Driving in France remains a genuine pleasure, with fantastic cars and wide open roads. There is a lot of paperwork and rules, but it keeps you safe as a car buyer and driver. Buying a car in France, whether new or used, is simple, but a lot of paperwork is involved. For general advice, it is always a good idea to consult your local Mairie (town hall), who will gladly advise on what is required.

If you’re relocating to France, transportation is one of the first things you’ll need to consider. While many major metropolitan areas have excellent public transportation systems, getting outside major cities will necessitate owning and driving a car.

If four wheels aren’t your thing, many French people prefer to travel by motorcycle, moped, or, in smaller towns, bicycle. Small vans are another popular mode of transportation in France if you need more space.

While buying a car anywhere can appear a hassle, this article will walk you through the most critical aspects of the process, such as where to find a car, how to register the car, the buying process, and many of the duties and special driving laws.

Types Of Cars To Buy In France

Citroen (pronounced sih-tro-n), Peugeot (puh-joh), and Renault are the three major French car manufacturers (ruh-no). If you are currently in France, you will see these cars everywhere. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous French automakers.

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Citroen is the first French car manufacturer we’ll look at, and a dual chevron distinguishes their vehicles on the front.

French industrialist André-Gustave founded Citroen in 1919. Citroen because his factories had nothing to produce after World War I ended. This endeavor established the first mass-production car company outside of the United States. Citroen pioneered the modern concept of establishing a sales and service network in addition to the automobile.

Citroen had grown to become Europe’s largest car manufacturer and the world’s fourth largest in just eight years. By 1955, the 2CV had become a French icon.


Citroen now manufactures a small number of cars, vans, SUVs, EVs, and utilitarian vehicles. Citroen offers fun, small, sporty cars aimed at teenagers at the lower end of their model lineup. However, as the price rises above 13,000€, their vehicles become more aimed at an adult demographic. Their most well-known vehicles are the Citroen C3 and C4:

Citroen has its luxury brand, “DS.” This is pronounced déesee (day-ess), the French word for “goddess.” The DS brand is positioning itself with luxurious, upscale vehicles to compete with German luxury.

Citroen is famous in France, as evidenced by their sales figures.


Renault, represented by a diamond logo, is the second car manufacturer. Renault also owns the Dacia and Lada car brands.

This French automobile company was founded in 1899 by two brothers.


The small and nimble Renault Twingo and the slightly larger Renault Clio are popular models in their lineup. Other popular vehicles include the Renault Megane, Renault Captur, Renault Talisman, and the Espace van. They even have an “Alaskan” pick-up truck available. This is one of Renault’s sedans, with prices starting at 28,700€ and going up to 39,800€.


Peugeot, pronounced “puh-joh,” is the final French manufacturer we’ll discuss today. Despite being last, the brand’s importance in the French automotive world is undeniable.

Peugeot dates back to 1896 in France when Armand Peugeot founded the company. Since then, the Peugeot brand has won several awards, produced military equipment during WWII, and has a racing history. The company now provides electric vehicles, utility vehicles, SUVs, RVs, family cars, and hatchbacks.

The lion emblem distinguishes the Peugeot brand. Peugeot’s best-selling models, the 208 and 308, sold like hotcakes in 2017.

Should I Bring/Import My Car To France, Or Should I Buy A New One In France?

You can get your car shipped to France, and many people do, especially if they come from within Europe. If you’re shipping a car from the United States, the cheapest port to ship to is Le Havre, which will cost between €770 and €1,000. If you ship a smaller vehicle, such as a motorcycle, the cost drops to around €430.

While the VAT on car shipping is relatively high, there are a few exceptions. If you’re only visiting France, you only need to pay a certain deposit. This deposit will be returned when your vehicle is exported from France.

As a US citizen, you can avoid paying taxes as part of your “work relocation.” In this case, you are not required to pay VAT and will only have to pay a 10% duty based on the value of your vehicle.

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How To Buy A Car In France?

