Driving in France - requirements and the French plods

#1
I will be off to France for a holiday later this year. I have been taking my car across to the Continent every now and then since 2003 without any problems (in addition to driving in Europe while I was still in the army). I have never had any problems with the vehicle requirements (beam converters etc) or been stopped by the French police.

The only difference this year is that I will have a hire car (VW Caddy Maxi Life 7 seater) rather than taking my own car.

The hire company have told me that the car will be supplied with all the relevant paperwork, insurance and breakdown docs etc and a full continental driving kit except for the headlight beam converters and the breathalyser kit. We have been hiring our business vans from this company for a while now and their service has been exceptional compared to other companies we have used over the years so I have no reason to expect any problems with them.

I have always used the beam converters, although I tend to avoid driving at night in France as I prefer to spend the evenings enjoying the food and wine rather than driving. However, a quick trawl on t'web gives conflicting views on whether or not to bother with things like the beam converters, breathalysers etc.

As far as I understand it if you don't use the beam converters you may find that:
1. The French plods can apply an on the spot fine (and probably start looking closer at the rest of the vehicle).
2. In the event of an accident it may invalidate the insurance (if required to use headlights in rain, tunnels etc)

The other thing I have seen on the web is that Brits driving in France claim either:

1. No problems with the French police, hardly even see them in the rural areas etc etc
2. French plods don't like Brits, stopping cars with GB plates, on the spot fines etc etc

I'm inclined to think that the French police probably have better things to do than harass British drivers and that the ones who complain about being stopped probably did something to catch the Plod's eye first. However, anyone got any relevant experience or knowledge in this particular subject. I curious to find out whether any arrsers have had problems driving in France (other than with French drivers that is ;-) )...
 
#2
Last time I got stopped they were only interested if I had a high vis vest (but I was on a bike) and that was just a routine check at a toll. I always take the headlight adjusters with me and always forget to fit them. Maybe that's why I'm always getting flashed at night?
 
#3
You definitely need a breathalyser, enough hi-vis jackets for all on board etc. Easy to Google and Ebay sell it all cheap as chips.

I now find French driving to be way better than ours in the UK, since their huge crackdown on speed and driving offences generally. There is no comparison to how they used to be (though I suspect Sunday afternoon drunk drivers still plod along remote country roads).
 
#4
You definitely need a breathalyser, enough hi-vis jackets for all on board etc. Easy to Google and Ebay sell it all cheap as chips.

I now find French driving to be way better than ours in the UK, since their huge crackdown on speed and driving offences generally. There is no comparison to how they used to be (though I suspect Sunday afternoon drunk drivers still plod along remote country roads).
Agree, and also make sure you have the correct CRIT'Air permit if you're entering Paris, Lille or any of the other regulated emission zones.

Applying for your certificate | Air Quality Certificate Service - Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire

Go to the French environment ministry's website to apply – don't buy from anywhere else as some non-official sites are selling these stickers at vastly inflated prices. This is the ONLY way to apply if your vehicle is registered in the UK – you can't get a sticker once you're in France.
 
#5
I have a breathalyser kit and will be picking up some beam deflectors for the vehicle - the cost of these is peanuts compared to what I will be spending on the holiday :eek:

Visivests are all sorted. I have everything else that is required.
 
#6
You also have to have spare bulbs in the car.
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Get what you need and an IRL sticker. Standard procedure. GB stickers to get us of the island into and out of GB. Soon as we hit France IRL stickers on.
Reversed on the way back.
 
#11
nobody has mentioned driving in reverse or white flags, how terribly grown up of most of you.
 
#15
#16
#17


Read my earlier posts you muppet - I've been driving around in Europe in my own car for 15 years. It might give you a clue that I actually have the necessary kit...
You want me to read AND write. Its like being in a goolag this is. Too many words.
 
#18
Fire extinguisher, a must have according to some. I always have one.

Spent last 18 years driving around Europe and stopped 3 times by french plod, twice on Swiss border they wanted a nosy around the the Defender, what was I carrying etc and once when the wife stalled the Defender whilst trying to swat wasp, this resulted in a fine.
 
#19
The check list is accurate.
As you can probably imagine from my avatar, we drive over to France fairly often.
I would suggest two items that are not mandatory, but useful.
1) A first-aid kit - as was/is required for driving in Germany;
2) If you plan to be driving on mountain roads, over passes, etc, take a second red triangle - one forrard, one aft, in the event of an incident on a windy (as in sinuous) road.
Have fun.
 
#20
Ah.... thread back on track ;-)
 

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