Driving in France
What you need to have/know:
Calais may only be a short hop away, but even so, they have rules that visitors, who are driving in France, should adhere to. Here is a short list that will ensure a smooth trip.
On Car Rear: You are required to place a GB sticker on the rear of your car.
Reflective Jacket: Since July 2008 it is compulsory for motorists to have a reflective jacket in any vehicle with four wheels or more in France. Non compliance could be an on the spot fine of up to 130 euros.
In the boot: Drivers are required by French law to have the following items in their boot: a warning triangle, florescent jackets, spare bulb kit, first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
Car: Headlights need to be adjusted to drive on the right.
Glovebox: Vehicle registration document or letter from the owner/hirer confirming authorisation.
Notebook:Make sure you have the emergency contact numbers for your insurance company and European breakdown cover details (if you have it).
Passengers: Children under 10 cannot travel in the front with the exception of babies (up to 9 months and less than 9kg) in rear facing seats. All passengers (front and back) must wear seat belts if fitted.
Drink Driving: – Don’t drink and drive. The limit is just one glass of wine and penalties are severe if you don’t adhere. An on-the-spot fine of up to 3000 euros could be levied.
www.kent.police.uk/travel for more information.
Uk drivers can start at 17. In France its 18
Drive on the right
Don’t forget that in France, you should drive on the right.
Radar Detectors are illegal
If you have one a radar detector, remove it from your car before you leave. Not only will you be fined, but this will be confiscated, even if switched off. Check out this website www.english.controleradar.org for useful information about French roads. Even though most foreign drivers are, for the time, not targeted by the vast network of automatic speed cameras, knowing where they are on your itinerary is still a good idea : the impunity will not last long…
Types of Road
A roads: Autoroutes – these are motorways
N roads: Route Nationals – these are major roads
D roads: Routes Departementales – or secondary roads that link towns and villages.
Did you know that eight out of ten drivers caught speeding in Calais in France are British? Traffic officers from Kent have been called in to help French police patrol the A26 motorway south of Calais, so beware as if you are caught, you will be asked to pay an on-the-spot fine!
Toll motorways 80 mph/130 km/h but reduced to 70 mph/110km/h when wet
Dual carraigeways 68mph/110 km/h
Other roads 68mpn/110km/h
In towns* 31mph/50kh/h
* Towns are marked by the town name. A bar through the town name means the end of that town.
Seat belts must be worn both by passengers in the front and the rear. Children under 10 years old must not travel in the front. The only exception is if the child is a baby up to 9 months old and weighs less than 9 kilos.
Drinking and Driving
Don’t do it. Just one glass of wine will take you over the limits and drink/drive laws are strictly adhered to and penalties servere.
Driving Signage Translations
Autres Directions = other directions
Cédez le passage = give way
Chaussée deformer = uneven road/ temporary surface
Déviation = Diversion
Gravillons = loose chippings
Passage protégé = your right of way
Péage = Toll
Priorité piétons = give way to pedestrians
Rappel = reminder
Rids de poules = potholes
Sortie = an junction/exit off a motorway
Toutes Directions = All directions
Vous n’avez pas la priorité = Give way.
Parking facilities in Calais:
There are around 700 parking meter spaces in Calais. You get 15 minutes grace but anything more than that must be paid for up to a maximum of 4 hours between 9am-12 noon and 2pm-7pm. Sundays and public holidays are free. Find them at:
* Boulevards Gambetta, Jacquard, Lafayette and Pasteur
* rue des Fontinettes
* Boulevard Clemenceau/Rue Royale/Rue de la Mer
* Charges apply between 09.00-12.00 and 14.00-19.00 every day (except Sundays and public holidays) as follows: 1st hour 0.50 Euro; 2nd hour 1 Euro
Free parking for cars:
Parking is free on roads with no markings or a dotted white line. There are more 8,000 free parking spaces on streets close to boulevards de l’Egalite, Gambetta, Jacquard, Lafayette, Pasteur, rues Royale and de la Mer, Place Crevecoeur, Parking de la Plage, Parking de la rue du Temple and Parking lot Boulevard Lafayette Match. There’s also two and a half free hours covered parking at Les 4 Boulevards shopping centre.
Free parking available for coaches:
* Town Hall (Hotel de Ville), Place d’Armes, Quai du Rhin, Bassin Ouest
Onward Journies – Drive Times from Calais:
Arras: 1 hour 10 mins
Boulogne: 22 minutes
Cambrai: 1 hour 35 minutes
Douai: 1 hour 20 minutes
Dunkerque: 30 minutes
Le Touquet: 40 minutes
Lille: 1 hour 20 minutes
St Omer: 35 minutes