Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning To Drive In France

One of my resolutions for this year is to learn to drive. Not an easy task considering that I believe that I do not have the motor skills to successfully drive, but mainly because having to study the highway code in French and sitting a French Driving test are, to say the least, scary.

After several visits to my local driving schools I decided on the one nearest to my home. It is only two blocks away so I have no excuse to stop going to the theory classes. To help “push me” to go to the driving classes I also enrolled the help of a neighbour who is babysitting my little ones while I go to the classes.

The first step was to register for the course. Pay the 235€ for the theory classes and hand in photocopies of my passport, 4 photos and an A5 envelope. I was told that I could start as soon as I wanted. The classes are every evening -one hour- from Tuesday to Saturday. My first class was a bit of a disappointment as I realized that by “theory class” they meant to sit a group of people in front of a big screen to do a mock driving test, that is corrected by yourself at the end of the test with the help of the explanations given on the screen.

I’ve been trying to go at least twice a week to the theory classes and I’ve noticed a slight improvement. In a month I’ve passed from having an embarrassing score of 12 out of 40 to a more decent 32 out of 40. Hopefully in another two months I will be able to sit my theory test.

In the meantime, the Prefecture (the ones in charge of dealing with the paperwork) have not accepted my application for doing the test because my British passport doesn’t say in what country I was born. To make things worse I’ve been told that I need a document with my maiden name because unlike other countries, which accept your married name, in France you must keep your maiden name for official documents like a driving license. Now, finding a document with my maiden name is not easy, I’ve been married and using my married name for the past 17 years so I do not have any records of my maiden name in any up to date official document. I tried to provide my birth certificate as proof of my maiden name, but that was not accepted because it was written in Spanish!

I’ll keep looking… maybe I’ll find something…

The Cost of learning to Drive in France

How much does it cost to pass your driving test in France?

For doing my driving lessons, I have chosen a driving school in the countryside. After researching through the schools available in my area, I found that they all offer a very similar package for almost the same price.

If you are doing your driving test in France, count on spending a minimum of €1,000

Average prices you can expect to pay to learn to drive in France:
  • Theory classes: 235€
  • 1st evaluation  : 38€
  • Driving class   : 38€ per hour with a minimum legal requirement of 20 hours
  • Sitting the driving test: 55€


  1. what a pain in the A$$ to get your drivers license. Good luck in finding some documents

  2. Thanks. I managed to find the documents they asked and now I've passed my theory test!!! Only the practical one to go now...

  3. Wow very nice & simple blog post, really cleared my many doubts about the France driving license related questions, this knowledge will help me after couple of weeks as am moving from Atlanta to France for 6months trip.

  4. I was reading this old post and laughing at how bureaucratic things can be everywhere. The DMV here in the US has the stereotype of people not being very happy, and kind of grumpy. Why could they not accept a birth certificate in the Spanish language. I have an elementary understanding of French and Spanish, and I would be able to decipher such a document. Of course I realize I know more Spanish than I think from living in Southern California. A lot of our popular culture words now are actually Spanish, especially when it comes to food since Mexico has an influence on cuisine here in SoCal.

    1. Bureaucracy seems to be endemic. I don't understand how people stand it, everyone follows even if they are not happy with it. I wish there was something we could do...