Driving For Members

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

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 5 Dec, 2022 Updated Mon 5 Dec 2022 16:55 CEST
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With the first snowfalls of the year hitting France, it's time to dig out your studded tyres and chains. Here's a look at the rules for French winter driving.


France's road rules are outlined in the government's road safety agency, Sécurité routière.

Here's a look at what the rules say about winter equipment for your car.

France introduced a new law, the Loi Montage II (mountain law II), in 2020 making winter tyres compulsory in certain areas.

Implementation was supposed to start in 2021, but has been delayed until the start of 2023. Until that date drivers who don't have the correct tyres or chains won't be fined, but police may pull you over and explain the new rules.


The Mountain 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 those 48 départements, local authorities pick which roads the new rules apply to. 

If you're entering an area where snow tyres or chains are compulsory you will see the sign on the left, while the one on the right tells you are leaving the enforcement zone.

The law runs from November 1st to March 31st.

Many other European countries also have rules on snow tyres so if you are driving to a European neighbour during winter time, you should check what the rules are in that respective country. The European Consumer Centre France has a handy map outlining the different rules in Europe. 

Winter tyres (pneus contact/pneus neige) - if you are using snow tyres or all weather tyres, these must be fitted to all four of your vehicles' wheels when you enter an area covered by the mountain law

Studded tyres (pneus cloutés/pneus à crampons) - These are tyres adapted to drive on icy roads. As a general rule, you may use studded tyres from November 11th until the end of March. Regional governments may adapt this date to local weather conditions, but they are not compulsory. 

Chains (chaînes) - if you use chains instead of winter tyres you only need these on two wheels of your car. They are allowed on all roads covered in snow, whatever the season.

Chaussettes à neige - 'snow socks' - these are similar to chains, and again are only required for two wheels on the car. 

You can find full detail on the winter rules here


French vocab

Tomber en panne - break down

Route barré - road closed

Déviation - diversion

Antigel - antifreeze

Route glacée - icy roads

Antipatinage - Traction control

Liquide de lave-glace spécialement adapté aux conditions hivernales - Windshield washer fluid adapted for winter conditions



The Local 2022/12/05 16:55

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