French Speed Limits as at May 2011
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Default French Speed Limits as at May 2011

    These limits are for ordinary qualified drivers in conventional cars. The limits for other drivers and vehicles are lower and although tourists might not be driving trucks or buses you should be aware that they cannot legally keep up with you on certain roads. They are supposed to have their limits displayed on their rear but with so many foreign vehicles, not all comply.
    These limits do not apply when signs show that a lower limit is in force. Note particularly that there can be temporary signs for roadworks which are often enforced by radar, if there are not, assume 50.

    On all roads if the visibility is less than 50 metres the limit is 50kmh.

    On an autoroute you are limited to 130 kmh unless it is raining in which case it is 110, or a lower limit as marked (sometimes 110)
    On divided roads 110 or 100, if it is raining.
    On ordinary interurban roads 90 and 80 in the rain.
    In an urban area the normal limit is 50kmh and as the default, is often not marked. You can recognise an urban area as you enter by the town or village name in a red bordered sign. That is a 50 speed limit indication unless the local council and the prfet deem otherwise. They can in low density areas increase it to 70 and in high density or high pedestrian risk areas limit it as low as 10kmh. These limits apply only if signposted.
    The Peri around Paris is an exception, it is limited to 80kms
    Check a copy of the Code as these and all other road rules are subject to change.

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    cdt
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    What's new pussycat,

    Around the confines of metro Adelaide one can encounter 40,50,60,
    70,80,100 and 110 speed speed limits as a matter of course with a good smattering of
    stop,25 and 40 road works limits chucked in just to make your day. Sign of the times?

    cheers

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    Timely post! I'll be on the roads there in a couple of weeks so it's good to know about the changes.
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    Last time in Paris I didn't drive, but our driver from Charles De Gaulle to Arrondissement 1 hit 100kph in some of the side streets - well it was 5am in the morning.

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    On an autoroute you are limited to 130 kmh unless it is raining in which case it is 110,


    This is was it was in 2001 when I last came to France, so nothings changed. And I suppose everyone is still doing 170+ aswell
    John
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 63-1092 View Post
    On an autoroute you are limited to 130 kmh unless it is raining in which case it is 110,


    This is was it was in 2001 when I last came to France, so nothings changed. And I suppose everyone is still doing 170+ aswell
    That is what has changed dramatically and you would be well advised not to try it. It is rare now to see anyone going over 140 but very common to see the police reading driver's documents at the next toll booth.
    A hidden danger is that with the rigorous policing in the last ten years, a significant percentage of drivers exceeded their 12 points and lost their licences. That hasn't stopped many of them driving and in 30 per cent of accidents now,, one driver is unlicenced and hence not insured.

    This is why I am taking the trouble to write these posts. For those who visit France at long intervals they can be in for a nasty shock.

    Real speeds have gone down, two wheeled transport has multiplied, roads in cities have been re-laned to accommodate trams etc and limit the flow of car traffic, the average car size has gone down, performance has been traded off for low consumption and pollution, pedestrian rights are being respected at last, roundabouts have spread like a virus with priority to the left, alcohol consumption has fallen, radar fixed and mobile is everywhere, police tolerance of foreign tourists has apparently decreased and they are taken to an ATM to pay their fines or else....
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    So the roads have been cleaned up, but have the streets?
    Has the street crime by the youth of certain backgrounds improved aswell, or is it worse than ever?
    John
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    1000+ Posts schlitzaugen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerry freed View Post
    That is what has changed dramatically and you would be well advised not to try it. It is rare now to see anyone going over 140 [...].

    [...]

    Real speeds have gone down [...].

    [...]
    I think that is very much true. Last time I was there was 2010.

    Everywhere in Europe where years ago (as recently as 2007) I would just floor it carefree (mainly freeways) you now see a compact mass of cars doing the speed limit (probably all on cruise control) and whenever there is one car speeding past, you can blindly bet it's a car on a foreign license plate.

    The last place where you can still do it is Germany and only on the unlimited sections of the legendary Autobahn. I think this has two chances to evolve in the future. Either it will become a real tourist attraction for speed freaks, or it will be limited and disappear into anonimity.

