What speed is 80 kilometres per hour (80kph) in miles per hour (mph)?

49.7mph is the new reduced speed limit imposed upon 400,000km of French roads from July 1st 2018.
Mathematically it now takes 9 minutes longer to drive 100km on French single carriageway roads, so not a big deal.

What roads are affected by the new speed limits in France?

All single carriageway roads in France that were formally 90kph are now restricted to 80kp/h unless other speed restrictions are in force.
Dual carriageway roads with some sort of physical separation can be 110kph or 130kph if no restrictions are in force.
Toll motorways in France (peage autoroutes) are not affected by the new French speed limits. Perhaps that will motivate more car and truck drivers to pay their way through France.
Andy, who commented below, also provided the following information: "...travelling on a long section of three lane road yesterday between La Rochelle and Saumur, that alternated two lanes at regular intervals, at the start of EVERY two lane section was a brand new 90kph sign and where it reverted back to a single lane another brand new 80kph sign! The signing was identical in both directions and ALL of the signs were clearly brand new."

I strongly recommend taking the road speed limit test in France, which you can find halfway down the Code de la Route page linked to below. Code de la Route is the name of the French Highway Code and the page was updated June 29, 2018.


Your browser will block some content and my give warnings. I tested the page on Norton and Google and both stated the page was safe. Let me know in the comments below if you know differently.

Where are the most dangerous places to drive in France?

According to the French Road Traffic Accidents National Database, 64% of fatal accidents happened on rural roads in 2016. However, to answer the question: anywhere! Police noted that speed was a factor in 32% of fatal accidents and alcohol in 20%. 13% of deaths were attributed to priority not being given, presumably not giving way.

Jay walking is legal in France when not accompanied by a zebra!

Drivers should give way to pedestrians who show intent to cross a road unless there is an official crossing point less than 50m away. On the spot fines can be issued if this is ignored. Extra steps will be taken to protect pedestrians to try to reduce the 500 deaths each year.

Driving in France, New Speed Limit Law

Will reduced speeds on French roads be the death of RTAs?

In 2016 57,251 people were injured on French roads, half of whom were hospitalised.

The French government hopes to cut road fatalities down to 2000 by 2020 and the new reduced speeds are part of the plan. Along with reduced speeds, there will be alternative penalties for drunk drivers and drivers using mobile phones. If they get it right 1,500 fewer people will die on French roads compared to 2016.

In 2016 there were 3,469 fatal accidents in France and 1,792 in Great Britain; according to the respective government statistics.

Both countries have almost the same population and numbers of cars. Crucially, European stats show that road deaths occur more in rural areas and France is approximately 2.6 times the size of the UK. Logically, reducing speed on rural roads will result in fewer deaths, but will the French slow down?

How to drive safely in France

Vicarious View: Driving in France

On average, we have driven 10,000 miles all over France every year since 2007. Ironically, we prefer rural roads because we don’t have to look at the back of a truck so often. Needless to say, we have seen many cars in ditches and other signs of accidents and have had to take evasive action on too many occasions. We have thoroughly learnt French driving and the following will help you stay safe whist driving in France.

French driving style in general

Typically, French car drivers observe speed limits in built up areas and other areas of increased risk but are likely to speed along low risk road sections. Horns are almost never used.

Emotions are almost never shown, neither thanks nor anger.

Lack of forethought is frequently observed in areas of low volume traffic.

French driving style in towns and villages

Most drivers observe speed limits once in densely populated areas.

Joining roundabouts at speed is normal and tiny gaps are considered big enough.

Most traffic lights are badly programmed and lack traffic control sensors.

Priority to the right can be in use at the most unexpected locations country wide. Always look for side road signs and road markings when you have none. Beware of erratic driving near any boulangerie.

Driving style on main roads in France

Police speed traps are common. Oncoming vehicles may flash, but they do the same if there is an obstruction in the road ahead.

Joining roundabouts at speed is normal and tiny gaps are considered big enough.

Last minute overtaking is common.

Slow drivers always speed up for good overtaking sections and dual carriageways.

Driving on mountain and rural roads in France

Driving style on country lanes

It is normal to continue at speed towards each other making use of the verge to make up the road.

On twisty sections expect oncoming cars and motorcyclists’ heads to be on the wrong side of the road.

Beware of junctions marked with an X because no priority will be given.

Driving style on motorways and dual carriageways

Vehicles joining by slip road are mostly ignored, so accelerate or brake as necessary.

Slip roads are often short leading onto tight bends.

Town sections often have junctions with shared entry and exit slipways that are far too short.

Expect racing style overtaking even when there is no other traffic behind you.

It is common for overtaking cars to straddle the white line or hug it during overtaking.

