Morbihan in Brittany is the latest department to reinstate a 90km/h speed limit on some of its roads.
This means that 46 departments have now readopted this higher maximum speed limit following a nationally imposed reduction to 80km/h on certain departmental roads in 2018.
The department of Gard (Occitanie) is expected to change back too shortly.
The controversial decision to reduce the speed limit five years ago, billed as necessary to improve road safety, sparked anger and is said to have played a key role in the gilets jaunes demonstrations being cited as a classic example of Paris decision-making being out of touch with rural areas.
The changes apply to single lane routes départementales which run between towns.
Dual carriageway roads and motorways were not affected and speed limits for these remained at 110km/h and 130km/h respectively.
A departmental choice
Since 2020, local authorities have been allowed to instigate a return to a 90km/h speed limit on these roads - either all or some of them - if they deem it necessary.
Arguing to reinstate the 90km/h limit in Gard, Philippe Nozière, president of the 40 million drivers association, pointed to the fact that last year the area recorded one of the highest numbers of road deaths in the last seven years [despite having the lower limit].
While almost half of France’s departments have chosen to reinstate a 90km/h limit, in many areas it only applies to a small percentage of the road network.
Only seven departments - Puy-de-Dôme, Aveyron, Allier, Corrèze, Creuse, Cantal and Ardèche - have introduced the 90km/h limit to all of the applicable roads. These areas tend to be rural and not densely populated.
The change in 2020 did not apply to Paris and its bordering departments (Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, and Seine-Saint-Denis) as no roads there fell under this category.
The Brittany newspaper Le Télégramme reported in January that the departments of Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes d’Armor have confirmed that they plan to keep the 80km/h.
In some departments, a decision on whether to change back is “under consideration”,
Other departments, such as Eure, Lot, and Moselle, have confirmed the 80km/h limit will be maintained across their departments.
In Calvados, a department of Normandy, the rule is changing again; after originally increasing the speed limit to 90km/h in 2020, the department is now reducing it to 80km/h.
The change in Calvados was due to take effect from February 1, 2023 after a ruling in December stated that the 400km of roads which had seen the maximum speed limit raised to 90km/h will return to an 80km/h limit.
You can see a map below with the speed limit for each department in France.