Ensure that your are prepared for driving in France with our car checklist. Our list of equipment and documentation below has been collated from frequent France day trippers. Many of these items are required by law when driving in certain European countries, so we recommend you ensure you are equipped with all these items.
What to take to France
Reflective jacketReflective jackets are now required by law when driving in France (and other European countries) in case of breakdown. Common sense would suggest that you take one for each occupant in your vehicle. These must also be carried in your car rather than in the boot, as you must wear one as soon as exiting the car in emergency situations. The AA offer a family high visibility vest pack , with vests which conform to the safety requirements of the European Standard EN 471 and exceed the requirements for EN 1150 regarding high visibilty clothing for children.
When driving on the right abroad, you must adapt your headlights to ensure that you do not dazzle oncoming drivers. These should be fitted as soon as you arrive on the Continent, and taken off as soon as you return to England. These can be much more expensive when purchased on the Ferry or at the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle terminal, but are great value at £4.99 at Amazon. These adaptors are suitable for most vehicles and come with an easy guide on how to fit them to your specific car. Even when driving in France during the summer months, these are required for use in poor weather.
Spare bulbs should be carried in case of headlight failure. To find the correct bulb kit for your vehicle, refer to your owner's handbook. We recomment the AA Compact Universal Bulb Kit which is a small and light bulb kit, leaving you with more room for shopping!
Hazard warning triangle
France also requires by law that you carry a hazard warning triangle in your car. In case of emergencies this can be placed further down the road to warn other drivers of your presence. If you are travelling further abroad - to Spain - two warning triangles are compulsory. Amazon offer an AA warning triangle for just £7.76 currently.
First aid kit
A first aid kit is recommended to be carried whilst driving abroad.
A small fire extinguisher is also of benefit for use in emergency situations. However, remember not to put yourself at risk whilst attempting to extinguish any road side fire, and always call the emergency services.
UK registered vehicles displaying European plates (the E.U flag above the national identifier) do not require a GB sticker. Otherwise you must fix a GB sticker to the rear of your vehicle. If you are worried about adhesive stickers damaging your vehicle, Halfords offer a magnetic GB sticker, which is easy to install and remove, for just £4.99.
From July 2012, the French government stipulated that all vehicles and motorcycles should carry a NF approved breathalyser. Failure to comply would result in a fine of 11 EUR. The following year they postponed the fine for not carrying one. Theoretically you are still required to carry one when driving in France (and we recommend you carry two) - but there is no current law demanding a fine for not doing so.
Car documentation and passports
What not to take to France
Do NOT take a radar or speed trap detector with you. Being in posession of one in your car, even when deactivated, is a criminal offence in France.
Things to check
- Check your oil and water levels before your trip, and ensure you carry spare supplies.
- Check your tyre pressure levels before travelling to the Continent. Also ensure your spare tyre is in good condition and that you have a tyre pressure guage and car jack with you.
- Remember to take all your car documents, including your breakdown cover details, registration details, and insurance policy.