Category: french laws

January 3rd, 2009 by ptinfrance

vespa scooters
Some time during the 90s, Europe passed legislation that alllowed driver’s license holders, experienced with at least 2 years of driving, to also legally drive scooters up to 125 cc. If the scooter was less than 80 cc, you didn’t need a license or training at all (So it was very common to see 14-year-olds driving these scooters on the road…). This is about to change because of the non-negligible percentage of traffic death due to scooters (scooters and motorcycles account for 10.1% of all traffic accidents and 18% of all traffic deaths.) I believe the number of scooter drivers increased particularly in the last few years because of the sudden inflation, rising gas costs and exorbitant price of getting a car driver’s license.

Strangely, a new law was passed during the wee hours of the night on Christmas eve 2008, and just a few days later, the law became in effect January 1, 2009. That’s probably one of the quickest passed laws in France, ever.

So, here’s the result: The Ministry of the Interior has enforced that car drivers (with Type B permit and 2 years of driving experience and driving a scooter 51 cc to 125cc) either get a motorbike license (Type A) or follow a specific, 3-hour scooter training, involving emergency breaking and balancing alone and with a passenger – which costs between €110 to €180 depending on the moto école.

The 14-year olds+ driving scooters less than 50 cc are obligated to follow a different training called Le Brevet de Sécurité Routière (BSR).

If you are caught without a permit you risk a fine of €135 and a retraction of 3 points from your driver’s license.

Will the Ministry of the Interior follow with imposing a mandatory training for bicyclists? We wonder…

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Posted in cars/bikes/etc, conspiracy theories, daily life, french laws, news, politics, tips

November 25th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From torrentfreak:

“French record labels have received the green light to sue four US-based companies that develop P2P applications, including the BitTorrent client Vuze, Limewire and Morpheus. Shareaza is the fourth application, for which the labels are going after the open source development platform SourceForge.

Société civile des Producteurs de Phonogrammes en France (SPPF), an umbrella group for several record labels in France, claims that the four file-sharing applications facilitate mass copyright infringement. Although the companies (and applications) themselves have nothing to do with copyright infringement, SPPF believes it has a strong case.

The record labels argue that the Vuze and the others are knowingly distributing software with the purpose to permit unauthorized access to copyrighted works. In essence they are saying that everything, or every application which allows a user to share files, will be indeed used for illegal purposes. In contrast, in the US, companies that don’t encourage their users to commit copyright infringement with their applications, are not acting illegally.

SPPF had already sued the various companies and organizations last year, but until now it has been unclear whether the US based companies behind the applications could be prosecuted under French law. A French court has now ruled that this is indeed possible, which means that they can proceed to court.

Recent French legislation which inspired the labels to go after the P2P companies, suggests that all P2P applications must have a feature to block the transfer of unauthorized copyright works. The clients that are sued by SPPF obviously don’t have such a feature. In fact, it is questionable whether it would be technically possible to develop such a filter. Nevertheless, SPPF demands it, and is claiming millions of dollars in damages for lost revenue.

Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa stated in a response to TorrentFreak, “While we appreciate the intent of the new French law, we believe SPPF’s complaint is misguided. Vuze is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content using new technology. In that sense, our interests are aligned with the interests of all content owners, including SPPF’s members, against piracy.”

“We are disappointed that SPPF has taken this approach, given that our business is dedicated to the distribution of legitimate content,” BianRosa added. “SPPF’s claims against Vuze are simply wrong. The Vuze business complies fully with both French and American law. The recent ruling of the French Court was solely on a jurisdictional issue, not on any merits, and we believe it is in error.”

Interestingly, SPPF is also going after Sourceforge, the open source development website, because it hosts the P2P application Shareaza. Putting aside the discussion on the responsibilities of application developers for their users activities, the decision to go after SourceForge for hosting a application that can potentially …” Read the full article

Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, news, products, weird

November 8th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From torentfreak:

“Edging ever closer to becoming law, France’s “three-strikes” proposals have received support in the French Senate which voted overwhelmingly in favor for these draconian measures to deal with piracy. Now, a new report suggests that online piracy has become something of a ‘national sport’ in France.

