Driving in France With a British Car

Two thirds of the world drive on the right side of the road. Even boats and airplanes drive on the right. But four island nations in Europe drive on the left – the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus. We live in the United Kingdom, a left-hand traffic country on the edge of a vast right-hand traffic area.

I love driving. I started driving as soon as I turned 16, the legal age in Canada. I stopped driving a few years later when I left my Toronto suburban home and the family car and moved across the country to Vancouver. There I walked, biked or took the bus for years.

When I was 25, working for one of the large forestry companies, I flew to Toronto arriving late at night, and after seven years of not driving picked up a rental car and drove out to a client site. I remember sitting behind the wheel of the rental car in the parking lot, with my co-worker leaning in the window, going over the basics of how a car works before he drove off to a different client and I drove onto the busy highways of southern Ontario and somehow made it to my destination. I spent two weeks there installing a computer payroll system and in the evenings I practiced driving around the town. It took a couple of days and I was back to full driving confidence.

Fiat 500
Pauline driving an old Fiat 500.

Now I have another driving challenge. We’ve been living in England for seven years and each summer we plan to take a ferry to France and drive our left-hand-drive car in a right-hand-drive world. Each year we change our minds, fly and get a rental car.

Not this year. The ferry from Poole to St. Malo is booked, the vacation rental in Cancale is booked. In mid-June we drive onto the ferry on the left and drive off on the right.

All our British friends do this with no problem. Of course, they are hard-wired to drive on the left and I am hard-wired to drive on the right. What happens when when I get to drive on the side of the road that I prefer (the right) but am in my UK car? We’ll see, won’t we.


Cheap holidays 2017

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

One thought on “Driving in France With a British Car”

  1. You would be facing the same thing post office workers face who drive the LLV postal vehicles. The big problem is right turns. You have the entire vehicle between you and the oncoming traffic.

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