Réunion is a French overseas department located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. It's known for its stunning natural landscapes, which include rainforests, coral reefs, and the active Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Here's what you should know about driving in Réunion:
Driving in Réunion:
Side of the Road: As in mainland France, you drive on the right-hand side of the road in Réunion.
Documentation: If you have an EU driving license, it's valid in Réunion. However, for non-EU license holders, it's recommended to get an International Driving Permit (IDP), although a license in English or French might be accepted by some rental agencies.
Seat Belts: They are compulsory for all passengers, both in the front and back seats.
Child Seats: Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to sit in the front seat of a car unless there are no rear seats. Proper child restraint systems are mandatory.
Alcohol Limit: The permitted blood alcohol level is 0.05%, lower than many other countries. It's stricter for new drivers with less than three years of experience, where the limit is 0.02%.
Parking: In cities and popular tourist spots, parking can sometimes be challenging. It's best to use designated parking areas and avoid parking in prohibited zones.
Road Conditions: The main roads are generally in good condition. However, some interior and mountainous roads can be narrow, winding, and steep, making for a challenging drive.
Roundabouts: Vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way, consistent with French rules.
Petrol Stations: They are widely available in cities and major towns, but if you're traveling to more remote areas, it's advisable to fill up beforehand.
Mobile Phones: Just like in many countries, using a mobile phone without a hands-free system is illegal while driving.
Wildlife: Especially in more remote areas, be cautious of stray animals on the road.
Sightseeing by Car:
Cirques: These are natural amphitheaters created by eroded volcanoes. The three main ones are Cilaos, Salazie, and Mafate. They offer breathtaking views and hiking opportunities.
Piton de la Fournaise: One of the world's most active volcanoes, it's accessible by car up to a certain point, after which you can hike to the crater.
L'Hermitage Beach: A popular beach with coral reefs and lagoons.
The Route des Laves: This route provides views of the volcanic landscapes and past lava flows.
Be cautious of sudden weather changes, especially when driving in mountainous regions. Fog and rain can reduce visibility.
Familiarize yourself with local traffic signs and regulations. They are in French, but most of them are standard and similar to what you'd find in other countries.
Given the island's topography, it's advisable to rent a car with a decent amount of power, especially if you're planning to navigate the hilly and mountainous terrains.
Réunion, with its diverse landscapes and vibrant culture, offers a unique driving experience. Always be cautious, drive defensively, and take the time to enjoy the island's natural beauty. Safe travels!
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