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There are many ancient, towns throughout France that weren't designed with modern vehicular traffic in mind, some with crazy sharp corners (as evident by the scrapes on some buildings) so drivers need to slow down.
Even Paris is reasonably easy to negotiate – with the exception of the 'radial' around the Arc de Triomphe. This mega-roundabout with 12 connecting roads doesn't have lane markings or traffic signals. Watching it is fascinating – but driving it can be nerve-wrecking.
Like many other countries, France has its own road rules but here are some which may catch out any unsuspecting traveler on the road:
The legal blood alcohol limit in France is 0.05 (or 0.02 if you are a learner or new driver of three years or less). One in three road fatalities are caused by drink-driving and it's also estimated that over ~50% of road accidents on weekends are caused by intoxicated drivers. The penalty for drink driving is €4500 (US$5100). Driving under the influence of drugs attracts the same penalties as drink driving.
You may have heard about the rule where you need to carry a breathalyzer in the car which was introduced in 2012.
Well in March 2013, the Interior Minister removed the sanction because of doubts over accuracy of the devices and device supply problems.
So while it's technically still compulsory to have one, you won't be fined for not producing one when asked. Effectively the law is shelved. Vive la France.
It's illegal to have a device capable of telling you the exact location of a fixed speed camera, and that includes your in-built or hand-held SatNav and apps on your smartphone.
SatNav and traffic alert companies have responded by updating their maps, replacing the exact camera location with a "danger zone" alert indicating a camera is likely to be in this vicinity.
Car rental companies should have downloaded new software that makes the change to in-built SatNav devices, but check if they have – fines are heavy.
If you‘re using your own SatNav, update the software or disable the function. Although it's worth noting police cannot inspect your SatNav or smartphone to verify you have the system without "cause" – so don't give them one.
Try "Je n'ai pas SatNav" (I don't have SatNav), and when they point to the one in the centre console try "Est-ce ce que c'est?" (Is that what that is?).
The breathalyzer-busting Interior Minister has also ordered road signs warning of speed camera locations to be reinstated - bravo!
It remains illegal to have a radar detector in your car, even if it is not switched on. Expect to cough up €1,500 (US$1700) if caught.
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