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Speed Limits

French Autoroutes - 130 km/hr (just over 80 mph) or 110 km/hr (68 mph) in rain
Dual carriageways (divided highways) - 110 km/hr (68 mph)
Main roads is 90 km/hr (55 mph) (outside built-up areas)
Urban areas is 50 km/hr (31 mph) - unless otherwise indicated

A note on converting kilometers to miles:

Muliply the kilometers by 6 and move the decimal point 1 place to the left:
8 kilometers = 4.8 miles
12 kilometers = 7.2 miles
Speed limit 70 = 42 miles per hour

Urban Areas

There is not necessarily a specific speed-restriction sign at theentrance to a urban (built up) area, particularly at the entrance tosmall villages. The name-board at the entrance to a village or town(dark blue letters on an off-white background) automatically indicatesa built-up area with a speed limit of 50 km/h (31 mph), unlessotherwise indicated. Police speed cameras are often set up in villageswhere traffic too often forgets to slow down.

Generally, there is a small tolerance for drivers who exceed the speed limit - but be advised that it is best to observe speed limits which are there for a reason. Until recently, speed cameras tended to be stationary and visible; nowadays, the gendarmerie are using more and more mobile radars, in unmarked cars. Be warned! Otherwise you may face an on-the-spot fine or if you are caught driving more than 50 km/hr over the limit - an instant ban and an impounding of your vehicle.

Speed Cameras in France

There are now well over two thousand stationary speed cameras on France's roads and motorways.

Unfortunately, the official French radar speed camera map was removed from the Internet in May 2011, following a government decision to stop warning drivers of upcoming speed cameras. A lot of the warnings haven't really gone - just changed: but others have really gone, and have not been replaced, so take care!

More than half of the warning signs have now gone, and many have been replaced by automatic speed detectors, which flash up the speed of each approaching car on a luminous panel. It's best to understand what these are about: if you see a luminous panel flashing up, say 101 then 99, then 97 as you approach it while decelerating, that is your speed. So keep down or drop down to below the speed limit, as there is most probably (though not always) a speed camera coming up. Some speed detectors just flash up your speed in white lights, others in green or red lights depending on whether you are within or above the speed limit. Some show a smiley below the speed - grumpy if you're above the limit, smiling if you`re within the limit.

In March, 2013, France introduced new invisible mobile speed cameras. Twenty of these are now operating on board unmarked police cars, mostly on the main north-south motorways. Since recording speed from a moving vehicle is not quite a perfect art, there is a slight tolerance; but vehicles clocked at over 140 Km/h (87 mph) in a 130 (80) stretch of motorway are liable to get pulled over. A hundred of the new cars should be in operation by 2014.

New radars are being set up all the time, so any unofficial maps that may be available on the Internet are unlikely to be complete, and in any case cannot include the mobile radar cars or the movable stationary speed cameras, of which there are currently about 1000. So the best rule - not to say the most sensible one - is 'Do not drive over the speed limit'.

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