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Is an International Driving Permit required in France? 

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, Andorra, Monaco 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 car rental companies can also require an International Driving Permit for car rentals in France. So, it is not required but highly recommended

How to get an International Driving License for 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.”

You can apply for International Driving Permit on our website. You just need to fill application form, upload valid driving license rom your home country, and upload 2 passport sized photos. Your application will be processed and approved within just 2 hours.

Is A Native Drivers License Enough to Drive in France?

Valid European license holders may drive in France without having to exchange their driving licence. You may use your original driver’s license for driving in France. All EU countries have been issuing a European driving licence that is valid in all affiliate states of the European Union and European Economic Area since 2013.

A non-European license is valid in France, provided that it does not have any restrictions or suspensions. The issuing place must be in the country you have lived in for at least six (6) months.

international driving permit for France Paris

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 country. Despite being on the same continent,  driving standards in this country are very different from that of the United Kingdom. Inversely, driving in France is generally the same as how it is in the USA. Here are some reminders about driving rules, standard practices, and some tips for driving.

What are required documents for driving in France?

Driving Licence

As a general rule among all EU member states and European Economic Areas since 2013, you can drive if you have a valid native license. A non-European license is also valid, if 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. You can learn more about it in the French embassy or at American Automobile Association (AAA) official website.

Passport

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 companies  may also ask you to for passport. 

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.

Speed limit

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.

Approach Warnings

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

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.

Overtaking

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.

Alcohol Influence

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.

Parking

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 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.

Tolls

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.

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

Breakdowns

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.

Top Destinations in France

Paris

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.

What makes it famous, and what activities can I do there?

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. 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.

What are the popular places to visit here?

  • 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.

  • Champs-Elysées

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.

  • Versailles

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.

When is the best time to visit?

  • 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

  • December

Deals for budget-friendly travels are common

When is the worst time to visit?

  • June to August

Also worst, most crowded, and most expensive time of the year.

France Lyon international permit

Lyon

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.

What makes it famous and what activities can I do there?

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.

What are the popular places to visit here?

  • 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.

When is the best time to visit?

  • May

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

When is the worst time to visit?

  • June to August

Peak attraction season with higher rates and longer queues

Bordeaux

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.

What makes it famous, and what activities can I do there?

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.

What are the popular places to visit here?

  • 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.

When is the best time to visit?

  • Springtime

Low rates and minimal crowds

  • December

The Bordeaux is very festive around Christmastime.

When is the worst time to visit?

  • September

Harvest time for wineries, so some do not allow tourists

  • June to August

Peak tourist season

Nice

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.

What makes it famous, and what activities can I do there?

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.

What are the popular places to visit here?

  • 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.

When is the best time to visit?

  • 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.

When is the worst time to visit?

  • May to August

The peak season is crowded, hot, humid, and expensive.

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