Information Vendee History
Droite Priority to the
Before we start, it
must be stated that the following is only a guide, it is in no way intended to
be construed as facts of law. There is no substitute to knowing the law albeit
that this may not be easy to find.
The overriding rule of the road in
France is Priorité a droite which basically means that you must give way to traffic coming
from your right. It is an archaic law that dates back to the times of the horse
and cart and for some unknown reason has never been repealed. It is true to say
however that the French have spent thousands of millions of Euros to indicate
that it does not apply in most circumstances. We have tried to explain some of
the mysteries surrounding this law, but the old driving proverb is very apt
here. "if in doubt put both feet out" i.e. Slow down or stop.
It is not
surprising therefore that getting to the bottom of the law was not easy, and
even the French Highway Code has virtually nothing on the law. We have asked
French policemen, older drivers and those who have just passed there test and
they all seem to have different versions of it.
Before you get too worried it is important to
note that we could find no example on any major road where this law is applied.
It is possible that it may be applied in some very isolated out of the way
places, which see little or no traffic, and also in some towns and villages,
although even in these places the vast majority of intersections have had
appropriate measures taken to reverse the law. Even where they haven't you will
find that everyone has come to except that pulling out in front of fast moving
traffic is not the thing to do, even if it is your right of way.
THERE IS NO
Prioite a Droite on Autoroutes.
So what are the signs regarding Priorite a
On major N roads (national routes) and some D roads (department
The Yellow diamond with a white border indicates that the prioite a droite
does not apply to the road ahead.
When this exemption ceases then another
sign with the yellow diamond with a diagonal black line through it will be
When you enter a village or town the sign for that community
the end of the exemption and normally it will have the yellow
with the black diagonal through it, but not always.
The same applies to side
roads where the exemption finishes
sold white lines. Although technically not a priority a droite sign.they do in
fact indicate that nobody has the right to cross them, and whereas many people
have thought that these were just to indicate the side of the road, which of
course they do, they also mean that, you have prioity which if you think about
it is logical.
If you are driving down a road you cannot cross a dotted line
1. A car is coming in the opposite direction as he has priority
2.Cross from the inside lane into the outside lane on a dual carriageway if
a vehicle is using it as he has priority.
3. At a giveway sign,roundabout or
anywhere else as it is an indication that you are crossing into someone
So this is by far the most common form of indicating an exemption
to the law.
This use of
the dotted line is widespread althought note that it normally ends at the
village or town sign as in the photo to the left and restarts as you leave the
community as in the photo above, however like all things in France there are
exceptions, although in general the lines continue into the town, often to the
first roundabout or traffic lights
The use of
white posts with a red band.
This is only used in rural situations and
indicates firstly that there is a turning to your right and that that road does
not have the Prioity a Droite. This is further backed up by, in the simplest
form a similar post just inside the road as in photos opposite. In this example
there is no dotted white line,
In the photo below there is a dotted white
line and in many cases a sign saying Cedez la Passage (give way)
however one sign that does indicate that the side road does have the priority as
in the photo below.
By and large these are not common and are being replaced
with a give way sign and dotted line to indicate to you more visually that you
do not have the priority on the road ahead
As you can see
this is not a simple issue and it would certainly have been easier to repeal the
old law than to have had to go to so much palarva to indicate that they
really don't want it.
to Driving in the Vendée
This information is given solely as a guide
and should not be taken as the law. Where as we have taken every possible care
to ensure the information is correct we cannot be held responsible for any
The sign to
the right indicates that you do have priority and that traffic coming from your
right must give way
accordance with the law "and Freedoms" of January 6, 1978, you have the right to
access and rectify information concerning you. If you wish to exercise this
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