Five things they do not tell you about driving in France

From parking etiquette to flashing headlights - we look at the unofficial French rules of the road

Just keep your hand on the horn and you will be fine
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1. Le code

Teenagers sweat blood learning the code de la route to pass the theory test, which allows them to take their practical driving test.

It is fiendishly tricky and around 40% of applicants need two goes or more to pass it.

Having successfully done so, they apparently forget it completely.

Mon Dieu!

Read more: Can I register a new car in France with a foreign licence?

2. Le clignotant

Although le code firmly states that the fine for failing to use indicators is €35, and there are constant complaints about other drivers not indicating before turning, a fair number of French drivers have not discovered how to use their car’s indicators.

You just keep your hand on the horn.

C’est comme ça!

Read more: France allows driving fines to be paid in instalments

3. La vitesse

French drivers warn each other about police checks by flashing their lights at oncoming cars.

However, bear in mind that the same signal could also be a warning about a broken-down car, roadworks or a large tractor just round the corner.

So if someone flashes, slow down, even if you are not speeding.

Quelle gentillesse!

Read more: How to keep track of changing speed limits on French secondary roads

4. Le parking

In small provincial market towns, if the car in front of you suddenly stops or you find someone is double-parked and has blocked you in, just toot the horn once rather than continuously.

They will just be picking up the dry cleaning, buying a baguette, posting a letter, or finishing a petit rouge.

Il faut patienter!

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

5. L’alcool

France used to have a reputation for being relaxed about drink-driving, but those days are over.

Now, the government encourages a so-called ‘Sam’ to stay sober in order to drive everyone home.

Why Sam and not something more French, such as Auguste?

It is an acronym for Sans Accident Mortel.


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