Driving to France from UK

By Direct Ferries Team
2 April 2024
driving from france to uk

There is no better way of travelling to France than by car. Experience all the most beautiful towns and cities from the comfort of your own vehicle by taking the Eurotunnel or hopping on a ferry. This allows you to plan your route without the added stress of public transport. However, those driving from the UK to France must be aware of certain regulations before embarking on their journey. Here are all the things you need to know.

What do I need to drive in France?

All drivers must ensure that they have a valid UK driving license. Although the documentation is available online, we strongly recommend that you carry your license with you. Please also note that anyone driving in France must be over the age of 18. A warning triangle and a reflective hi-vis jacket are compulsory in the event of a breakdown. Please ensure you have both items otherwise you risk being fined up to €270. As you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road, your vehicle must have a headlamp convertor to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic. This is a legal requirement in France even during daylight hours.

Driving to France

There are 11 ferry routes available from England to France that allow you to bring cars onboard. The shortest route is the Dover to Calais ferry which takes only 1 hour and 30 minutes across the Channel. This is available with P&O Ferries, Irish Ferries and DFDS. If you don’t fancy travelling by ferry, you can always get the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais. This route takes only 35 minutes, making it the fastest way of travelling from the UK to France.

Driving in St Malo port France

Do I need a UK sticker to drive in France?

You must display a UK sticker on the rear of the vehicle. Be careful not to mistake it for a GB sticker as these are no longer suitable. If you are pressed for time, you can purchase UK stickers in the AA Travelshop at the Folkestone Passenger Terminal Building.

Driving to France Requirements

Before you set off on your road trip, there are a few more requirements that you should know about. Firstly, it’s good news for older siblings as French law states that children under of the age of 10 must ride in the back seat. This should settle any disputes about seating arrangements. If you are planning on visiting certain cities in France like Paris and Lyon, you may require a Crit’Air sticker. These cost £3.60 and must be clearly visible on your vehicle. Please be mindful of your speed. Most A and B roads in France have a maximum speed limit of 80km/hr (50mph). Meanwhile, you can travel up to 130km/hr (80mph) on motorways. Make sure you are covered. All drivers in France must have at least third-party car insurance to legally drive in the country. We suggest that you bring your motor insurance certificate just in case.

Driving to south of France

If you are heading to the south of France, the quickest way to travel is by motorway. These offer direct links between most of the major cities in the region. However, don’t forget to bring some cash with you to pay the motorway tolls. If not, you can purchase an Emovis Tag, which permits you access through the automated barriers without having to pay manually. Driving to the south of France is much quicker if you avoid Paris. The roads into the capital city are notoriously busy throughout the year. However, you could always stop in Paris to make the journey worthwhile.

Driving to Nice south of France UK.jpg

Refueling on the drive to France

The cheapest place to fill up your car is in supermarket petrol stations. The detour is worth the few extra minutes as fuel at the motorway services can be very expensive. Most petrol stations in France have automatic pumps which accept UK debit cards. These are usually available 24 hours a day so you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping your tank full. When filling up your vehicle, be careful that you are using the correct fuel. Here are the options that you are likely to see: 

  • Essence (super / super 97) - Petrol 
  • Sans Plomb (98 & 95) – Unleaded Petrol 
  • Gazole ou Gasoil – Diesel

Emergency Contacts

In the event of an emergency, you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and the operator will instantly put you in contact with a local emergency service. As with UK motorways, France also have emergency telephones installed every 2 kilometres so you can reach out for help. To err on the side of caution, you can always buy a separate European Breakdown Cover policy before travelling so you’re covered in the event of a machinal failure or a punctured tyre.

Travelling with pets from UK to France

Nobody wants to leave their furry companion behind. Luckily, you don’t have to. You can bring your pets with you on the ferry from UK to France with Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways. Pets can stay either in your vehicle or in the designated Pet Lounge on the ferry from Dover to Calais. Please ensure that your pet is fully vaccinated before travelling and has a valid AHC or EU Pet Passport.

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