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Priorité à droite

Frances S.A2Kwiziq community member

Priorité à droite

Bonjour. My husband and I will be in France in a few weeks and are renting a car. We’ll be in the Dordogne region on rural roads and even after reading about it I still don’t understand about stopping for cars entering from the right. It seems impractical to stop at every intersection on a road when a small road on the right has a car. Any hints on how this works ? Thank you. I’m using Lawless to work seriously on my French but am scared about driving as I’m only around a B1 level.

Asked 1 month ago
Maarten K.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Frances, 

I am currently doing and have done a reasonable amount of driving in France over many years of visiting. Have just returned to the East, after driving from here to Bretagne, Bordeaux, Aix-en- Provence, and passing near to Lyon, for example. We always take the more touristique routes avoiding ‘ autoroutes ‘ and ‘ nationales ‘ whenever possible. More than 30000 km at least over the years  - touch wood - never had a crash, but near misses are another thing !

 Priority is marked/indicated in advance, and on country roads that is usually before each crossing/intersection. In Bretagne, at least, it often alternates between you and the cross-road. You may think your road is more ‘ major ‘ but it is dangerous to assume that gives you priority. 

I have recently encountered one village with a general sign on entering that ‘priorité à droite’ was in play throughout the whole village - don’t worry, simple French that even I understood which will  give you no trouble. 

You need to be aware of the signs and follow them. If/when a car on your right has priority, it will very likely be taken ! 

Have you had a look at the road signs that indicate priority (indeed all the signs - especially familiarise yourself with the ‘ interdit’ signs, the no parking/standing signs, the priority signs on the now very common speed limiting constructions in the villages) ? They are mostly not the same signs that we have in Australia, so were completely new to me, and initially I didn’t always note them as passing. Now I am very aware of them, and always assume someone may appear suddenly from the right when approaching. 

As for slowing, being ready to stop - you should ! Not every driver will slow down appropriately, but recently driving through Bretagne with our nephew, we noted that despite being French native, Bretagne based for 23 years, he was meticulous about doing so. Not because he is tentative or nervous, but because it is safer ! Better to slightly annoy someone, than to crash ! 

A special word of caution for Dordogne - several years ago, before we went there for the first time, we were warned by a French friend from the East who had recently holidayed there that the ‘locals’ are renowned for their particular brand of driving - the middle of the road is frequently used, on corners and straights, and many rural roads are not very wide to start with ! 

Be prepared and extra cautious yourself. We can vouch that, although this sort of driving can happen anywhere, it was particularly obvious in the Dordogne region (apologies to any Dordogne residents reading this - absolutely love your part of the country). 

Also be aware that many speed limits are ‘ automatic ‘ in France - whenever you see a village sign, the limit drops to 50 km/hr unless you see other signs for lower or higher speeds ( 30 km/hr is common in parts of villages ) etc It is impossible to cover everything, so just read as much as possible before and be careful. If an intersection confuses, take your time and orientate - there is one particular intersection I have to go through reasonably often here that always ‘does my brain in’ - everything about it screams ‘ wrong ‘ to me compared to my long acquired automatic responses. I always stop a bit longer than most, take my time, put my ‘brain in order’, and then go. The biggest risk is doing the wrong thing in an emergency - so better to avoid them if possible ! 

Hope this helps - others may want to add their knowledge and experiences as well.

Priorité à droite

Bonjour. My husband and I will be in France in a few weeks and are renting a car. We’ll be in the Dordogne region on rural roads and even after reading about it I still don’t understand about stopping for cars entering from the right. It seems impractical to stop at every intersection on a road when a small road on the right has a car. Any hints on how this works ? Thank you. I’m using Lawless to work seriously on my French but am scared about driving as I’m only around a B1 level.

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