ALERT!!! I just did a motor trip through France. A few weeks later I saw 5 charges on my credit card from Europcar because they shared my information with the toll roads people for "infractions". THEN I got a 90 euro ticket in the mail. Toll roads are privately owned and operated. I suppose I will be getting 4 more 90 euro tickets. People need to know about this BEFORE they go. I was careful about speeding but the radar and cameras found me anyway. WHAT A RACKET. Europcar rep told me he knows of French people who keep a little slush fund just for tickets. Rick, I wish I'd known this before. If this subject has been on your website at some point and I missed it, I apologize. DON'T RENT A CAR IN FRANCE.
I rented a car from Europcar for a week in France last year, used the autoroutes a good bit, and had no such charges because I strictly observed the speed limit. The French are serious about cracking down on speeders, a fact covered in Rick's guidebook, on this website, in France travel podcasts and elsewhere.
By all means, rent a car in France! But obey the speed limit!
Assume that Big Brother is watching. In many countries, traffic is monitored by automatic cameras that check car speed, click photos, and send speeders tickets by mail. It’s smart to know — and follow — the area speed limit.
I'm not sure what your point is about toll roads being privately owned and operated in France. It's still civil authorities who are responsible for enforcing the country's laws on the motorways.
The takeaway here should not be to NOT rent a car in France. The takeaway should be to rent a car but OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT or you will not only get a speeding ticket, but a charge from the rental car agency to provide your information to the authorities. We've rented several times in France, NEVER went above the speed limit and have never received a ticket.
We were driving in the guide's vehicle in Normandy and he was going over the limit in one area and I asked him. He said the locals knew where the cameras were and he knew that particular stretch of road. He said ANY OTHER stretch and he'd definitely go the limit because France is serious about speeding. So, no speeding at all for us.
The speed limit is 130kh or 80.7 mph except in dangerous areas where it is posted 110kh (68 mph). How fast do you drive!!
Too bad you didn't pay attention to the subject of speed cameras in Europe, a subject which has generated many, many posts from incredulous drivers after the fact. It's always good to write another alert. Maybe you'll save someone else the pain.
French and Italian drivers don't have a slush fund for tickets because each ticket takes points off their licenses until they lose their licenses. The employee was just trying to make you feel like one of the crowd. If you were French, you'd be well on your way to losing your license.
First time poster here. Gotta rant somewhere.
The takeaway should be to rent a car but OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT or you
will not only get a speeding ticket, but a charge from the rental car
agency to provide your information to the authorities.
Same in Italy. I've lost count of the posters who got nailed on camera driving over the limit, into ZTLs, into bus lanes... Those tickets can also arrive months after the fact. It's no racket, just the way things work, and it's a common caution on the forums anytime someone mentions renting a car.
I'd like to see speed cameras widely adopted in the U.S. It would eliminate an entire reason for police-motorist confrontation and be quite effective in reducing speed and fatalities.
I just wish newbie vacationers who insist that rental vehicles offer so much more "flexibility" and "freedom" would listen to the advice of more experienced users and learn that if you can take the train and avoid driving then DO so...or at least learn to obey the law.
Speed cameras/sensors are more accurate, cost taxpayers less, and don't require an officer to stand along the roadside in harms way from passing traffic, and possibly from the vehicle operator. This info is as available as finding out which restaurants are worthwhile. You broke the law of the country you visited multiple times, probably pissed off a few people too. I presume you're an American, so thanks for tarnishing our image just a bit there. Were you a danger to others while you drove as well?
It's not a racket, it's law enforcement.
Forty years driving in France, really 80 if you count both my husband and myself--one ticket, entering Limoges doing 56kh in a 50. Not that we NEVER speed, but usually we're slow as turtles, but don't worry, we stay in the right-hand lane. It's so different from the States where speed limits are taken as suggestions--unless you're caught.