The online file-sharing debate is really heating up in France. Contrary to advice from the European Court of Justice, France is pressing ahead with its plan for a controversial “3 strikes” or “graduated response” framework to deal with alleged file-sharers. Now, supported by a Le Figaro headline, “Piracy Has Become a National Sport in France”, a new study from market research company TNS Sofres is set to add fuel to the fire.

According to the poll of 2,011 people over 15 years old, the French use a diverse range of digital media to store or play pirated content. Of those questioned, 34% said their media players contained pirated files, with 20% admitting they go as far as using external hard drives to store illicit content. The USB storage key was used by 8% of respondents to shift illegal content, with 7% admitting to using mutimedia-capable cellphones.

Although the piracy ‘problem’ seems to be massive in France, it is certainly not limited to that one country. Just over the English Channel from France lies the UK, where an estimated 6 million people engage in online piracy – roughly 10% of the population. Across the pond, in the United States, a 2007 study found that 18 percent of the total US online population downloaded at least 1 movie from the Internet, illegally.

The French survey shows that the ‘problem’ is not limited to the younger generation, as is often assumed – it affects the entire population. The report further suggests that the actual numbers might be much greater than reported, but with news of draconian measures to deal with online piracy making headlines regularly, just how many people are prepared to be honest about their piracy habits?” [source]

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Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, games/software/tech, news, weird

October 15th, 2008 by ptinfrance

french coffee and cafes going downhill

Over several years now, a strange thing has happened in France: the coffee started to suck. Yes, there were cafes that served terrible coffee forever, but for the most part in the early 2000s, it was still flavorful, very drinkable sludge espresso. It was French coffee, the coffee that I expected to have each time I came to France. I liked it, and the quality was very consistent from cafe to cafe. So when we moved to France six years ago, I was happy to be able to live the cafe experience, meeting people, hanging out, watching passers-by and sipping tasty coffee as often as I pleased. I used to always be surprised that I wouldn’t get the shakes if I had a double shot. However, soon afterward, I began not really enjoying my cuppa because of a declining quality, and in some cases, I developed a strange rash from drinking some brands of coffee, not to mention, getting the shakes (which I get when I drink American coffee). Slowly and surely, I reduced my consumption of coffee, and today, I don’t drink any coffee, whatsoever.

I miss it but I can’t seem to find anything I like. Apparently, I am not alone.

More and more people have stopped going to cafes, which has forced many cafes to close. In fact, since the beginning of this year, 610 cafes in France have closed their doors to the public forever. They just couldn’t make it. Many of these cafes had been in business for many generations.

Why did this happen? Expert have found many reasons that have played a contributing role, but for me, ultimately two were responsible, and it’s specifically these reasons that acted as the final coups de grace:

1.) The Case of the Free Coffee Machines – In the early 2000s, thousands of cafes were offered “free machines” for their establishments. “Free” is not entirely accurate and this “free” had heavy strings attached. In exchange for the free machines, the cafes were obliged to use coffee supplied by the company that offered the free machines. Guess what? That coffee is CRAP, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which company offered the free machines. (see appropriately numbered, number 2 below)

2.) Good coffee companies were bought by evil corporations – There is no doubt in my mind that corporate mergers brought quality down in coffee; it happened right before my very eyes and taste buds.

There are other factors why cafes have shut down.

3.) People stopped going to cafes. Why? The coffee sucked! Also #4 below.

4.) Weak Purchasing Power – Crazy inflation occurred when France turned to the euro. Prices went up but salaries did not. That said, even with less money to dedicate to little luxuries, I feel that people would still frequent cafes if the coffee was good.

5.) The popularity of home coffee makers using capsules – I hate these with a passion, and I hate that they have become so popular. I don’t care what they taste like because I find them to be very unfriendly to the environment. So wasteful. Why oh WHY did George Cluny agree to do those “What Else” spots? Doesn’t he CARE? Having said that, I think people in general were looking for alternatives to find more tasty coffees since they couldn’t find them at the cafes.

