How French motorists drive you crazy

The Local's readers share their ideas for how France should crack down on its rogue motorists (not to mention those rogue British drivers...).

When we asked for French drivers' worst habits on our Twitter and Facebook channels, one reader even said there weren't enough Twitter characters to list them all. 

Here's a selection of the measures they would like to see France implement in order to improve road safety.
Punish tailgating (or driving up your backside in the UK)
This was by far the most repeated response we got. Mike Walker on Twitter said that France's tailgaters “infuriate” him. He says that “you can sometimes see a line of cars that almost appear to be conjoined”.

Photo: Olivier Jeannin/Flickr

Tell them to stick to their side of the road 
Facebook fan Rhys Bowen takes issue with drivers not sticking to their lanes. “The Gendarmes like to enforce speed limits but speeding is not the real problem. It's not keeping to their own side of the road,” he said, before adding that they're not much good at giving way to pedestrians either. 

Photo: Piano Piano!/Flickr

Make scooter riders behave
Theresa Hall on Facebook says that both motorcyclists and scooter riders seem to “drive anywhere they want”. And it appears to be true, especially in Paris, if our reader response is anything to go by. “Driving in Paris is not for the timid,” Theresa concludes.

Sometimes some drivers seem to forget that parking spaces do exist. Photo: Loïc/Flickr

Learn pedestrian crossing etiquette
This was a gripe for numerous readers.
It's not that hard, motorists. If the light is red, then stop. No sneaking through at the last minute either, please and maybe they can stop once in a while at a pedestrian crossing. Or at least slow down.
Pedestrians in France have to be ultra careful on the streets just to get from A to B. The flip side is that if the pedestrians aren't assertive, they might miss their chance, leaving some to jump the gun and cross the road when the light's red for them too. Yes, the pedestrian crossings are a minefield in the bigger cities in France. You've been warned. 

The Concorde Square. Photo: WiLPrZ/Flickr

Park in parking places
This was another common response. Shanon Lamonds Michelle summed up the problem: “They park where they please.”
The government announced this week that rules would be tweaked slightly with parking, saying that it will now be illegal for cars to park within five metres of a pedestrian crossing. 

This car's driver has apparently lost his sense of direction. Photo: Georg Sander/Flickr

Cut the beeping
The Local's own editor and frequent pedestrian Ben McPartland chimed in on this one. “The reaction times of some Parisian motorists are unbelievable. Within a split second of the traffic light going green, they are on their horns, honking the car at the front.”
Stop putting pedestrians in danger
Reader Geoff Dupuy-Holder has this to say about French drivers in “his satirical take on the alternative rules of La Route”: “If you pass a pedestrian, dog-walker, jogger, wheelchair user, old person or a young mother pushing a pram, do not slow down. Drive as close and as fast as possible, preferably while glaring out of the window at the thoughtless person who has dared to invade the sacred space of your road.”
Outlaw risky overtaking
Twitter user Tilou says that the overtaking manoevres of French motorist “leave much to be desired”. Jehanne Collard, a lawyer for victims of road accidents in France and an author of a book of the subject backs up Tilou's complaint.

“There is a real deterioration in terms of the behavior on the road. Fatal accidents often involving cyclists, pedestrians and scooter drivers are related to excessive speeds and risk-taking, such as overtaking blind,” she told Le Figaro.

Photo: Andrew Gustar/Flickr

UK rogue drivers!
It wasn't only the French drivers who were under attack. Writing on Facebook Nigel Hay said that the French government should crack down on all the UK registered cars “running about France” without the necessary MOTs or valid insurance. “There are Brit cars here that have been untaxed and still registered in the UK for 15 years now – so where do all the unpaid fines go to?” he asked.

Photo: Mikey/Flickr
Another version of this story was published in 2015
For members


The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

From petrol discounts and motorway tolls to low-emission zones and help to buy a greener car, here’s what’s changing for motorists in France in the next 12 months.

The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

Petrol prices 

The French government’s €0.10 per litre discount on petrol and diesel ends on January 1st, and TotalEnergies’ discount-match at its fuel stations also finishes.

Motorists may be able to look forward to some help from the supermarket chain E.Leclerc, which also owns several petrol stations across France, after the head of the chain E.Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, told BFM Politique on December 18th that the company would “make a gesture” to help motorists in France with rising fuel prices, but he did not provide any further details.

