Drone regulations in France

Flying drones in France

In this post, you will learn which laws you need to consider as a drone pilot in our neighboring country.

In France, there are regular changes to the drone laws. Drones with a take-off weight of 800 grams or more must now also be registered by private users via the AlphaTango portal.

Rules for the operation of drones in France

Maximum altitude: The maximum permitted drone altitude in France is 150 meters above ground. However, there are numerous restriction areas where you can not ascend or where only a low height is allowed. You can see the corresponding regions with the map linked below. The colored areas have the following meaning:

  • Red: flight ban for drones
  • Pink: maximum altitude of 30 meters
  • Orange: maximum altitude of 50 meters
  • Yellow: maximum altitude of 100 meters

For all other areas, the maximum altitude of 150 meters applies.

Maximum horizontal distance and FPV: Drones may only be used within sight. For FPV flights, a second person must be present to monitor the drone with the naked eye.

Compulsory insurance: In France, the completion of drone insurance is mandatory.

Maximum take-off weight (MTOW): Private multicopters may weigh up to 25 kilograms.

Distance to airports: You must always maintain a sufficient safety distance to airports. To large airports is a minimum distance of 10 kilometers.

Other safety distances: People flying over are not allowed in France.

No Fly Zones: A ban on drones is valid throughout the city of Paris. Even in other cities, you can only fly your drone on private property. Also, drones should not be used near nuclear power plants, military facilities, historical monuments and national parks. You can see the no-fly zones in the map linked below.

Operating hours: You are allowed to use your drone in France only in daylight. Even with appropriate lighting, the use at night is not allowed.

Special regulations: Fully automatic flights (e.g., waypoints, points of interest) are permitted within a radius of 200 meters of the pilot, if the maximum altitude is 50 meters, you can regain control at any time, and the drone weighs no more than 2 kilograms.

Requirements for commercial pilots: Commercial Copter pilots must meet several requirements in France. Among other things, you have to pass a theory and practical tests in French and obtain various permits.

Good to know: The rules listed here also apply to the overseas territory of French Polynesia.

Violations of French law can result in a fine of up to € 75,000 or imprisonment of up to one year.

Frequency regulations: 100 mW for the 2.4 GHz frequency

Helpful Links: Map with flight restrictions, rules private use, rules private use

We have researched the listed drone regulations for France to the best of our knowledge. We can not guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, please contact the competent aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in France!

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About the author

Since January 2015, we travel around the world. In our backpack we carry a camera drone which we use to capture the best places from a bird’s perspective. First we travelled with a DJI Phantom 2. But now we use a Yuneec Typhoon H. On our blog we share the best tips for you about travelling with a copter. If you have questions about this article or new information, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment!

Discussions

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 02.08.2017

    Well, your understanding of French rules is not really clear.
    Many rules come both for private/leisure or pro/commercial flights.
    I can send you a summary but you cancheck (in french) here : https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/drones-loisir-et-competition
    and full information there :
    https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/Guide%20a%C3%A9romod%C3%A9lisme%2C%20mod%C3%A8les%20r%C3%A9duits%20et%20drones%20de%20loisir.pdf

    • Nirjhar | 07.03.2019

      What about drones below 200mg weight?

      • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 12.03.2019

        Below .. 200 grs ?
        No declaration, no quizz, but same rules, forbidden in any public city area and all restricted/dangerous/prohibited areas also.

    • PETER DAPRIX | 05.06.2019

      And I have to admit my understanding of complicated rules is not clear either. I looked at the geoportail map and it is hard to read and seemingly very arbitrary. I use AirMap app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.airmap.airmap&hl=en) in the US and it has all the various levels of controlled air space shown on very accurate maps globally. And you can drill down to individual streets and addresses. The area I want to fly is shown to be clear of restrictions for NO FLY but of course all the rules for flying drones recreationally are in place. Does anyone know if AirMap is more accurate and dependable than the very clunky Geoportail? I have to admit I am totally confused and people on the ground are no help.