6.) The Smoking Ban – Since smoking is no longer allowed in cafes, that has hurt businesses in a big way.

Related: Dirty Secrets of a Paris Cafe Waiter, What happens when Europeans watch too much American TV, Bamboo Coffee Filters,

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Posted in articles, business / economy, cultural differences, daily life, environment, food and drinks, french laws, health, products, tips, weird

October 5th, 2008 by ptinfrance

From macworld:

“Network operator Orange will rate the environmental impact of the fixed-line and mobile phones it sells, it said Friday.

The company will publish eco-ratings for the first 30 products on its French Web-site in mid-October and will extend it to all the products it sells next year, it said.

Orange is the brand used by France Télécom for its mobile phone and Internet access activities in France, the U.K. and other European countries. Orange is the exclusive service provider for Apple’s iPhone in France; it also provides iPhone service in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Liechtenstein, Romania, and Slovakia.

Orange’s ratings initially concern its French stores and networks, and are based on five indicators, compiled by the company BIO Intelligence Service:

* CO2 assessment, a measure of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the phone’s manufacture and use;
* Energy efficiency, a gauge of the phone’s power consumption and of any features that allow consumption to be reduced;
* Resource preservation, a broad rating of whether the materials used to make the product are nonrenewable or whether, like the gold and tantalum used in electrical connections and capacitors, they come from what Orange describes as “sensitive economic or social environments”;
* Limitation of dangerous substances, a measure of whether the phone avoids the use of toxic chemicals—although the most dangerous of these are already prohibited by European Union law;
* Waste reduction, a rating of whether the device can be repaired and whether it or its packaging can be recycled.

Orange’s program, developed in conjunction with environmental group WWF, could give the French government some food for thought.

After the success of an eco-tax to penalize buyers of polluting vehicles and reward purchasers of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions, the government had talked of extending the measures to other products. Those plans were postponed last month because, the government said, there were no clear environmental criteria for products other than cars.

In France mobile phones—and most other electrical and electronic goods—are already subject to a special tax called “eco-participation,” intended to fund recycling of the products at the end of their lives. Although the current eco-tax on mobile phones differs from that for, say, photocopiers, it’s the same for all models of phone, and at just €0.01 (US$.01), is nowhere near enough to influence customers to choose more environmentally friendly products.”

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Posted in articles, daily life, environment, french laws, games/software/tech, health, nature, news, products, shopping, weird

October 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

From bbcnews:

“…They are angry that the law does not allow them to use more modern hair-removal techniques on their clients.

It follows a series of prosecutions for professional misconduct against beauticians for using laser and “intense pulsed light” treatments.

Under a 1962 decree these more sophisticated methods are the preserve of qualified dermatologists.

But France’s National Confederation of Beauty Institutes (CNAIB) protests that customers nowadays expect the latest epilation technology, like “flash lamps”.

On Monday hundreds of beauty workers – estheticiennes – demonstrated outside the health ministry in Paris to demand that the industry’s governing regulations be brought up to date.

They accuse dermatologists and other professional groups of waging a turf war to keep out new competition.

“French beauticians are the only ones in Europe…..” Continue reading

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Posted in articles, cultural differences, daily life, french laws, nature, news, people, weird

September 22nd, 2008 by ptinfrance

From Timesonline:

“France may be home to some of the world’s finest wines but it could be about to join the tiny club of Muslim states that forbid their promotion on the internet.

Winemakers and other players in the drinks industry are fighting to avert a ban on advertising, sales and even vineyard websites that has been looming ever since a court ruled that the internet should be included in France’s strict laws regarding alcohol advertising.

The Heineken beer company was forced by the ruling last February to block French access to its corporate site. Since then, some of the biggest drinks brands have shut out French visitors for fear of prosecution. “Today in France, the sight of a bottle of wine has become as offensive as a picture of war or pornography,” said Daniel Lorson, a spokesman for CIVC, the industry body of champagne producers.

