefs, one of which, Paul Bocuse, owned a 3-Michelin-Star restaurant rated from 1965 until 2018 when he passed, leaving the restaurant star-stripped.
- Vieux Lyon
It is an old town that served as Lyon’s center of industry and home to its silk workers. You can visit a couple of interesting museums and explore “traboules.”
- Fourvière Hill
It used to be the center of the city during the Roman occupation in France. It is a significant place to discover and understand Lyon’s history, especially with ancient theatre and the odeon during the Fourvière Night Festival.
- La Croix-Rousse
It is another scenic hill district where you can admire impressive murals and colorful street art.
- Halles Paul Bocuse
An outdoor market named after the renowned French chef Paul Bocuse is one of Lyon’s numerous marketplaces. Going through them is an authentic way to learn the art of selling goods.
- Passerelle Saint Vincent and Passerelle du College
These are two of the few stunning pedestrian bridges that offer a beautiful view of the big rivers crossing Lyon, Saône, and Rhône River.
For comfortable weather and temperature
- September to October
For Moderate and cool autumn weather with the trees starting to be colorful. Key events during this time are Biennale de la Danse and Lumiere Festival
- November to April
For budget deals
- June to August
Peak attraction season with higher rates and longer queues
This is known as a production powerhouse. Next to Burgundy, it's the second-most wine producer in the country. Other than that, Bordeaux is also a famous shopping region in France.
If you’re a bit of a drinker, then Bordeaux is a must-visit for you with all its wine-tasting tours and activities. You can also check out some neo-classical opera houses, theatres, and art temples to get in touch with your artistic inclinations. Have a taste of the famous canelés, a small custard cake with a thick caramel crust flavored with vanilla, and a bit of rum. It can be found in most of the bakeries around Quays Market and all over the city.
- Place de la Bourse
This is a historic building located in the center of the city along the Garonne Riverbank. A restaurant called Le Gabriel can be found behind the Fountain of the 3 Graces.
- Head to La Cité du Vin
The Wine City on Quai du Bacalan is where you can learn about châteaux blends and wine labels.
- Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
It is a marvelous building for the performing arts, which serves as a lively venue for operas, dance, and music performances.
- Parc de Majolan
Enjoy a relaxing stroll in this beautiful baroque park, where wonderful pictures can be taken after having lunch at La Maison des Jardiniers restaurant or a picnic on the park lawn.
- Marché des Quais
It is a great place to discover and try fresh and cooked delicacies that include oysters, crepes, cheeses, wines, and delicatessen that you can eat on the spot, along with a lot more.
- Cathedral of Saint Andrew of Bordeaux
It is built in the High Gothic style, making it one of the most majestic cathedrals in Bordeaux.
- Port de la Lune
Port de la Lune or Port of the Moon is a crescent-shaped port along the Garonne River. Stretching from the Quai de Bacalan to the Quai de Paludate, the port was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
- Rue Sainte-Catherine
It is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, reaching over 1 km from Place de la Comédie to Place de la Victoire. It is considered one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe.
- Museum of Aquitaine
It is one of the largest French history museums that will show you exhibits of Bordeaux region’s history from the Stone Age to the 19th century.
- Saint-Pierre District
Experience the bar and restaurant-hopping in this lively Bordeaux town, which boasts South American choices to authentic English pub ambiance.
Low rates and minimal crowds
The Bordeaux is very festive around Christmastime.
Harvest time for wineries, so some do not allow tourists
- June to August
Peak tourist season
Nice is the best location you can find that's perfect for a summer getaway. With its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, one can never go wrong in visiting this top destination. Learn more about what Nice offers by reading on.
This beautiful city’s name is definitely not a misnomer, with the breathtaking backdrop view of the French Riviera coastal area's waters. It is nothing short of the word “nice,” in fact; it surpasses it. Stroll along the waterfront as you take in the beauty of the city and the fresh Mediterranean air. Stand in awe of a grand fountain, vibrant buildings, and majestic cathedral.
