Motoring Discussion > Priority from the right, France Miscellaneous
Thread Author: Crankcase Replies: 22

 Priority from the right, France - Crankcase
For the first time in 25 years I'm driving abroad next month, in France. I see that they made their roundabout rules the same as ours in 2003, but the internet tells me there still seems to be priority from the right from side roads and junctions sometimes, somewhere, if there's a following wind.

I'm finding it a bit confusing to work out. Is it something that will be as obvious as "no road marking, assume side roads can pull out on you, otherwise they can't", or is it more complex than that?

I just watched a French YouTube video from a French driving instructor, who seemed to say there was always priority from the right unless the joining road was a car park, or the kerb went round the corner, or there were more than three houses, or..or .or..

Last edited by: Crankcase on Mon 8 May 23 at 08:53
 Priority from the right, France - Bromptonaut
Priority from the right still exists, particularly in urban settings. In practice, at least in my experience over the last 25 years and around 50k miles in France it's very rare that, even where it exists, drivers use it.

A bit of searching found this article which explains the signage used:

I was caught out once in a village in Alsace while getting the bread on morning where an elderly woman in a Clio shot across my bows forcing an ABS full stop. No damage except to my nerves.

Historically the issue was off the main then N roads where an ancient tractor driven my a man in a beret with a Gauloise glued to his lower lip would emerge without care or apparent observation. Dad, driving over there in the early seventies, was aware of the risk and would approach junctions, which even then often warned of 'priorite a droit' under the X roads sign.

While such junctions still exist most younger drivers, even with an ancient tractor, know the risks and behave with appropriate caution.

Compared with the risk of bein nicked and fined on the spot for speeding it's way down the list of things to worry about in France.
Last edited by: Bromptonaut on Mon 8 May 23 at 09:26
 Priority from the right, France - smokie
I used to drive in France a reasonable amount (up till 12 years ago or so) and I don't remember ever being surprised by someone pulling out from the right in front of me. My recollection is that their road markings are similar to ours around main towns, and quite clear on who's right of way it is, and it was usually the main road which had priority. But things may well be different out in the sticks, or maybe my memory is failing :-)
 Priority from the right, France - sherlock47
It is surprising the number of Brits who are resident in France do not know the meaning of the X sign on rural roads. I had to explain and argue with several Brit neighbours - they finally would only accept they were wrong when presented with a copy of the french 'highway code!

I have seen similar signage in an urban environment (not the Yellow diamond), when SWMBO was driving and initially failed to yield to a gendarmerie vehicle coming in from the right at a very 'ordinary' turning! A non verbal admonishment ensued - I suspect that the police were used to people getting it wrong at that particular junction and used it as sport.
 Priority from the right, France - Rudedog
Just guessing but does the X in the triangle mean that you don't have priority?

Is that same as the yellow diamond with a bar across it?

 Priority from the right, France - sherlock47
Just guessing but does the X in the triangle mean that you don't have priority?

Yes - but some people think that it is just a junction warning!
 Priority from the right, France - Bromptonaut
>> Just guessing but does the X in the triangle mean that you don't have priority?
>> Is that same as the yellow diamond with a bar across it?

AIUI the diamond means Passage Protege(PP); Priority From The Right does not apply.

The X sign relates to a specific X roads in which there is no PP and traffic from the right has priority. Sometimes there's a oblong plate underneath with the words Priorite a Droit and possibly Danger...
 Priority from the right, France - Zero
In practise its not an issue, and only really comes into play in village back streets and out of the way country lanes, in those situations if you cant see your route is clear you slow down and crawl, even those who have right of way do it.

Oh BTW, like the Spanish, the French have no idea how to use a roundabout.
 Priority from the right, France - sherlock47
French Roundabout usage has improved markedly over the past 20 years - younger drivers are generally ok. The secret is watch the front wheels of approaching cars who are taking the outer circle route around the whole roundabout.

What the french do not do well is where 2 lanes are approaching a roundabout when there is a 2 lane exit for 'straight ahead'.
 Priority from the right, France - tyrednemotional
... it's priorite a droite, except where it isn't ;-)

The diamonds and crosses help, but local practice will always take precedence.

FWIW, I've been in France for the last few days (crossed to Germany today) and I've experienced 3 occasions of the driver in front giving way rather abruptly to traffic from minor roads to the right, and seen at least one dramatic stop when an artic pulled out at speed onto the main road (yes, he did have priority!).

