Overland France Travel
Currency to display:
- 1 Visiting France
- 2 Entering France with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in France
- 4 Gas and Diesel prices in France
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in France
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in France
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.
Entering France with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: April 2015
(To check if you need a travel Visa for France, application instructions and fees see: France Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
- Driving license / international driving license
- SCHENGEN VISA if needed, and mandatory health insurance (See http://www.visa-schengen.info/ about Schengen Visa and mandatory insurance)
- Certificate of ownership of your vehicle
- Mandatory insurance (liability is the only one which is mandatory)
- Depending on the country you are from, contact the French customs to make sure your vehicle is allowed.
Process at border
Depending on the way you enter France. It is usually no hassle if everything is ok.
- If entering directly from outside of Europe by plane or sea, you will need to deal with the customs.
- If you enter from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy or Spain, you won't find any border and nobody will ask you anything, but you need to have all the documents regarding your vehicle (certificate of property, insurance) and your identity (Identity card, passport, driving license and international driving license, VISA, health insurance). No copies should be required and you will handle the original documents if cops ask for.
- If you enter from the United Kingdom, you will find customs on the British side of the Eurotunnel or ferries. Make sure to have all the documents regarding your vehicle and yourselves (same as above).
- If you enter from Switzerland, you may find customs at the border on the Switzerland side. It happens that some checkpoints are empty.
Cost of entry
State the cost for a vehicle to enter
Permitted length of stay
A foreign registered vehicle can stay up to 6 months in any country within EU.
EU includes: Austria, Italy, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Luxembourg, Cyprus Malta, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Romania, France, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Sweden & Ireland
However, you must pay extra attention and study carefully your stay in the Schengen Zone which allows only 3 months every 6 months per year.
The Schengen Member States include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland & Liechtenstein. More info about Schengen Zone Visa at: []
For example Switzerland, Norway or Liechtenstein belong to the Schengen Zone (which literally means free movement) but in the EU. Also countries like Serbia, Albania, FYROM, Bosnia or Belarus do not belong to any group (EU or Schengen Zone)
Extension of stay
Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.
Exiting with a vehicle
Describe the paperwork requirements and process at the border to exit.
Driving in France
Recommended books for Overlanding in France
Travel insurance for France
Vehicle insurance requirements
Vehicle insurance is mandatory for all vehicles. Any 3rd party insurance is acceptable according to the law. You can buy online through the web or from an agent.
The famous Green Card goes automatically (and free of charge) with the national/regional insurance but the vehicle must be registered in EU and the driver needs to have an EU driving license. Just ask it from your agent.
EU insurance companies will only handle clients that are residents/ citizens of EU and have an EU license to drive/ ride within the EU territory.
Cost of vehicle insurance
State the price of insurance and a time period.
Where to purchase vehicle insurance
Describe where insurance can be purchased.
Your original regular driving license will be required, and you will also need an international driving permit.
Driving side of road
RHD vehicles can be driven in France but it has to be notified at the back of the vehicle.
Mandatory items in vehicle
- Safety triangle
- Yellow jacket
- Set of replacement lights
General Road quality
Give a brief description of the general road quality. Mention if one way streets are common.
- 50 km/h in the city
- 80 km/h out of town
- 130 km/h on motorways (Toll) and 110 km/h when it rains
Briefly describe the overall quality & existence of road signs for directions and hazards.
- Toll roads are only highways. Their names start by "A" and tolls are to be payed on exits. You have to take a ticket at the entry. Highways signs are blue signs, if there are tolls, you will find the word "péage".
- Some highways are free. Signs are blue too, but they are deprives from the word "péage".
- You don't need any vignette or account, you can pay by credit card or cash.
- There is always a non-highway road besides a highway. Toll highways are never compulsory, if highways are compulsory, they are free.
- Mont-Blanc Tunnel: Restrictions on access to old vehicles (EURO 0)
Bribery in France
No bribes are to be expected in France. If you get stopped by cops, it's likely they have something to tell you. If you don't speak french, don't hesitate to ask for anybody who may speaks english. Remember to always remain polite with cops. Remain honest, explain yourself, promise to be more careful. if you stay kind you have a chance they will let you go.
No checkpoints. If you find one, it means you entered a military zone.
Traveling with pets
It depends on the country you are from. Most often, the pet will need (for all the Schengen area, as you won't have any border control):
- A passport with his/her microchip, rabies and health report;
- Must be aged 3 months and 21 days at least as they must be regularly vaccinated against rabies. In France the age for vaccinating against rabies is over 3 months, and you have to wait for 21 days before it is considered effective. If you come from some high-risk countries, the minimum age may be 7 months.
- For an adult pet, he/she must be regularly vaccinated against rabies. Serology isn't required, but if you have one don't forget it.
- For an adult pet, a helth certificate must be done within 4 days before entering Schengen area. You may also consider deworming and a tick/flea treatment.
Gas and Diesel prices in France
Last updated: December 2018
Currency and unit to display:
|Unleaded||€1.42 EUR per Liter|
|Diesel||€1.42 EUR per Liter|
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
- No problem finding gas/diesel. All supermarkets (Auchan, Cora, Casino, Carrefour, Géant etc.) offer 24h credit card stations ; and you will find gas stations quite everywhere (Total, Shell, Elf etc.)
