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Driving in France, French Roads & Motorways

Wine tour France

Driving in France, French roads and motorways - how do you cope? What are they really like? What does it cost?

We believe that the only real way top see the vineyards and the countryside is to have a car.
An often asked question is how do you cope with the driving? If you come from a right - hand drive country driving on the left does require a more focused and attentive driving style - actually you maybe a “better” driver when in France.
Driving a car from the UK is possible and acceptable (headlights require changes) but found it more difficult and would not recommend the practise. In addition we recommend that UK and other right-hand drive country residents use an automatic - it can be difficult trying to find the gear shift on the "wrong side" in a narrow village road! For both driving pleasure and safety a GPS unit is the answer - we use a TomTom brand.

Eurodrive versus Car hire or rentals

Renault Eurodrive allows you to enjoy your wine tour in a brand new Renault of your choice and we recommend that visitors from countries outside the EU and holidaying in France and other European countries for more than 3 weeks obtain one in preference to a rental car. You can go where you want, when you want, in comfort and style without worries or hassles.

Ideal for visitors from Canada and USA, and any country outside the EU.

From a range from compacts to people movers and a few luxury models thrown in our current recommendation for 2 to 4 adults or a family is the 2010 Renault Scenic 1.9 GPS diesel with 130bhp of power and GPS.


There are three main levels of roads in France:
Local and regional roads that link villages and towns. Be warned what looks like a comparatively short journey could turn out to a lengthy wander through small villages on narrow roads and mountain passes. Great if you want to see the real France!

The motorways a free highways that offer good driving but they may go through towns and cities where you can encounter delays and congestion. You may also get lost!

The Autoroutes are toll motorways and a real pleasure to drive on. You can either pay by cash or use your credit card. The tolls are not high and more than compensate in save time and energy. They are a credit to French engineering being designed and constructed in a way that most countries would be envious of. There are frequent rest areas and service stations along the way that are sign-posted well in advance. Note some of the rest areas vary in facilities and standards. With spped limits of 130 KPH you can certainly travel long distances in a comparatively short time, but do take rest breaks every couple of hours.

Of course there is congestion at times and dates to avoid if you can would be the beginning and end of August when many French families take a month long holiday. Other weeks to avoid if possible at the ones nearest July 14th and August 15th.


Seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers. Crash helmets must be worn for all forms of motorbike travel.

Speed limits

Unless otherwise indicated the speed limit in urban areas is 50 kph in built up areas, 90 kph on other roads, (80 in the rain) and 130 kph on autoroutes (110 in the rain). Speeding on the autoroutes can result in an automatic booth to booth fine.

Road signage

Excellent road signage is through out the country. In towns or villages head for the “Tour Directions” - a central point that has a group of road direction signs. Motorways have both early warning and well marked off ramp BUT if you are on an autoroute bear in mind that the next off ramp exit maybe 50 kilometres further on. Town and local signage is standardised and attractive.


Carry your insurance, car log book and your driving license with you at all times whilst driving. It is an offence to not to do so.

When wine tasting

It is an offence to drive with more than 0.5 g of alcohol per litre of blood. (About two glasses of wine). We are careful never to “drink” wine when visiting vineyards but rather taste and spit out.

Better still, taste the wines and buy a bottle or two to enjoy when you get home to your gite.


renault eurodrive

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