Driving in France kit
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 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. You can be fined up to EUR135 for not having these.
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. Not having adapted your headlights cost result in a fine of up to EUR90.
Spare bulbs should be carried in case of light 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! Being pulled over due to defective lights could cost up to EUR80 in fines.
Hazard warning triangle
France 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 £7.50 currently - better than a EUR135 fine!
First aid kit
A first aid kit is recommended to be carried in your vehicle whether driving domestically or abroad.
A small fire extinguisher, although not a legal requirement in France, 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.
After Brexit, UK registered vehicles will need a white GB sticker even if the vehicle has the GB marking within the number plate. If you are worried about adhesive stickers damaging your vehicle, the AA 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.
If you wear glasses when driving, ensure you take a second pair in case you lose or damage your main pair.
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.
If your satnav can show French camera locations then you must at least disable camera alerts before crossing the channel. For inbuilt satnav systems, it's best to speak to your car manufacturer for advice.
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 driving license, breakdown cover details, registration details, and green card/insurance policy.