Useful Tips for Travel to France
France is a superb country in which to ride a bike in, however, in recent years some pretty draconian motoring laws have been introduced, particularly with regards to bikers, so you would be well advised to clue-up on what has changed. A really good site to get information from is About France€, click on logo above to go to site).
Some of the major points to note are:
SatNavs: It is now illegal to have speed camera warnings on a SatNav device and very definitely illegal to have a radar detector. Getting caught with a radar detector can get you a years ban and a huge fine. All of the speed camera warning signs are to be removed from all roads in France.
Reflective Clothing: The rules regarding the wearing of Hi-Vis waistcoats whilst riding a bike have been scrapped, however a law requiring reflective material on clothing comes into force on the 1st Jan 2013. (see touring section). It has long been a requirement to have 4 reflective stickers on crash helmets, ie. 1 each on front, back and sides.
Filtering: It’s technically illegal now in France although everybody does it.
Drink Driving: It is now compulsory to carry a breathalyser in France. In fact you need two because if you use one to test yourself and are clear to drive if you are then stopped you no longer have a usable breathalyser so are then breaking the law. Breathalyser kits can be bought from the likes of Amazon for around £6 – £7. The legal limit in France is half of that in UK so we are talking 1 glass of wine or beer maximum. There is talk of reducing the limit to zero.
Speeding: The speeding laws have become very strict in France. Get caught speeding and it could result in an on-the-spot fine which can be pretty hefty. The police have the power to take you to a cash machine and if you can’t pay they can impound your bike until you can. Get caught at more than 50kph/31mph over any limit and you could be looking at jail time.
Autoroutes: One thing definitely to note is that if you breakdown on the Autoroute or at an Autoroute service station your breakdown cover, if you have it, will not cover you. The reason being that all French Autoroutes and service areas are privately run and only the designated breakdown service can operate. If you happen to have a breakdown you can contact the Gendarmerie who will arrange for the breakdown service to attend you. If they cannot repair your vehicle within 30mins they will then recover you to the nearest repair centre for your vehicle or to any point off the Autoroute where your own breakdown service can attend. The current charge for the Autoroute breakdown service is approx 120/180 euros depending on whether it is daytime or night.
Fuel Stations: Fuel cost is approximately the same as UK for petrol, (diesel is approx 15% cheaper). Be aware that most fuel stations in France close on Sundays, including the supermarkets, except on the Autorutes and some of the bigger towns, so make sure if you are in the country you have plenty of fuel. Many of the supermarket fuel stations will have 24hr automatic pumps, ie. use your credit/debit card but to save any worry it is best to make sure you have a full tank if you intend to do much travelling on a Sunday. Be aware also that because there are many more diesel cars in France than petrol most fuel station forecourts are generally covered in spilt diesel so take care when getting off your bike.