But the blanket discount will be replaced by targeted assistance for households on lower incomes who rely on their vehicles for work, with about 10 million workers expected to receive a one-off payment of €100.

To apply for the aid, you will need to register your details on the tax website. 

READ ALSO Who will get France’s €100 fuel hand-out and how?


The French government has unveiled a plan to encourage carpooling on Tuesday, offering drivers who register on carpooling platforms a benefit of €100.

Drivers will be able to register starting on January 1st, and the payment of €100 will be done in instalments – with a lump sum of “at least” €25 upon registration and then the remaining amount distributed over the course of 10 carpool journeys.

“Carpooling is a very effective lever for reducing our country’s fuel consumption in a sustainable way. It is good for the climate and good for the purchasing power of the French,” French environment minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told Huffpost.

READ ALSO French government announces €100 payment for those joining carpooling platforms

Motorway tolls

From February, motorway toll fees will rise by an average of 4.75 percent, after rising 2 percent in 2022.

The Transport Ministry pointed out that the 4.75 percent toll increase – announced in October – is “markedly lower” than France’s inflation rate of 6.33 percent. 

On some networks, electric vehicles will benefit from a five percent discount, while regular users – who make a minimum of 10 return journeys a month on the same route – may be eligible for a discount of 40 percent, up from the current 30 percent. Check with the motorway operator for details.

READ ALSO Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

Breakdown fees

No one wants to break down on the motorway, but if you do, you probably want to know how much getting your vehicle fixed will cost. The annual government-set charges are clear.

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee was to rise €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

READ ALSO French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Extra help to buy electric vehicles

French president Emmanuel Macron announced in October an increase in the financial aid available for anyone who trades in a combustion engine car for an electric one from January 2023.

In a partial reversal on previous plans, under which the ecological bonus for trading in an older car for an electric model was set to fall, Macron said: “Because we want to make the electric car accessible to everyone, we are going to increase the ecological bonus from €6,000 to €7,000 for half of [France’s] households.” 

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France

Electric car charge points

Since October 1st, electric vehicles parked in front of a public charging station must be connected and charging – drivers cannot simply use them as an extra parking space. Anyone who ignores the rule risks a fine of €58.

Crit’Air sticker extension and more fines for polluting vehicles

France’s environment minister announced in October a major extension of the city low-emission zones controlled by Crit’Air stickers, plus an increase in fines up to a maximum of €750. 

Between 2023 and 2025, 43 more French cities will create low-emission zones, on top of the 11 that already have them.

READ MORE: Crit’Air: Drivers face €750 fines in France’s new low-emission zones

The Crit’Air system requires all motorists – including the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles – going to any of the low-emission zones to get a sticker for their vehicle. The sticker assigns the vehicle a number from 0 (all electric vehicles) to 5 (the most polluting).

Some low emission zones will begin gradually banning more polluting cars. Paris, for instance, intends to ban Crit’Air 3 vehicles in July 2023, a move held back from July 2022.

READ ALSO Driving in France: How the Crit’Air vehicle sticker system works

Winter tyres

France introduced a law, the Loi Montage II (mountain law II), in 2020 making winter tyres, chains or socks compulsory in certain areas, which will finally come into effect in 2023.

The law makes either snow tyres, all-weather tyres or chains compulsory in 48 of France’s 96 mainland départements – generally those areas which are mountainous, with local authorities in those départements responsible for deciding where such rules will be applied.

READ ALSO Winter tyres and snow chains: What are the rules in France?


Drivers in France may not have to worry about the little green stickers that they attach to their windscreen (windshield) soon, after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced plans to scrap them in favour of a digitalised system set to start in 2023.

The goal, according to the finance minister, is to simplify the process for drivers and reduce costs.

French car insurers, like France Assureurs, have been pushing for the piece of paper to be scrapped for some time.

READ ALSO France announces plan to scrap vehicle insurance windscreen stickers

Roadworthiness test for motorcycles

After some back and forth, the French council of the state decided in October that motorcycles (two-wheeled vehicles) would also need to comply with “roadworthiness” testing starting January 1st, 2023. This is part of a decree passed by the French government in August 2021, and it specifically concerns two-wheeled vehicles registered to dates prior to 2016. The council of the state specified that the vehicles concerned are “motor vehicles with two, three or four wheels with a cylinder capacity of more than 125 cm3.” As of December 2022, the details regarding how this plan will be implemented were not yet available, so it is possible enforcement measures will be staggered, according to reporting by Auto-Moto.