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Driving in Paris

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Paris.
|-Driving in Paris

1. Traffic Conditions

Driving in Paris can be quite challenging, especially for newcomers. The city is known for its heavy traffic, narrow streets, and aggressive drivers. It’s not uncommon to see cars double-parked, motorcycles weaving through traffic, and pedestrians crossing the street wherever they please. Therefore, it’s important to stay alert and patient while driving.

2. Car Recommendation

Considering the narrow streets and limited parking spaces, a small, compact car is highly recommended for driving in Paris. It’s easier to maneuver and park. Also, consider choosing a car with automatic transmission, as it can make driving in heavy traffic less stressful.

3. Parking

Finding a parking spot in Paris can be quite difficult, especially in the city center. Most parking spaces are metered, and the cost can add up quickly. It’s also important to note that some areas only allow residents to park. Therefore, it’s often more convenient to use public transportation or walk when possible.

4. International Driving Permit

Foreigners can drive in France with an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their home country’s driving license. This is valid for a year. After that, you will need to obtain a French driving license.

5. Obtaining a French Driving License

If you’re planning to stay in France for more than a year, you’ll need to exchange your home country’s driving license for a French one. The process varies depending on your country of origin. Some countries have reciprocal agreements with France, allowing for a simple exchange. Others may require you to take a driving test. It’s best to check with the French authorities for the most accurate information.

6. Respect the Rules

French traffic rules may be different from what you’re used to. For example, in France, the priority is often given to the right. This means that unless otherwise indicated, you should yield to vehicles coming from your right. Also, remember that the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited, and seat belts are mandatory for all passengers.

7. Use of GPS

Using a GPS can be very helpful when driving in Paris. It can guide you through the complex network of streets and alert you to traffic jams. However, be aware that some older parts of the city may have restrictions on vehicle size or type, which your GPS may not take into account.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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