Driving style of French truck drivers

Truck drivers have always driven at 90kph wherever they can, legally or not.

Truck drivers often indicate left when going straight on at roundabouts.

Agricultural vehicles

Beware of oncoming tractors because they or their equipment can be very wide and frustrated car drivers often make poor overtaking choices.

Tractor drivers hardly ever pull over to allow for safe overtaking no matter how much traffic has built up behind them.

Drunk driving in France

Be aware of drunk drivers after lunch, especially at weekends, and after any major sporting event or during national holidays.

17 THOUGHTS ON “New 80kmh Speed Limits in France”

by John Briden

I have just returned in our motorhome through south western France up to Ouistreham from a two month visit touring Portugal, and we visit France at least once a year. There are numerous 80km and 90km speed restriction signs now, As a retired p.o. I am very critical of ‘idiot motorists’, (ask my wife). French motorists are no worse than Italian, Portuguese, Spanish OR Brits., there will always be those who do not THINK to indicate their manoeuvre; drive erratically; excessively speed whatever the situation, etc..In general we are always even more cautious when driving anywhere in Europe, and are always prepared to ‘give way’ if in doubt. We find it easier to drive a right hand drive vehicle in Europe, and constant awareness in side mirrors is essential for safe driving.

On a different note; – Since the closure of the Camps at Calais, beware of immigrants in Ouistreham as they are at every junction and roundabout and in the central reservation behind shrubs and undergrowth, and it is not safe now to leave motorhomes or caravans unattended when arriving in the area early for a ferry.

Enjoy safe travelling


by t mason

comment on truck drivers indicating they are turning left at roundabouts
this is only done to stop car drivers trying to pass on the left side of the truck
usually once past the exit before the intended turn the indicator is put to the correct direction
as a lifetime continental truck driver I believe this has saved many lives
but its a shame so many uk car drivers do this over here it is really dangerous

by David Burstow

From just returning from France, I think that the new laws seem to be ignored by most French drivers. I would cite pedestrian crossings, speed limits outside towns and keeping distances behind vehicles. Many vehicles towing caravans do not seem to know that the heavier vehicles towing caravans have a lower speed limit than is often seen in practice. The 80km/hr rule is being and will I believe be widely ignored if not enforced.

by Geoffrey HYDE FYNN

Andy Lawrence, You ask about speeds for 4250 kgs motorhomes… You can drive, in France, at 110 kph on motorways where the 130 limit applies to cars. The only time you have to reduce your speed is where a lower speed (i.e. 100 or less) applies to cars. Yes, the cameras flash as you pass. I have had this happen dozens of times but have not had anything in the post. I can only assume that their cameras can detect a large looking vehicle and they take an image in case it’s an LGV. I suspect that they get manually reviewed and if you are a motorhome you are legally entitled to drive at least at the 110kph so nothing happens. If you want to help them put the speed limit signs on the back of your vehicle. But you will need a sheaf of them to pass between various EU countries!!!
The last time I checked (and the recent changes in France do not affect you…) on single carriageway roads in France, England, and Spain your max is 80 kph with or without a trailer. On a dual carriageway England: 60 mph with or without a trailer. In France it’s 100 kph or 90 with a trailer. In Spain it’s 80 kph with or without a trailer. On a Motorway in England it’s 70 (and you can use lane 3) but 60 with a trailer (and don’t use lane 3) In France it’s 110 but 90 with a trailer (don’t use lane 3 in either case). In Spain you can only do 90 kph with or without a trailer. I’ve never found the definitive about lane 3 in Spain but if HGVs don’t use it, they know so…
I carry a note of these on the underside of the sun visor!! When stressed it’s nice to have an easy reminder!!!

Another thing to note is that you are not a goods vehicle (unless you are carrying goods or items of trade – in which case you should have a tacho!) so if the sign shows a goods vehicle having a speed limit or not to overtake then it does not apply to you. If it shows a weight of “3.5T” then I would abide by it if I was you.

If you want more info from the horse’s mouth search on: “réglementation des camping cars”. Google can help with the translation. You can find all sorts of useful things such as: “If you are longer than 7 metres don’t use lane 2 on two lane dual carriageways”. It obviously doesn’t apply to French Goods vehicles!!

Bon Courage…

by Geoffrey HYDE FYNN

I thought that the original comment was about the new speed limits in France… Yes, they have changed. The changes only apply to single carriageway roads (don’t confuse your “deus Voies” with your “deux sens”). The maximum speed on single carriageway roads for cars and light vehicles (VL) which used to be 56 mph (90 kph) is now 50 mph (80 kph). BEWARE…. I am told by an English friend who has been a routier for years there, that some Departments have not changed their speed limit signs because they assume, probably rightly, that the central government will back down and the changes will only be temporary. Some say that they will stay in force only until the “grand départ” exists, i.e. at the end of the holiday they will back down. Don’t say I said so… BUT they will apply the lower speed limit notwithstanding that the 90 signs are still there. Can you see that getting through an English Court?

