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Driving in France

Does anything sound more liberating than winding your way through the French countryside, the wind in your hair, and with ample time to explore every charming village you come across? Road trips through France are a popular way to see the sights. But before you get behind the wheel of a rental car, here’s what you need to know about driving in France.

Renting a car in France

Most of the big international car rental companies operate in France, as well as multiple French and European companies. To rent a motor vehicle in France, you’ll need to be at least 25 years old (some companies will rent to those 21 and over) and have a credit card in your name. For the best prices and availability, it’s always recommended to reserve a car ahead of time.

As long as you’re staying in France for less than 90 days, you won’t need a French license. You can simply use your US driver’s license. It’s also smart to get an international driving permit (IDP) before leaving on your trip. It includes your name, photo, and driver information, translated into 10 languages. While they’re not required in France, there are other countries in Europe that don’t accept US driver licenses, so having an IDP on hand is helpful if you decide to extend your road trip to other countries on the continent.

You’ll also want to have a travel insurance policy in place that includes coverage for car rentals. While you will be offered insurance through the car rental company you use, it can be expensive and may not protect you as completely as you’d like. A battleface travel insurance policy with rental vehicle damage coverage provides protection if the vehicle you’re renting internationally is damaged in a collision, or if it’s damaged due to vandalism, windstorms, fire, hail, or floods. A battleface plan will also cover both you and your traveling companion, as long as both of you are licensed drivers and are listed on the rental agreement.

French rules of the road

Whenever you’re preparing to drive in a different country, it’s important to become familiar with the local rules of the road. Here are the most important things to know about driving in France:

Drive on the right

Just like in the United States, you’ll drive on the right side of the road, in a car with the steering wheel on the left-hand side.

Traffic to your right has the right of way

Known as “priorité a droite,” in France, you must yield to traffic coming in from your right. The only exception is on major autoroutes and toll roads, where the rule doesn’t apply. You’ll know the rule doesn’t apply when you see a road sign that consists of a yellow diamond with a white border.

No right turn on red light

A simple but commonly overlooked rule among foreign drivers: in France, you can’t turn right on a red light. You have to wait until the traffic light turns green.

Seat belts

The driver and all passengers are required to wear a seat belt at all times, and drivers caught without seat belts will be fined. Children must use a child seat until they’re tall enough to safely sit without one, and children under 10 years of age are not allowed to travel in the front passenger seat.

Speed limit

In 2018, French speed limits were lowered across the country in a bid to reduce traffic accidents and save lives. Throughout the country, you’ll see blue signs with numbers circled in red. These show the maximum speed for the road type, in kilometers per hour. Note that new drivers are required to drive slower than experienced drivers. And some road signs indicate slower limits when it’s raining. Fines for speeding can be quite high, and speed cameras are used in enforcement.

Driving under the influence

Drunk driving laws in France are stricter than in the United States. The limit is set at 0.5 grams of alcohol per one liter of blood, which is the equivalent to a blood alcohol limit of 0.05%. Penalties include fines and prison time.

Distracted driving

It’s against the law to use your mobile phone while driving in France, although hands-free use via Bluetooth is allowed. It’s also illegal to use an earpiece or headphones while driving.

Toll roads in France

If you’re traveling between large cities or cross-country, you’ll find yourself driving on toll roads — there are more than 90 toll roads in total across France. Different routes are managed by different companies, but most have options to pay by chip enabled credit cards or debit cards. Cash payment is only available at manned toll booths, which can be hard to find.

What to do in case of an emergency

Getting in a car accident in a rental car or having a maintenance emergency is something you hope never happens, but it’s important that you know what to do if it does. After safely pulling over to the side of the road, dial 112 on your mobile phone to be connected to emergency services. If you’re driving on a main road or motorway, you can also use the orange emergency telephones, which are placed every two kilometers along major highways.

As you wait for assistance, be sure to turn on your hazard lights and set out a reflective triangle at the roadside some way back from your car. Also ensure you exchange contact information with any other drivers involved and take pictures of the accident.

If you experience a motor vehicle accident while traveling, you’ll be relieved you chose to purchase travel insurance with rental car coverage. Not only will you be protected from repair charges, but you’ll be able to call upon benefits like baggage damage and loss coverage and trip interruption coverage. And with travel medical insurance you’ll be protected if you or your covered travel companions are injured, or in a worst-case scenario medical evacuation coverage may become crucially important in case of serious injury. If you do experience an emergency, be sure to call the battleface 24/7 travel assistance hotline as soon as possible — the experts there can offer guidance in just about any situation.

