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Snow tires compulsory for drivers in 48 areas of France this winter

Snow tires compulsory for drivers in 48 areas of France this winter
Snow tires will be compulsory this winter. Photo: Jean Francois Monier/AFP
From the beginning of November, drivers in around half of France will face fines if their vehicles are not equipped with snow tires or chains under a new road safety law.

The Loi Montage II (mountain law II) was signed into effect in 2020 and means that from November 1st 2021, drivers in 48 of mainland France’s 96 départements will be required to have snow tires or chains fitted to their vehicles.

The law is aimed at the mountainous areas of France – the Alps, Pyrenees, Vosges, Jura and Massif Central – but covers whole départements, even if the bit you happen to be driving in is not mountainous.

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The 48 départements covered by the law are; Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire de Belfort and the whole of the island of Corsica.

Within the départements covered by the new law, local committees have created lists of roads and communes where it will be enforced, so for full details check your local préfecture.

Through journeys are also affected, so if for example you are travelling from Calais to Marseille you would need the snow tires for the part of your journey through the Massif Central.

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The law runs from November 1st to March 31st and applies to all private cars and vans, commercial vehicles and motorhomes, as well as buses and HGVs. Vehicles must have either winter or all-season tires on all four wheels, or anti-skid devices such as chains on at least the two driving wheels.

Failure to comply will lead to a €135 fine – although the first year of the new rule will be dedicated to “education and information” before fines begin to be issued in 2022.

The law has had a lengthy passage to enforcement, being passed in 2016 and then signed into effect in 2020, leading motoring organisations to be concerned that drivers will have forgotten the new requirement.

“The information has had time to be forgotten,” said Laurent Proust, the general manager of BestDrive. “Unfortunately, as of November 1st, the gendarmes will tell you, first, that no one is supposed to ignore the law, and, second, that you are liable to a fine of €135.”


Member comments

  1. Can someone tell me if this applies to tourists (or non-French registered vehicles)?

    We’re due to go skiing in February in the French Alps and are driving there from the UK.

    Thanks!

    1. Surely if you are driving to the Alps your car should be suitably equipped, new law or no law and in the mountains this has been a requirement for years. But yes my reading of this is that just to drive out of Calais you need to. I drive to the south over the Massif Central which can snowy and icy in winter. I I always carry a set of snow socks in the boot and have done for years, take up little space, I carry a certificate in French certifying that they are legal for use on snow. Even better I now have Michelin Cross Climates.

      Best option is to replace your tyres with Michelin Cross Climates, then you are future proofed. Cross Climates perform better than summer tyres below about 8°C so are just the job for UK winters and good for Summer use as well.

      You also risk invalidating your insurance if you drive in France on illegal tyres, just like you would here driving on tyres with not enough tread. I can say that as a retired claims manager.

      1. Thanks Tony. I’ve never driven in France in the winter and it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I would probably have found about this when I booked the ferry in January so I’m indebted to the Local for the heads up now.

        I spoke to the garage who normally fit my tyres and they reckon January would have been too late but did confirm the requirement!

        I’m waiting for a quote from them at the moment but from what I can find out online it’s going to be in the region of £500 at least to replace all the tyres. Annoying that I had two of them replaced a year ago and have barely used the car since.

        I’ll investigate the snow socks and see if there are any other options.

        Thanks again.

          1. No worries, no offence taken. It was useful information.

            I’ve been in contact with a company who sell snow socks and they are going to investigate the new law and see if carrying snow socks (like you do) is a viable and legal alternative.

            I’ve only been to the Alps in summer. They are incredibly majestic and impressive but I find them almost too picture postcard perfect and quite claustrophobic in a strange way!

            I’m only going as part of a family group. Things we have to do…

  2. Surely the law states ‘winter tyres fitted’ or CARRYING snow chains/anti skid devices (which must be fitted if snow). As you can’t drive a vehicle with snow chains or snow socks when there is no snow!

  3. I’d like an answer to those comments too please, as I will be driving back from Herault to Calais in November.

  4. Hi William,

    we are very lucky and have an apartment in the French Alps. We spend 3 months there in winter. I now have snow tyres put on my car in November and in April I have them replaced with ordinary tyres.

    Prior to this I used these https://www.autosock.co.uk which go over my ordinary wheels/tyres. Really easy to use ie put on and take off. They also come with a certificate that they are fully legal and accepted by the Gendarmerie. The certificate is in French and also shows the French Law that they come under.

    Unfortunately you will need something the sock, chains or snow tyres. There is usually and area near the resort that is nit to far uo the mountain that is designated for drivers to put their snow socks/chains on. This will be a blue triangle with a tyre and snow chain around it.(Or at leats it is at the bottom of our resort in the Savoie region(73).

    Hope this helps and have a great holiday.

    Regards, Lou

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