Most of our rental motorcycle customers come from abroad to enjoy the exceptional roads in France. Rules for driving in France can differ from those “at home”. This guide talks about the intricacies of driving rules in France and what to watch out for. Always ride with a “safety first” mindset to enjoy your motorcycle ride to the full extent.
When approaching roundabouts in France, the traffic on the roundabout has priority. You have to give way to these drivers. When you are riding on the roundabout, always use your indicator to signal your next move, i.e. indicate left when you remain on the roundabout and indicate right, when you are about to exit the roundabout.
Yield to Traffic from the Right
In general, traffic coming from the right has priority. Here an example. You are riding on a main road. A side street on the right-hand side joins the main road. If you see a red triangle with a black cross, you have to give way to traffic coming from this side street. This is a common rule in France and enforced ruthlessly. If the traffic ahead of you is driving cautiously on a main road with intersections, please refrain from overtaking as you run the risk getting hit by traffic joining from the right.
The requirements for driving in France may differ from what you’re normally used to. The below image is an overview of the main road signs in France. Please click on the image for further detail.
Motorways / Highways
One important element to consider are French toll roads. In France they operate a system called Peage. At the tollbooth, always use the tollbooth displaying a green arrow on the far right. Most of the tollbooths are operated by weight sensors, i.e. if you enter the tollbooths on the left or middle, as a motorcyclist you wont get recognized due to the lesser weight compared to a car or lorry. The Peage system accepts major credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa. You can also pay in cash. Sometimes you also receive a paper ticket at the tollbooth, which you return at the next tollbooth to calculate your journey.
The French speed limits are:
- In town – 50 km/h
- Outside town – 90 km/h
- Motorways – 110 km/h or 130 km/h depending on region
Parking and Theft
The South of France is relaxed about parking your motorcycle on the pavement as long as it doesn’t obstruct pedestrians. The interpretation of this parking law can be subjective. Always make sure there is plenty of space for pedestrians. Local bikes parked on the pavement are not always a good example.
Motorcycle theft is a problem in France. Always make sure to use the supplied lock as a deterrent. Never park the bike in an unsafe spot.
The South of France benefits of 300 days of sunshine per year. The road surface throughout the Alpes, Provence and French Riviera is of high quality. The grip is excellent, surface is smooth and any damages get repaired quickly. However, please watch out when it rains. The surface gets slippery and unpredictable.
Please also be careful with painted road surfaces such as zebra crossings, parking bays or other road markings. These are a hazard, as the painted surfaces are slippery – both in the dry and wet.
Petrol / Gas Stations
Many petrol stations in France are unmanned and only work with French chip-enabled Master or Visa cards, i.e. you insert a chip-enabled credit card into the pump and follow the instructions on the screen. If you don't have a chip-enabled credit card, best to use a petrol station with a cash desk. Cash desks accept most international credit cards.
Here an overview of the common fuel station brands in France:
- Total: self-service station with chip-enabled credit cards and a cash desk
- Shell: self-service station with chip-enabled credit cards and a cash desk
- BP: self-service station with chip-enabled credit cards and a cash desk
- Elf: self-service station with chip-enabled credit cards. Sometimes also a cash desk
- Esso: self-service station only with chip-enabled credit cards.
Always tank premium 98-octane petrol, which is the green pump. Do not use the yellow “Gasoil” pump, which is diesel.
The South of France has a higher proportion of motorcyclists than the rest of France. Therefore, car drivers are more aware of motorcyclist. It is not uncommon that cars move to the right to allow motorcyclist to filter through traffic. Filtering between lanes is legal in France. You will see motorcyclist sticking out their foot after passing a car, which is a way of saying thank you to car drivers.
Follow these basic traffic rules and you will have a great time riding a motorcycle in the South of France. Want to know more? Contact us for further questions.
Posted by: Jeff Fielding