Driving lessons: cutting the cost

Learning to drive in France is generally said to cost around 1,000€. In fact, it is more like 1,500 – 2,000€. And that's if you pass first time!

But when looking around for the cheapest option, make sure you know exactly what the price involves. For example, some driving schools offer the first (compulsory) twenty hours for, say, 35€ an hour but go on to charge a fortune, up to 60€, for supplementary the lessons.
To make a true comparison, work on the assumption that you will pay for 30 lessons.

Also check if the initial price is just for the lessons or includes  admin. charges and your provisional licence and find out how much they charge for you to re-apply to sit the test if you fail the exam.

To increase your chances of success – and thus reduce the number of lessons you need – you can opt for "conduit supervisée". Not to be confused with "conduit accompangée" (see below), conduit supervisée allows learners over 18 years old to drive with a qualified 'supervising' driver for up to three months before the day of their test.

If you can't afford to pay for lessons up front, look out for offers for "le permis a 1€". Since 2005, learner drivers aged between 16 and 25 years are entitled to an interest free loan to finance their lessons. You need to find a driving school and a bank and commit to paying back 30€ a month. The state pays the interest and so far some 20,000 have taken advantage of this loan.
In situations where parents can't guarantee the loan, the state will also act as guarantor.

Finally, check out the 'bourses au permis de conduire'. This is a scheme whereby participating communities offer 18-25 year olds the price of their driving lessons in exchange for around 40-50 hours of community work – ask at your mairie.

How the driving test works
When you start driving lessons, you must sign up with a driving school and your dossier has to be registered at the local prefecture. While you are waiting for it to be processed you can start studying for the theory part of the test.

You can either do all your learner driving with a driving school (from age 17) or opt for conduite accompagnée (from 16). The person accompanying the learner driver must have had their own licence for at least five years. Before the conduit accompagnée can begin, both the learner and their accompagnateur must spend 2hrs with the driving school. Thereafter, they must clock up 3,000 km before the learner can sit their test.

Once you have passed you test, you remain on probation for three years (two if you have done the conduit accompagnée). On passing your test, you are awarded 6 points on your licence and you have to earn the remaining six, two per year.
This is supposed to make young drivers more cautious but nevertheless road accidents remain the prime cause of death among 18-25 year olds.


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