Driving Rules

The French drive on the right, and cars, unless clearly signalled, have the right of way, even if on a smaller access road or coming from a roundabout entrances. Seatbelts are compulsary as are highway safety/first aid kits and a high-visibility vest. For the full governmental regulations, see: http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr and enter ‘Code de la Route’. (French only).

Drivers must have a valid driving licence and be 18 years or older.

Specific driving rules:

  • Drive on the right.
  • Wear a seat belt when sitting in the front and rear (if fitted).
  • All children age 10 and under must travel in the back seat of a car, wear a seat belt or be strapped into a proper child seat. Only adults and children aged 10 years and older may sit in the front passenger seat.
  • Mobile cellular telephones may not be used while driving except with a “handsfree” system.
  • You must carry a driving licence, car registration papers (certificat immatriculation) and insurance documents.
  • Third party insurance is compulsory.
  • Driving with lights on by day is optional.
  • Priority to the right: When driving in a city, town or village, the right of way at an intersection is automatically given to the vehicle on the right, unless otherwise indicated by stop or yield/give way signs. This applies even in the case of a small side road entering a major main road. The vehicle travelling on the main road must give way to the vehicle entering on the right.

Accidents

If the accident is minor, you should:

  • Move to safety; place red warning triangles 30 meters down the road.
  • Complete one constat amiable d’accident if two cars are involved in the accident.
  • Complete a separate constat amiable if more than two cars are involved; a constat for each car.
  • All drivers complete the constat with written and graphic descriptions of the accident, if necessary.
  • Both (all) parties must sign the completed document.

If the accident is serious, promptly call the Sapeurs-Pompiers at 18, or the Police at 17. You may also dial 112, the pan-European emergency number which is guaranteed to have an English-speaking option. Do NOT move the cars until the arrival of the police, unless the cars are posing a risk to someone’s health.

Your insurance company will proved you with Constat amiable d’accident forms (which can also be provided in English) that you should keep with a pen in your glove compartment. Fill out as much information as you can, such as name and other personal information, in advance. In case of an accident where no one is injured, you and the other person involved complete the report with details of the accident. You will include information on where, when, how and diagrams of the location and damage done to each car. Be very precise in your written account as it is more important than the drawings. Both parties sign and forward a copy to their insurance companies. If you are not sure the information is correct, do not sign the constat. Also, be sure to get all the necessary information about the other driver. The constat must be sent to your insurance company within 24 hours. The companies involved settle the claim.

Parking

There are plenty of parking garages at most of the major entrances to the city, in the center, at shopping centers and underground garages. Garages and parking meters are marked with a blue sign and a large white P and are indicated on city maps. Most ticket machines accept credit cards and in some cases, you may enter with your Carte Bleue (credit card) and use it to exit, instead of getting a ticket. Most of these facilities have parking available on a monthly basis, if you have a car but no parking space in your building.

There are numerous streets with areas marked “payant”. You can either use your credit car or insert a parking card, which can be purchased at a tabac, in the pay box for the amount of time you will remain in the space. The box will give you a receipt that must be displayed in the front window of the car. Parking is usually free from 7pm to 7am, on holidays, weekends and in August. Check the parking meter to be sure.

You may park near your home in the payant street spaces at a reduced rate with a Vignette de Stationnement Residentiel (residential parking sticker). Applications can be picked up at the mairie and mailed to:

Voierie Stationnement
15, boulevard Carnot
75012 Paris
(01.43.46.98.30)

When you receive a parking ticket, you must buy a tax stamp (timbre fiscal) at a tabac for the amount of the fine, paste it onto the designated part of the ticket and mail it. Try to pay within 30 days of receipt to obtain a discount on the fine and be sure to keep the timbre receipt. Alternatively, you can pay your tickets online at https://www.amendes.gouv.fr/portail/index.jsp. This is the English version. Disabled parking: Cars parked in disabled spaces must display the EU Parking card – the disabled person’s parking badge – in the window.

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