Whether you take the Eurotunnel or Ferry to get to France, you will want to ensure that you meet the requirements beforehand. To help out, we have a complete checklist below that you can use as a guide prior to driving in France.
Failing to meet the legal requirements when driving in France can result in “on-the-spot” fines. Our team have been driving from the UK to France for many years now but continuously check the requirements as they change quite frequently.
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Before you embark upon your journey, you will want to check that you have all the required documents, which include:
- Driving license
- Vehicle log book (V5)
- Insurance documents
- Breakdown policy documents
For peace of mind, you can also include your European health card and travel insurance. However, the five documents listed are the main requirements that we advise you keep in a folder safe in your vehicle.
Driving in France Kit
Due to the amount of additional equipment that you require, many brands sell complete kits. These are designed to meet the requirements and are relatively cheap when you consider everything that is included.
Equipment needed to meet the requirements for driving in France include:
- Warning triangle
- Emergency jacket
- GB sticker
- First aid kit
- Additional bulbs
- Headlamp converters
- NF breathalyzers
We believe that the AA Euro Travel Kit is ideal for driving in France.As this complete kit is produce by the Reputable AA brand, you have peace of mind that you are meeting the requirements. However, it does lack Breathalyzers but these can be purchased separately. We strongly recommend that you only purchase NF certified breathalyzers that are approved for use in France.
Check Your Insurance
Every car insurance provider will have their own rules regarding driving your car in France. It is worth reading the small print because some companies may only provide third-party cover whilst driving in France. It is highly recommended that you upgrade this cover to fully comprehensive for peace of mind.
Most providers will allow anywhere between 30 to 90 days cover abroad but you will want to check beforehand. If you intend on staying abroad for longer, most will allow for extensions at an additional cost.
Breaking down is frustrating but breaking down in a different country is made even worse. Not only will you need to be towed to a garage but you will need to explain to the mechanic what the issue with the car is if it is not obvious.
If you are unlucky enough to breakdown on the motorway, you will want to call the police first. They will take you from the hard shoulder to somewhere safe, which you can then call your breakdown company for assistance.
Eurotunnel or Ferry
In order to get to France, you will need to choose between the Eurotunnel or Ferry. The Eurotunnel takes 35 minutes and travels between Folkestone and Calais. Alternatively, there are multiple ferries that can take you deeper into France but it does take much longer than the train.
Our team at Darimo all prefer the Eurotunnel as there isn’t that much difference in price and is much quicker. However, if you want to stretch your legs and have more freedom, the ferry may be the better option.
Low Emission Zones
In order to combat air pollution, certain areas such as Paris, Lyon, Lille and other cities have implemented low emissions zones that are similar to London.
These low emission zones require vehicles to display an air quality certificate sticker, which can be purchased from the official website. Depending upon your vehicle will determine the amount it costs. However, the sticker will be far less than the fine if you are caught without one displayed.
Using a speed detection device such as a radar detector is well-known to result in a hefty fine. However, what many motorist don’t realise is that if your car sat nav alerts you of fixed cameras, this will also result in a fine and potentially your car being taken away. To avoid getting into trouble, we advise that you disable any alerts before driving in France.
Depending on the areas that you drive to in France, you may come across many tolls. These can sometimes be completely clear but if you travel on busy days, they can add a serious amount of time to your journey.
You can purchase an automatic toll tag, which enables you to slow to a specified limit and drive straight through the tolls. As shown below, they are small devices that you can attach to your windscreen.
You will then be charged according to the tolls that you went through. We highly recommend that you purchase one if you intend on travelling to the South because it will save you potentially hours.
As with any long road trips, you will want to ensure that you are prepared for all scenarios. You can perform all the checks you can before embarking on your journey but if you do not have the equipment on the roadside, you may be in trouble.
For example, if you notice that a tyre is beginning to lose pressure, you will want to have a tyre inflator available to inflate it to the correct PSI. Another scenario is if your oil light appears, which is common during long drives. Trying to find engine oil for your car in a different language can be a difficult task.
Driving across Europe is a great experience and with all the correct equipment and documents, you can do so legally. Due to Brexit, you may need additional documentation such as a Green Card and we advise that you pay close attention to any updates that may occur.
We intend to keep this article up-to date with the latest requirements. However, we cannot guarantee they will be completely up-to date and advise that you use this article as a guide. For further information, we recommend that you visit the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) websites.