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Driving in Nantes

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Nantes.
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1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Nantes, like in most French cities, can be a bit challenging for newcomers. The city is known for its narrow streets, roundabouts, and heavy traffic during peak hours. French drivers are also known for their aggressive driving style, so it’s important to stay alert and follow the rules of the road at all times.

2. Car Recommendation

Given the narrow streets and limited parking, a small, compact car is recommended for driving in Nantes. This will make it easier to navigate through the city and find parking. If you’re planning on making frequent trips outside the city, you might want to consider a car with a bit more power.

3. Parking in Nantes

Finding parking in Nantes can be difficult, especially in the city center. There are several public parking lots available, but they can fill up quickly. Parking is also quite expensive, with rates typically ranging from €1.50 to €2.50 per hour. Some areas offer free parking, but these spots are often taken quickly.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in France with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to one year. After that, you will need to obtain a French driver’s license. It’s important to note that not all countries’ driving licenses are exchangeable for a French one, so you may need to take a driving test in France.

5. Obtaining a French Driver’s License

To obtain a French driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test (code de la route) and a practical driving test. The written test can be taken in English, but the driving test is usually conducted in French. It’s recommended to take a few driving lessons to familiarize yourself with French driving rules and practices. Once you pass both tests, you will receive your French driver’s license.

6. Familiarize Yourself with French Road Signs

French road signs can be quite different from those in other countries. Before you start driving in Nantes, take some time to familiarize yourself with the most common road signs. This will help you navigate the city more easily and avoid any potential traffic violations.

7. Be Aware of Speed Limits

Speed limits in France are strictly enforced, and there are many speed cameras throughout the country. In urban areas like Nantes, the speed limit is usually 50 km/h, but it can be lower in certain areas. Make sure to always pay attention to the speed limit signs and adjust your speed accordingly.

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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