Get us in your inbox

Road signs in France
Photograph: Shutterstock

France is fining tourists €1,500 for not learning its very specific traffic laws

Tourists are urged to buy the Crit'Air sticker to access the city's growing list of low-emission zones – and to turn off their speed detectors

Charmaine Wong
Written by
Charmaine Wong

Thanks to Europe’s extensive network of scenic roads, the continent is perfectly primed for summer road trips. In fact, a third of British holidaymakers planning to go to Europe this year are bringing cars or renting a vehicle, according to Post Office Travel Money.

When it comes to traffic laws in Europe, it might feel like a no-brainer: just remember which side of the road to drive on, right? But there’s a little more to it than that – and you could avoid burning a hole in your pocket by familiarising yourselves with local traffic laws, especially in low-emission zones.

Tourists travelling to France this summer have been urged to brush up on local driving laws and to comply with rules in its twelve permanent low-emission zones, or be prepared to be slapped with a fine. Fines begin at €68 and are set to rise as the country plans to clamp down on the number of polluting vehicles in its cities.

So, what are the rules drivers need to abide by? Motorists are required to buy and display a Crit’Air sticker (€4.61) on their windscreen that identifies the emission levels of the vehicle. Every vehicle is classified according to its polluting emissions of fine particles and nitrogen oxides. A number between 0 (electric cars) to 5 (most polluting vehicles) is given, with high-polluting vehicles restricted from entering specific areas.

The growing list of French cities with low emission zones includes Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Grenoble, Rouen and Reims. If you’re travelling to France, you can purchase the sticker on the official Crit'Air website prior to your trip, to have them ready before you head off. 

That’s not the only thing you should take note of before crossing the border. If your car has a built-in speed detector, you’ll need to make sure it’s turned off before entering France. Using one of these detectors could reportedly rake up a fine of up to €1,500. Other things that could land you a fine include wearing headphones while driving and not wearing a hi-vis vest when at the side of the road if your car breaks down. 

So when in France, do as the French do – or it’ll cost you.

Did you see that this Barcelona shop is fining tourists for window shopping?

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out Travel newsletter for the latest travel news and the best stuff happening across the world.

You may also like
You may also like