Legally, if you’re asking yourself what do I need to drive in France, it’s not a lot different than driving in any European country.
The obvious list is a:
· legal car (road worthy, tax and MOT);
· spare wheel, jack and nut spanner;
· decent tread on your tyres (legal minimum is 1.6mm, same as UK);
· valid car insurance policy with European cover;
· light correctors;
· GB sticker.
Before you leave the country, check out your car to ensure it complies with the accepted degree of roadworthiness (all production cars are standard issue, so the only problem might arise with a say a kit car, or a heavily converted car) and that you do indeed have a spare wheel, jack and spanner. This is a genuine threesome. It’s pointless having a spare wheel and jack, but no spanner, and so on. Also, before you set off, do say to yourself, can I change a wheel? Are you able to physically change a wheel, or should you call the breakdown service to do it for you?
It’s no point late at night, in the pouring rain, on a deserted stretch of road, trying to experiment with wheel changing techniques. Before you set off, change a wheel in your drive. It’s like a dress rehearsal and it’s best to do it as a dry run before you might have to do it in a pressure situation.
Check out your types. When driving in France, tyre tread is as important as in the UK and for every tyre that isn’t up to scratch (at least 1.6mm tread), you could be fined 1,000€. And just check the spare as well. If it’s one of the most ridiculous narrow emergency spares that tight-fisted manufacturers nowadays insist on using, it should be okay, because they are designed to really get you from the puncture site, to the garage, and so get little use.
Most insurance companies give you an automatic Green Card these days, which gives you European cover in the designated list of countries for 90 days. Before you set off, check just what you are covered for though, as policies differ and the level of cover can also differ. Always read the small print.
Beam correctors are essential. UK cars drive on the left, so there low beams are directed into the left had curb, so as not to blind oncoming drivers. Put the car in the right hand lane and the low beam hits oncoming drivers. Headlight beam reflectors change the direction of the beam to the right hand curb, making the car safe to use in the dark, or at times of low visibility.
Many UK number plates now have a ‘GB’ on the left-hand side; if yours does not, slap a sticker on the back of the car in a visible place.
Having good European breakdown cover is not a legal requirement, but you’d be mad to travel without it. A good place to get this and all the other essentials you will need is the AA.
In France, it is the law to have in your car a:
· warning triangle;
· hi-visibility (yellow) jacket for you and one other (get ones for all your passengers as well to be on the safe side);
Warning triangles are mostly standard throughout Europe. It is a requirement that if you breakdown
It is also a good idea to carry a number of other items and these are listed in the eBook French Roads: A Guide. This eBook continues to discuss the merits of key items which you should have in the car when travelling to France, as well as more thoughts on some of the above necessary items.