FACT FILE — France: France has become for many holidaymakers an established "old friend". a country that is fondly revisited year after year. It is very easy to get to either by air, sea, the channel tunnel or road. There are now more than 6,000 kms of motorways covering the country and connecting to other European motorway networks.

It can offer a wide variety of holidays to suit all tastes. It has coastlines bordering the Channel, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.

There are the mountain ranges — the Alps, the Pyrenees and the attrractive valleys of the rivers Loire, Rhone and Dordogne and of course the medieval villages, castles and picturesque countryside of Brittany, Normandy, Provence, the Dordogne and the French Riviera(Cote d'Azur). Architectural and interest abounds through out the country and there are many festivals. The French are noted for their love of good food and wines. You will normally eat well wherever you go and will find the regional speciality dishes well worth sampling.

The South of France, like some of its Mediterranean neighbours is a sunshine refuge during the depths of winter. Here you can enjoy excellent temperatures and look up to the snow covered Alps that are only a short drive away from Monaco, Nice & Cannes.

The country itself is known officially as the French Republic. It is divided into 26 administrative régions: 22 are in metropolitan France (21 are on the continental part of metropolitan France) the other one is the "territorial collectivity" of Corse, on the island of Corsica. The régions are further subdivided into 100 départements. The departments are numbered (mainly alphabetically) and this number is used, for instance, in postal codes and vehicle number plates. The departments are further subdivided into 342 arrondissements .See Departments and Regions in France CLICK HERE

Paris is the capital and largest city of France. It is also the capital of the Île-de-France région which encompasses Paris and its suburbs.

Other Cities and Major towns:

Lyon is the third largest city and situated in the east and located between Paris and Marseille.

Lille is in north eastern France on the Deûle River. It is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais région and is also the préfecture (capital) of the Nord département. It is situated very close to the Belgian border.

Reims is that is in north is often considered the capital of Champagne. It is very close to another Champagne town — Epernay.

Rouen is the capital city of Normandy, in northwestern France, and the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) région.

Bordeaux is a port city in the south-west and is the capital of the Aquitaine région, as well as the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Gironde département. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais. The name Bordeaux and wine are very much associated and it has been produced in the area the eighth century.

Nice the city name also as Nissa in Italian and street names in two languages because of its proximity to Italy on the Mediterranean coast,. It is a major tourist centrer and a leading resort on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur). See Fact File Nice Click Here

Rennes is in the north west, in the east of Brittany. It is the capital of the Bretagne région, as well as the préfecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine département.

Marseille is France's largest commercial port and the largest in the Mediterranean. It is the second largest city in France and the third metropolitan area.

Grenoble is situated at the foot of the Alps, at the confluence of the Drac into the Isère River. It is in south-east France in the Rhône-Alpes région, Grenoble is the préfecture (capital) of the département of Isère.

Le Havreis in Normandy in northern France on the English Channel, at the mouth of the Seine.It was the port-of-call for French ocean liners making the Transatlantic crossing (cf Cruise ship). Le Havre is known as "La Porte Océane". It is the second largest city in Normandy after Rouen. It is the second largest exporting port in France.

Metz in the North-East and is the capital of the Lorraine région and of the département of Moselle (57). It is located at the by the Moselle and the Seille.

Toulon is a city in the south of France. It has a large military harbour on the Mediterranean coast with a major French naval base. It is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur région. it is is the préfecture (capital) of the Var département, in the former province of Provence.

The Country is a founder member of the EU — European Union (formerly the EEC — European Economic Union)

Voltage: Electricity: 230V, 50Hz European round 2 pin plug

Currency: — Euro (€)

Vehicles drive on the RIGHT

See also Driving in France at insurance4carrental.com

Telephone Dialling Country Code: +33


Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.

Ambulance (samu) 15

Fire (Pompiers) 18

Police 17 Police Municipale: — For Town & City areas

Police Nationale: - For local district area

Gendaramarie: — Run by army deals with serious crime


Autoroute/motorway: 130km/h — 110km/h when raining. They are indicated by blue & white signs and the majority of the French network is by toll — péage.


Dual Carriage ways: 110km/h — 100km/h when raining


Regional Roads: 90km/h — 80km/h when raining — Regional Roads: 50km/h


Mobile Phones: Must not be used by vehicle driver unless it has a hands free kit.



