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DRIVING IN FRANCE

EXPLAINED: The new sign appearing on French roads

If you have been driving in France you might have noticed a new sign appearing on the autoroutes - here's what it means and what you need to do.

EXPLAINED: The new sign appearing on French roads
Image: Vinci autoroutes

Motorway operators have begun introducing new signage to remind drivers about a safety rule when driving on the country’s autoroutes.

The rule itself was actually introduced in 2018, but it seems that few drivers are aware of it – leading to the installation of signs on major routes across France.

This is what it looks like:

Image: Vinci

It refers to the ‘safety corridor’ law, which was added to the Code de la route (highway code) in 2018.

This refers to the rule that if a vehicle is parked or going slowly on the hard shoulder, drivers approaching in the right hand lane should slow down and switch lanes to the centre or left lane, if it is safe to do so. 

It was introduced after a space of accidents in which highways workers died while working on the hard shoulder, after vehicles travelling on the inside lane crashed into them.

QUIZ How well do you know French driving laws?

The Code says: “The safety corridor consists of a virtual barrier that all drivers must respect as soon as they approach personnel intervening on the side of a road.

“In concrete terms, when a vehicle equipped with special lights, or any other vehicle whose driver is using its hazard warning lights, is stopped or travelling at a slow speed on a hard shoulder or emergency stop strip, any driver travelling on the right-hand edge of the road must, on approaching it, reduce their speed in accordance with Article R. 413-17 and change lanes after ensuring that he can do so safely.

“If it is not possible to change lanes, the driver must keep as far away as possible from the vehicle while remaining in his lane.”

Failure to comply with this rule is a traffic offence and can result in a €135 fine.

READ ALSO The French driving offences that can cost you points on your licence

The new road signs appear in sets of three, around 300m apart, reminding drivers of the steps they should take.

Je ralentis – I slow down

Je m’éloigne – I am moving away

Je change de voie si possible – I change lanes if it is possible to do do

These steps apply only if you see a vehicle either parked or moving slowly on the hard shoulder – it applies to highways employees but also private vehicles such as a broken-down car.

READ ALSO French road signs – take the test

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

From tax hikes to the price of food, air conditioning and the unexpected things that lurk beneath the streets of Paris, here are 6 essential articles for life in France.

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

As the inhabitants of Paris, one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, walk along the Champs-Elysées or Rue de Rivoli, they might be entirely unaware of the extensive underground world that exists below their feet.

Paris has a huge network of underground spaces that hide some very unexpected things (as well as the entirely prosaci Metro).

Skulls, beer and a ‘cathedral’: Discover the secrets of underground Paris

From cheese and garlic to berets and sex, taxes and striking, France is heavily loaded with cultural stereotypes – and most of them are only partly accurate.

This is us, busting more myths.

Myth-busting: Are these 12 clichés about France actually true?

France warned that companies might have to reduce energy this winter as Russian continues to reduce its gas supplies to Europe.

The government has already begun work on an energy-saving plan, with more measures to come in September.

And it’s not the only country thinking along these lines – from limits to heating and air conditioning to turning off the lights and taking off ties, here’s how countries around Europe are cutting their energy usage.

Air-con, lights and ties: How countries around Europe hope to avoid blackouts this winter

Although householders in France are relatively fortunate when it comes to rising bills, there is one notable exception.

Towns and villages across France have been raising property tax rates for second-home owners – with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

As we’ve stumbled onto money matters, let’s consider the cost of living. France has many temptations to woo visitors and foreign residents: its scenery, history, the lifestyle, the food and the drink.

While some things here are more expensive than elsewhere – we’re looking at you, second-hand car dealers – and the taxes are notoriously high, what about the cost of groceries and wine? How do they compare? We do something that looks a lot like crunching the numbers…

How expensive is food and drink in France?

But, enough of all that seriousness. It’s silly season, after all. Prominent French scientist Etienne Klein has had to apologise for claiming this was the latest astonishing picture taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, when it was – in fact …

French astronomer apologises for ‘stellar’ photo that was really . . . chorizo

Some people take things far too seriously.

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