I'd like to see speed cameras widely adopted in the U.S. It would eliminate an entire reason for police-motorist confrontation and be quite effective in reducing speed and fatalities.
Not a bad idea, but it's been struck down by courts in several states.
As to not speeding while driving in France, anyone here who says they've never sped (as opposed to being ticketed) while driving in France is probably lying. I've driven in France over a 30 year period, and just the Spring got my first ticket. But I've exceeded the speed limit many times, usually on the A roads. I was probably more careful on this trip than ever, but there are also more cameras than ever.
Interesting reading these comments. Just a few days ago on this very site I was castigated and called "prissy" (until the commentator edited his comment to remove the slur) for having the temerity to suggest that one should follow the law with respect to speed limits in France.
Of course, I suspect I'm one of the few commenting here who has been through the testing procedure (both theoretical and practical) in French to get a French driver's license, but what do I know? I'm just a fool, I guess.
To the original poster: your posting doesn't deserve an alert because it's common sense, but it's a good reminder to those who don't think about such things. I'm sorry you had to learn this lesson with your pocketbook instead of your brain, but now you know.
Meh...we've rented twice in France. Never got any tickets. But we followed the limits the best we could.
And yes, it did offer greater flexibility for the areas we visited...the train and bus combo timing to Mont St Michel didn't work for where we were staying, so a car was the best fit for us, and when we rented in the south of France, it gave us great flexibility to go to little villages and off the beaten track spots and not be tied to bus schedules. Also gives greater flexibility in choosing accommodations. Don't have to worry about being close to the train station or a bus stop...we could stay at that nice Airbnb because we could access it easier with a car.
You don't get tickets if you obey the speed laws. It is just that simple. The US norm of speed till you get caught or the idea that routine traffic goes 10 or 15 miles above the posted speed in many areas is not the way Europe does things. You have all these tickets because you speeded. There is a 5 or so km cushion - so if it says you were 4km over you were really 9. It has nothing to do with private or public roads; they are legal traffic violations like anywhere else.
Rented cars in two different regions and drove around France for 17 days without getting a ticket. I will not say that I never exceeded the limit, more likely I was just lucky. I will say that even when I did exceed it was on major highways and I was usually driving in the right lane and most of the other drivers on the road were passing me by going quite a bit faster than I was. That's ok, I don't mind driving the limit or as close to it as possible, I wasn't going to a fire after all. On the small roads in the countryside of Provence and Brittany I always heeded the speed limits. I was paranoid about getting stopped or getting a ticket. Guess it worked.
The title should read ----
ALERT: If speeding in France you might get a ticket !!
Dah!!!! Of course - You needed to know before going that you needed to obey the traffic rules. I would have thought that should have been common sense -- but now you know!
Last year we rented in Lille at the train station and dropped at LaRochelle's airport. Had the car for nearly two weeks all through central France and not one single ticket. No reason not rent a car in France but plenty of reasons to obey the traffic laws. Just as we would expect a French tourist to obey our laws. Fair?? !!
Honestly, most Americans are not used to speed cameras, ZTL zones and rental car agreements that charge a fee for providing the authorities your contact information - for each violation. Yes the information is out there for those that research, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. But it is new to most American tourists in Europe.
While written as rant, I'd consider this a warning to anyone considering driving in Europe (not just France). Speed and other traffic laws are strictly enforced throughout most of Europe. Know the rules and limits and obey them. Drive safe and happy.
summer of 2014 i rented a car for a trip in Normandy and Brittany. Drove thru small towns, on toll roads, even a bit in Rouen (don't recommend that last one, but that's where the hotel was). I had the car for 10 days and was careful to obey all posted limits, come to a full stop at stop signs, etc. Didn't get a ticket. And I'll rent a car in France again.
Not to repeat too much of the above, but there are cameras on non toll roads as well. The ones on the surface streets are the easiest to trip, as it is easier to maintain the speed on highway. You just have to pay attention and follow the rules of the road.