    There are still nice winding backroads through the Alps where you can indulge yourself, but these places come with an inbuilt penalty system. Upside is you only pay once.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 63-1092 View Post
    So the roads have been cleaned up, but have the streets?
    Has the street crime by the youth of certain backgrounds improved aswell, or is it worse than ever?
    You are being watched
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoBo View Post
    You are being watched

    I spent two years watching them in inner city Brussels, so there's no point watching me unless I repeat what they called our commune.
    John
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 63-1092 View Post
    So the roads have been cleaned up, but have the streets?
    Has the street crime by the youth of certain backgrounds improved aswell, or is it worse than ever?
    Hard to say as my only inputs are the media, which are selective in their coverage. My impression is that it comparable to Sydney in terms of street shootings except that there it is hand guns and in France, especially in Marseilles, it is Kalashnikovs.
    Violent crime between the young in the 10-15 age group has grown and is of political and social concern.
    There are high density HLM suburbs which house many first generation migrant families and they are dangerous, having limited police control and vibrant drug economies with the appropriate territorial defences.
    For visitors, these are not places of tourist interest and so do not present a problem. That is unless you are foolish enough to seek out drugs.

    Where we live, all is peaceful except a reputed increase in pickpocketing and burglaries in the peak holiday season when migratory groups pass through.
    Paris and its Metro is a special problem because of the presence of well trained young thieves of mostly Central European origins and teenage groups. The latter are willing to use knives and are after mobile phones, pads and portable computers.
    Tips for minimising risk are:
    Don't carry anything of value in outside pockets of backpacks or handbags, Move purposefully, don't look like a lost tourist and read maps etc; Keep all electronic devices out of sight; move quickly away from groups of young children trying to distract your attention; avoid late night travel to outer stations on the Metro and RER and if the stations are nearly empty of other passengers, position yourself in full view of the video cameras. A good general travel tip is to split your documents and valuables in two well separated groups - one locked in the hotel for example. If assaulted give up one with enough money in it for a drug hit and retain control over your personal id and travel documents.

    In a car at night do not stop for people who appear to have broken down. Use your mobile to notify the police. Be very careful of shunting accidents which can be simulated for false insurance claims, moments when your attention is deflected to steal handbags etc, or to hii-jack the car. I have averted one such experience at 11pm on the quay road in Bordeaux, when two cars driven by yes, North African teenagers in convoy accelerated and positioned themselves in front and behind me approaching a red light. The roads were otherwise empty and so I abruptly switched lane and jumped the red, They followed together and then gave up as I caught up with and tail gated another car. Those are times when you ignore the speed limits and explain to the judge later!
    Last edited by gerry freed; 14th May 2011 at 07:52 PM.
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    Sounds like Melbourne trains at night. Maintain a low profile don't display any form of equipment stay in a group if possible. These situations seem pretty universal as are speed cameras and points on your licence by all acounts
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    Believe me Melbourne or Sydney is no where close to any big city in europe when it comes to street crime but then when it comes to road safety or revenue as some would say, I think we had that first, the speed cameras, 12 points so on.
    On hijacking cars though, my sister-in-law had someone on a Friday night at 9pm leaving a shopping centre walk up to the car at the first set of lights pull a hand gun on them and this was 13 years ago. So as you say, jump the red and ignore the speed limits. Me personally, i dont like cleaning up stab victims blood off my front door step.
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlitzaugen View Post
    I think that is very much true. Last time I was there was 2010.

    Everywhere in Europe where years ago (as recently as 2007) I would just floor it carefree (mainly freeways) you now see a compact mass of cars doing the speed limit (probably all on cruise control) and whenever there is one car speeding past, you can blindly bet it's a car on a foreign license plate.

    The last place where you can still do it is Germany and only on the unlimited sections of the legendary Autobahn. I think this has two chances to evolve in the future. Either it will become a real tourist attraction for speed freaks, or it will be limited and disappear into anonimity.

    There are still nice winding backroads through the Alps where you can indulge yourself, but these places come with an inbuilt penalty system. Upside is you only pay once.
    Back in'89 I discovered during the off season that roads leading to 'local' ski resorts offered a safe alternative. Easy to check out the road is clear, return to the bottom and howl up the mountain. Cruise back down and repeat. There is a limit to this; when the car is starting to scream for mercy or the local Plod intervene, sound really does travel along way down a valley.
    Always use common sense as a traveller, especially where the language is not your own or in the rougher parts of town. Don't stand out too much and know your limitations! Unless you really can fight, RUN! I 'look' like I can handle myself and this probably defused situations before they occured, and before I even realised they were happening! The Red Light district of Amsterdam is not the place to find out that you've brought a 'knife to a gun fight'. Discretion is a virtue when travelling.

