French Culture – Driving in France Posted by Tim Hildreth on Sep 4, 2018 in Culture, Vocabulary
My son and I just got back from ten amazing days in France. We were going back to revisit some of the great places we saw the year before. We had a great time seeing family, eating great food, and exploring the sights (and in the coming weeks, I’ll share some of the highlights). And while I loved it all, one of the things that I really love about visiting France is getting to drive in a country where people really take driving seriously.
La conduite en France / Driving in France
The French take driving very seriously. In fact, driving in France is almost a national sport. And if you want to drive in France, there are some important things you should know.
First of all, if you are going to louer une voiture en France you need to know what kind of car you want. While most cars come standard with une boîte de vitesse manuelle you can get des voitures de location avec boîte de vitesse automatique. I like to get mine with boîte manuelle (you might also hear boîte normalle) because I think that it makes driving that much more fun. Of course, pour louer une voiture, you will need a valid permis de conduire.
When your adventures are through and you want to return your voiture de location to the agence (the rental agency), you will need to faire le plein to avoid paying extra pour l’essence. Many voitures in France use le gazole (or gazoil) so make sure you know and use the right kind of essence.
Faire attention / Pay attention
When I first went to France back in the ’80’s, there was barely anything like a speed limit. Over the years since, France has gotten more and more strict about making sure people drive safely. If you decide to drive in France, there are two other important things to know.
- France has a system of automated cameras and radar that will snap a picture of your car if you’re driving too fast! These radars (radars) are signalés (indicated) with road-side signs, so keep your eyes open … or you might get flashé (the term the French use for getting snapped by the radars) and have to pay une amende (a fine).
- As of June of this year, the speed limit on many French roads has been lowered to 80 km/h (down from 90). It’s been a bit of a national scandal with many French people complaining about the new, stricter driving laws.
|la voiture||the car|
|une voiture de location||a rental car|
|louer une voiture||to rent a car|
|faire le plein||to fill up/fill the gas tank|
|le permis de conduire||the driver's license|
|la boîte de vitesse||transmission|
|la boîte de vitesse manuelle||manual transmission|
|la boîte de vitesse automatique||automatic transmission|
|la limite de vitesse||the speed limit|
Pour finir / finally
Enjoy this driving-related chanson (song) from the great chanteur (singer) Joe Dassin. And for some more great car-related vocabulary, see this post from last summer.
Photo courtesy of www.Pexels.com [CC0 license].
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In 2-column table (just before Section “Pour finir”) in 3rd row it says: louer un voiture (to rent a car) . It always seemed to me that “car” in French is femenine – une. Maybe it is just a typo?
@Constantin Svirchevski Merci, Constantin! Vous avez raison. Yes, I mis-typed that one … If you listen to the sound you’ll hear that it is indeed “louer unE voiture”. I’ve updated the table.
Also, do not drive along mindlessly in the fast lane. Use it only to pass and then promptly move back over out of the way. Equally important, do not do what Americans do and pass another car on the right. They just don’t do that here in France (or in other European countries as far as I know).
@James Collier Absolument, James! That’s one of the things that makes driving in France fun for me. In general, other drivers take it seriously and follow the rules of the road which makes driving more pleasant for everyone! Thank you for your comment.