The industry complains that it is being demonised and that an internet ban would penalise hugely one of the glories of the French economy and the national heritage. A click from France on Courvoisier cognac, for example, elicits the message: “Sorry, the regulations of your country do not authorise us to give you access to our site.”
Web users from France are even banned from dropping in on Orlando wines in South Australia, because they are owned by France’s Pernod Ricard drinks group. The site does, however, welcome visitors from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Even the…. Read the article

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Posted in advertising & marketing, articles, cultural differences, daily life, food and drinks, french laws, news, politics, products, shopping, weird, wine

August 21st, 2008 by ptinfrance

nude naturist beach

Before the weather gets too chilly, I thought I’d mention the village of Cap d’Agde, where being butt naked is obligatory. If interested, you’ll still have time to enjoy the sun à poil (in your birthday suit).

The village of Cap d’Agde, also called, “The Naked City,” is a seaside port and resort along the Mediterranean not far from the cities of Carcassone, Nimes and Montpellier. (in the Hérault department, in the région of Languedoc-Roussillon). It is supposedly the world’s largest naturist village. “Naturism,” which many people call nudism, is legal so it isn’t uncommon to see families walking around naked in supermarkets, shops, banks, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, camp sites, etc. The beach in Cap d’Agde, which extends across 3 kilometers of beach, enforces a “nudity mandatory” policy, which means you MUST be nude there. I’m not sure what happens if you have any clothes on. Do the police rip them off of you? Are you arrested for wearing a sock? What happens in the COLD winter?

get naked or else

So anyway, this is a place where you can literally let it all hang out, perfect for an even tan with no bathing suit lines. Definitely not for everybody, and for the most part, it’s really no big deal – But don’t be led to think it’s entirely a wholesome place to vacation with the kids. Cap d’Agde is a lot of things.

While it IS perfectly okay to vacation here with kids, the place fulfills a whole spectrum of expectations, primarily regarding sexual satisfaction. For example, during the day families and kids are at the beach to have fun in the sun, but at the same time, others may be scouting the territory to find potential sexual partners for the evening or couples will be looking for other couples to switch partners with. Say, you’re invited to a party one night in the village. It would very a rare occasion if that party didn’t involve gratuitous non-committal sex with multiple partners. In other words, it has some innocence but on the other hand, anything goes. So with all the swingers clubs scattered amidst the family shops and restaurants, and the people, voyeurs and all (yes there are naked voyeurs here), it all seems pretty relaxed. For some reason these two incongruous communities: happy family fun and the old school naturists, and the sex motivated swingers with pierced genitals, work harmoniously side by side.

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Posted in cultural differences, french laws, funny, Languedoc-Roussillon, nature, travel and places, travel tip

August 21st, 2008 by ptinfrance

From AP:

“France’s broadcast authority has banned French channels from marketing TV shows to children under 3 years old, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age.

The ruling also ordered warning messages for parents on foreign baby channels that are broadcast in France _ such as Baby TV, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and BabyFirstTV, which has ties to News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment.

The High Audiovisual Council, in a ruling published Wednesday, said it wanted to “protect children under 3 from the effects of television.”

France’s minister for culture and communication, Christine Albanel, issued a “cry of alarm” to parents in June about channels dedicated 24 hours a day to baby-targeted programming. In a newspaper interview, she called them “a danger” and urged parents not to use them to help their children get to sleep.

She was referring to BabyFirstTV and Baby TV, two foreign channels that can be seen in France on cable television.

The council’s ruling aims to prevent the development of such programming on French channels, by preventing them from marketing content as suitable for the under-3 age group.

It also orders French cable operators that air foreign channels with programs for babies to broadcast warning messages to parents. The messages will read: “Watching television can slow the development of children under 3, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them.”

The ruling cites health experts as saying that interaction with other people is crucial to early child development.

“Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens,” the ruling said.

When BabyFirstTV began airing in the U.S. in 2006, it escalated an already heated national debate. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies should be kept away from television altogether. Critics say such channels are used as a baby sitter.

