• France's news in English
Baffling French road signs: Take the test
Photo: Pete Labrozzi/Flickr

Baffling French road signs: Take the test

Oliver Gee · 9 Jun 2015, 12:20

Published: 09 Jun 2015 12:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Jun 2015 12:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Driving in France can be confusing enough for foreigners - especially for the Brits and the Aussies who drive on the left-hand side of the road for a start. 
But according to a survey that was released this week by road safety group Prévention Routière, the French seem to have no idea what's going on either. 
Despite the fact that 71 percent felt confident that they could pass a written test based on the signs, one in two French people were unable to correctly identify even the most common of road signs.
So what's going wrong?
The problem could partly be blamed on the total of 700 different signs on the roads of France, a figure which is constantly rising as rules and laws are amended. 
On top of this, motorists in France aren't re-tested on the road signs as they get older (and the signs change).
Thomas Le Quellec the head of Prévention Routiére that motorists simply felt they had nothing else to learn once they'd been given a licence. 
Le Quellec told The Local that France makes up a new sign on average once a year, mainly due to changes in regulations.
Foreign drivers who are heading to France should take their time to do their research of French signs before departing Le Quellec added.
But he said drivers should not be too concerned. 
"For the British drivers in France the most complicated aspect is probably driving on the left," he said.
But perhaps most importantly of all, we think people might be confused because the signs are basically confusing. Take our quick test below and keep score - there are nine in total ranging from easy to absurd.

Let's start easy. What does this mean?

A) No drivers allowed who are aged 70 or older

B) End of the speed limit of the 70 kilometre zone

C) You are now leaving the 70th département of France

The answer was B. And that's as easy as it gets. What about the sign above?

A) Accident ahead that's blocking the road

B) Risk of driving off road and down a hill or crevice

C) Impossible hill inclination ahead

Yes, that was A, suggesting an accident ahead. Fair enough. What about the one above. Is it:

A) Toll booth payment for drivers with season tickets

B) Train station ahead for passengers with season tickets

C) Truck stop ahead for drivers with season tickets


It was A. OK, let's take it up a notch. What is this red circle above?

A) Residential area ahead, slow down

B) This sign does not exist

C) Traffic flow forbidden in both directions


We forgive anyone who said B, that the sign doesn't exist, but they're wrong. The answer is C. Don't ask why. What about this one (above) - what does it mean?

A) Conservation area ahead

B) Psychedelic tunnel ahead

C) Recycling station ahead

Boringly enough for any psychedelic tunnel enthusiasts, the answer is A, conservation area. But what about the one above with the mysterious acute-accented e (é)?

A) Stopover village ahead (Village étape, hence the é)

B) Art and craft fair on Sundays ahead (the é is just an arty pattern, nothing but a coincidence)

C) School ahead, slow down (Zone d'école, hence the é)


The answer was A, a village étape. Tricky, no. How about this one?

A) No crossing the river with wheeled vehicles, only boats and rafts

B) Access forbidden for vehicles carrying water pollutants

C) Approach riverside with caution, tide can rise quickly

The answer was B. How about this?

A) Parking forbidden from the 16th to the end of the month

B) No parking after 4.30pm

Story continues below…

C) Vehicles longer than 16.31 metres not allowed 

It was A. And lastly, what about this?

A) Detour for cyclists

B) Picnic area ahead

C) Emergency pullover area

Answer below picture. 

READ ALSO: How French motorists drive expats crazy

How French motorists drive expats crazy

Yes, the last one was C. An easy one to finish, perhaps. How did you go in the nine questions?

0-4 - Get off the roads and take public transport. 

5-7 - Well done, you're better than the average French driver. 

8-9 - We don't believe you - but congratulations! You are King (or Queen) of the French road.

Prévention Routière has a guide to driving in France along with a list of the rules on its website. You can view it by clicking here.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available