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Grace period for fines over France’s new law on winter tyres

This winter sees the introduction of fines for drivers who do not comply with France's new laws requiring snow tyres to be fitted in mountainous areas of the country - although the transport ministry has now announced a grace period.

Grace period for fines over France's new law on winter tyres
Snow tires will be compulsory this winter. Photo: Jean Francois Monier/AFP

The Loi Montage II (mountain law II) was signed into effect in 2020 – it came into effect on November 1st 2021 but in the first year drivers were not fined, simply reminded of the new law by police.

Police were due to begin issuing fines from November 1st 2022, but the Transport ministry has now announced a further grace period, and said that fines will not begin to be issued until 2023.

The law requires drivers in certain areas to have snow tyres or chains fitted to their car between November 1st and March 31st.

In total 48 départements are covered by the law but some local authorities – including Corrèze, Nièvre and the island of Corsica – have elected not to use it. In others, it applies only in mountainous areas.

READ ALSO The rules for driving in France that you need to know about

The départements covered by the law are; Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire de Belfort.

Within the départements covered by the new law, local committees have created lists of roads and communes where it will be enforced – usually in mountainous areas – so for full details check your local préfecture.

The following road signs signal entry and exit of an area where winter tyres are compulsory.

You can also find a map HERE, showing each area covered in more detail.

READ ALSO Driving in France: What are the offences that earn you penalty points?

The law runs from November 1st to March 31st and applies to all private cars and vans, commercial vehicles and motorhomes, as well as buses and HGVs. Vehicles must have either winter or all-season tyres on all four wheels, or anti-skid devices such as chains on at least the two driving wheels.

The law has had a lengthy passage to enforcement, being passed in 2016 and then signed into effect in 2020, leading motoring organisations to be concerned that drivers will have forgotten the new requirement.

“The information has had time to be forgotten,” said Laurent Proust, the general manager of BestDrive. “Unfortunately, as of November 1st, the gendarmes will tell you, first, that no one is supposed to ignore the law, and, second, that you are liable to a fine of €135.”

Member comments

  1. Can someone tell me if this applies to tourists (or non-French registered vehicles)?

    We’re due to go skiing in February in the French Alps and are driving there from the UK.


    1. Surely if you are driving to the Alps your car should be suitably equipped, new law or no law and in the mountains this has been a requirement for years. But yes my reading of this is that just to drive out of Calais you need to. I drive to the south over the Massif Central which can snowy and icy in winter. I I always carry a set of snow socks in the boot and have done for years, take up little space, I carry a certificate in French certifying that they are legal for use on snow. Even better I now have Michelin Cross Climates.

      Best option is to replace your tyres with Michelin Cross Climates, then you are future proofed. Cross Climates perform better than summer tyres below about 8°C so are just the job for UK winters and good for Summer use as well.

      You also risk invalidating your insurance if you drive in France on illegal tyres, just like you would here driving on tyres with not enough tread. I can say that as a retired claims manager.

      1. Thanks Tony. I’ve never driven in France in the winter and it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I would probably have found about this when I booked the ferry in January so I’m indebted to the Local for the heads up now.

        I spoke to the garage who normally fit my tyres and they reckon January would have been too late but did confirm the requirement!

        I’m waiting for a quote from them at the moment but from what I can find out online it’s going to be in the region of £500 at least to replace all the tyres. Annoying that I had two of them replaced a year ago and have barely used the car since.

        I’ll investigate the snow socks and see if there are any other options.

        Thanks again.

          1. No worries, no offence taken. It was useful information.

            I’ve been in contact with a company who sell snow socks and they are going to investigate the new law and see if carrying snow socks (like you do) is a viable and legal alternative.

            I’ve only been to the Alps in summer. They are incredibly majestic and impressive but I find them almost too picture postcard perfect and quite claustrophobic in a strange way!

            I’m only going as part of a family group. Things we have to do…

  2. Surely the law states ‘winter tyres fitted’ or CARRYING snow chains/anti skid devices (which must be fitted if snow). As you can’t drive a vehicle with snow chains or snow socks when there is no snow!

  3. I’d like an answer to those comments too please, as I will be driving back from Herault to Calais in November.

  4. Hi William,

    we are very lucky and have an apartment in the French Alps. We spend 3 months there in winter. I now have snow tyres put on my car in November and in April I have them replaced with ordinary tyres.

    Prior to this I used these which go over my ordinary wheels/tyres. Really easy to use ie put on and take off. They also come with a certificate that they are fully legal and accepted by the Gendarmerie. The certificate is in French and also shows the French Law that they come under.

    Unfortunately you will need something the sock, chains or snow tyres. There is usually and area near the resort that is nit to far uo the mountain that is designated for drivers to put their snow socks/chains on. This will be a blue triangle with a tyre and snow chain around it.(Or at leats it is at the bottom of our resort in the Savoie region(73).

    Hope this helps and have a great holiday.

    Regards, Lou

  5. The Haute Vienne Prefecture info says that there are no communes in the Haute Vienne that are affected by this new law. So do we have to comply with it?

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Unscheduled stop: Baby born aboard high-speed train in France

Travellers on a high-speed rail service train in France experienced an unusual delay at a station at the weekend -- while a fellow passenger gave birth to a baby boy, local media reported.

Unscheduled stop: Baby born aboard high-speed train in France

The pregnant woman began to feel contractions shortly after taking her seat on the Paris-Strasbourg train, run by German rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

She alerted staff and the train was held at the Lorraine TGV station in the eastern French town of Louvigny to allow a medical team on board which then delivered the baby, the Republicain Lorrain said.

The other passengers were asked for patience during the birth of the baby boy, Felix, which took just over 80 minutes.

Felix was “a little premature”, the paper noted.

Mother and baby were taken to a nearby hospital by the local firefighter service, which reported later that both were doing well.

The Republicain Lorrain said that everybody was now wondering whether the German rail operator would send a birth gift, or grant its youngest passenger free trips on the network.

French public transport services have a history of providing such gifts. In 2018, after a baby was born on an RER Train in Paris, the child was offered a free Navigo pass until his 25th birthday.