My experience is that many minor towns have kept the rule, albeit the locals are fairly wary.
 Priority from the right, France - R.P.
Oddly, I noticed the lozenge signs in the centre of Berlin last week ! The traffic movements in the city were well managed and seemed not a bad place to motorcycle in (unlike some places I've visited)
 Priority from the right, France - Manatee
I've driven in France quite a bit since the early 80's and most recently while going to and from Austria last September. On that occasion I was actively seeking out D roads and particularly avoiding long motorway stretches, and can honestly say I observed no problematic roundabout users or had any experiences I can remember with bargers from the droite. That said, whilst I'm quite OK with driving on the right I do assume that they are all out to get me and proceed accordingly.

In general I love the D routes. They are mostly way better and quieter to drive on than UK A roads, and while I don't set out to speed (much) the level of enforcement seems low compared with that on N routes.

What you might notice is that what I am convinced used to be an almost universal 90kph limit out of town is now generally 80kph. And the absence of readily available public lavatories en route continues.
 Priority from the right, France - tyrednemotional
.......but Monsieur, in France all the hedges are a urinoir....

(edited because it didn't like that in French. 8-O )
Last edited by: tyrednemotional on Mon 8 May 23 at 17:14
 Priority from the right, France - Manatee
Yes, the Clochemerle jobs are a rarity now, but the use of shrubrous areas seems to be generally accepted.

The temptation is to search out the best spot for privacy and cover from the road - mistake. About a thousand people had that idea before you. Just stand next to the car on the verge side and get on with it. I was actually parked at a motorway aire - with proper toilets 100m away - when a French registered car with two chaps in it parked next to me. They both got our, emptied bladders into the adjacent grass, got back in the car and went.
 Priority from the right, France - Dave_
The only time I've seen the Priorite a Droite rule in action was when driving 3/4 of the way around the Arc de Triomphe (i.e. turning left) a few years ago, in a RHD Sprinter van towing a 20ft trailer. I was moving at a crawl and just let it all happen around me, to be honest. Best way.
Last edited by: Dave_ on Sun 14 May 23 at 21:50
 Priority from the right, France - bathtub tom
>> The only time I've seen the Priorite a Droite rule in action was when driving
>> 3/4 of the way around the Arc de Triomphe

I thought that was like driving anywhere in Asia - there's no rules. In fact it could be good practice for driving in Asia.
 Priority from the right, France - martin aston
Only been round it once driven by a local. It was in a Ford S max but he drove it like a souped up dodgem car. We passed unscathed.
 Priority from the right, France - Bromptonaut
Never tried it myself but IIRC the Peripherique around Paris is all Priorite a Droit.
 Priority from the right, France - Dave_
>> IIRC the Peripherique around Paris is all Priorite a Droit.

Whenever I've been on it, it was always so choked with traffic it was basically a free-for-all. Somehow it seems to work though!
 Priority from the right, France - R.P.
Oddly I was talking to Mrs RP about my 1981 adventure riding around the Peripherique in the rain, no desire to try it out again !

A trip to northern France is on the agenda for this summer. Must remember to keep this thread in mind.
 Priority from the right, France - Crankcase
Now back from France.

Hired a car from Europcar. Did 400 odd miles. Mostly D roads, a few tiny mountain roads. Aude region.

Only place we saw any signs advising we didn't have priority was at roundabouts.

What did catch me out at first was the way the speed limits are all over the shop. Lots of tiny towns went from 50 to 30, but although there was never anything to say the 30 was over, it was clearly 50 again until the end of the town. Confirmed when we drove back the other way. Maybe I was missing the end of 30 zone signs, or maybe there's some other identifier I didn't know.

Not wanting to run foul of any speed traps (I bet I still did) there was a lot of crawling about, or dropping from 80 to 70 when the locals clearly didn't want to, though there were very few aggressive overtakes, even when it would have been fine to do so.

One section of dual carriageway was perhaps 2km long. Speed signs in quick succession went 70 80 90 110 50 30 50.

The car saw all those, and kept to them for me if I asked it to, which was a help.
 Priority from the right, France - smokie
I think when you ;eave a village there is usually a sign of the village name crossed through, which I believe ends the speed limit. But DYOR!! :-)

Bit like end of roadworks signs here on the motorways.
 Priority from the right, France - Crankcase
There is, but I'm talking about 30 zones inside a village. Nothing to tell you it's ended, so you carry on at 30 until the crossed out village name. But in fact it has ended sometime back.

Anyway, other than that, at this time of year and in that place it was a joy to drive compared to the UK
Last edited by: Crankcase on Thu 15 Jun 23 at 15:11
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