5 golden rules when motorhoming in France
Like in the UK, the traffic rules for campervans and motorhomes are, in many cases, different in France. This can sometimes lead to ambiguous situations because, for example, how do you know where you can park your motorhome overnight? And what about the road signs that say motorhomes are not welcome? The following five rules will make camping in France un jeu d’enfant (a piece of cake).
Source: VDL Magazine (French website)
1. The same parking rules as for cars
In France, the parking rules for campervans and other motor vehicles are the same as for cars, except when police have set restrictions. According to French traffic law, you may park your campervan or motorhome at the side of a road. When stepping out of your vehicle, always watch out for traffic.
The purpose of height restriction barriers, limiters or other height restriction measures is to prevent vehicles of a certain height from entering impassable roads. This includes roads with tunnels, viaducts and overhanging rocks. French traffic law prohibits height restrictors from being placed at the entrance to car parks. Yet campers who visit France regularly know that, for example, supermarket car parks are often inaccessible for motorhomes. The only option is to look for another car park.
3. Bed and bread
Wherever you park, you are always allowed to eat in your motorhome. Picnicking at the side of a public road – even in a car park – is not permitted though. This could even get you into trouble with the police. As regards to overnight parking, you can simply stay in a car park. French traffic law even recommends to stop driving your motorhome overnight if you are tired late in the evening and driving is a struggle.
4. Illegal road signs
In France, you often see road signs banning campervans or motorhomes from a certain road or car park. This is written in text (‘camping-car interdit’ or ‘stationnement au camping-car interdit’) or depicted in a pictogram. These road signs are not legal as they violate the principle of equality. The difficult thing is that, as a holiday-goer, you probably assume that you do have to comply with such road signs. To avoid problems, we would advise you to respect the signs wherever possible. But if your French is good enough and you want to take the matter up with a police officer, feel free.
5. Speed limits
Campervans and motorhomes lighter than 3500 kg
In built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph). Outside built-up areas it is 80 km/h (50 mph), except on two-lane roads with no central lines. The speed limit on these roads is 90 km/h (55 mph). If you find yourself on a dual carriageway, the speed limit is 110 km/h (70 mph). The speed limit for campervans and motorhomes on French motorways is 130 km/h (80 mph). There are two situations in which the speed limit is reduced on these roads.
- Rain or other precipitation that affects your visibility or makes road use challenging
- You have held your driving licence for less than three years
The speed limit is then 80 km/h (50 mph) on 90 km/h (55 mph) roads and 100 km/h (60 mph) on 110 km/h (70 mph) roads. And for 130 km/h (80 mph) roads, it is reduced to 110 km/h (70 mph).
Campervans and motorhomes heavier than 3500 kg
In built-up areas, the same 50 km/h (30 mph) limit applies. But outside built-up areas, the speed limit is always 80 km/h (50 mph). The speed limit on dual carriageways is 100 km/h (60 mph) and on motorways it is 110 km/h (70 mph). Stickers with 80 (50 mph), 100 (60 mph) and 110 (70 mph) are required on the rear of campervans and motorhomes heavier than 3500 kg. These can be bought from many petrol stations in France.