Baffling French road signs: Take the test

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Oliver Gee - [email protected]
Baffling French road signs: Take the test
Photo: Pete Labrozzi/Flickr

As a new survey has revealed that one in two French people can't identify the meaning of common road signs, we've collected the most confusing signs from the roads around France to see whether you can understand them.


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

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.


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Anonymous 2022/04/30 19:34
the Prevention Routiere link does not work try

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