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Can you leave your car parked on the street in France?

If there is free, on-street parking near your holiday destination in France, it can be tempting to leave your car there for the duration of your stay. But is this allowed?

In France you are not allowed to leave your car parked in the street for more than seven days without moving it Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

Reader question: We have no parking at, or in front of, our second home in France, so when we visit we usually leave the car on another street with free parking for the duration of our stay and get around on foot. Do we risk a fine for doing this? 

Read more: Can I buy a car in France to use when I visit my second home

Apart from the obvious risks involved in leaving a car for several days where you cannot keep an eye on it and other people can see that it is rarely moved, you might inadvertently be breaking the Code de la route

In France, when a car remains parked in the same spot in the street for more than seven days, it is considered stationnement abusif (excessive use of a parking space). 

This time limit can even be reduced to 24 hours in areas where the town hall has passed a byelaw on this because there is a severe lack of parking spaces. 

This applies even for on-street parking in areas where it is free, as well as to public car parks. 

Those caught breaking the rules receive a €35 fine and can have their car impounded (and must pay the fees associated with this as well). 

If you are only staying for a short period of time, this is not likely to be a problem. 

In practice, once a car is believed to have been parked for a long time, authorities will often paint a line going from the tyre to the ground, and then wait at least seven more days before calling the tow truck. 

In order to avoid any problems, though, your best bet would be to move the vehicle to a different spot at least once a week. 

There is more risk for those who leave their car in a public space when they return to their main home due to the significantly longer timeframe.

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