  • Nicolas | 27.08.2017

    Hello,

    I m french, in France if you want to use your drone for hobby and recreational purpose the governement made a map to know where it is possible to use your drone or not :
    https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/donnees/restrictions-pour-drones-de-loisir

    In red : no fly
    In pink : maximum altitude 30m
    In orange : maximum altitude 50m
    In yellow : maximum altitude 100m
    Otherwise : maximum altitude 150m

  • Herman | 04.03.2018

    Thanks for your info!
    I’m looking to commercially film holiday homes in Frances. As far as I understand, France doesn’t make a difference between recreational and commercial flights if within S1 limits, aka the safest and simplest flights. Would you have an indication to think differently?

  • Matti L | 19.01.2019

    Hi,
    I am planning to fly a drone here in France but I noticed there are just very few interesting places allowed to fly. Do you know if there is a chance to ask a permission to fly for example in city area, and if so where I should apply such? Thank for your answers in advance.

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 23.01.2019

    Hi Matti,
    Zero chance to fly in a city area NOR a crowded area.
    Only professional drone pilots with french declaration and recording are allowed to under derogation to common use. And you have nearby ZERO chance to apply for french professional piloting …

  • Roger Morton | 07.03.2019

    Hi,

    By end of year traveling from Barcelona, Spain to Nice, France. Any suggestions for some drone filming and pictures in cote d’azurr?

    I was thinking near Cap Camarat or Etang de Leucate area. Also when crossing border from Spain to France in Le Perthus, to take some images of the Fort Bellegarde. Or any better suggestions. Not very crowded so to not have complains from people about privacy or which don´t like drones.

    I can fly also in Ccap d’antibes with maximum altitude of 50 meters?

    Thanks for any help or recommendations.

    • Simon Sutton | 23.03.2019

      Have a look at the attached link to map of restricted areas. https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/donnees/restrictions-pour-drones-de-loisir

      • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 27.03.2019

        Oh, this map …
        It’s supposed to give restrictions and free areas to fly.
        Very sadly, it’s full of mistakes, does not apply french rules for airports, invents non-existing limitations and forgive other ones …

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 12.03.2019

    Hi,
    Fort Bellegarde ok
    Etang de Leucate : take care, restricted area R73 and ULM base south of the lake.
    Cap Camarat : Should be ok but possibly crowdy
    Cap d’Antibes : forbidden
    Main part of Cote d’Azur is forbidden , restricted/forbidden, civilian or military areas, airport protections and crowdy areas, avoid.
    Only Cavalaire to St Tropez could fly but take care of crowdy areas and cities, also forbidden

    • Roger Morton | 12.03.2019

      Hi Hubert,

      Really thanks for the information. Much appreciated.

      Best Regards, Roger

  • PETER DAPRIX | 05.06.2019

    And I have to admit my understanding of complicated rules is not clear either. I looked at the geoportail map and it is hard to read and seemingly very arbitrary. I use AirMap app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.airmap.airmap&hl=en) in the US and it has all the various levels of controlled air space shown on very accurate maps globally. And you can drill down to individual streets and addresses. The area I want to fly is shown to be clear of restrictions for NO FLY but of course all the rules for flying drones recreationally are in place. Does anyone know if AirMap is more accurate and dependable than the very clunky Geoportail? I have to admit I am totally confused and people on the ground are no help.

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 06.06.2019

    Hi Peter,
    Airmap is infortunately completely out for France. None of Airmap information match to drone regulations according neither to airports, neither to restricted areas ans cities … Geoportail is very far from perfection but it’s quite informative.
    You can have more clear infos on https://www.mach7drone.com/
    which is private/commercial website but much more easy to read and much more close to regulations than Geoportail, giving real clear and checked infos but not including city limits. Account mandatory, optionnal maps on billing.