In Switzerland they are everywhere. When my boss first moved over, he too got four tickets in about a week.
"I'd like to see speed cameras widely adopted in the U.S. It would eliminate an entire reason for police-motorist confrontation and be quite effective in reducing speed and fatalities."
There's a possibility that photo radar and perhaps even the Traffic Tutor will be implemented here in B.C., and a big part of the reason is to reduce fatalities and speeding. Our previous government kept their promise and eliminated photo radar when they first took power, but there's a "new sheriff in town" now so it may be returning here in the new future. Many people have commented that it's a "cash grab" by government, but I disagree. Only those who break the law by speeding will be paying.
One of the benefits of traffic fines here is that the provincial government has a Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing system, so a large part of the money is returned to municipalities and cities to help offset the costs of policing, etc.
One recent example of the blatant scofflaws here was a case earlier this month involving a 22-year old driver who was clocked at 210 km/h (130 mph) going over the Lion's Gate Bridge (Vancouver) in a Ferrari. It was his fourth offense, so the car has been impounded (with appropriate daily storage charges) and he's now lost his license. The week after that, a 20 year old tourist from California was caught speeding (again in the Vancouver area) in a rented Lamboghini, and that car has been impounded as well. When will people learn?
The Alert should be, try not to get a Fiat 500. I've rented one on my last two trips. They're cute cars but the two I've had notably lack cruise control, which means I have to make sure I stay at the right speed manually. For me that's more mental and physical energy when driving a longer leg, and more chance to get a ticket. Luckily, I've had no tickets so far.
Fiats also seem to be gas guzzlers, at least by European standards, which is probably why the rental fleets have so many of them.
I like my CoPilot GPS app. It beeps at me when I'm over the speed limit, a particularly good feature when the speed limit drops but I missed the sign.
We have speed cameras here in DC, they're usually in conjunction with a temporarily lowered speed limit your GPS doesn't know about. The locals know where they are and drive way over the speed limit normally, then get on the brakes hard as they approach the cameras. Tourists get all the tickets because they're cruising along with the flow, then suddenly become the fastest car on the road for about 1/2 mile.
I think France is one of the best European countries to drive in. A more basic thing to think about it that you're going to another country -- you're not at home where you have an expectation of what's standard (as if it's standard from state to state). Do your research, then abide by the laws of the country you're visiting. We've driven many times in France (and other countries), and never had a ticket.
Had the car for nearly two weeks all through central France and not one single ticket.
Not that you didn't ever exceed the speed limit, but you never got a ticket. As I mentioned previously, 30 years driving in France with no tickets ... until this May. In the past I probably sped more often than I did on this trip, but I didn't get caught. I do try to keep to the speed limits, especially on non-A roads, but it's not always easy, especially w/o cruise control. And obeying the speed limits on A roads makes one look like a turtle.
And obeying the speed limits on A roads makes one look like a turtle.
First - I don't care, and when you're driving only you will know about you, the rest of the other drivers have never met you.
Second - that's wrong. French Autoroutes (I assume that that's what you mean by "A road") only have two speed limits except in construction areas or cities - either 130kph (probably faster than you should drive at home, about 81 mph) or if it is raining or congested 110kph. Those are the speeds I drive. 20 years driving in France - no ticket.
I doubt if we will hear from Connie again. Obviously she did not get the sympathy she expected. And she cannot defend her position or posting.
I just spent five weeks in France and had a car for 19 days and had no tickets because I obeyed the speed limits.I have been driving in Europe since 1995 and have never had a ticket.
You can get just about anywhere in France either by train alone, or by a combination of train and bus. Spare yourself the grief of driving.
It is pretty much impossible to visit any of the regions of France -- Dordogne/Perigord, Brittany/Normandy, Burgundy, Provence without a car if you want to easily visit small towns and villages and parks and such. We can no longer do this because of my husband's vision loss; I am not comfortable as an old lady driving a lot internationally. We lament the loss of flexibility and freedom that gave us for decades. French roads are well signed and easy to drive and we have managed to do it for literally decades with one or two tickets the entire time.