- Vieille Ville or Vieux Nice
It is a neighborhood just below Castle Hill, which is made up of tall tenement houses with the base floors occupied by shops, restaurants, and local artists' mini-galleries.
- Castle Hill of Nice
Above the old neighborhood sits this château that offers a marvelous panoramic view of Nice.
- Promenade des Anglais
This renowned seafront stretching for seven kilometers across the bay is endearingly called “La Prom by the French locals. This is where everyone hangs out, from artists to skaters, avid beachgoers, and even buskers.
- Musee Massena
It is considered an architectural treasure of La Prom, built by an outstanding Danish architect throughout the Belle Epoque.
- September to October and Mid-March to April
You can take advantage of low room rates during these times, but you can enjoy Mediterranean weather all year-round.
- May to August
The peak season is crowded, hot, humid, and expensive.
Most Important Driving Rules in France
Knowing the technical and practical driving rules when driving in France can help you navigate your way through this beautiful city. Despite being on the same continent, France's driving standards are very different from that of the UK. Inversely, driving in France is generally the same as how it is in the US. Here are some reminders about driving rules, standard practices, and some tips for driving in France.
What are the documents or legal requirements for driving in France?
As a general rule among all European Union and European Economic Areas since 2013, you can drive in France if you have a valid European license. You do not have to exchange your native license with a French license. A non-European license is valid in France, provided that it does not have any restrictions or suspensions.
You can use your US license when driving in France; just make sure you have a translated document of your French license.
Being a tourist in France or any other country, you must always carry identification documents. These can be checked or required to be presented during police stops. Car rental for driving in France may also require you to present your passport. Be sure to check your things if you have all the necessary things before going about in France.
International Driving Permit
In case you’re wondering if you need an International Driving Permit in France, it is not required to have one. But it is highly recommended when traveling to France to visit other countries around the area that require one, like Spain and Italy.
An International Drivers Permit can prevent language barrier problems being the official translation of your native driver's license, and it can be used as proof of identification during police stops. Some rental agencies can also require an International Driving Permit for car rentals in France.
What is the standard guide for driving in France?
You must have all the necessary qualifications to be able to drive in France. You must be of age and a holder of a valid driver’s license before you can drive in France. The age requirement for driving in France is 18 years old. So even if you can legally drive in your home country at 16 or 17, French roads are off-limits for you.
Before you get behind the wheel in France, you have to be of sound mind and body to carry out all the responsibilities of a good driver, especially if you are a tourist.
So, what do you need to remember when driving in France?
When driving in another country, you must have basic knowledge about its roads and rules. Read the following if you haven’t researched it yet.
The national speed limit is 130 kilometers per hour. Driving on main roads in France have a limit of 80 kilometers per hour, while 50 kilometers per hour is the standard limit for built-up areas.
Seat Belts and Car Restraints
Both drivers and passengers should wear seat belts at all times. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers wear seatbelts, especially for those below 18, to be properly restrained in the vehicle.
The light-up sequence of French traffic lights can suddenly switch from red to green precariously without switching to amber first. A continuously flashing amber light indicates that you can continue cautiously if the road is clear, while still giving other vehicles or pedestrians the right of way. Sometimes having a green light would still mean that you have to give way.
A flashing red light indicates no entry. If accompanied by a yellow arrow, you may proceed in the arrow's direction but still, give way to vehicles and pedestrians traveling in that direction.
Horns should be used only to give essential caution to other road users for a specific duration within a day. Flashing passing lights must be used as a warning upon approach when driving in France from sunset to sunrise. The use of horns in all built-up areas is prohibited except in total emergency cases. It is also forbidden to use multi-tone horns, sirens, and whistles.
Right of Way
Like most countries, the French drive on the right side of the road. Vehicles approaching from your right have the right of way at intersections, unless indicated differently by present traffic regulators. It is a standard to give way in most roundabouts. Drivers approaching these roundabouts must give way to vehicles already in them or about to enter from your left.