- In some more rural areas, the biggest distance that may occur between 2 stations is 80 kms.
Gas and Diesel Quality
- Gasoline/diesel are good quality. No problem even with the most recent vehicles.
- Oldest vehicles may need an additive if their engine works with leaded gas as leaded gas is no longer available anywhere. Additives can be found in stations or supermarkets.
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
- No problem with driving at night quite everywhere.
- Avoid driving at night or parking at night in the centre and suburbans of big cities, unless it's a dedicated area for campers or a cammping, though it's very unlikely you encounter problems.
- no problems for parking a 4x4, motorbike, or little van anywhere during the day.
- Be careful to restricted areas if you drive a camper or a truck. A lot of places are restricted to height (less than 1.90m) and weight (less than 3.5T)
- Parking at night is usually allowed if not forbidden. Be careful to restricted areas, especially in towns where a single sign maybe at the entry of the town.
Special driving considerations
- Roads are usually good. Very few unpaved roads.
- There are lots of signs for everything, from the state of the road to directions.
- Be careful to speed controls. Respect max speed as there are lots of controls, either automatic or manual.
- Be careful as french people are not always vigilant.
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for France - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in France
- Pay campings are common, especially in the most touristic places, but there are lots of free overnight areas and wild camping is allowed as long as it is not forbidden.
- Prices for a pay camping can be from €5.00 EUR to more than €50.00 EUR a night depending on the area and on the services available. Campings are rated with stars, from none to 4, the no-stars rural campings will be cheap though the 3 to 4 stars campings on the coast will be a lot expensive, especially from mid-june to late august.
- Prices for an overnight dedicated area (Aire Camping Car in french) will be from free to about €15.00 EUR for the most expensive, especially on the atlantic coast, and Normandy.
- Wild camping won't be allowed anywhere on the coast, but is fairly possible quite everywhere if not forbidden, especially in the moutains where you can sleep by the moutain passes, or in the ski resorts. With a little bit of planning help to the Park4night Application or the www.campingcar-info.com, you will be able to stay for free most of the time.
Camping guide books
2015 official guide for services and parking is a good book you will find either on the web or in any big supermarket in France, to help you if you do not have internet connection.
- Regular water from any water tap is drinkable, except if a sign saying "eau non potable" (Non-drinkable water) is to be seen.
- Filling/emptying tanks can be done in a services area, in french "aire camping car" to be found with a blue/white sign representing a motorhome emptying its tanks. It may be free or may cost from €2.00 EUR to €5.00 EUR
- You may find different types of services terminals, from hand-made to very sophisticated. Some work with credit cards and some others with tokens you will find in the stores around or in towns halls. Instructions will be written on the terminal.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Consider Purchasing paper maps before arriving in France , though you can find all the paper maps in supermarkets or book stores.
GPS Maps of France
Review different GPS companies, quality and coverage (Tomtom, Garmin, OSM, Tracks4Africa). (with links to each).
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in France
- Park4night is a website and application showing lots of places to stay, campings, free spots etc. with GPS data and adress.
- Camping-Car Info is a website made by and for people traveling with a camper, where you will find many informations on spots to stay, either campings, dedicated areas or free spots. You will also find spots for water filling and emptying. You will also find a forum where you may require help if needed.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
- Normandy, its beaches, American cemeteries, the Mont Saint Michel, Honfleur
- Brittany and its coast from Binic (North) to Pornichet (South), with a night at the Pointe du Van and a go at the Baie des Trépassés and the Pointe du Raz (Pointe du Van is free parking, Pointe du Raz is about €9.00 EUR), Bénodet, Concarneau, Quimper ; and the Armoric Forest.
- Salt Marshes of Guérande (you can drive through)
- The Atlantic coast from North to South-west : Noirmoutier (from which you may to the the Green Venice, in the Marais Poitevin) Ré, Oléron islands. Cross the Gironde with the boat you take at Royan or take the small road along the Gironde in the Bordeaux Vineyards. Then drive along the coast the road in the dunes to the Aquitaine forest and the bassin d'Arcachon. A must-see is the Dune du Pyla (parking is about €8.00 EUR for 24h, but there is a small space on the right before the roundabout of the dune when you come from the Pyla-sur-mer, where you can stay freely overnight at the ntry of the forest. Then go along to Lacanau, Biscarosse and its lakes. You can head down to Hossegor. Avoid Biarritz with a camper (no parkibng available) but have a go with a car or motorbike.
- Cross the Pyrenées West-east by the moutain passes and lakes, to Perpignan.
- Have a go at the Mediteranean coast (might be a lot more expensive as very touristic) to visit the calanques and the Camargue.
- Go to the Alps and go through again moutain passes from one resort to another, beautiful places, lakes and hikes.
- If you can, have a go too at the Massif Central, Perigord and at the prehistoric area such as the Gouffre de Padirac or other caves.
- Don't forget the Gorges du Tarn or the Vercors !
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in France
- You have to have a permanent home in France to be allowed to buy and have french plates. If you don't have a permanent home, then you may ask a friend or family to write a certificate saying you live by them.
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
- https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/ Global Petrol Prices website, gasoline
- https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/diesel_prices/ Global Petrol Prices website, diesel
Add any helpful external links here.