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.
Table of contents
- 1. How You’ll Be Notified About Your French Speeding Fines
- 2. Tips For Avoiding French Speeding Fines And Parking Tickets
- 3. My French Speeding Tickets
- 4. France: Speeding Fines In 2023
- 5. My French Parking Ticket
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
(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
(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
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:
- Roadside Assistance Problem In France
- Fighting An Unfair Car Rental Damage Charge
- Why You Need The Crit’Air Clean Air Sticker To Drive In France
- Dealing With Toll Lanes In France
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