Preparing your car

If you are planning on a self-drive holiday to France with the family then taking the time to ensure that your car is in tip top shape will help relieve the stress of the journey!

Take a look through some of these top tips for advice on preparing your car before your holiday.

driving in France

Check that your car is ready for a long journey. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for tyre tread (don’t forget the spare!), tyre air pressure, lights, oil, water and brake fluid. Make sure you have a full tank of petrol (some people try to arrive on the other side of the channel with an empty tank as petrol is cheaper in France – but we don’t recommend this, you won’t save a fortune!).

When driving in France you are required by law to carry the following items:

  • Reflective jackets – one for each occupant, these must be kept inside the vehicle within easy reach.  We recommend putting one over the drivers seat and one over the passenger seat in the front so that the French police can see at a glance that you have them in the car. You must be wearing one when you get out of your car (so keeping it in the boot or somewhere inaccessible is not an option).
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with 4 wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • A GB sticker (or ‘euro’ registration plates featuring the GB initials)
  • Spare bulbs – by law you’re also mandated to carry a spare bulb kit for your vehicle.
  • Re: Breathalysers/alcohol test these were introduced as being mandatory but as of January 2013 the French government announced that the introduction of an €11 fine for not carrying one has been postponed indefinitely.  So in summary – ideally buy and carry one!

*We recommend you take a European vehicle recovery insurance policy before you travel.  If you have a major breakdown, or accident, these policies are worth their weight in gold. Companies such as Breakdown Direct, the AA and RAC offer such policies.

Getting around this Section:

Practical Advice: This section is for the first timer with helpful hints on how to make your first drive in France a relaxing experience, even driving on the right hand side! For example making sure that you always have some cash ready for the autoroute tolls.

Preparing your car: There are things you need to remember before you leave, some are legal requirements, some just good advice.

French Roads + Law: We explain to you about the types of roads in France, major road signs and basic highway code.

Priorité à Droite: This famous feature of French driving etiquette still causes confusion today! Priorité a Droite info here.

Route Planning: Advice on route planning with the best maps, traffic advice and the best rest areas on the main autoroutes.

Looking for accommodation in France?

If you are looking for a great family holiday to France then check out some of our stunning gites, holiday homes, campsites and B&Bs.  With a wide choice of specially chosen accommodation across France, including holiday homes in Normandy, Brittany, the Vendee, the Dordogne and the south of France, you will be sure to find something that suits your  requirements.

Read more about travel in France