How To Deal With French Speeding Fines And Parking Tickets

Sometimes problems occur and you’ve never dealt with them before. This happened to me three times: I was surprised with two French speeding fines in France when I got home from my trip and 1 parking ticket when I was in Cavaillon. Here’s what you should know about these traffic tickets in France and how to pay them.

Originally published June 2015 and updated October 21, 2023.

1. How You’ll Be Notified About Your French Speeding Fines

If you are caught speeding, you’ll find out not just from the government, but also from your rental company about your driving offence.  When you get home you’ll get 2 letters:

(a) Car Rental Agency

The car rental agency will charge you an administrative fee. It can range from 20 € or more. The notice will make reference to “Traffic fine…..administrative charge”.

(b) Government Agency

They will send you the official notice indicating where you were speeding and by how much. It will also indicate the cost of the fine, depending on when you pay it.

Before I share with you my own experience, I’ll first share some information about driving in France….and what you can do to avoid getting traffic tickets.

2. Tips For Avoiding French Speeding Fines And Parking Tickets

Speed limit sign in Vogue, France

(a) Tip #1: Watch The Speed Limits At All Times

In the old days, driving in France was a free-for-all. The limit was 130 km/hr and everyone went over it. Not anymore. There is photo radar everywhere. I think the most notorious locations for speed cameras are the roads leading into small towns. All of a sudden the speed limit drops to 30 km/hour and there aren’t always speed bumps to slow you down. The minute you see the sign, be on alert! It’s very easy to get a speeding ticket in France.

Note: I am NOT a speedster or speed demon! I am (usually) a cautious driver; however, in France, they will give you a ticket, even if you are only 5 km/hr over the limit. Unfortunately, I did not pay enough attention.

(b) Tip #2: Make Sure Your GPS Can Alert You

Today I use either my Garmin GPS or the GPS on my smartphone’s Google Maps/Waze app because they will usually (but not always) indicate the speed limit. During my last trip, however, I did notice that the limit was different on the GPS versus what the signs said. So of course I went with what the sign said. The GPS will often alert you if you are over the limit, so keep your eye on this notification (and the road).

(c) Tip #3: Always Assume You Have To Pay For Parking

Yes, I had my fill of traffic violations in France during that trip! I also got a parking ticket. I saw a big lot but did not carefully look for the payment machine. I think it simply wasn’t on my mind. This was dumb because I was in the centre of the city….where most parking is paid parking.

3. My French Speeding Tickets

French speeding ticket

(a) Administrative Charges From The Rental Companies

When I got home after one of my trips, I received charges from the two car rental companies I used: a 20 € charge from Hertz and a 30 € charge from Europcar. The first French word you’ll want to know is “The first word you’ll want to know: fine. In French it is “une amende”. This means a fine.

Both stated the following, “Traffic fine…..administrative charge”. What this means is that if you have an infraction the French Interior Ministry requests the driver/renter information from the rental car company so that they can send the driver (me) a violation notice by mail of what I did wrong. It’s called an Avis de Contravention.

(b) French Speeding Tickets Received In the Mail

I eventually got two speeding tickets on my rental cars from the French government. Neither one had a photo of the car; however, perhaps since then they now do this. (When I was accused of damaging my rental car in 2023, they did send a photo).

The traffic fines were mailed to me in Canada. The first one took about 6-1/2 weeks to get to me and the second one took about 25 days.

So what was the fine for speeding in France? These were the fees from a few years ago and they have gone up. There are three types of penalties:

  • Une Amende Minorée (Reduced Fine): If I paid within 46 days of the incident the fine would be €45.
  • Une Amende Forfaitaire (Fixed Fine): If the fine was paid between 47-76 days after the infraction, the cost went up to €68.
  • Une Amende Majorée (Increased Fine): If I didn’t pay or contest the traffic ticket within 76 days, the cost was €180.

My First Traffic Fine
Going 118 km in a 110 km zone.
Infraction dated: April 19.
I received the notice in the mail around June 3.

My Second Traffic Fine
Going 122 km in a 110 km zone.
Infraction dated: May 16.
I received the notice in the mail around June 10.

(c) Paying French Speeding Fines

The good (?) news is that there is an English website that makes it easy to pay your ticket online (https://www.amendes.gouv.fr).  It is best to NOT ignore the ticket. When I return to France I do not want to encounter any problems. 

4. France: Speeding Fines In 2023

  • If you’re on a road limited to 50km/hour, and you’re speeding up to 20 km/hour, the fine starts at €135.
  • If you’re on a road where the speed limit is over 50 km/hour, and you’re speeding up to 20 km/hour, the fine starts at €68.
  • Speeding between 20-50 km/hour over the limit? The fine starts at €135. And if you’re speeding over 50km/hour? €1500.

5. My French Parking Ticket

Cavaillon parking ticket and payment

One day I parked my car in a lot in Cavaillon as I was going to rent a bike and tour the area. I did not see a sign anywhere indicating there was a 2-hour limit. (Okay, I didn’t look hard enough). I discovered this upon my return.

I had to get help from the bike shop to understand how to pay the €17 fine. Here’s what I learned:

  • I could pay by cheque. That didn’t work for me. I live in Canada and didn’t have a French chequing account.
  • I could pay with a “Timbre-Amende”. This is a stamp. I was told I needed to go to a Tabac (a store that sells tobacco) and buy a stamp from them. It’s a special stamp that is put on the notice and mailed off.  Hmmm. Have to find a tabac. Not all tabacs carry these stamps, but fortunately, the second one I went to did. I had to get clarification on whether I needed to put the form in an envelope or not. No, you just put another postage stamp on and mail it off!
  • It is now more common to pay the fine online; however, if it’s a small town, you might not have this option.

