French Road Signs – Priorité a droite? Apply or ignore?

Embarrassed. A couple of days after my awful mistake I am still embarrassed.

Last Saturday, I was taking Iona and Joe to a judo competition in Malestroit. The road is quite a long straight fast road. There were cars behind me. I vaguely remember a black Mondeo stopping at a side road wanting to get on to the main road to Malestoit and wondered if it was Emrics’ parents as Emric goes to judo as well.

We arrived and whilst Iona and Joe were getting changed, and through the sea of parents I saw Emrics’ mother. She didn’t look very happy. She approached me.

‘Not very nice that, rude in fact, don’t you know the FRENCH highway code?, Priorité à droite?

Oh help

An unknown man behind me, replied to Emrics’ mother, ‘You must be the only person in Brittany who adheres to the priorité à droite ‘.

This did not help.

She stomped off.

Should we apply the priorité à droite rule or not?  The overriding rule of the road in France is priorité à droite which means you need to give way to traffic coming from your right. It is an archaic law dating back to the time of the horse and cart and for some unknown reason has never been repealed.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, but as with any French law there are exceptions :-

French road signs - yellow diamond with white border

Priorité a droite in France

Yellow diamond with a white border on French road signs

The Yellow diamond with a white border indicates that the priorité à 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 displayed.

French road markings with dotted and solid white lines

Although technically not a priorité à 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.

French road signs - white post with a red band

White post with a red band

White posts with a red band on the road side in France

These is only used in rural situation and indicate firstly that there is a turning to your right and that that road does not have the priorité a droite.

I really don’t think that I am any the wiser, and I do hope that Emrics’ mother will forgive my poor driving!…

2 Comments

  1. Joce August 1, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Hi, I just want to point out that the white posts with a red band do not imply anything about which priority rule to apply at the intersection.

  2. Fiona May 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    We have been visiting France for a few years and have never understood this rule. Even my French husband is confused too. Thanks for clearing that up for us.

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