Trip to France: What will change next week

Chains or winter tires will be mandatory from Tuesday in hill towns. In total, 4,173 municipalities in the Pyrenees, Massif Central, Alps, Jura Massif and Vosges Massif are subject to this obligation. It is valid from November 1 to March 31.

In total, 4,173 municipalities in 34 departments in the Pyrenees, Massif Central, Alps, Jura Massif and Vosges Massif are subject to this obligation. It is valid from November 1 to March 31.

The equipment is mandatory on all roads, especially in Cantal, Haute-Loire, Loesser, Savoy, Haute-Savoy and Haute-Alpes. In contrast, some principals felt that this obligation was not justified in their field, as in Correz, Nivre or Corsica.

Should we brace ourselves on major roads?

It is good to be equipped with national and motorway crossings of the Alps and the Massif Central, with duties in force in several departments and municipalities.

Some axes are accessible without equipment, such as the A35 and A36 motorways in the Haut-Rhin, or the national 59 and 159 that cross the Vosges between Luneville and Celestad.

Watch out for the signs! Those showing a mountain, a suitcase of chains and a tire mark the entrances and exits of areas where winter equipment is mandatory.

Tires or socks?

Light vehicles, utility vehicles and motorhomes must be equipped with four winter or “all-season” tires or carry metal snow chains or removable textile socks, which make it possible to equip at least two driving wheels.

Coaches, buses and heavy goods vehicles without trailer or semi-trailer are subject to the same obligations.

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Heavy goods vehicles with a trailer or semi-trailer equipped with winter tires must have snow chains to fit at least two drive wheels.

Can we choose “all season” tires?

Winter tires come under the name “PMSF” (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake), recognizable by the presence of the “Alpine symbol” and one of the M+S, MS or M&S signs.

Winter tires provide better grip when the temperature drops below 7ºC and on wet or snowy roads, with a large number of sipes and deep grooves. But their soft rubber makes them wear out quickly.

An “all-season” tire has a tread pattern similar to winter tires and is effective between -10ºC and +30ºC. Its sales have exploded in recent years: it is cheap to buy and above all avoids changing its tires at the first frost. However the best “all seasons” are less efficient on snow than a winter tire and slightly less efficient than a summer tire above 7ºC. They can increase consumption.

“If you go skiing once, wear 4 seasons, if you go up often, put on winter tires”, summarizes Gerald Tisser, manager of the three Point-S centers between Lyon and the Alps.

Punishments

The Department of Road Safety said that a permit must be issued for equipment shortages but the amount of the fine has not yet been determined. In the first winter of the application, in 2021-2022, public authorities did not take action, mainly “pedagogical” activities.

Until then, specific equipment was mandatory only on roads where a sign indicating a white chain on a blue background was installed when covered with snow.

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The aim of the new regulations is to improve user safety by reducing the specific risks of driving on snow or icy roads, referring to road safety.

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