French road sign vocabulary

Learn about the road traffic signs

The important road signs

Some of the more unusual but very common traffic road signs which you will see whilst driving on the French roads.

Give way traffic sign.
This means that there is a junction ahead and the "priorité à droite" rule applies
main road priority
Junction ahead, but you have the priority
Priority sign
Priority road, you do not have to give way
End of priority
End of priority on this road, you must now apply the "priority to the right" rule
roundabout
Roundabout, give way to the left when entering the roundabout
Giveway
Give way "Cédez le passage". You will also see the sign ahead of a "STOP" sign with the distance to the stop indicated below.

Phrases and words you may see on road signs or whilst driving in France
Péage Toll fee
Douane Customs
Rappel Reminder, you generally see this word below speed limit signs, and it means "remember, you should already be at this speed limit".
Fin de chantier End of works/site/roadworks
Ralentir Slow down
Ralentir travaux Slow down, road works ahead
Arrêt Stop
Passage piétons Pedestrian crossing
Vous n'avez pas la priorité You do not have the priority and must give way
Chaussée glissante Slippery road
Chaussée déformer Road is deformed/bad condition

*Le trafic, is a correct translation of the english word traffic but also reffers to illegal commercial activities such as smuggling... So make sure you clarify what you mean:)

Traffic lights

Feu tricolore ( tri-coloured lights) or more commonly "Feu rouge" may not have the same sequence as in your own country, this may take you some time to get used to. The lights will cycle in the following order : Red, Green, Orange

Feux vert (green light) : You can continue your route, if the passage is clear.

Feux orange (orange light) : You must stop when the light turns orange. Unless you are unable to stop safely and are close to the line.

Feux rouge (red light) : You must stop and cannot cross the line.

If the traffic light flashes orange, then the priority to the right rule applies unless indicated otherwise.

The traffic light sequence

Traffic light sequence in France

Traffic: Traffique

English

French

Traffic La circulation*
Road La route
Motorway Une autoroute
Roundabout Le Rond-point
Zebra crossing Le passage piétons
Pedestrian Le piéton
Driver Le conducteur(ice)
Road sign Le panneau de signalisation
Speed limit La limitation de vitesse
Traffic jam Un bouchon, Un embouteillage
Accident Un Accident
Pile up Le carambolage
Traffic light Le feu de signalisation
One way Le sens unique
No entry Le sens interdit
Diversion La déviation
Lay by Une aire de repos
Emergency lane La bande d'arrêt d'urgence
Pay Toll Le Péage
Bridge Le pont
Overtake Le dépassement
Slowdown Ralentir
Reminder Rappel
Snow chains Les chaîs
Studded tyres Le pneu clouté
Snow tyres Le pneu neige
Broken down En panne
Break down Tomber en panne

Useful French Phrases

Il y a un accident.
There is an accident.

Ne pas dépasser.
Do not overtake.

La limite de vitesse est 90 km.
The speed limit is 90 km.

Le rond point est sur la gauche.
The roundabout is on the left.

Comments

On the roads in France the speed limit in towns/urban areas is generally 50km. On national roads it's 90 km and on the Autoroute it's 130km (110km on wet roads). The old rule of "priority to the right" still applies if there is no road sign at the crossing. This means that you must give way to traffic arriving from the right hand side. This can be a dangerous trap for people. No matter what the excuse, if you collide with traffic arriving on the right hand side, where there was no road sign, it is your fault...

Priority to the right

Confused ? Curious ? Driving in France ?
Learn about giving way to the right in France. You'll find an article in the forum about the "priorité à droite"