If you already have a driving license from a European country, you no longer need to request an international or French one. However, if you are planning on spending most of your time, it is important to register your (foreign) license at the prefecture of your destination.
This way you will be able to get a new (French) driving license in case of a loss or theft. If you did not register your old license, you risk winding up in an administrative nightmare. In the worst case scenario you might even be obligated to take the French driving license exam.
Registration of vehicles
If your main residence is in France, you are obligated to drive around with a French license plate. To request this new plate, you will have to take another visit to the prefecture with the following documents:
- Initial invoice
- Certificate of conformity
- Insurance certificate
- Proof of registration in your homecountry
Within a period of 4 months after this visit, you will have to go to "Les Mines" to have your vehicle checked. Since taxes on vehicles are rather low in France, this registration will most likely be benificial to you. But make sure that your vehicle gets erased from the register at home. Otherwise, you risk to be taxed in your homecountry too!
Whether you have a French license plate or not, you will have to request an ecovignet. The cost of this sticker is even less than 5 Euros and can easily be requested via the ministry of transport.
Especially in larger cities, you may come across zones where only less polluting vehicles may enter. Besides Paris, Grenoble, Lille and Strassbourg, there are about a dozen other smaller cities and communities that have plans to enforce an eco-zone in some parts of their city. Driving an old-timer? No worries, there's an exception for that!