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Car Rental in France

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Car Rental in France: Understanding Local Driving Laws

Driving in France

When visiting France, renting a car can be a convenient and flexible way to explore the country. However, it’s important to be aware of the local driving laws and requirements to ensure a smooth and safe experience.

Driver’s License

To rent a car in France, you must have a valid driver’s license from your home country. If your license is not in French, you may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to accompany your license.

Minimum Age

The minimum age to rent a car in France is typically 21 years old, although some rental companies may require drivers to be at least 25 years old. Young drivers under the age of 25 may incur a surcharge.

Driving Laws

In France, driving is done on the right side of the road. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers, and the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited unless using a hands-free device.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in France vary depending on the type of road and weather conditions. In general, the speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80-90 km/h on rural roads, and 130 km/h on highways.

Additional Considerations

Before renting a car in France, it’s important to familiarize yourself with local traffic signs and regulations. Additionally, be mindful of parking rules and designated parking areas to avoid fines or towing.

By understanding and adhering to local driving laws and requirements, you can enjoy a safe and hassle-free car rental experience in France.

Rental Requirements

Age Limits

In France, the minimum age for renting a car is typically 21 years old, although some rental companies may require drivers to be at least 25 years old. There is usually no maximum age limit, but older drivers may be subject to additional screening or insurance requirements.

Driving License Requirements

Drivers from the United States and Canada can typically use their domestic driver’s license in France for up to one year. However, it is recommended to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to avoid any potential issues with local authorities or rental companies. For drivers from other countries, an IDP is often required along with a valid local driver’s license.


When renting a car in France, you will need to present a valid passport, a credit card in the driver’s name for the security deposit, and any required documentation such as an IDP or additional proof of insurance. It’s important to check with the rental company beforehand to ensure you have all necessary documents.

Insurance Information

When renting a car in France, it’s important to understand the insurance options available to you.

Basic Insurance

The basic insurance typically included in car rentals in France covers Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection. This means that in the event of an accident or theft, you won’t be held liable for the full cost of the car.

Additional Insurance

In addition to the basic insurance, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage such as Personal Accident Insurance and Supplemental Liability Insurance. Personal Accident Insurance provides coverage for medical expenses in the event of an accident, while Supplemental Liability Insurance provides additional coverage for third-party damages.

Insurance Tips

Before renting a car in France, it’s a good idea to check your existing travel insurance policies to see if they already provide coverage for rental cars. This can help you avoid purchasing duplicate coverage and save you money on your rental.

Understanding the insurance options available when renting a car in France can help you make an informed decision and ensure that you have the coverage you need for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Local Driving Laws and Regulations in France

General Traffic Rules

Driving Side: In France, driving is on the right side of the road.
Speed Limits: The speed limit in urban areas is typically 50 km/h, 80-90 km/h on rural roads, and 130 km/h on highways.
Other Useful Info: Always carry your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance documents.

Overtaking and Lane Usage

Overtaking Rules: Overtaking is only allowed on the left and prohibited within 50 meters before and after a pedestrian crossing.
Lane Discipline: The ‘keep right except to overtake’ rule is enforced on multi-lane roads.
Other Useful Info: Be cautious of motorcyclists and cyclists when changing lanes.

Seat Belt and Child Safety

Seat Belt Laws: Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers, and children under 10 must use a suitable child restraint.
Child Safety: Children under 10 are not allowed to travel in the front seat unless in a suitable child restraint.
Other Useful Info: It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are wearing seat belts.

Use of Mobile Phones

Mobile Phone Restrictions: The use of handheld mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited.
Other Useful Info: Hands-free devices are allowed, but it is recommended to pull over to make or receive calls.

Alcohol and Driving

Legal Blood Alcohol Limits: The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 grams per liter of blood, with severe penalties for exceeding this limit.
Zero Tolerance Policies: Stricter rules apply to drivers who have held their license for less than 3 years.
Other Useful Info: It is advisable to designate a sober driver or use public transportation after consuming alcohol.

Tolls and Charges

Toll Roads: France has numerous toll roads, and payment can be made by cash, credit card, or electronic toll devices.
Congestion Charges: Some cities, such as Paris, have congestion charges for driving within certain zones.
Other Useful Info: Plan your route in advance to avoid unexpected tolls and charges.

Roundabouts and Intersections

Navigating Roundabouts: Roundabouts are common in France, and vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way.
Intersection Rules: Priority is given to vehicles approaching from the right, unless otherwise indicated.
Other Useful Info: Be cautious of pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.

Headlight and Windshield Wiper Laws

Headlight Usage: Headlights must be used at night and during poor visibility, such as rain or fog.
Windshield Wiper Rule: It is mandatory to use headlights when the windshield wipers are in operation.
Other Useful Info: Carry spare bulbs and a reflective jacket in your vehicle, as they are required by law.

Emergency Vehicles

Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles: When emergency vehicles approach with lights and sirens, all other vehicles must pull over to the right and stop.
Other Useful Info: Do not follow emergency vehicles to bypass traffic, as it is illegal and unsafe.

Driving Tips for France

Road Conditions

In France, the road conditions can vary from well-maintained highways to narrow and winding rural roads. Be prepared for different terrains, including mountainous regions and coastal areas.

Urban vs. Rural Driving

Driving in urban areas like Paris can be congested and challenging, with heavy traffic and narrow streets. In rural areas, roads may be less crowded but could be narrower and less well-maintained.

Navigational Tips

It’s recommended to use GPS navigation or have a good map on hand, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Pay attention to road signs and be aware of any toll roads or restricted zones in cities.

Other Useful Tips

– Familiarize yourself with French road rules and regulations, including speed limits and right of way.
– Be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists, especially in urban areas.
– Keep in mind that the legal blood alcohol limit for driving in France is lower than in some other countries.
– Consider renting a car with an automatic transmission if you’re not comfortable driving a manual.

By following these driving tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while renting a car in France.

Roadside Assistance and Emergency Procedures

Breakdown Procedures

If you experience a breakdown while renting a car in France, the first step is to pull over to a safe location, away from traffic. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers, and then contact the rental company for assistance. They will provide guidance on the next steps to take, which may include arranging for a tow truck or providing a replacement vehicle.

Emergency Services

In case of an emergency, it’s important to have access to the necessary contact numbers. In France, the emergency number for police, ambulance, and fire services is 112. Additionally, rental companies typically provide their own hotline for roadside assistance, which is available 24/7 for any urgent situations.

Rental Company Policies

When renting a car in France, it’s essential to review the policies and support offered by the rental company. Most reputable rental companies provide 24/7 roadside assistance, ensuring that help is always available in the event of a breakdown or emergency. They also offer towing services to transport the vehicle to a nearby service center for repairs. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with these policies before setting out on your journey.

Where can you Rent a Car in France?

You can browse all the city locations below, sorted alphabetically. Use Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) to quickly find the one you want to explore.