"Honestly, most Americans are not used to speed cameras, ZTL zones and rental car agreements that charge a fee for providing the authorities your contact information - for each violation."
I would say that while most Americans are not used to speed cameras, most Americans who rent cars should be aware of the fact that the authorities charge you a per violation fee for providing contact information. For example, last June, I went to New York for week to visit relatives and forgot my EZ Pass at home in California and I rented a car. Some of the toll bridges in New York no longer have a way for the driver to pay when crossing the bridge -- you don't stop the car, you just slow down and pass the EZ-Pass scanner and the fee is deducted for those with a EZ Pass and for those with no pass the toll authority sends a bill with a processing fee to the address linked to the license plate. Given that there was no EZ Pass in my rental car, I got two separate bills from Dollar Rent A Car for the processing for a round trip drive to Manhattan. A couple of years ago my husband parked a rental car at a meter and after the meter expired he got a ticket. Guess what: bill from Hertz for sending the contact information to the ticketing authority.
"You can get just about anywhere in France either by train alone, or by a combination of train and bus. Spare yourself the grief of driving."
Possibly true, given unlimited time. But likely not in the most rural areas. We primarily rely on rail travel when going to cities and larger towns. But to really explore the more out of the way places at your own pace, nothing beats having your own car. We've driven for years, in many different countries, and I must say that France is one of the easier ones. Providing you leave your lead foot at home.
Yes, the OP is somewhat embarrassed or clickbaiting. Not just France, the same rules apply everywhere, right up there with being intoxicated or not being listed as a driver etc.
Out of interest, regarding photo radar. If, for example, you are driving at 102 in a 100 limit zone, do you still receive a fine? If the answer is yes, this is a blatant tax grab, nothing to do with trying to make the roads safer.
"Out of interest, regarding photo radar. If, for example, you are driving at 102 in a 100 limit zone, do you still receive a fine?"
No, there is a leeway of 5 kph so you would have to be going over 105 KPH in a 100 KPH zone to get a ticket and the overage starts at 105 so if you get a ticket for going 1 KPH over the limit, you were actually going 106 KPH in the 100 KPH zone.
For those who think the speed cameras are only a money grab, take a look at https://www.thelocal.fr/20170116/frances-anti-speeding-road-signs-get-new-look
I think the reason your advice to " not rent a car in France " is awful and I would think one would be a bit embarrassed to admit they speed over the limit often and feel hard done by that you got tickets !
Respect the laws , no problem .
Renting a car opens up this sort of predicament you find yourself in. In Europe renting a car is not an option for me.
We have rented on three separate trips in France (Normandy, Loire Valley, Provence) with one speeding ticket, within the first hour of driving. Got much more careful on the second and third trips!
We have rented a car for 2 weeks luckily no tickets. We will be back next month for 3 weeks. We love the flexibility of driving. Thanks for the reminder to strictly follow the speed limits.
You can get just about anywhere in France either by train alone, or by a combination of train and bus.
Definitely not true. In fact, not even close. I've occasionally rented houses for a week in France w/o a car, and there were plenty of places I might have liked to get to but couldn't. We made do, but having a car is much better.
Re: getting out to towns in France by bus or train or a combination. Not so in France , it's much better in Germany.
I can name you towns close to urban centers which have no train connection or a bus connection, maybe one bus a day. Numerous towns in northern France, Frevent, St Pol, Douai etc are very difficult to reach by public transport, like for Perrone in the Somme area , near Albert. What about going from Vimy over to the next village, Neuville St Vaast? No bus.
This place I went to in 1999 was the town/village of Gravotte near Metz in Lorraine, nearby was Mars-la-Tour, both villages battlefield sites in the war of 1870. There was no public transportation from Gravotte to Mars-la-Tour.