New winter tyre rules take effect on some French roads from November

Vehicles in 48 mountainous departments must be fitted with winter tyres or snow chains between November and March, under a law which aims to improve road safety and avoid hold-ups

From November 1, vehicles in 48 departments of mountainous regions will need to be fitted with winter tyres or snow chains
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The installation of winter tyres or snow chains will be mandatory for drivers in several mountainous regions of France from November 1, 2021.

Until this date, snow chains are only required on roads with B26 signs reading “équipements spéciaux obligatoires” (“special equipment is compulsory”) for snowy weather.

The new winter modification rules are detailed under the 2016 Loi Montagne 2 (“Mountain Law 2”), which has altered the highway code.

What does the law say?

The Loi Montagne 2, which came into effect in October 2020, rules that cars in the towns of some mountainous areas must be fitted with “special equipment” for the winter period between November 1 and March 31.

“The prefects of 48 departments situated in the mountains, whether in the Alps, Corsica, the Massif Central, the Jura, the Pyrenees or the Vosges Massif, must set out a list of the towns in which vehicles should be appropriately equipped for the winter,” the law adds.

Vehicles such as cars, camper vans and vans can either use four winter tyres or, failing this, carry fabric or metal snow chains in their boot.

So, people who only occasionally visit the mountains will not need to buy four new tyres as long as they have chains.

The winter tyre requirement does not apply to vehicles with studded tyres.

Coaches, buses and HGVs without trailers must also install winter tyres or chains, while HGVs with trailers must have chains on at least two of their driving wheels, even if they are also equipped with winter tyres.

A list of the affected departments can be found at the bottom of this article.

Why has this law been brought in?

The Loi Montagne 2 aims both to improve road safety and to avoid traffic hold-ups caused by vehicles getting stuck during snowy or icy periods.

How will I know which areas are affected?

This winter, two new signs will be appearing on mountainous roads. A B58 sign on the left will indicate entry into a zone where winter tyres or chains are needed, while a B59 sign on the right will indicate the end of the requirement.

How do I know whether I have the right tyres?

Winter tyres can be identified by a “M+S”, “M.S” or “M&S” marking on the sidewall. The “3PMSF” (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake) sign is also an industry standard.

Look out for the M+S symbol on your winter tyres Pic: YegoeVdo22 / Shutterstock

If you cannot see either of these symbols, the tyres are not suitable for winter use.

What if I do not have the correct tyres?

If you are driving through an area where winter tyres or snow chains are mandatory and are stopped by the authorities, you will not be able to continue your journey and may face a fine of €135.

Which departments are affected by these rules?

  • Ain
  • Allier
  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence
  • Hautes-Alpes
  • Alpes-Maritimes
  • Ardèche
  • Ariège
  • Aude
  • Aveyron
  • Cantal
  • Côte-d'Or
  • Creuse
  • Doubs
  • Drôme
  • Eure-et-Loir
  • Gard
  • Haute-Garonne
  • Hérault
  • Isère
  • Jura
  • Loire
  • Haute-Loire
  • Lot
  • Lozère
  • Meurthe-et-Moselle
  • Moselle
  • Nièvre
  • Puy-de-Dôme
  • Pyrénées-Atlantiques
  • Hautes-Pyrénées
  • Pyrénées-Orientales
  • Bas-Rhin
  • Haut-Rhin
  • Rhône
  • Haute-Saône
  • Saône-et-Loire
  • Savoie
  • Haute-Savoie
  • Tarn
  • Tarn-et-Garonne
  • Var
  • Vaucluse
  • Haute-Vienne
  • Vosges
  • Yonne
  • le Territoire de Belfort
  • Corse du Sud
  • Haute-Corse

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