Road Trips

Driving in France Checklist


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

France is one of the best countries for a road trip. Whether you want to see the stunning vineyards of Burgundy, the Châteaux of the Loire Valley, or the picturesque Provence, there are many French road trips waiting for you.

Road-tripping in France is a great way to enjoy freedom. You can leave when you want, change your plans, and explore off the beaten path.

What are the driving requirements in France? What are the essentials for a road trip in France? If you are heading out on a road trip through France, there are some things you should remember to check and take.

Requirements for Driving in France

What do you need to drive in France? Of course, you will need a valid driver’s license (18+ years old) and your ID card or passport, but there’s more. Here is the full list of requirements for driving in France:

All drivers must be 18 years of age to drive in France. Even student drivers with a permit and an adult are not allowed.

Valid Driver’s License

Current registration and proof of purchase (if driving your own vehicle): When driving your own car, a valid driver’s license, as well as registration or proof of ownership, is required to be with you at all times in the car.

Valid Passport /ID Card: A passport /ID Card (for the European Union) is required for the driver and any other people in the car.

Valid Car Insurance: For car rentals in France, double-check your contract and agreement that this has been included in the paperwork or is in the car and is up to date.

Towing: If you intend on towing anything behind your primary vehicle when traveling to France by car, ensure that you have all the proper licensing documentation from the country of origin. This includes a sticker on the license plate from your country that matches the plate on your car.

Checklist for Driving in France

With a huge variety of scenery and terrain to see in France, a road trip is essential, but you need to be prepared. This driving in France checklist will see you right:

1. Have You Checked Your Vehicle?

  • Car tire pressure
  • Oil and coolant levels
  • Spare tire and jack
  • No mechanical warning lights are on
  • Full tank of fuel
  • The screen wash is full, and the wipers are working
  • All exterior lights work
  • The car manual is in the vehicle

2. Security Kit and Other Road Trip Essentials

If you are going to visit France by car, several items are required by law to have in your vehicle at all times. By not having them, you are subject to some extremely hefty fines.

This driving in France kit listed below is a mix of legally required items as well as other helpful things for ultimate peace of mind when traveling on French roads.

  • Warning Triangle – Required by law
  • Highly Visual Reflective Vests (one for each passenger) – Required by law
  • Headlamp Converters (headlamp beam deflectors)
  • Spare Bulbs
  • Two “NF Certified” Breathalyzers
  • Extra pair of glasses (for those who wear glasses regularly)

Apart from the car essentials above, there are some essentials you should never leave behind, like a spare tire, an empty fuel can, or a car charger.

Car chains are mandatory by law during winter in some parts of the country for going up the mountains.

3. Crit’ Air Vignette

You might be wondering what Crit’ Air vignettes are! A Crit’ Air vignette is an air quality certificate for your car that must be visible on the windshield. It’s used to reduce CO2 emissions across France by limiting access to specific vehicles at certain times. The certificates come in six categories, each with a different color representing the car’s emission levels.

The French Crit Air sticker is mandatory in low-emissions zones for mobility (LEZ-m) and during periods when the traffic is differentiated. Signs will be posted in the restricted areas and will include the time of the ban.

The list of cities and areas that require a Crit’ Air vignette includes Paris, Montpellier, Grand Reims, Marseille, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Nice, Saint-Etienne, and Bordeaux.

Click here to order the Crit’ Air sticker for your car. You can do this up to a few days before your trip to France. For vehicles caught without the proper sticker, expect a fine.

Some rental car agencies will help you obtain these, others you will need to order one ahead of time yourself. Speak to your car rental company to know if you will need to get one on your own.

4. Personal Care Essentials

The personal care essentials are personal and depend on everybody’s needs. Useful things to bring during your road trips in France are personal electronics and chargers, a hot drink keep cup, snacks, travel neck pillows (for the passengers, not for the driver), a mobile phone holder, and books and games for kids.

Don’t Skimp on Travel Insurance for Your French Road Trip

If you are driving in France for your next holiday, you obviously need to take out a comprehensive insurance policy and a collision damage waiver/ loss damage waiver if you are renting a vehicle. In addition to car insurance, you should definitely get travel insurance. since anything can happen while on the road, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be insured

HeyMondo is a great option for travel insurance. Their single trip travel insurance includes the following standard criteria:

  • Emergency medical and dental expenses overseas
  • Medical transport and repatriation
  • Cover for lost or damaged baggage
  • Trip cancellation, early return, trip resumption
  • Travel delays due to transportation and missed connecting flights

Optional extras include insurance for electronic equipment, adventure sport activities, cruise insurance and optional excess and deductibles.

Heymondo also offers a rental car add on which is ideal for those renting a car for their French road trip. Their coverage applies to rental car insurance with excess payable if your hired car is damaged, stolen or involved in an accident.

In addition to single trip insurance, you can also get annual multi-trips and long stay (up to 90 day) policies Click here and get a 5% for being a France Bucket List reader

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