Periodic transport and air traffic control strikes across France have been affecting rail, taxi/Uber and air travel across France as well as Paris metro and bus services. Check with your travel provider or airline for the latest updates. You can find real time information on rail traffic on the SNCF website and on Paris metro and bus systems on the RATP website.
If you’re planning to drive in France, remember that traffic travels on the right. If you’re not used to driving on the right, be extra cautious, particularly at junctions, where traffic coming from the right has priority.
If you want to drive:
•Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance. You must be at least 18 to drive in France and learner permits are not valid.
•Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.
•Be aware of France’s traffic laws, such as speed limits. Speed cameras are common and the French police are vigilant.
•Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
Air Quality Certificate
The French authorities have announced a new Air Quality Certificate system to classify vehicles based on air pollutant emission levels and is mandatory for all vehicles in Paris, Grenoble and Lyon. The newly-introduced system requires all motorised vehicles to display a Crit'Air sticker - including foreign-registered vehicles. www.certificat-air.gouv.fr
The sticker system has been introduced to reduce the emissions output in larger cities, so on days where certain cities are at risk of reaching their Euro emissions limit, heavily polluting vehicles can be refused entrance based on the Crit'Air sticker they are displaying on the windscreen.
If you are planning to drive in France you can apply online to get the required sticker which will cost €4.80 for foreign registered vehicles. Payment can be made online and the sticker will be posted. Classifications are based on the age of your vehicle and the system applies to all vehicles, cars, motorbikes and trucks. The French authorities advise that motorists driving without the Crit'Air certificate may receive an on-the-spot fine from €68 up to €135.
Follow the traffic laws carefully as there are stiff penalties for breaking the law. These can range from an on-the-spot fine, to confiscation of your driving licence, to imprisonment (for serious offences such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or negligent driving).
If your licence is confiscated, you won’t be allowed to continue driving and your vehicle will be impounded unless another fully-licensed driver is available to drive it.
Theft from vehicles
This is common, particularly in the south of France, so keep your doors locked, windows rolled up and valuables out of sight while driving and parked. In some tourist areas along the south coast, it’s common to remove the parcel shelf so that potential thieves can see that there’s nothing worth stealing in the boot.
Mobile homes and camper-vans have also been targeted by thieves so make sure you take appropriate steps such as an alarm or using a safety-deposit box to protect your belongings there.
Since 2012, you’re legally obligated to have a single use breathalyser in your vehicle, (this includes motorcycles). Buy a kit that complies with French regulations and carries the ‘NF’ label. We advise you to carry at least two breathalysers at all times.
You must carry a red reflective warning triangle and a high-visibility vest in your vehicle at all times. There are frequently police checkpoints at the exits of the major ferry ports to check whether drivers have the required safety equipment, so make sure your vehicle is stocked before you travel to France. If you can’t produce this safety equipment at an accident or breakdown scene or during a police inspection, you could be liable for a fine.
You must display the warning triangle 30 metres from your vehicle in case of a break-down or accident (except in the case of a break-down on a motorway where it’s not safe to walk back 30 metres – in this case, place the triangle a reasonable distance from your vehicle, taking into account safety considerations).
You must carry the high-visibility vest in the main body of your vehicle (not in the boot). You need to wear the vest in case of a break-down at any time and must put it on before you get out of your vehicle.
High traffic season
The traditional French summer holiday periods sees extremely heavy traffic on the weekends of 7 July, 14 July, 4 August, 11 August and 18 August. Allow plenty of extra time and take regular breaks on your journey on these weekends, particularly on routes connecting Paris to the south.
There can be severe traffic jams on the motorways so always make sure you have enough fuel, and refuel regularly, as it may take longer than you think to reach the next service station.
These French websites have colour-coded maps and graphics that can be understood by non-French speakers so they may help you plan your journey:
Failing to stop and help a third party in difficulty, if you witness an incident (on the road or elsewhere) is an offence in France. If you need to stop on the roadside to help someone, you must put on your high-visibility vest before leaving your own vehicle.
You should only use properly licensed and marked taxis. Beware of people claiming to be taxi drivers who often tout for business at the arrivals areas in airports, train stations or at major bus stations – registered taxi drivers are not allowed to solicit business in this way.
Drivers of unlicensed taxis frequently don’t respect rules on fares and, more importantly, will not have undergone security and police checks that are compulsory for registered taxi drivers. There have been recent cases of assaults on foreign tourists by unlicensed taxi drivers so if you’re in any doubt, don’t use the service.
Licensed taxis are marked by a white roof sign and the driver's professional identity card is displayed on the left-hand side of the windscreen. A meter will be visible in the centre of the dashboard and there will be a sticker in the left rear window setting out the main rules governing taxis and fares.
If you’re a truck driver, make sure you are familiar with French traffic regulations, particularly details on when you can or can’t use the motorways.
Paris and many other cities now have public bicycle-rental schemes. As a cyclist, you’re not allowed to cycle on the footpaths unless a cycle lane is marked as part of the path. Obey all relevant traffic rules and take appropriate safety precautions, particularly if you’re not familiar with cycling on the right-hand side of the road. Avoid cycling if you’re under the influence of alcohol.
All cyclists must wear a high-visibility vest when cycling outside urban areas at night.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
We’re aware of various websites offering car-sharing possibilities but we can’t vouch for the validity of these companies. Any decision to avail of such services is taken at your own risk.
If you’re travelling by train, make sure your luggage is clearly marked with your name and never leave it unattended. Many left-luggage offices in train stations have been closed for security reasons so try and confirm their availability beforehand or make other arrangements.
Some overnight inter-city trains have been targeted by thieves. On metros and trains, take particular care of your belongings when the doors are closing, as opportunistic thieves on the platform have been known to snatch passengers’ bags just as the train doors close.
Eurostar operates from Paris, Lille, Calais and Brussels to London St Pancras. Bookings are through www.eurostar.com or (from within France – premium rates apply) 0892-353539.
You can book trains from within France through www.voyages-sncf.com.
Mon, 15 Jan 2018 17:05:42 GMT