  15. #15
    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    That game is over too. The police check cars before the climb to the resorts in season. They decide whether you park and go up on public transport, fit chains or drive up on the tyres that you have. There have been too many accidents in the snow by inexperienced or ill equipped drivers.
    France has a number of driving schools like this
    http://www.groupe24.fr/
    which offer specialist training and also retraining as part of the rules for regaining a lost licence.
    Driver education and re-education has has some priority funding and it is normal for the police to hold classes in schools to sensitise young drivers and riders to the risks. So many now use mopeds and scooters to get to school and are too young to hold a drivng licence.
    Last edited by gerry freed; 16th May 2011 at 06:27 AM.
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    Gerry I did specify off season ie not snowing.
    The little 'town' resorts have at best a couple of tows and the road up isn't heavily used. It's not going to get Olympic types heading up but the roads are just right.
    Not too long, you are the crowd and if your memory is up to it, just the thing for a pace note howl! Not that I would condone such actions, well.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by 63-1092 View Post
    I spent two years watching them in inner city Brussels, so there's no point watching me unless I repeat what they called our commune.
    Brussels is extremely bad. There are areas into which the police will not go. Best avoided. In fact, Belgium is best avoided.

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerry freed View Post
    Hard to say as my only inputs are the media, which are selective in their coverage. My impression is that it comparable to Sydney in terms of street shootings except that there it is hand guns and in France, especially in Marseilles, it is Kalashnikovs.
    Violent crime between the young in the 10-15 age group has grown and is of political and social concern.
    There are high density HLM suburbs which house many first generation migrant families and they are dangerous, having limited police control and vibrant drug economies with the appropriate territorial defences.
    For visitors, these are not places of tourist interest and so do not present a problem. That is unless you are foolish enough to seek out drugs.

    Where we live, all is peaceful except a reputed increase in pickpocketing and burglaries in the peak holiday season when migratory groups pass through.
    Paris and its Metro is a special problem because of the presence of well trained young thieves of mostly Central European origins and teenage groups. The latter are willing to use knives and are after mobile phones, pads and portable computers.
    Tips for minimising risk are:
    Don't carry anything of value in outside pockets of backpacks or handbags, Move purposefully, don't look like a lost tourist and read maps etc; Keep all electronic devices out of sight; move quickly away from groups of young children trying to distract your attention; avoid late night travel to outer stations on the Metro and RER and if the stations are nearly empty of other passengers, position yourself in full view of the video cameras. A good general travel tip is to split your documents and valuables in two well separated groups - one locked in the hotel for example. If assaulted give up one with enough money in it for a drug hit and retain control over your personal id and travel documents.

    In a car at night do not stop for people who appear to have broken down. Use your mobile to notify the police. Be very careful of shunting accidents which can be simulated for false insurance claims, moments when your attention is deflected to steal handbags etc, or to hii-jack the car. I have averted one such experience at 11pm on the quay road in Bordeaux, when two cars driven by yes, North African teenagers in convoy accelerated and positioned themselves in front and behind me approaching a red light. The roads were otherwise empty and so I abruptly switched lane and jumped the red, They followed together and then gave up as I caught up with and tail gated another car. Those are times when you ignore the speed limits and explain to the judge later!
    This is pretty good advice across Europe generally, especially Belgium and Spain, in my personal, and painfully expensive, experience. We had no problems at all in Paris, or on the Metro, but we are not night people, and, most of the time, pass for locals. ALL the young people, and most of those older, spend their time on the Metro engrossed in their mobiles, or iPods, although I never saw anybody flaunting a laptop or iPad.

    Tim

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcusack View Post
    Brussels is extremely bad. There are areas into which the police will not go. Best avoided. In fact, Belgium is best avoided.

    Tim
    Nah. Belgium is very nice, but like everywhere else you need to watch around you. As far as I am concerned France is a lot nastier. Hated the food too.
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