Travel Guide to France from Sixt rent a car

Sixt has provided this guide to provide our customers with a bit of information about travelling in France. The guide is split into 4 parts and will give you some important tips to know before you start your trip. 




travel guide in france


Call 112 in case of an emergency.


Don’t keep your passport, credit card and other valuables all in the same place.


Beware of pick pockets in busy areas, city centres, tourist attractions, airports and around cash points. Some work in gangs and try to distract you while someone else goes through your bag. Keep all bags with you at all times.


Muggings have been known to occur at isolated rest stops along motorways.


Be careful when travelling around Paris as serious assaults have been reported on the RER line B and the RER line D.


If you are under the influence of alcohol take extra care especially at night and try not to separate from friends.


If you are going Hiking or taking in part in any outdoor activities make sure you check the local weather forecast and wear the appropriate clothing. If you are going to a mountainous area make sure you travel in groups with plenty of provisions and that your insurance covers the extra medical costs.


Road conditions can change in the winter and become more difficult. Make sure you have plenty of food, water, extra clothing and medicines in your vehicle. Be aware of warnings regarding avalanches and carry avalanche search equipment where necessary.


If you are taking part in any mountaineering, skiing and potholing you should make sure that your insurance covers this. This should include mountain rescue and helicopter costs.


Beware of conditions and currents when swimming in the sea particularly off the Atlantic coast. Most beaches provide life guards and warning systems to help you so follow the advice that you are given. You can get specific information on the Baïne danger which occurs off the Aquitaine coast from the Gironde Prefecture website.


Driving laws are different in France so make sure you are aware of them before you start any road trip. Speeding can result in heavy fines and the confiscation of your licence. The maximum speed on autoroutes is 130kph.


If you are undertaking a long road journey make sure you have planned your trip carefully and take into account any unknown roads. Have a road map as well as sat nav to help guide you. Take lots of breaks to avoid fatigue and take extra care and caution in difficult weather conditions.


If you are driving in France you need to be at least 18 years old. Also be certain to have your full UK driver’s licence and insurance and vehicle documents with you at all times.


It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle and a reflective jacket in your vehicle. It is illegal to cross even partially onto the hard shoulder of the motorway without good reason.


In car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems that warn you of the presence of speed cameras and radars are illegal even if they are not in use.


Make sure that you lock and close all doors and windows when you leave your car unattended. Don’t leave any valuable items on display.


There were 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 population in 2012 which is higher than the 2.8 average in the UK. 

Local laws

Concealing your face in public is illegal in France. This includes balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used. You can be fined up to €150 for breaking this law. Forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime and you can be punished with a year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000. The sentence is doubled if the face of the person being hidden is a minor. Tourist are not exempt from this law.


Smoking is prohibited in public places (museums, monuments, cinemas) or on public transport. Restaurants are divided into smoking and non-smoking areas.


In the event of a problem in which you wish to take legal action for a given reason, the Ordre des Avocats (lawyers association) provides free and open consultation to all.


Drinking under the influence of alcohol is illegal and you can be punished with a fine, penalty points, loss of licence and imprisonment.


It is prohibited to travel (even on foot) under the influence of alcohol along a public highway.


In case of a dispute with a hotel, restaurant, retailer, you must contact the Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (departmental consumer rights organization) of the Department where the incident occurred. Under French law you are required to carry your passport at all times.


If your passport or other important document is stolen, you should file a report with the nearest police station (commissariat).


In France, failing to offer assistance to a person in danger is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged.


It is illegal to photograph security services, including police. Penalties may include detention and confiscation of film and/or camera.



You should contact your GP 8 weeks before you travel in case you need any vaccinations or preventive measures.


If you are visiting France you should get a free European health insurance card (EHIC) before you leave the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical or travel insurance but it can be used to receive state provided medical care in case you require any during your trip. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on- going medical treatment and non-urgent treatment.


Entry Requirements

Your passport is valid to travel and stay in France for up to 3 months. If you are planning to stay longer you should contact the French embassy for further information.


If your passport states that you are a British citizen then you do not require a visa to visit France. If you have another type of British Nationality then you should check the entry requirements with French foreign ministry.


UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from France.


* Please note: All content was correct at the time of publication.