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PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION

Pre-Existing Medical Condition means an illness, disease, or other condition during the 180 day period immediately prior to the date Your coverage is effective :
  1. received or received a recommendation for a test, examination, or medical treatment for a condition which first manifested itself, worsened or became acute, or had symptoms which would have prompted a reasonable person to seek diagnosis, care or treatment; or
  2. took or received a prescription for drugs or medicine. Item (2) of this definition does not apply to a condition which is treated or controlled solely through the taking of prescription drugs or medicine and remains treated or controlled without any adjustment or change in the required prescription throughout the 180 day period before coverage is effective under this policy.
  3. required a change in prescribed medication. Change in prescribed medication means the dosage or frequency of a medication has been reduced, increased, stopped and/or new medications have been prescribed due to the worsening of an underlying condition that is being treated with the medication, unless the change is:
    1. between a brand name and a generic medication with comparable dosage; or
    2. an adjustment to insulin or anti-coagulant dosage.
If you, or someone you are traveling with, has a Pre-Existing Medical Condition, you can still buy a policy from us but there is no cover for any claim arising directly or indirectly from that condition.

PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION

Any Medical Condition that, within the last 12 months, required any:

  • surgery, inpatient or outpatient treatment, referrals or investigations of any sort. This includes being on any waiting list, taking any prescription medication, tablets or required medical treatment (This will not apply to common colds, flu or contraceptive medication);
  • medical advice or treatment for any respiratory condition relating to the lungs or breathing;
  • medical advice or treatment for any heart, stroke or diabetic condition;

Hypertension or high cholesterol controlled by 1 prescription drug only and where the dosage has not been changed within the last 12 months will not be considered a pre-existing medical condition

Coverages Available:

*not all coverages are available in all states
Travel Protection Benefits Limits
Trip Cancellation 100% of trip cost (up to a maximum of $20,000)
Single Occupancy Up to trip cost
Cancel for Any Reason Up to 75% of trip cost Up to 50% of trip costs in FL(CFAR not available to NY residents)
Trip Interruption 150% of trip cost
Delay Package
Trip Delay
Maximum $200 per day up to $2,500
Missed Connection Maximum of $1,000 per covered trip
Baggage Package – Excess
Baggage and Personal Effects $2,500 $100 Deductible
Baggage Delay $100 per day up to a maximum of $500
Travel Medical Package – Excess AK, CO, ID, ND, NH – Primary
Travel Medical Expense – Adventure sports included $100,000 $50,000 in NH $50 Deductible
Emergency Dental $750
Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains Up to $500,000
Up to $1,000,000 in NH
Accidental Death & Dismemberment $100,000 or $250,000 or $500,000
Pet Medical Package
Pet Medical Expense Up to $2,000 $100 Deductible
Pet Return Up to $500
Rental Vehicle Damage – Primary Up to $35,000 per rented vehicle- Primary $250 Deductible for loss greater than $2,000
Vacation Rental Damage $1,500 or $3,000 or $5,000

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation and Curtailment 5,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 5,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Liability 500,000
Travel Delay 500
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Trip Interruption 2,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 5,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 2,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250) *** Limited to 250 in respect of cash
Personal Liability 500,000
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage up to 10,000

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation up to $20,000
Trip Interruption $1,000
Medical and Emergency Expenses $5,000,000 (deductible $250)
Hospital Benefit $25 per day, maximum $100
Personal Accident up to $50,000
Baggage $2,000 (deductible $250)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to $250 in respect of cash $500 (deductible $250)
Personal Liability $500,000
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to $1,000 (deductible $100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to $750 (deductible $50 or $100)

Travel Medical Insurance

Some benefits are subject to an excess (aka, the deductible, or what you have to pay before we pay), as stated in the Policy Schedule, and are per Policy Period.

Benefits Limits
Cancellation and Curtailment 5,000
Emergency Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation of Mortal Remains 10,000,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Hospital Benefit 25 per day, maximum 100
Personal Accident up to 250,000
Baggage Loss or Delay up to 5,000 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Money and Passport, limited to 250 in respect of cash 500 (excess 250 or 50)
Personal Liability 500,000
Travel Delay 500
Optional Benefits Limits
Business Extension up to 1,000 (excess 100)
Winter Sports (Ski Equipment) up to 750 (excess 50 or 100)