Are winter tyres a legal obligation everywhere in France?

Currently you do not legally have to put winter tyres on your cars in France

5 December 2020
By Liv Rowland

Reader question: Must I change my tyres for winter ones? I have heard it is obligatory in France but does it depend where we live?

There is currently no national law obliging people to put winter tyres (pneus hiver) on their cars, even if in certain mountain areas they are widely considered necessary for safety.

The exception to this is if you take a certain road (when snow-covered) and it has signs up saying winter tyres are required on that road by a bylaw set by the prefecture.

However, this is set to change due to a new national law and, as of November 1, 2021, prefects of mountainous departments will be able to decree that winter tyres or snow chains are required between November 1 and March 31 in certain communes (a list is to be published).

Winter tyres are made with a rubber which stays supple below 7C, a point at which the rubber on normal tyres becomes harder than usual and less efficient when the vehicle brakes or turns corners.

They also have wider treads than normal tyres, which allows them to have more grip in snow and ice.

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