  1. Decide the model of the vehicle you want. Because the best place to buy a new car is at the dealership of its brand, narrowing it down to a few options you’re interested in will save you a lot of time going back and forth between dealerships.
  2. Visit the dealership you want and take a test drive.
  3. Make a payment—usually a 50% deposit—and schedule future payments.
  4. Register your vehicle. The dealer frequently handles this.
  5. Obtain insurance. This has been privatized. Make sure to barter around for the best deal.
  6. Get on the road with your car!

What Is The Cost Of Owning A Car In France?

The price of a car in France, as in any other country, varies greatly depending on the make and model. A new Toyota Corolla, for example, costs around €21,499.

You’ll need to budget for gas, which in November 2017 was around €1.40 per liter. Your vehicle will require services and checks, such as registration and taxes. This price depends on your vehicle, but registration and taxes on a new, private vehicle average around €240.

Insurance is another significant cost factor that varies greatly depending on age, vehicle, gender, location, and plan. In France, however, the average cost of a comprehensive insurance policy is €850.

Where Can You Find A Car (And How)?

Finding a car usually involves knowing what make and model you want and then going to the dealership. If you’re okay with a used vehicle, the following websites are an excellent place to start:

  • AUTO Scout24
  • LaCentrale
  • autos.fr
  • auto-selection
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How Can I Pay For The Car?

Unless you buy an older car from a private seller, you’ll most likely pay for it with a credit or debit card (cash may be okay). You’ll most likely pay month to month after the initial transaction for your deposit.

If you plan to finance your car using your home bank account, an excellent way to save money and ensure you’re getting the best exchange rate is to convert your money using the mid-market rate. You can find the mid-market rate updated on Google.

You can open a borderless multi-currency account, allowing you to keep money in 27 different currencies. You can obtain your account information for an account in euros, British pounds, US dollars, or Australian dollars. This enables you to get payments from third parties for free. So, you can convert money from one currency to another whenever you need it or when the exchange rate is favorable for a small fee. Therefore, transfer money from your borderless account when you need money in your regular bank account.

How Can You Register A Car In France?

You must register your vehicle in France within a month of purchase if you officially declare your residence in France. Expats will need the following documents to register:

  • Document of sale
  • ID
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of insurance
  • Certificat de situation certifies that the car isn’t associated with unpaid fees.

If you’re buying a new car, the dealer will most likely handle everything for you, but if you’re buying a used car, you’ll have to handle everything yourself.

Registration fees vary greatly depending on the vehicle’s horsepower, and you can look up the exact cost for your vehicle online. However, on average, this cost is around €300.

What Should You Know About Driving A Car In France?

Driving in France will look slightly different than driving in other countries, but the same rules across the EU. Here are some things to watch to avoid traffic violations, tickets, and accidents.

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What Equipment Is Mandatory To Have In Your Car In France?

To drive legally in France, you need to equip your car with the following:

  • Warning triangle
  • GB sticker
  • NF approved breathalyzer
  • Headlamp beam converters
  • High visibility jacket

If any of the above mentioned equipment is missing from your vehicle, you will be issued an on-the-spot ticket.

What Driving Laws Should You Be Aware Of?

In France, traffic travels on the right. While many laws are the same in Europe and North America, fines in France are collected on the spot, so be prepared to pay as soon as you’re pulled over. It’s also worth noting that the blood alcohol limit in France is lower than in the United States or the United Kingdom, at.05%.

What Types Of Driving Licenses Are Accepted In France?

While driving on a foreign license in France is legal for vacation purposes, it is not a long-term solution. If you are currently living in France and own a registered car, you must obtain a French license.

What Kind Of Useful Vocabulary Is Helpful For Me?

Even if you don’t speak French well, it’s essential to have at least a few words under your belt when shopping and driving. Some of the essential ones to be aware of are:

Car and Driving VocabularyFrench Translation
Speed limitLimitation de vitesse
Car dealershipConcessionnaire automobile
Car accidentAccident de voiture
Tow truckDĂ©panneuse

Final Words

Purchasing a car allows you to explore all that France has to offer. Good luck with your car purchase, and have a wonderful time in Europe!