What do they mean?

Do you drive on French roads or autoroutes? Have you noticed road signs with words that don’t really mean much to you?

Most road signs are iconic and easily understood in any language, but every now and then the French will throw one at you and the meaning is really not very clear. Many of these road signs are temporary (with a yellow background and setup because of unusual circumstances.

Let’s have a look at some of these and try to understand what’s going on so that your drive through France is more comfortable. We’ve made a list of “Top French Road Signs” and will begin with the most common signs and then work our way down to some rarities.

The mysterious “Rappel”

Road sign rappel

I would translate this to “This is a reminder”. You’ll often see this displayed below a speed limit sign, and it’s basically saying that the speed restriction which is displayed above is and was already in place. So you should already not be driving above the speed limit.

Priorité à droite

This is the famous “priority to the right“. So whatever happens, you must give way to traffic coming from the right side of any junction, even if it’s a cyclist! There is more information about this rule on this page.

Cédez le passage

This simply means “give way”, give-way to all traffic heading your way. Most likely to be seen when you are at a “modern” style roundabout or a junction. (Check the article)

Ralentir… Ralentissez…

Slow down!


road sign travaux

This is “Road works”. You’ll also see signs with Travaux sur 15km (Road works for 15km), Travaux en cours (Road works underway) and Fin des travaux (End of road works).


This is “diversion” and not deviation! You’ll also see Fin de déviation which means that the diversion has now finished.


Road sign for Peage

Whilst you are driving on some of the Autoroutes, bridges or special road sections you will see the sign Péage which means “Toll” and you will have to pay a fee for driving on this section. A Gare de péage translates to “toll station”, a toll barrier. You’ll also encounter Section à péage and Halte Péage.

Most Autoroutes also allow drivers to use the “Télépéage”

Route barrée

This means that the road is blocked or closed for whatever reason such as roadworks, flooding, danger… You’ll also see “Route barrée à 200 m” (Road blocked at 200 metres).

Route barrée road sign

Circulation alternée

Alternate traffic is often seen during roadworks with traffic lights or signs alternating one-way circulation.

Modification de la circulation, carrefour moidifé



itineraire BIS

Controles radar freéquents, pour votre securite contrôles radars frequents, Section à vitesse regulée and Fin de section à vitesse regulée

Trous en formation

Glissiers endomage

“Sliders are damaged” the road side barriers are damaged (often due to a recent accedident.

Chaniter en cours

You’ll also see fin de chantier, end of roadworks

Chantier mobile, for example, a tractor cutting roadside grass.

elagage, fauchage, gravillions

Traversé d’engins, Site machinery may be crossing, you’ll see this near the work site where there are dumper trucks, diggers etc.

Weather related traffic signs

Vent lateral, lateral wind.
Brouillard frequent, brouillard is fog, so the sign simply means that fog is frequent in this area.

Inondation, flooding.

Route inondée, the road is flooded.

…par temps de pluie, …when raining, for example, 50kmh par temps de pluie, 50kmh when raining.

Snow and other winter-related signs

Barriére de dégel, risque de verglas, verglas fréquent, aire de chainage, pneus neige admis,

Piétons, passage piétons, attention enfants, sorite d’école,

affaisemment, accotement non stabilisé

Pour votre sécurité contrôles automatiqes

Sauf services

This will be seen below a sign such as no entry which means whatever rule is being applied does not concern “Service Vehicles” for example Police, breakdown lorries etc.

You’ll also see Sauf Riverains, (except locals/neighbours) again the rule which is being imposed does not apply to the locals/neighbours.

Sortie de véhicules

A warning sign telling you to be careful because of vehicles coming onto your road/route. This can be seen near factories, depots, roadworks etc.

You’ll also see Sortie de camions (), sortie de chantier, sorite d’engines agricole,

Marquage, marquage en cours, absence de sigalisaiton horizontale.
A general warning about the absence of road markings and white lines.

Chase en cours, Troupeau, sangliers, gibiers, chase en cours

Allumez vos feux

Put your headlight on! Mostmy seen as you’re about to enter a tunnel

Roulez au pas, drive dead slow

sorite de véhicules, ne pas stationer

avancez jusqu’au feu

chute de pierres, cute d’arbez

Leave a Reply