Car breakdowns

If you are going to buy travel / medical insurance, think about your car too. At this point it may be considering taking out a joint bank account which gives you all these in the account package, like Nationwide. It could work out considerably cheaper and offer annual cover.

Below is some information for contacts and phone numbers , including words and phrases that may help you.

Local garages in Brantome:

CITROEN Garage Desvergne Agent 0553 35 9520

27 av Andre Maurois Place Dit Brantome , 24310 BRANTOME IN PERIGORD  

BOURGEIX garage 0553 05 7157

If you are in Brantome and need help, either call us or try the Tourist Office

What happens if I break down in France?

If you break down on a motorway in France, even if you have European breakdown recovery in place, your first call shouldn’t be to the AA/ RAC or whoever you use.

French motorways are privately managed so instead of calling the AA/ RAC, first use the emergency telephones – these are orange and positioned every 2km along the motorway. If you can’t get to one of these orange phones, call emergency services on 112. 

If you break down on other roads, that aren’t motorways, you can call the RAC for recovery and assistance straight away.

Once you’ve been towed to a designated safe area, call your breakdown provider whose 24/7 English-speaking helpline will assist you. They’ll liaise with the external service team they partner with, who  will come out to either fix your vehicle at the roadside or, if we can’t do that, tow it to the nearest garage for further repairs. Depending on your level of cover, they may pay towards garage labour costs, onward travel expenses and accommodation fees.

UK European help lines

AA 00 800 88 77 66 55  
In France? from landline 08 25 09 88 76 or 04 72 17 12 00

RAC Call the RAC on 0800 942044

Important numbers to pop in your phone

It’s useful to have important phone numbers stored in your contacts, including:

  • 0033 472 4352 44 – RAC European Breakdown from a French landline
  • 0033 472 4352 44 – RAC European Breakdown from anywhere in Europe
  • 112 – Emergency Services
  • +33 (0) 1 44 51 31 00 – British Embassy in Paris

If you’re travelling en route to a hotel or other accommodation, it’s also useful to have contact numbers relating to these as you can update on your situation.

Rules of the road in France

The rules of the road in Europe differ to those in the UK and France is no different, so make sure you read up on these before you travel. Some of the most critical laws when driving in France are:

  • Drive on the right and overtake on the left
  • At intersections, drivers give way to vehicles approaching from their right
  • Sounding the horn is only to be done sparingly
  • Seats belts are compulsory for drivers and all passengers
  • It’s illegal to drive in France wearing headphones
  • Children under the age of 10 can’t travel on the front passenger seat without a special child restraint
  • Speed limits vary depending on the type of road and weather conditions – for more details on that and rules of road, read our Driving in France guide. 

You can also read our top ten tips for driving in France.

What you’ll need with you

When driving in France you are required by law to carry the following items:

  • Reflective jackets (one for each occupant, these must be kept inside the vehicle within easy reach)
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with 4 wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • Breathalysers/alcohol test (as of January 2013 the French government announced that the introduction of an €11 fine for not carrying one has been postponed indefinitely, however, law still states that drivers of motor vehicles and motorcyclist must have an alcotest ready for use in their vehicle even though no penalty will be imposed if they cannot present one during a police road check)
  • A GB sticker (or ‘euro’ registration plates featuring the GB initials)
  • Spare bulbs – by law you’re also mandated to carry a spare bulb kit for your vehicle, as the French police deem it necessary to replace it there and then on the grounds of safety. For a few pounds to buy a kit, you could avoid unwanted attention and a fine.
  • Snow chains may also be needed in some areas during winter. These areas will be indicated by signs and are compulsory, so it is worth having them in your car if your visiting during winter.

Our European driving kit will have all of these items – a simple purchase from £20.99 which can help you avoid hefty on-the-spot fines.

French words / phases you may need: remember google translate can help too!

