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It's official: some speed limits will drop in France beginning 1 July 2018

Several news outlets in France today are reporting that, after months of controversy, the law lowering speed limits on certain French roadways was published in le Journal Officiel last night, which means it officially will take effect on the first of July. (text of the new law, as published: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do;jsessionid=ED5A9BDCE9FDE96474FD891B24A4F939.tplgfr31s_2?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000037076517&dateTexte=&oldAction=rechJO&categorieLien=id&idJO=JORFCONT000037076512)

The law, which is intended to reduce traffic fatalities, applies to secondary roads that have one lane each traveling in opposite directions with no separation or physical barrier between the lanes of opposing traffic. Beginning on 1 July of this year, the speed on these types of roads, which up to that time would have been 90 km/hr (56 mph) unless otherwise posted, will decrease to 80 km/h (50 mph).

It's a safe bet that most fixed GPS systems in cars will be out of date and will still show the out of date limit of 90 km/h, so drivers should pay attention to signs and to the type of road on which they're traveling or risk getting a letter after you return home asking for a mandatory contribution to your local French law enforcement authority.

Reportedly, most motorists and motorcyclists in France hate the new law. Speeding, no doubt, will be rampant in areas without speed radar (locals generally know where these areas are; travelers generally don't). Tailgating is all but assured for anyone having the temerity to actually follow the speed limit.

Should be interesting.

Posted by
2492 posts

well anyone using a GPS system to rely on the speed limit of the area instead of the road signs deserves everything they get.

Posted by
2901 posts

Tailgating is all but assured for anyone having the temerity to actually follow the speed limit.

I've found that to be the case for the 30 years I've been driving in France on vacation, although it seems to have gotten better recently. This will probably make it worse again. But I think it makes sense. Occasionally I'll drive on a road of that type (one lane each way with no separation) here in Maine with a speed limit of 55 mph, roughly equivalent to 90 kmh. It almost always seems that that speed is unsafe on such a road.

Posted by
2776 posts

Thanks for this update. Very good to know. On our last driving trip, we found that tailgating and speeding was still often the case where we were, even with a 90km/h limit.

Where we live, 80 is the standard limit on similar secondary roads. In most cases, speeding (10-15 km/h over the limit) is more common than not.

Posted by
276 posts

Every time I get brave and start contemplating a trip where driving would be easier I see a new topic about some new road rule, someone asking about how to pay a ticket or worse. Just this week I'm working on an itinerary for 12 days in Provence for next year.

Thanks for the info Bob. But I think God is telling me to stick to trains, buses and my own two feet.

Posted by
2776 posts

Highlanderct - don't be scared off. It's really not that bad as long as you know the rules of the road in that country, and follow them. France has excellent roads for the most part, and are usually well signed. The local drivers are very accustomed to tourists in rentals. And Provence is one of the areas where having a car is more advantageous than relying on public transportation.

Posted by
276 posts

Thanks CJean for the boost. I haven't totally given up yet. I suspect I'll be posting some questions but I have a lot of studying to do first.

Posted by
2492 posts

if you are following the speed limits why do you need to be notified of speed traps?

Posted by
2492 posts

living working and driving in Europe all my life so I guess I have had no experience , maybe Europe should change everything to suit Americans on their Road Trips.

Posted by
2776 posts

So spare me the "if you follow the rules what do you have to fear"
trope. I do follow the rules. I have 25+ years of road trips in
Europe, I never use the train. I have zero tickets.........
Enjoy your sense of superiority, I guarantee it
won't last if you drive in Europe without an app.

Hmmm. With 3 years of living in Europe plus countless driving trips through France, Germany, Italy (and quite a few other countries), just following the rules and without a single ticket; no feelings of superiority here. If I've been blindly adhering to some unfounded trope, I'll just continue to do so. You must have really been ahead of your time if you've been saved from tickets by using an app for 25 years. I wouldn't blindly put faith in an app any more than any other method of navigation.