France is a great country for hitchhiking. There are many friendly car and truck drivers. The highways cost money, and at some péage (toll points) you can get a ride easily.
Finding a good spot is the key of getting the best rides. For instance, in Montpellier there are two spots very close to each other. The first one is easy to reach, nevertheless, the second one isn't much more difficult, but the chances of being picked up are much better.
A péage is a tollway in France. They are often placed near cities on autoroutes (motorways). At some péages all the traffic has to stop and pay and are excellent spots to get a long-distance ride. You can get free maps in the péage offices - these also indicate where you can find "all-stop-péages". The fastest way to travel is from one of these to the next.
Getting a Ride
- You can thumb immediately after the péage;
- If you prefer a direct approach you can dash across the lanes one at a time until you're at a busy lane and stand next to the toll machine and talk to drivers when they stop to pay (as pictured to left);
- You can wait before the péage, just where the drivers choose their lane. There is mostly enough space for cars to pull over here.
Some péages are really good, some not so good. If you've been waiting for a while with destination sign, drop it and try with your thumb only. Also, you can try to get a ride to the next good spot in the wrong direction.
There are no prohibitions about hitching in France, apart from the restricted access roads, i.e. expressways and motorways. Péages are also considered part of the motorway, and normally one is not allowed to solicit rides there. However, this is not really enforced and since 2004, Daniel, was only told once to get off the tollbooth and ask for a ride on the parking nearby (what was difficult because there was no services except toilets). But the risk is relatively low.
Most of the French don't speak English, so have a map to show them where you want to go. If you know any French, use it! French people like it if you try your best. Say "Bonjour Monsieur/Madame", to show that you are friendly. If you're heading to Germany, you maybe need to know that Germany is Allemagne (all-ay-man'ye) in French.
It may also be helpful to put S.V.P. after your destination if you use a sign. It's shorthand for s'il vous plaît (sih-voo-play)--please in French.
mappy is a good online map for France, it shows you (to) where you can take public transport.
French number plates end with the number of the département the car is registered in. For example, Parisian cars end with the number 75. See List of arrondissements of France and French vehicle registration plates at Wikipedia.
- Paris, the capital, hitching out of here is really difficult.
- Calais - the main ferryport to the British Islands.
- Saint Brieuc
- Dol de Bretagne
- Le Réseau ASF, a PDF showing all-stop-péages on major routes.