French breakdown cover

European cover from just £6

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Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1.

Breakdown Cover in France

Driving in Europe can be a very different experience to driving in the UK. There are different road rules to observe and understand, and motoring regulations and laws aren’t always the same as they are in the UK. So, if you’re planning to drive in France, you need to be prepared and informed about your responsibilities as a motorist - and that includes having adequate European breakdown cover in place.

What happens if I break down in France?
Preparing for your visit to France
Important numbers to pop in your phone
Rules of the road in France
What you'll need with you
Other considerations before your French holiday

What happens if I break down in France?

If you break down on a motorway in France, even if you have European breakdown recovery in place, your first call shouldn’t be to the RAC. French motorways are privately managed so instead of calling the RAC, first use the emergency telephones - these are orange and positioned every 2km along the motorway. If you can’t get to one of these orange phones, call emergency services on 112. 

Once you’ve been towed to a designated safe area, call the RAC on 0800 942044, our 24/7 English-speaking helpline. We’ll liaise with the external service team we partner with, who  will come out to either fix your vehicle at the roadside or, if we can’t do that, we’ll tow it to the nearest garage for further repairs. Depending on your level of cover, we’ll pay towards garage labour costs, onward travel expenses and accommodation fees.

If you break down on other roads, that aren’t motorways, you can call the RAC for recovery and assistance straight away.

Preparing for your visit to France

A vehicle breakdown can happen without warning but there are steps drivers can take to reduce the chances of it happening. Prevention is always better than a cure - run through this checklist before you travel:

Buy a European Driving Kit

In Europe, you could be fined up to €530 for not having the right driving kit in your car. Before you set off check what you need and buy a European Driving Kit from us to ensure that you don’t get caught out.

Check your tyres

This is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can carry out on your vehicle. Tyres in good condition not only enhance safety but also performance - worn tyres can be dangerous. Check your tyre tread yourself or get them assessed by a professional.

Windscreen wipers

The windscreen wipers on your vehicle should be in good condition, free of any tears.

Check fluid levels

Measure and top up the oil levels in your vehicle, and do the same for screenwash.

Fill up with fuel

Ensure you have a full tank of fuel. Of course, you’ll be able to refuel when driving in France but you’re likely to be on unfamiliar roads so filling the tank will provide a feeling of security.

Get your vehicle serviced

If your trip to France is a longer than a couple of weeks, you might want to get your car serviced at a garage before you leave the UK.

Read more about driving in France with our country guide here

Important numbers to pop in your phone

It’s useful to have important phone numbers stored in your contacts, including:

  • 0033 472 4352 44 - RAC European Breakdown from a French landline
  • 0033 472 4352 44 - RAC European Breakdown from anywhere in Europe
  • 112 - Emergency Services
  • +33 (0) 1 44 51 31 00 - British Embassy in Paris

If you’re travelling en route to a hotel or other accommodation, it’s also useful to have contact numbers relating to these as you can update on your situation.

If you’re travelling to Europe for a short trip, check out our Single Trip European Breakdown Cover product today.

Rules of the road in France

The rules of the road in Europe differ to those in the UK and France is no different, so make sure you read up on these before you travel. Some of the most critical laws when driving in France are:

  • Drive on the right and overtake on the left
  • At intersections, drivers give way to vehicles approaching from their right
  • Sounding the horn is only to be done sparingly
  • Seats belts are compulsory for drivers and all passengers
  • It’s illegal to drive in France wearing headphones
  • Children under the age of 10 can’t travel on the front passenger seat without a special child restraint
  • Speed limits vary depending on the type of road and weather conditions - for more details on that and rules of road, read our Driving in France guide. 

You can also read our top ten tips for driving in France.

What you'll need with you

When driving in France you are required by law to carry the following items:

  • Reflective jackets (one for each occupant, these must be kept inside the vehicle within easy reach)
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with 4 wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • Breathalysers/alcohol test (as of January 2013 the French government announced that the introduction of an €11 fine for not carrying one has been postponed indefinitely, however, law still states that drivers of motor vehicles and motorcyclist must have an alcotest ready for use in their vehicle even though no penalty will be imposed if they cannot present one during a police road check)
  • A GB sticker (or ‘euro’ registration plates featuring the GB initials)
  • Spare bulbs - by law you’re also mandated to carry a spare bulb kit for your vehicle, as the French police deem it necessary to replace it there and then on the grounds of safety. For a few pounds to buy a kit, you could avoid unwanted attention and a fine.
  • Snow chains may also be needed in some areas during winter. These areas will be indicated by signs and are compulsory, so it is worth having them in your car if your visiting during winter.
Our European driving kit will have all of these items - a simple purchase from £20.99 which can help you avoid hefty on-the-spot fines.

Other considerations before your French holiday

Aside from driving, there are other considerations to think about before heading off on your holiday in France. You should have travel insurance in place, covering the dates of your holiday.

Inform your bank, too. You may be using your debit and/or credit card while in France, so they need to be aware of any possible upcoming transactions. Contact your mobile phone provider - check on call and SMS rates while in France, and any roaming charges you might incur.

You should be all prepared and ready to go, there’s only one thing left...your breakdown cover. Get a quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

That depends on your level of cover. RAC European Breakdown Cover covers 49 countries but operates in zones. If you’re covered for breakdown in Zone 1, that covers you when driving in France and also Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany - but not Spain or Italy, so if you plan to cross the border and into those countries, you’ll need to get cover for driving in Zone 2.

What is the breakdown callout time in France?

Our average time to attend to a breakdown in France is 50 minutes - and 93% of calls were answered within 15 seconds.

Can you provide me with a replacement vehicle?

Yes - RAC Comprehensive and Comprehensive Plus European Breakdown Cover both provide a hire car if required. Comprehensive European Breakdown can provide a hire car for six days, while Comprehensive Plus can provide a hire car for 23 days. Terms and conditions apply.