    • PETER DAPRIX | 06.06.2019

      Thank you for this. I checked out Mach7drone and it is much better. But I could not find a “legend” explaining the terms being used. NO FLY is very clear but what does “Flight Constrained” actually mean in practice? Anyone know? Other than obey all the rules of flying and probably fly very low and stay out of the way of all the very low flying helicopters that definitely fly below the max limits for drones in France (and the US).

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 06.06.2019

    Have you signed in ? Not all informations are available and not shown the same way according you are signed in or not. And much more choices for chowing or not selected constraints.
    If you want precise info on a particular place, ask for it I’ll check for you.

  • Peter DAPRIX | 06.06.2019

    Good question. I thought I was but I was not. Now I am. I am seeing yellow, orange and red areas and a few green. But I cannot find a legend that tells me what they mean. I have to assume the red are no fly, the orange and yellow flight but with some restrictions. But what those restrictions are, I cannot tell. Any help would be very appreciated. I am looking around the St. Tropez area to see where I can fly or cannot fly, and if I can fly, under the orange or yellow what those restrictions are.

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 06.06.2019

    Well, DGAC (franch aviation regulator/operator) wrote a little guide, explaining, I’m afraid only in french.
    You can download it here :
    http://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/Guide_aeromodelisme_modeles_reduits_drones_de_loisir.pdf
    In this guide, check P 34 for surrounding of airmorts/runways/helistation/ etc
    If you click on the area with mach7, you’l have a precise height you could fly under.
    Also, if your bird exceeds 800 grs, you’re suposed to pass a little exam online and be able to show the pass certificate on police request …
    St Tropez is one of the worse area to fly a drone … according to the fact you’re not supposed to fly in crowdy areas (40 or more) neither in even little cities, added to all aeronautical restrictions ..
    Give precise coords to check

  • PETER DAPRIX | 06.06.2019

    Hubert, this is great information! Thank you. I tried the clicking on a place on the map where I know I want to fly and I am relieved to find that there is simply height limits, higher than I would plan on flying certainly. I don’t fly where there are people – ever! I also try to stay away from any close proximity to animals. Horses can be very sensitive to drone noise perhaps thinking they are a swarm of bees or wasps. Most pay no attention but some do. Some people object to the drone noise.
    I brought a Mavic Air which is 545 grams, well below the weight limit. I do have my 107 Drone Pilot License from the US which I hope would provide some evidence of competency and experience. I do fly professionally in the US but here I am on holiday and am enjoying flying for pleasure. The places I want to fly are not in the town of St. Tropez. Frankly that would be crazy and risky, but over private property outside of the town with large land expanse instead. It is also important to obey the privacy laws in France which are stricter than those in the US. Much to remember.

  • Hubert DURLEWANGER | 06.06.2019

    Yeah, nice for the Mavic Air.
    Seems the cape south of St Tropez is clear in low height.
    SAfe not to fly near horses and others, check seagulls very sensitive and they attack our birds …

  • PETER DAPRIX | 06.06.2019

    Thank you. That is very reassuring except for seagulls what for some reason feel they own the skies. I have had Condors, Hawks and large Black Birds circle around my P4Pro in California when I fly higher up to my maximum ceiling. They seem more curious that offended and have not attacked the drones I have had. But if they are defending their nest and their offspring, I think that could change. But we spend a lot of time worrying about the dangerous aspects of small AUV’s while large helicopters fall out of the sky over populated areas all the time and often fly very low. Also small private airplanes as well. How often do we hear of small drones falling and hurting someone? Very seldom. Especially the new generation of very small ones. But I am glad that there is an emphasis on safety since companies like DJI are selling thousands every year in most countries and pilots must be very aware of the dangers to others. Not just obeying rules and regulations but using common sense of safety in any one particular situation.

  • Ashwin | 05.08.2019

    Hey Francis I like to Can I use my dji mavic drone in normandy mont saint Michele

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