Oh and the “Clean Air” pastille is needed for Lille and Lyons as well…

by Michael Bone

Knew this was coming in as, luckily, we have relatives living in France. Don’t agree with the comments of some people re the French being terrible drivers. We have always felt much safer out there on the “wrong” side of the road than driving round the UK. As for straddling the white lines we’re used to that as we live in Lincolnshire! I think the only reason UK road accidents are fewer is because our roads are far more congested – it’s barely possible in some places to do 30mph

by Gerad Lancaster

Re lorry drivers indicating at round-abouts with left indicator when going straight on. I find this really helpful if I am waiting to enter the roundabout. You know they are NOT turning off – and they quickly change to right indicator as they pass the first exit. Everybody should do it…… in UK too !

by Una Fullerton

I just wanted to point out that in vans over 3500kg in Ireland all roads except towns and villages etc/ are 80kmh per hour. Thanks for the above information. Is there any change to those vans over 3500kg in France ?

by Trevor

The 80kph limit applies to any 2 lane road without a central barrier. Sections with 2 lanes on one side remain at 90kph!
The crit air sticker system is gathering pace – in addition to permanent zones in Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Grenoble, there are now 16 departments now able to implement temporary restrictions. The first you will know about it is when you get pulled over at the motorway toll booth and fined €68 for not having a sticker. Note that there is no way to get a sticker when you are in France.

by Andy

A dual carriageway is exactly that DUAL (as in two) distinct and separate carriageways. To be classed as a dual carrieway there must be some form of physical separation such as Armco barrier, a stretch of land, hedges etc. Between opposing LANES of traffic.

Don’t get confused by lanes. A single CARRIAGEWAY road can, and often does, have multiple lanes but, because of the lack of a central separator, is NOT a dual carriageway so the (usually) higher dual carriageway limits do NOT apply to these multi (unseperated) lane roads.

Trust me I am a retired traffic cop so I DO know what I am talking about here! (The definition is the same worldwide)

by Colin Munro

A carriageway is only classed as duel if there’s a raise area in the middle. Two lanes in each direction without a raised area or barrier is classed as a single carriage. Learnt that to my cost a long time ago.

by Andy Lawrence

Thanks for your excellent service and information.
Could you please give me some confirmation on speeds for 4250kg Motorhomes, I have had problems with travelling at 100kph on toll roads, I have had French speed cameras flash me at this speed?
Your excellent ACSI guide gives an impression that I could if so wished travel at 110kph.
I have never heard from the speed camera incidents but t leaves me nervous.

by el-bandido

It may be worth a mention that French village/town speed limits start at the village name sign and end likewise as you exit the village. They do not start at the speed limit sign which may be well past the village/town name sign (in the direction of the village). By default it’s 50 Km/h once through the name sign and any subsequent speed limit signs over-ride that speed. I hope that’s clear!

by Michael Hassell

Over many years driving in France I have often wondered if they have an actual driving test! They are the worst drivers on the continent, by far, rarely using indicators, I’m not too sure if they are even fitted, they always seem to wait for a bend or brow of a hill to overtake after tailgating you for miles, and worse they don’t change down to accelerate. I have had to brake many times to let them in. Why can’t someone stop the absurd priority from the right, it’s totaly 100% dangerous, even locals are nervous which makes it worse. Finally am I the only one that cannot work out which exit on a roundabout the French are going to take? Still love it there though. Michae Hassell

by Frances Jones

Many thanks for this illuminating information, we heard about this from French friends but have seen very little I about it on the news. Having driven extensively in France, we completely agree with your comments!

by Paul Clewarth

I would rate French drivers as one of worst bunch in the world .I would say that the new 80 km limit probably won’t make much difference to the accident figures. On reflection the Spanish can’t be far behind!
Paul Clewarth.

by Marcus

Firstly my understanding from internet research and enquiries made with 2 French driver friends is that the 80kph limit applies on dual carriegeways that do not have a central barrier.

Another fact worth mentioning for French roads is the new minimum distance between vehicles to avoid rear end shunts caused by tailgating, at 50kmh distance is 30M and I believe from memory 50M at 80kmh.

Further to the above you will need to have a Clean Air Vignette to drive through Paris this year, they are cheap to buy from the French motoring authority but allow 6 weeks for delivery by post. This is a similar scheme to that which has been operating in some German cities for a few years and we are all aware of the London clean air requirements.