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Am I allowed to wash my car on the street in front of my French flat?

Reader’s neighbour said this is not allowed - we check out the rules

We look at what the law says on washing cars out on the street outside one’s house or flat Pic: Kozak_studio / Shutterstock

Reader Question: My neighbour told me that I can not legally wash my car on the public street just in front of my flat, is this true? Where do they expect me to wash it then? Please enlighten me! 

People can often be seen washing their cars on the street outside their houses or flats, but this practice is actually forbidden by Article 99-3 of the Réglement sanitaire départemental related to the cleanliness of public spaces. 

“Washing cars is forbidden on public roads, private roads open to public traffic, riverbanks, ports and quays, as well as in parks and public gardens,” the law states. 

This is in order to avoid wastewater from soaking into the ground, where it could pollute the soil with oils and hydrocarbons. 

Those who fail to respect the law on washing their cars could, in theory, face a fine of €450 - although we have not heard of any fines being issued for this from reader feedback. If it is proven that throwing away the waste water causes pollution, the person responsible risks a €75,000 fine and a two-year prison sentence. 

You are, of course, allowed to wash your car on your driveway or in your garden. If you live in a copropriété with a shared outdoor space, it may be worth checking with your syndic whether car washing is allowed. 

You can also wash your car on the street if you do not use water to do so. 

In France, you can also wash your car yourself at one of the many self-service car wash centres, which use recycled wastewater for the purpose. 

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