There you are, driving full speed to your favorite holiday destination. Suddenly, the name of the town is no longer on road signs. Destination road signs are not always perfect in France, but with a good road map nobody has to get lost. Sometimes, the French even know there weaknesses. In Avignon it's easy to take the wrong road and drive back on the bridge you just left. Luckily, there's a handy sign: Retour Avignon. Never seen that in the Netherlands, nor elsewhere in Europe.|
Blue signs indicate the road to and directions on motorways (US: highways). If these motorways are toll roads, that's indicated by the word Peage. By the way, at the site of the French Motorways, you can calculate the amount you'll have to pay.
Plenty of signs along French roads.
Green signs indicate alternative national roads, handy in case of traffic jams or if you just don't like to pay. On smaller roads, destinations are indicated by whute signs with black letters.
Hint: at the left site of the road you see a sign indicating you should take a right turn. At the right site of the road, you see a sign suggesting to go left. According to a French logic, you go straight on between the signs...
Tolls on motorways can always be paid cash or by credit-card. They do not accept foreign bank-cards that are not credit-cards (you may use them at some fuel stations and in supermarkets). Using a credit-card gives the possibility to use special toll gates with far less waiting time (if your car and caravan are less than two metres). Apart from that, there's an electronic account called Liber-t. Since you must invest in this card to save money on the log run and you need a French bank account, this card is of no interest to foreign tourists.
There are plenty good road maps. If you want to drive motorways and nationale roads, the red Michelin-map (national, south or north) are just fine. For exploring a region by car, I suggest the yellow Michelin-maps (scale 1:200.000). The traditional yellow series (numbers 54 till 86) is replaced by a new yellow series: same scale, larger area. Michelin also offers a new series of maps at a scale of 1:150.000, but this series does not seem to give more information.
The old yellow Michelin maps used to be much cheaper in France than abroad (at least Holland). Since the introduction of the new series, there's few or no price difference left. So, buy them at home and enjoy your holidays in advance.
Bikers and hikers do need more detailed information. They will prefer the more expensive maps by IGN.
By the end of 2005, two major pieces were added to the A29 from Rouen to the south west of France. Too bad, there's still no bypass at Rouen. There won't be any bypass for several years.
In 2005, large parts of the A28 have been opened, making it possible to drive from Belgium to the southwest whithout seeing the Paris traffic jams. Also, the A89 is nearly finished. This is a fast connection between Bordeaux and the Rhone valley near Lyon.
The Millau Bridge has been opened in the last months of 2004. This makes the A75 a fast, cheap connection between Paris and the Spanish border. There's only a few miles missing now near Beziers.
Since 2003, the Cahors bridge in the A20 makes it easy to travel fast from Paris to the Midi-Pyrenees.
Those who travel from the north to the Alps will welcome the opening of the A 432 in the Lyon area. This road is a good alternative for the heavily used Lyon ring motorway (rocade est).
For those visiting the Vendée, the A87 between Angers en La Roche sur Yon has been completed.
In Normandy, the bypass of Bayeux was opened in 2002. Also in Normandy, the motorway from Caen to Le Mont-Saint-Michel is open for traffic now.
The Mont-Blanc-Tunnel, three years after the fire-disaster of 1999. French and Italian authorities have taken lots of securety measurements, including severe controls on speeding and minimum distance between cars.
Traffic jams during summer holidays
|Fuel prices May 2013
| ||Average price
|Euro 95||€ |
|Gasoil (Gazole)||€ 1,34
|Liquid Gas (GPL)||€ 0,86
Search a cheap fuel station
In the direction of holiday resorts, huge traffic jams are expected on the last (black) Saturday of July 2006. In the Paris region, friday july 28th also is a black day for traffic. In the Rhone valley, the first Saturday of Augustis a black saturday too.
Anyway, wether you're going on holidays or going home, trie to avoid driving on saturdays. The rest of the week, including sundays, there will be much less traffic.
On toll-roads, you're allowed to drive at 130 kilometers per hour (also if you're driving with caravan!), on other motorways 110 kilometers. On all other roads outside the villages it's 90 kilometers. Within city limits, drive no faster then 50 kilometers per hour. French police has increased (and is still increasing) their number of speed controls importantly, including the use of radar camaeras and laser guns. Use of radar-detectors is prohibited.
Just like many other people, the French hate speed check. On Radars online you'll find many notorious control spots. The French government itself tells where fixed cameras are installed: here.