Check out these posts for more travel advice related to driving and renting cars:

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28 Comments

  1. Thanks for the advice. Very helpful.

    I hope these events didn’t put a damper on your trip or your memories.

    1. Not at all. Just a “blip” in my trip!

  2. Carol Colborn says:

    Wow, hassles galore. But I will not encounter those since I do not drive and my husband is too old (72) to rent cars. But those photo radars are here in Phoenix, too. $275 was the fee! Much higher than in France! You and he have to learn driving a little under, not a little over the speed limit!

    1. $275, yikes! I’m now gun-shy about renting cars. But that won’t last long. I love to drive in Europe!

  3. Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields says:

    Thanks for the advice. Last time we were in Italy everyone drove way over the speed limit. That was a few years ago so I’m not sure what it is like now but it was almost impossible to stick to the speed limit when absolutely no-one else did – particularly through the almost endless road work zones.

    1. I haven’t driven in Italy for many years but I’d imagine they’ll get into more photo radar too. It’s a great revenue generator.

  4. We just rented a car in Portugal and are in for a steep learning curve which involves navigating the roundabouts, making sure we don’t go the wrong direction down the one way streets, and figuring out where we’re going . I swear we really could genuflect before our GPS which keeps us moving in the right direction! And then there’s the reacquainting ourselves with the manual shift on steep hills never mind the parallel parking. And of course those ubiquitous safety cameras … I’m amazed at how fun it is!

    1. I love driving standard and doing the roundabouts. So much fun and no “stop and go”! I also heard putting the car on cruise control really helps one avoid going over the speed limit.

  5. Irene S. Levine says:

    So sorry that you got caught…for what seems to be a relatively small infraction. You are brave to drive around Paris!

    1. Guess I am a little nuts. LOVE driving around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. One rarely sees accidents there I guess because everyone drives well (???)

  6. Kay Dougherty says:

    I haven’t driven in Europe in a couple years ago but will be this summer so this is a good update to keep me out of trouble. I have to confess that I am a speeder so will work on reforming myself ahead of time!

    1. Ha ha. You made me laugh. Maybe I do have a “lead foot” after all. Good luck!

  7. Rachel Heller says:

    Be warned: if you live in Europe and get a traffic ticket in Europe, they’ll send it to you at home. The countries share information. The problem is that it can take MONTHS. We received one a full six months after our trip in Italy, and it was all in Italian! And not at all cheap. So just don’t do it!

    1. I did not enjoy driving in Italy. Got lost so often. But France….feels like home to me!

  8. Wow 118 in a 110km zone…picky picky! Good to know it works that way in France. In Calgary most drivers think 110 means go 118. At least the ticket was not too expensive. We do love the freedom of driving when we’re in Europe.

    1. I was just happy the fine wasn’t more than a hundred dollars. My driving habits may now change. 🙂

  9. Jo at Lifestyle Fifty says:

    Wow, you are braver than me, but I should take note from your gung-ho-ness! Shame you had some hassles but good on you for getting on with it. Driving around the L’Arc de Triomphe – you deserve a medal! Have fun and keep on keeping on!

    1. Thanks! Have decided that not everything goes smoothly when one travels, so I might as well just “go with the flow”.

  10. The GypsyNesters says:

    We have driven a lot throughout Europe, and generally haven’t had any problems (aside from getting lost a lot). Haven’t had a speeding ticket, but plenty of parking tickets, even in Italy where it seems like people park absolutely anywhere. (tip: don’t park on the church steps, they will hunt you down for the fine)

    1. Why do I sense you parked on church steps???? 🙁

  11. Suzanne Fluhr says:

    Your post is making me feel even more firm in my intention to rely on public transportation in Europe. All Americans contemplating driving in Europe should read your post. I hadn’t done any long distance driving by myself in the US for quite awhile until a few months ago. When the speed limit was 65 MPH, everyone was going 73 MPH or faster. When it was 55, everyone was going 73 MPH or faster—i.e. almost 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. We spend summers in a New Jersey beach town where a good deal of the town’s revenue is garnered from out of towners who don’t realize that they’re serious about their 25 and 35 MPH speed limit zones.

    1. Wow! 20 miles over the limit is a lot. In France there are so many places that one really needs a car (ie. Provence) and I guess until I can’t drive anymore, I think I’ll continue to drive in Europe. I’m just a little gun shy right now!

  12. Billie Frank says:

    It sounds like they’re issuing tickets via radar cameras. In the US you actually have the right to contest these as sometimes the equipment isn’t calibrated properly. We hate these as it’s hard to pinpoint the moment weeks or even months after the fact to figure out if you really were exceeding the limit. Technology has it’s issues.

    1. So true. The ticket showed the date and time and I was on the highway as stated, but have no other information than that.

  13. I recently got a follow-up bill from Europcar for $146 Euros which included all those excluded charges. Boy, do they nickel and dime you. There was also an administrative charge for a report to the police – apparently for a traffic violation. I’m hoping that I can appeal the charge and at least see their “photographic” evidence of my violation. I live in Texas and the cops here are pretty strict, but they don’t even give you a ticket unless you are driving way over the speed limit and often they just give a warning. I’ll take Texas over France any day.

    1. I appreciate your comment and feel for you. Guess you wish it had been US dollars rather than EUros. Sadly I think there are more and more radar traps happening in France. I am now so cautious about going over the limit…even by a bit. Best of luck with your appeal.

  14. M.E. Murray says:

    Frankly, after everything Canadians and Americans have done for France (WW1 and WW2 – many thousands died) in gaining its freedoms, France should waive parking ticket fines as well as Speeding tickets (minor infractions over the speed limit) when no one has been injured).

    1. Well I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. If it brings in money for the government, it will stay!