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Cycling Laws in France

April 2, 2020

French man cycling with baguette

Cycling laws in France

You’ll need to understand the cycling laws in France and what French road signs mean when cycling in France.  We’ve summarised the important points for you in this blog post.  The cycling rules in France are straightforward so enjoy and stay safe!

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The basics for cycling in France

Ride a bike that is roadworthy!  Your bike should have working brakes, correctly inflated tyres with good tread, a bell that can be heard and reflectors front, rear and on the pedals.  The law can levy a €11 fine per bike, rising to €33 if not paid in 30 days.

At night use front and rear lights and in poor visibility wear a high visibility jacket  – €22 – €75 fine if you don’t.  After dark, don’t cycle two abreast.

If there is a cycle path then use it and don’t cycle on the pavement, unless it is specifically marked for bikes.

What are the cycling laws on drinking and cycling in France?

We’re often asked by our cycling holiday guests about drinking laws and bikes.  Well, cycling laws in France are the same as for motorists in this respect with similar penalties.  If you are blind drunk and causing a danger to others you’ll be paying a fine – so don’t over-do your wine-tasting!

Are helmets compulsory when cycling in France?

Helmets are not compulsory for adults when cycling in France, but are compulsory for children under 12 years of age.  Adults accompanying the child can be fined €135, but the fine could vary between €90 and €375 depending on the situation.

Who is to blame?

The big difference when cycling in France is where the blame lies in the event of an accident involving a cyclist.  In all instances, the fault will automatically rest with the the driver of the larger vehicle (be it a car, bus or whatever) and the driver will have to prove that the cyclist was doing something really stupid that resulted in the accident.  The result is that 90% of cars that pass you give you a wide berth and don’t push the limits – knowing the law is on the cyclist’s side.

French road signs-The important ones!

France does have some signs that are specific to France.  We’ve found these French road signs to be the most important ones when cycling.

Cycling in France - One way road sign, except for bikes!

Cycling in France – One way road sign, except for bikes!

One way

Here’s an easy one.  It’s the standard one way street sign, but the text underneath is letting you know that, if cycling, you can ignore the one way restriction.  You’ll see this in many towns.  In fact, it is law (but not everyone in France realises) that if you are in a 30kph area then cyclists can go up all one-way streets in the wrong direction.







Cycling in France - Road sign - You do not have priority

Cycling in France – Road sign – You have priority

You have priority

You will see this sign a lot on those long straight main roads here in France.  It means you have priority on this road, which is obvious isn’t it?

The subject of ‘priority’ is one of the most confusing of the cycling laws in France.  Not understanding the following signs can lead to some pretty hair-raising incidents!





Cycling in France - Road sign You have priority

Cycling in France – Road sign You do not have priority

You don’t have priority

So, this sign means you no longer have priority on the road – and sometimes when you are cycling along you would wonder, well why would that be??

This is where the fun can start!





Cycling in France - Equal priority road sign

Cycling in France – Equal priority road sign

Equal priority

And then you’ll approach one of these little beauties.  Crossroad, junction?  Well sort of – it actually means that at the next junction, (officially) everybody has equal priority – but that doesn’t reflect the reality,  In France, if it’s all a little confusing then you always give way to the right – ‘priorite a droit’.  So treat this as a give way to the right sign!




Cycling in France - Priority a droite

Priority to the right

There are even specific signs explaining this aspect of cycling laws in France as you enter towns and villages – spelling out in BIG letters that priority a droit (give way to the right) is in action.  The purpose we think is to create so much confusion that you are forced to cycle and drive with more caution!


So, if you’re ever enjoying your cycling in France and are cut up by someone coming out of a side road from the right —- before you throw your bike at them and start shouting, just make sure you had priority in the first place!

Cycling Laws in France

These are the main cycling rules in France and we’ll keep updating this post as new rules come into force – enjoy your cycling!

If you’re bringing your bike to France and don’t want to get caught out with a big toll on the Autoroute then check this post out – could save you some money!

Don’t miss our great Loire Valley Cycling Tours – single centre cycle tours for those who are searching for something different!