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Driving in France

Just a note about speed limits in France. We just came back from a two week visit there. Having read several forum posts about there being zero tolerance for exceeding the speed limit in France, I tried to drive all times as if they were actually speed limits, not just speed suggestions.
Here's the thing, though, it was obvious that the rest of the drivers on the road (who I assume were predominantly French) were not interested in observing the speed limits, especially at lower speeds. Traffic would back up behind me in towns (50 kph) and this rose to ridiculous lengths when the posted limit was 30. It was clear that routine local driving habits did not include obeying the 30 kph or 50 kph speed limits.
I observed the same thing on rural roads when the posted speed lowered from 90 kph to 70. No one, it seemed, thought it reasonable to actually slow down to 70.
On bigger roads this didn't seem to be true. I didn't feel like I was collecting followers at 110 and I was going with the flow at 130.
I don't know what this means, but it's what happened. It makes me wonder what transpired for those who have reported being ticketed for slightly exceeding the speed limit in France.

Posted by
971 posts

I Think it means that the Locals know where the speed cameras are or how to spot them.

Posted by
491 posts

That could be. But that implies that there were no speed cameras anywhere that we drove.

Posted by
3941 posts

Yeah - I know what you mean. Last year I kept at my husband about following the speed limits in France and we'd get some tailgaters behind us. Maybe they just don't care? I do have a friend in Fort Mac, Alberta who has gotten quite a few photo radar speeding tickets - you'd think she'd learn! Even on the highways, trying to stick to the limit people were flying around us. As said, I guess they know where the cameras are...

Posted by
12200 posts

That's how it is in DC. They have speed cameras but locals know where they are, and drive crazy fast everywhere else. If everyone suddenly starts driving the speed limit, you can bet you're approaching a speed camera.

Posted by
33339 posts

drive crazy fast everywhere else (France)

That's not my experience. I drive a few thousand km in France every year (a little light this year because of a bad leg) and pretty scrupulous about my speed, even though I know where many (not all) of the cameras are. I drive at the right speed for the road, the weather, and the conditions.

I wonder. I understand the European speed limits well, I know when they go down and when they go up. There is often no sign for resuming the speed after a town or a restricted speed, maybe just the colour of the road markings, the end of a town/village/city, the lack of street lights, a divider appearing or disappearing in a median, etc.

I have never heard of people crowding in a 30 zone (about 20 mph) because they usually are for a very specific reason like a school, residential street, shopping district or some other good reason. 30s are relatively rare (50 much more common in a built up area) and usually quite short. The other reason they don't tend to zip through 30s is there are usually road humps or other traffic calming devices like chicanes to be sure that people stick to 30 or so. They would do their suspensions a mischief if they went too fast.

Is it possible that you had them stacked up behind you after a 30 had finished, or a 50?

I don't doubt that it happened to you, it has just never happened to me.

Maybe it hasn't happened to me because I'm not driving where you were. I pretty much confine my driving to the north, and Normandy and Brittany, the Loire general area, the northeast, the Ile de France, the east towards Germany and Switzerland, and Provence and the Riviera. I almost never go to the southwest, the west, or much of the Massif Central.

Posted by
231 posts

We, too, had a marvelous time driving in France for almost 3 weeks and wish that we had similar rules and roads in the U.S. Trucks simply were't a problem or danger there and everyone seemed very courteous. We followed the speed limits carefully and were glad to escape getting a ticket in the mail after we returned home. The Aires were marvelous - so much nicer than our rest stops and exits to get food or use the restroom. We will be going to Spain and wonder whether driving there is as easy. We used to always travel by train but after such a good experience driving in France may try driving again.