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

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Winter tyres and snow chains: What are the rules in France?
People chaining up their cars on their way up to the French Alps. Photo: AFP
16:12 CET+01:00
As the first major snowfall of the season hits France, we explain what the rules are for drivers in the country and what mandatory safety measures are in place.

The heavy snowfall has caused chaos on French roads, with dozens of routes blocked and many more restricted to only smaller vehicles.

READ ALSO: Heavy snow in south-east France leaves one dead, scores of roads blocked and 300,000 homes without power 

So now that winter is well and truly here, what are the rules regarding winter tyres in France?

We’ve broken down the French government's road safety agency, Sécurité routière, for you: 

Winter tyres (pneus contact/pneus eige).

Except in special, indicated cases, winter tyres are not required in France. This is contrary to many other European countries where having winter tyres is mandated by law. So if you are driving off on holiday, especially to a northern neighbour, you check what the rules are in that respective country. The European Consumer Centre France has a handy map outlining the different rules in Europe.

Studded tyres (pneus cloutés/pneus à crampons)

These are tyres especially adapted to drive on icy roads.

As a general rule, you may use studded tyres from November 11th until the last Sunday of March the following year (March 29th 2020). Regional governments may adapt this date to local weather conditions but they are not compulsory. 

Chains (chaînes)

They are allowed on all roads covered in snow, whatever the season. Roads marked with B26 signs require the use of chains on at least two of your car’s wheels. There are exceptions when regular winter tyres are allowed on B26 roads, but in those cases the signs will explicitly indicate it. If it's not indicated, you're better off sticking to chains.

You can find out more about the winter rules here.

 

French vocab

Tomber en panne - broken 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

Pour éviter les risques de dérapages, ne freinez pas au dernier momentDon't hit the brakes at the very last minute to avoid skidding

 

 

 
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