I love riding in mainland Europe and most of the European trips that anyone is ever going to go on will most likely have a little bit of France in it and well you probably need a few guidelines to keep you on the right side of the law.
So let us get started from January 2016 you are going to need to carry a Hi-vis jacket for yourself and also the pillion if you are carrying one. The new €11 fine only applies if you get pulled over by the old bill and you are not carrying one, however if you are pulled over on the side of the road and you are not wearing one then you will get smacked with €135 and this includes stopping on the hard shoulder.
The French government has introduced and are enforcing this law due to the increase in road deaths and to be brutally honest it is not a bad thing and carrying one is no hardship, mine fits nicely under my seat and the pillions hi-vis fits under their seat.
You will need to carry spare bulbs along with the hi-vis vests and if you can be bothered to order any breathalysers then go ahead but I tend not to bother. The French police have now dropped the fine for not carrying them, but they are still listed as a legal requirement by the French government, so it is your decision as to whether you do or you don’t. Breathalysers don’t take up much space and I use to wrap them in my Hi-Vis vest which as I mentioned fits under my seat.
Another typical French law grey area; some say that the stickers on your helmet are only for French citizens and does not apply to tourists. The way I read the law is that everyone needs to put stickers on their helmet and for the sake of £3 it’s worth doing and when you return to the UK you can always take them off. If you have a good look around on the internet, then you can read about it being a stealth tax on bikers and also pretty much being a pointless exercise as the stickers are only reflective at night.
The law in detail: Legislation for France is that all helmets must have four reflective stickers: one on the front (although this sticker may have to split around the vents – in reality), one at the rear and one on either side; The surface of each sticker must be either 18cm2 (approx. 4.8cms diameter circles) and, within each sticker, you must be able to draw a 40 mm diameter circle, or it needs to be a 12.50 cm2 rectangle with a minimum of 20 mm depth (that means a minimum of 6.25cms x 2cms).
In my opinion, this is a no-brainer, but in France it is a law to wear gloves and I think it should be law over in the UK as well. I believe that it’s silly not even to consider wearing gloves, the thought of falling off my bike is bad enough but not having gloves on does not bear thinking about.
In France, you need to have your dipped headlights on at all times. You will need to get some headlamp converters to block out the beam so that they do not dazzle oncoming drivers once again they cost pennies and if you don not have any, some black electrical tape will do the trick if you get caught short.
Most people worry more about driving on the right-hand side of the road but after 20 minutes you get into the flow of it and it seems natural and I think it makes sense driving on the right-hand side of the road.
The other thing you will soon notice is that other bikers will wave at you by pointing with their left hand, I saw a couple of rice rockets coming at me at full tilt and they were on their knees and they still managed to wave so you have no excuse.
I love riding in France the roads are awesome and the tarmac is as smooth as silk the towns are gorgeous and the cities will leave you jaw dropped. You need to go to France and lose yourself and soak up the atmosphere. What makes France even better is if you try and speak the language, even if it is just for fun the locals appreciate it and soon enough you will understand more and you will be able to eat sleep and get drunk in French.