BabyFirstTV and other companies say their products are designed to be watched by babies and parents together in an interactive manner.

Guy Oranim, chief executive officer of BabyFirstTV, said he “respectfully objects” to the French council’s ruling. He said the channel’s content is carefully screened to ensure it is positive and educational, and that the channel encourages parents to make sure their babies don’t go overboard on TV but include it in a balanced schedule.

“One of reasons we created BabyFirstTV is that we thought there was no good programming for babies on TV, and according to the research that is out there, most of the babies are watching TV anyway,” he said.

The three companies behind BabyFirstTV are Regency Enterprises, a film and TV production company that is a partner of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment; Kardan N.V., an investment group based in the Netherlands and Israel; and Bellco Capital, a private Los Angeles-based investment fund.”

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Posted in articles, cultural differences, daily life, education, french laws, kids, news, politics, tv and movies

August 6th, 2008 by ptinfrance

roasted chicken potato chipsGet ready to pay more for snacks, anything considered fattening and food and beverage items deemed generally unhealthful.

The French government needs money! Forget about them caring about the health and well-being of the people, they’ve blatantly come out and stated they will tax these foods because it will be another tool to help the country’s financial recovery.

What are they taxing? “Certains produits “trop gras, trop sucrés, trop salés qui ne sont pas de stricte nécessité” Products that are too fatty, too sugary, too salty, that aren’t of strict necessity will be taxed a whopping 19.6%. Even one of the last remaining affordable items in France, wine, will be subject to this tax. KWA?!

This law will not go into effect for a while, so you have some time to try to accept this new change, which will be hard to swallow for many junk food junkies.

Article: Le Monde

Related: Roasted Chicken Flavor Potato Chips, Ketchup Flavored French Fry Chips, Smoked Ham Flavored Bugles

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Posted in daily life, food and drinks, french laws, news, politics, products, shopping

July 25th, 2008 by ptinfrance

baby with iphoneBy now, you’ve probably heard about a correlation between cell phone use and cancer. But geez, you can’t listen to those things because you absolutely love your cell phone. Who doesn’t? You were so freakin’ relieved to find out that those popcorn popping celphones were a hoax. Don’t lie. This love you have for your cute electronic companion has conveniently ousted from your head any negative publicity your mobile beloved has received. You really want to ignore them! Here’s you, “cell phones are dangerous??? NAH….. Don’t be silly! Cancer? Pfff. That is ridiculous. I use mine all the time and I’m fine!”

Do you say that because you don’t WANT it to be true? You can want all you like but just because you don’t want it to be true doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

No one WANTED cigarettes to be the leading cause of death, cancer, heart disease and lung disease (among other things), did they? Many cigarettes smokers said, “they smoked all the time and they were fine!”

No one wanted to believe that the building material called asbestos would kill them. No one wanted to think that anything was wrong with their PVC window frames? Check your hospitals, do they have any PVC? Answer: No. “But the PVC pipes and windows were so cheap,” people say…

Hospitals also don’t allow cell phone use, or wifi for that matter. Do people wonder WHY? I wish they did.

The warnings have been around for a long time but it has been in French news more and more this year. I mean, you can’t let your peeps keep doing harmful things to their bodies, can you France?

French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin also went on France 2 TV and rehashed the well-worn theory connecting cell phone use with cancer.

In the U.S. neurosurgeons can’t admit that cell phones are dangerous and cause brain cancer, but they WILL admit that they NEVER put a cell phone up to their heads. Ever! What do BRAIN SURGEONS know, anyway!??!

Hang on. Aside from being rant-errific, I do have some useful information that might prompt you to reduce the amount of risk to which you subject yourself.

Both Europe and the U.S. have defined safety limits for exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy produced by mobile devices. The SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) or DAS (débit d’absorption spécifique) in France is a measure or index of the rate at which RF energy is absorbed by the body when exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic field.

In the United States the FCC requires that phones sold have a SAR level at or below 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) taken over a volume of 1 gram of tissue.