Breakdown Terms
I have run out of petrolJe suis en panne d’essence / Je suis en panne sèche
My car has broken downMa voiture est tombée en panne
My car won’t startMa voiture ne démarre pas
My car needs a jump startJ’ai besoin de faire démarrer une voiture en branchant ma batterie sur une autre
or (less formal): J’ai besoin de faire démarrer avec les cables 
I have a flat tyreJ’ai un pneu crevé
My battery is flatJe n’ai plus de batterie
I locked the keys in the carJ’ai enfermé mes clés dans ma voiture
I have had an accidentJ’ai eu un accident de voiture / J’ai eu un accrochage
I crashed the carJ’ai eu un accident / J’ai eu une collision avec ma voiture
I skiddedJ’ai dérapé
He crashed into meIl m’est rentré dedans avec sa voiture
Mechanical Terms 
air-conditioningla climatisation (clim)
air tyre pressurela pression des pneus
axleun essieu
batteryune batterie
brake lightun témoin de frein
bodyworkla carrosserie
brakesles freins
brake fluidle liquide de frein
break downtomber en panne
breakdown truckune dépanneuse
cam shaftun arbre à cames
carburettorun carburateur
catalytic convertorun pot catalytique
check the oilvérifier le niveau d’huile
check the pressurevérifier la pression
chokeun starter
connecting rodune bielle
constant velocity (CV) jointjoint homocinétique
crankshaftun vilebrequin
cruise control systemun régulateur de vitesse
cylinderun cylindre
cylinder headune culasse
cylinder head gasketun joint de culasse
dashboardle tableau de bord
dipstickune jauge de niveau d’huile
distributor (head)(tête de) Delco / un distributeur
drive beltune courroie de transmission
drive shaftun arbre moteur
enginele moteur
exhaust pipeun pot d’échappement
exhaust valveun clapet de refoulement
fan beltune courroie de ventilateur
fender/bumperun pare-chocs
fog headlamp/headlightsun feu anti-brouillard
front-wheel drivela traction avant
fuel gaugeune jauge à essence
fuel pumpune pompe d’alimentation
fuseun fusible
gear (box)une (boîte de) vitesse
grillune calandre
hatchback/tailgateun hayon
headlamps/headlightsles phares
horsepowerun cheval (fiscal)
hubcapun enjoliveur
ignition switchle démarreur
indicator/blinkerun clignotant
jackun cric
jump leads/cablescâbles de démarrage
oil changeune vidange
oil gaugeune jauge d’huile
muffler/silencerun silencieux
number platesplaques de immatriculation
power steeringla direction assistée
radiatorun radiateur
rear lamps/tail lightsfeux arrières
roll barun arceau de sécurité
service a carfaire la révision
shock absorberun amortisseur
side mirrorrétroviseur
spare partune pièce détachée / de rechange
spare wheelune roue de secours
spark plugune bougie
speedometerun compteur de vitesse
steering columnla colonne de direction
steering lockun antivol
steering wheelle Volant
surface adhesionla tenue de route
gas/fuel tankun réservoir
test for structural damagepasser au marbre
timing beltune courroie de distribution
transmissionla transmission
 trunk coffre
tune a carrégler le moteur
tyre treadune bande de roulement
universal jointun cardan
unleaded petrolessence sans plomb
vest (high-visibility)gilet rétro-réfléchissant
warning triangletriangle de pré-signalisation
water pipeune durit
water pumpune pompe à eau
wheelune roue
wheel alignmentle parallélisme des roues
wheel balancingéquilibrage de roue
windscreen / windshieldun pare-brise
windscreen wipersessuie glace
wingune aile
wiringle câblage
Useful phrases if you break down in France, scroll down 
 Can you send a recovery vehicle?Pouvez-vous envoyer une dépanneuse?
Could you tow me to the repair garage?Pouvez-vous me remorquer jusqu’à un garage?
The engine is overheatingLe moteur surchauffe
There’s a problem with the brakesIl y a un problème de freins
To stallCaler
To reverseFaire marche arrière
To pull overSe ranger
Navigating French roads 
 Hard shoulderBande d’arrêt d’urgence
 Lay-byPetite aire de repos
To parkGarer / Stationner 
To overtakeDoubler / Dépasser 
Speed limitLimite de vitesse 
Traffic jamBouchon / Embouteillage
There’s a pile-up on the A9Il y a un carambolage sur l’A9
Traffic lightFeu
This driver went through a red lightCet automobiliste a grillé le feu
At a petrol station 
Petrol / service stationStation-service 
UnleadedEssence sans plomb
To fill up the tankFaire le plein
Road signs 
Road signPanneau de signalisation
Road closedRoute barrée
 Slow downRalentissez
Give wayCedez le passage
Give way to traffic coming from the left/rightPriorité à gauche / à droit
No entrySens interdit
Pedestrian crossingPassage piéton
Dead-end / No through roadImpasse
Speed cameraRadar de vitesse