Some of this information is supplied by HOLIDAY AUTOS Worlwide Car Hire


Drink and driving: Blood alcohol limit is 50mg — barely 1 unit of alcohol


Traffic on major roads has priority. Where two major roads cross, traffic coming from the right has priority as warned by the sign 'danger priorité à droite'. Where there is no sign, give way to the right.


Traffic on a roundabout has priority and signs saying 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la prioritè'. In some areas the old rule of traffic entering roundabouts having priority applies so be cautious where there are no signs.


If a driver flashes his headlights in France, he is generally indicating that he has priority and you should give way. This can be confusing as in the UK it usually indicates that a car is usually indicates that a car is letting you out.


Stopping for someone waiting at a zebra crossing is a fineable offence for holding up traffic. The crossings indicate where is best to cross


Do not overtake a tram when it is stationary with passengers alighting or boarding.


Traffic lights don't show amber after red. Flashing amber means continue with caution.

It is compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts if fitted.


Carrying hazard warning lights or a warning triangle is compulsory. It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with replacement bulbs. From July 2008 A reflective vest is also complusory (like in Italy Belgium and Spain - In Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants).

Speed Cameras:

There are more and more speed cameras in France (useful web site is Click Here for details ) They usually have a warning sign a few metres or so before you see the camera and it is often set on a dual carriageway in the central reservation to capture traffic on both sides of the road. They are much nearer to ground level than those found in Britain and Ireland. They are often located on motorways on more dangerous sections particularly when the speed limit is reduced to 110 kmh. Remember if you are driving a hire car your fine will be passed onto you by the car rental company.

If you are driving on foreign plates, don't think you are safe from prosection now. A letter in the August/September 2007 edition of "The Riviera Reporter" concerned someone whose son had passed an Italian radar camera that flashed him. The fine was passed onto the French authorities to pursue via the local Prefecture. The same writer also knew of someone who had been speeding in Switzerland and the fine demand went overeas. According to The Riviera Reporter "Harmanisation and intra-EU cooperation is under way and not only fines will have to be paid, but soon points will be deducted from your licence no mater where the offence was committed. This will include offences in the UK and any other EU country as well as Switzerland"

Changes to French registration plates from 2009

From 2009 the department number will no longer be on the French registration plate. The registration plates will no longer be black on white at the front and black on yellow at the rear as in the UK, but black on white on the front and rear as in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and many other European countries. They will be made up of two letters, three numbers and two letters and will be allocated to a vehicle for life unlike presently if the owner moves from département to département

Telephones in France — Mobile phones - All mobile phones start with 06. Calling a mobile from a land line can be very expensive. If you are visting France for a while instead of relying on your home country mobile you can buy a "nomad" Pay as you go sim card. You will need a French address.

Landline phones - The French telephone network is run by France Telecom. Peak hour (heures pleines) rates run from 8am — 7pm Mon-Fri. The weekends, national holidays & hours between 7pm & 8am are classed as off peak (heures creuses

Public Holidays in France — There are eleven jours feriés

New years day (Jour de l'an) - January 1, Easter Monday (Pâques lundi), Labour Day (Fête du premier mai) — 1st May, Victory in Europe 1945(Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai) - 8th May, Ascension Day (Thursday), Pentecost, July 14 — Bastille Day(Fête nationale), August 15 — Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption), November 1st -All Saints Day (La Toussaint), November 11 -Armistice Day 1918 (Jour d'armistice) and December 25 — Christmas Day (Noël)

See also

Fact File South of France CLICK HERE

Tips and Topics in France, Corsica and Monaco CLICK HERE

Buying a Property in France CLICK HERE

Buy to Let Europe CLICK HERE

Taxe de séjour CLICK HERE

Riviera realty French Property News article from September 2006 by Karen Tait CLICK HERE

Tax Declarations in France CLICK HERE

Buying and selling cars in France CLICK HERE

Departments and Regions in France CLICK HERE

Places to Visit in the South of France CLICK HERE

How did the South of France look in the 1920s and 1960s? Click Here for photos

Nostagia in France — Photos of the 1960's and 1970's Click Here for photos

Biot — South of France Picture GalleryClick Here

For Car Rental / Car Hire & Car hire excess insurance - More Information.

If you are looking for a Low Cost Travel Insurance policy visit our Insurance section.

Holiday Home Property Insurance for France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Cyprus, England, Scotland and Wales — visit our Holday Home Insurance section.

Enjoy your visit to France


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