Jeff Steiner's Americans in France.
Resource for people that would like to live or travel in France.

Americans in France

Guide Home

About the Exam



Driving Terms






Parking Related

Right of Way

Roads & Streets




Special Conditions

Traffic Lights

Vehicle Code


Markings on the Road

In General

Marks painted on the road indicate the different parts of the road and/or the lanes that have different directions or apply to only certain categories of vehicle. In bad weather when you can't see the marks on the road, you are allowed to follow the side of the road instead of the lane lines (since you can't see them). All marks are in white except temporary ones, which are in yellow.


On a two-way road, the edges of the road are marked by dashed lines 3 m long with a space of 3.5 m (marked A in the drawing). These are called "lignes de rive" in French. You can cross those lines to park if needed (and if parking is allowed). The lines between each lane (marked B) are 3 m long with 10 m of space between them. Just like in the U.S., you can cross dashed lines between lanes. You need to drive in the right-most lane, using the left lane only for passing.
A one-way road will have a solid line on the left side. This is what identifies the road as one-way.
A solid white line (marked B in the drawing) means no crossing or straddling the line to pass, just like in the U.S. As a general rules, there is NO CROSSING SOLID WHITE LINES. The one exception is when a vehicle is stopped in your lane and you must cross into the other lane to pass. You do this only after stopping and verifying that there is no traffic coming from the other way. With a solid line, you cannot pass slow vehicles -- even farm equipment.
Dashed lines that are close together (marked B in the drawing) either indicate that a solid line is coming up, or that while you technically CAN pass, you really shouldn't, probably because of poor visibility. Generally, these are use in curvy roads where it's hard to see around the next bend. These lines are called "lignes de dissuasion" in French because they attempt to dissuade you from changing lanes.
Dashed lines next to a solid line (marked B in the drawing), mean that the traffic on the side of the dashed line can pass, but the traffic on the side of the solid line cannot. Exactly the same as the U.S.
Yellow lines (marked A & B in the drawing) are temporary, probably because of construction. You follow the same rules as white lines in terms of what to do with solid lines, dashed lines, etc. By the way, the use of yellow road markings for temporary changes is a European Union standard.


Arrows pointing to the right mixed in with the dashed lines between lanes (marked B in the drawing) mean you are about to lose your passing ability and you need to finish passing (or don't start). Usually there are three arrows in a row. You need to finish passing by the time you reach the 3rd arrow.
Right-pointing arrows in the middle of a lane indicate that the lane is ending and you need to merge to the right. Again, you should get three arrows before the lane actually ends.


Crosswalks are marked with wide striped lines. Pedestrians ALWAYS have right-of-way. When crossing a crosswalk, you must slow down and stop if necessary. Once a person begins crossing the crosswalk (i.e., one foot on the crosswalk), they have right-of-way.
Bus stops sometimes have zig-zag yellow lines painted on them. It is OK to drive across these lines, but you may not stop or park there. By the way, in a city, you must allow a public transport vehicle (e.g., a bus) to leave it's stop. So be careful when passing a bus at a stop.
Zebras are diagonal white lines covering a piece of the road, usually where lanes begin or end (marked A in the drawing). You may not drive, stop or park on zebra lines.
Speed bumps and other elevations in the road (sometimes a crosswalk) may be marked with white triangles. Usually, they point in the direction of the bump, but sometimes they point away from the bump.
Sometimes when the speed limit drops, you'll see chevrons painted on the road to remind you to slow down. They're either very new or very old marks because they're not mentioned in the official books. Nevertheless, you might run across them.