The general rule for overtaking is that it should be done on the left. But in some cases, when heavy traffic affects specific lanes, you may overtake on the right of other cars on slow-moving lanes. You should be very careful in overtaking so as not to cause any accidents. Police may stop you from driving and ask for credentials. You may present your International Drivers Permit along with your native driving license.
The blood alcohol level limit is 0.05% for private vehicle drivers. At the same time, 0.02% is the limit for bus, coach, and new drivers with less than three years of experience. Random breath tests can be done by the police and even a drug test that is compulsory after a driver has caused an accident or committed a serious violation.
Speed limits are bound to get broken by people who are under the influence. By doing a DUI, the possibility of making multiple offenses is great. From DUI to breaking speed limits, and in worse case scenarios, homicide or destruction of property. So, before downing more alcohol, always remember this French driving rule. If you break this rule, you may need to present your native drivers license, international driver's permit, and another valid form of identification.
Road signs indicate both general and paid parking areas. It can only be allowed on the right side of two-lane roads and both sides for wide one-way streets. Parking illegally will result in towing and impoundment of your car. You will have to go to the local police station to pay a fine for the violation and the vehicle released separately.
If you want to avoid getting fined or having your driver's license confiscated, following the traffic road rules like a French driver is essential. However, if you are still unfamiliar with France's parking rules, a French driving test is highly recommended. This French driving test will fully help you understand the road rules.
You can use the calculator on the Association of French Motorway Companies (ASFA) website to know how much you will have to pay. Fees may vary depending on the distance traveled and the car type, so you should know the category your car falls in. A car belongs to Class A, but a motorhome or campervan will be Class B.
A triangular sign indicates junctions or roundabouts, with a red border and three arrows forming a circle in the center. Drivers approaching one must give way to traffic already on the roundabout. In the absence of a sign, the right of way rule also applies to these areas.
Fines and Confiscations
Fines are imposed, and confiscation of vehicles may happen in some cases, and your car can be confiscated. The main violations where this can happen are:
- If you do not stop during a police contrôle (being stopped or checked by police)
- When driving without a license or insurance
- Exceeding the speed limit by over 50 km/h
- Multiple offenses of driving under the influence of alcohol
- During hit and run situations
- When driving a vehicle with the wrong license category, which does not cover that vehicle
If your car breaks down, you cannot call your own assistance company for help because freeways in France are privately managed. If this happens, orange emergency telephone lines are placed every two kilometers along main roads and freeways for emergency calls to the police or the official breakdown service within the area. You may dial 112 if no emergency road telephone is accessible. You will be towed and charged accordingly.
What conditions are considered as “Dangerous Driving?”
Dangerous driving includes driving when unfit, like driving while being injured, visually impaired, physically, and mentally compromised. Falling asleep at the wheel can cause accidents, and it is also considered “dangerous driving,” If you are found guilty of any of the following, you can be fined, banned, or worse, end up in prison.
What should I do during police stops and checkpoints?
Keep in mind that random compliance checks are normal in France, so don’t be too anxious about police stops. You need to cooperate and communicate with the local authorities and follow instructions during these checks. Identification documents or legal requirements for driving in France are often needed for verification. Here’s a run-down of what you have to do:
- Slow down towards the side of the road, then stop your car.
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Communicate with the police officer about the reason for stopping you.
- Present your identification card, whether it’s an ID check or a violation.
- Wait for further instructions.
- Cooperate with the authorities when asked to be spoken with at the precinct.
What do I do in case of car accidents?
If you ever get involved in a car accident, always remember to exchange car insurance details with the other driver. Switch your hazard lights on and set up a red warning triangle at 50 & 150 meters behind your car to warn approaching vehicles.
If two or more cars are involved, it is standard practice that you will be asked by the French driver involved to fill a “constat amiable” or an amiable declaration, which is an accident report sheet. Call your insurance company at once.
Traveling to a country is best enjoyed when renting a vehicle and exploring every top destination with no limitation. With the presence of an IDP, it makes that goal attainable as it will act as the translation for your native driver's license. So, when you’re faced with by law officials who speak in the native French tongue, your IDP will translate your information for you if you can’t communicate in French.
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