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New France Winter Laws, Snow Chains and Necessary Information


On 01 November 2021, a new law came into force in France. Legal requirements for winter tires and carrying / wearing snow chains at designated places.

This has caused a stir in some Facebook groups and forums, so let’s discuss. Don’t forget, if you are planning a trip to France, winter or summer, Grab your free France road trip checklist below.

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New France Winter Mandatory Equipment Act (often called the French Tire Act)

As of 01 November 2021, there are now 48 roads / territories in or near the French Mountains (Alps, Corsica, Massif Central, Massif Jurassian, Pyrenees, Massif Voges) Winter tires should be fitted or snow chains / socks should be worn Before driving on controlled roads regardless of weather conditions.

What does the new law mean?

The French want to “reduce road congestion and improve road safety in mountainous areas” when driving on snowy or icy roads.

Every year, unprepared vehicles block roads and cause accidents and they want to reduce them.

Prior to 01 November 2021, you only needed winter tires / chains when roads were marked B26 Mandatory special equipment It was actually covered with snow. Now, regardless of the current weather conditions, if you plan to drive on an affected road, you need to fit your tires or carry a chain.


Where is the affected area?

The affected categories are (currently):

Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Houte-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Côte-d’Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne Hérault , Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dome, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Haut– Rhin, Rh Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne and Territoire de Belfort.

However, this does not mean that every road in each division is covered কোন local councils and prefectures determine which roads and areas are affected. This map is taken from the French government website.


How do you know which road is affected?

New signs will tell you when you are about to enter a mandatory equipment area. Again, this is only mandatory between November 01 and March 31 each year আপনি you can ignore the symptoms at other times.

A sign shows you where the mandatory area begins and where it ends:

Signs of showing new winter compulsory equipment area in France
Signs of showing new winter compulsory equipment area in France

Do you need to comply?

If you are motorhomeing in France or driving in one of the affected areas between 01 November and 31 March each year and you are on a road marked as mandatory, you must:

  • Winter tires (marked by “3PMSF” (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake), marked “Alpine Marks” and either “MS” or “M&S”) are mounted on at least two steered wheels and at least two driving wheels. If the vehicle has multiple steering axles, these are the steering wheels of the original steering system.
  • 4-season / all season tires are not counted unless stamped “3PMSF” or at least “M + S”

Until November 1, 2024, only tires marked “M + S” will be tolerated.

Or

  • Carry snow chains or socks for at least two driving wheels

Or

If you have a heavy go or have a trailer

Heavy vehicles without trailers (I would recommend a motorhome as a heavy vehicle weighing more than 3.5 tons) In Chain or winter tires.

Heavy freight vehicles with trailers must carry snow chains for at least two wheels, Even if they are decorated Including winter tires.

Snow socks count?

Snow socks are undoubtedly cheap, fit and easy to use, not to mention better for your motorhome payload! And yes, they are allowed under the law.

However, these are not as tight as chains and are designed for short trips, not for a lot of travel in the snow, so get chains if you are planning a long trip or several short trips.

Whatever you choose, make sure you practice fitting them in advance – we accidentally order the wrong size chains and didn’t realize it until we were in the mountains. Luckily, it was all right but could be a big mistake.

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Does the law apply to motorcycles?

The law only applies to 4-wheeled vehicles, so it looks like motorcycles are exempt (but, to be honest, do you want to ride a motorcycle in the snow without the right tires ?!)

What is the law to keep winter tires in France?

In a word, no. If you carry chains or snow socks, you are covered by the law. But, to be honest, if you plan to go motorhome skiing or mountainous in the winter, wear all-season tires in the winter or very few times, and keep chains or socks with you.

Better safe than sorry!

What if I’m not properly equipped?

If you are spending the winter in Spain or ‘popping through the Alps’ and driving through an area where winter tires or snow chains are mandatory without the above conditions, the authorities can stop you and fine you 135. You may not be able to continue your journey.

B26 traffic sign

The B26 traffic sign (which shows the snow chain) will continue to mean that you must wear the chain on that road (not just carry) when the snow is on the ground, even outside during the winter. These are clearly marked on the roads and will have a chain area for you so you can pull and attach the chain if necessary.

Note: The French government makes it clear here that there will be no penalties for violating this law in the first year (so until March 2022). I have no clue why, but there it is!


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