The Rules, Regulations and Laws for Motorcycling in France

How to stay safe and enjoy your motorbiking holiday in France

So you’ve booked your stay at 3Bs Biking and have planned your trip. You’re excited to be riding in foreign lands. But if you’re not aware of the motorcycling laws in France, biker beware! Take a look below for what we think you need to know.

Speed Limits

  • Limits are generally 50kph (31mph) in town and 110kph (69mph) on motorways unless it’s not raining when it may be 130kph (80mph). The national speed limit on other roads is 80kph (50mph), except dual carriageways with a solid divide when it is 90kph (55mph).
  • The 50kph limit in towns/villages is not signed, you will just see a town/village name sign (white with a red border). That means it’s a 50 – don’t get caught out! The 50 limit ends when you see the same sign with a black diagonal line through it. There is quite often a short 70kph (44mph) stretch before you get to the 50kph zone and after; this is signed
  • If you get caught going REALLY fast, your licence may be confiscated. That tends to put a real dampener on your holiday as you won’t be able to continue on your bike….. Be aware of the motorcycling laws in France and enjoy your holiday.

PLEASE NOTE: VERY IMPORTANT! The national speed limit was reduced to 80kph on single carriageway roads. It was always still 90kph on dual carriageways with a solid divide. However, following protests, the French government then decided to let each region decide whether it should be 80kph or 90kph!
Some departments are refusing to spend money on changing their road signs, so who knows what the limits are! Clear as mud…..

50kph limit start
50kph limit start
End of 50kph limit
End of 50kph limit

Speed Cameras

  • There are fixed speed cameras but there is by law always a warning sign about 500m before it so keep your eyes peeled for those.
  • Mobile units will often be positioned coming into towns and they can be in unmarked cars (sneaky!). Beware as the French police can get your details from DVLA and pursue you for any fixed camera fines once you’re back in Blighty.
  • You are not allowed to use speed detection devices in France but most Sat Nav manufacturers are now wise to this and their alerts just show that there is a fixed speed camera in the vicinity – this is allowed.
Fixed speed camera sign
Fixed speed camera sign

Motorcycle Kit

  • It is a legal requirement to wear CE approved gloves on a motorcycle.
  • It is also law that you must have reflective stickers on your helmet but no one knows anyone who has been nicked for not having this.
  • The law concerning breathalysers remains but the fine for not having them has been removed (this was easier to do than repealing the law, they recognised it was a rubbish law) so don’t bother carrying them.
  • You must by law carry a hi-viz vest and use it if you breakdown. Failure to carry one is an €11 fine but failure to use one when broken down by the side of the road can be €135. If you have a pillion, they also need to have one. Oh and they must be accessible when you’re on the bike….bizarre!
  • If you wear glasses to ride you must have a spare pair.

Requirements

  • You must carry your original documents with you at all times on your bike. This includes your registration document (V5), your insurance and your driving licence. 
  • There is no MOT for bikes in France so French police are unlikely to ask for it but your bike must have a valid UK MOT.
  • A word of warning about only taking copies of documents – if you get nicked, copies won’t suffice and you will have to return to the UK for originals, at your cost. Now that will put a real downer on your holiday.
  • You do NOT need to carry a warning triangle on a motorcycle in France.
  • You must ride with your headlights on, even in daytime. Note: spare bulbs are not a requirement on a motorbike but if you have a failed light you won’t be able to continue without fixing it if you are stopped….could be troublesome???
  • At a stop sign, you MUST stop and put at least one foot down but 2 to be on the safe side. The French police take great delight in nicking unsuspecting British bikers for this offence.
  • And see below about GB stickers! (this is valid until at least 30/12/20 – who knows beyond that but we will update this advice when we do)
eu numberplate

Recommendations

  • European breakdown cover takes away a lot of worries but make sure it covers repatriation of your bike in the event of an accident. Some policies will only repatriate bikes of a higher value.
  • Don’t forget your EHIC card in case you fall ill or are injured.
  • However we strongly recommend additional motorcycle travel specific insurance to cover the gap. The equivalent of the French health service only covers about 70% of the cost with your EHIC card, the rest is down to you if you don’t have additional insurance. And if you’re seriously injured, your EHIC won’t get you home!

Priorite a droite

Many people think this weird French law doesn’t exist any more. IT DOES!   Particularly in rural areas.

So basically the vehicle emerging from the minor road to your right might have the right of way. There are a variety of signs telling you this. However, in addition, many of the older generation of French drivers think it still applies everywhere….so biker beware! If there’s a car to your right, expect it to pull out…

priority
You have priority on the main road
give way to right
You do NOT have priority! Give way to the right.
give way
You do not have priority - give way to right!

Now you have the knowledge of the motorcycling laws in France to fully enjoy your holiday!

If you want to know more about our road tours in France then just click here.

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