In the European Union, the SAR limit is 2 W/kg, averaged over ten grams of tissue. For whole body exposure there is a limit of 0.08 Watt/kg averaged over the whole body.

What you can do: Find out the index of your mobile phone then act accordingly. If it’s too high, get a different phone that is safer. Here’s a chart with a list of phones and their SARs.

As an example, the new 3G iPhone’s SAR (or indice DAS in French) is 1.388 W/kg. The first generation iPhone was 0.974 W/Kg. Other examples: Motorola Razr2 v9 is 0.52. The Samsung SLM is 0.48. As low as some of the phone’s indices are, neurosurgeons STILL won’t put them up to their heads!

What you can do: Like neurosurgeons, DON’T put the cellphone up to your head. Use speaker phone mode. Note: Bluetooth devices and unshielded wired-earphones amplify the signal. In other words, they radiate more, NOT less.

What you can do: Remember that the industries will ALWAYS deny the existence of any dangers. Not only that, they are responsible for those “counter” studies that come out after researchers warn about the dangers of a product. Scientific studies have been suppressed by the cell phone industry and the government to protect their profits. Do not buy that game.

What you can do: Reduce your cell phone use to a bare minimum. Keep conversations short.

What you can do: Don’t let kids use the phone at all if possible. If they must, not for more than a minute at a time. Ideally, they should never use them or use them only for emergency situations.

What you can do: Turn your cell phone off when it isn’t needed and especially when you are driving your car. When driving with your cell phone on, the waves ricochet inside the car because cars are metallic, creating a Faraday Cage.

What you can do: When possible, keep the cell phone as far away from your body as much as possible.

Links: SAR, Get Little Kids Away from the iPhone and iPod Touch, Cell Phone Dangers Revealed, Patents Prove Cell Phone Dangers from Wired, Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation, Chemical and Cell Phones, Harmful Effects of Cell Phones, Hazards of the Wireless Age, Reduce Risks, Mobile Phones more dangerous than smoking

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Posted in articles, daily life, french laws, games/software/tech, health, kids, news, politics

July 24th, 2008 by ptinfrance

wwi memorial vimy france

I think there might be more visitors to Vimy from now on…

From afp:

“A French couple were given a four-month suspended sentence and made to pay one euro in damages to the Canadian state for making a porn video at a World War I memorial, officials said Wednesday.

The verdict came just six months after another couple were fined for taking nude photographs of themselves at the same memorial at Vimy in northern France, which pays tribute to the 60,000 Canadians who died in the Great War.

In the latest ruling Tuesday by a court in the town of Arras, the married couple in their thirties, who put the video on a paying website, were also fined 500 euros each after they were found guilty of exhibitionism.

The symbolic one euro in damages was ordered because the Canadian state was a civil plaintiff in the case.

“The memorial has been known for a long time as a place where exhibitionism and voyeurism is common,” prosecutor Elise Bozzolo told AFP.

The memorial, two huge pylons that can be seen for miles around, was created in memory of the April 1917 battle of Vimy Ridge, a costly victory for Canada.

The site draws around half a million visitors each year.”

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Posted in articles, cultural differences, french laws, funny, news, Nord Pas de Calais, stories, travel and places, travel tip, weird

July 1st, 2008 by ptinfrance

obligatory roadside reflective vest and triangle in france
Beginning today, cars in France must carry a gilet de sécurité / bright, yellow vest with 2 reflective stripes and a triangle de pré-signalisation / a reflective red warning triangle. These are to be used if you have an accident or must pull off the road for break downs and other emergencies. Note: The vest must be in the cab portion of the car, that is, where the drivers and passengers are, and not in the trunk.

The police will be performing random checks to verify that you have these obligatory items. If you’re caught without them after October, 1, you risk a fine of 90 to 135 euros.

You can sometimes get free kits with vests and triangle at a gas station if you have your oil changed or have your tires checked. Otherwise, they are available to purchase at gas stations for about 15 – 20 euros.

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Posted in cars/bikes/etc, daily life, french laws, news