UPDATE 2023/24

If you read the original article below, (which of course you must for this update to make sense) you will read of checks, fines and a good telling off for those not equipped with the correct snow tyres, chains or socks either in use or in their boots, even when it’s not snowing.

However, motorists ignoring the advice of compulsory protection in mountain areas will still not be liable to the threatened fine of 135 euros this year due to the Loi Montagne (Mountain Law) setting out the law and penalties not yet being passed. Police checks, yes. A good telling off. Probably. Fines.d No!

(Careful. This does not apply to snow-covered roads displaying the classic white chain sign on a blue background, for which a 150 euro fine could be your penance.)

UPDATE 2022/23

From 1st Nov to 31st March, all areas in the P-O, (and most ‘mountainous’ departments) designated by the prefecture as requiring snow tyres, will require either  four winter tyres or a minimum of  two snow chains or socks carried in the vehicle. All weather tyres are also accepted.


From November 1st, 2021,  snow chains or tyres were to be mandatory in mountainous departments across France between November and March, said the Prefecture in September..

snow Porté Puymorens

Here in the Pyrenees-Orientales, 48 communes were  flagged by the Préfecture des P.-O., all of them in the Cerdagne, the Capcir and Conflent from Olette upwards

Initial information citing places les Amelie les Bains and Laroque-des-Alberes for obligatory snow tyres was false!

However, in a mini-turnaround, snow chains in your boot or snow tyres on your wheels , whilst recommended, WILL NOT NOW BECOME COMPULSORY THIS YEAR!

It seems that after all the fuss,  there will be no action taken this year, 2021/22 if stopped without the correct equipment,  according to the Prefecture.

Until this new law was nearly passed, snow chains were only legally required on roads covered in snow and marked with a road sign ‘équipments spéciaux obligatoires’. New signs will eventually indicate where these regulations start and stop.

But snow chains o r tyres are still imperative if  you are to drive safely in snowy conditions.Light commercial vehicles,  as well as vans without trailers, will need 4 winter tyres or snow chains on 2 driving wheels.

But law or no law, snow chains or tyres are still imperative if  you are to drive safely in snowy conditions.

Jenny Rhodes, our resident Mountain Mama and long time resident of Les Angles, offers the following advice.

“My advice on snow chains is that they should  be sorted out now and not at the side of a road in a blizzard which is often seen. They do tend to tangle. Why not practice putting them on when there is no snow? Try it in your driveway where you can’t be seen and if you make a mistake it doesn’t matter. Practice, practice is the only way. They can be beasts to get on with cold hands.

As much as we all think we can drive in snow and vile road conditions, there sometimes comes a point when the situation is beyond our control. Sadly we have seen many cars off the roads, distressed families and ruined holidays. Not to mention nasty injuries. It isn’t worth trying to “manage” to get down/ up the road without the correct equipment.

Stay safe guys and enjoy your visits up into the mountains”

Just to clarify, whatever type of tyres you have on your car, you MUST also carry snow chains when in the hills in winter. Using winter tyres or 4 season tyres just makes it safer to travel on snow covered road before it gets to the point where chains are required.

Not sure what a snow chain is?

Not sure what a snow chain is? Well, don’t worry, it’s not this!

Snow chains are specially designed lengths of chain that fit securely over the tyres and wheels of your car. In some countries, they are also  called tyre cables.

Most vehicles can be equipped with snow chains unless your vehicle’s maintenance or owner’s manual advises against it. To be sure of ordering the correct chains, look for three measurements on the side of your tyres:  tyre width,  tyre height ratio  and wheel  diameter.This information is critical in determining which snow chain size will fit your tyre.

Once your chains arrive, they’re easy enough to put on if you practice in advance, and easily fit in your boot!

We’ve done some  searching for you and can recommend these chains from Amazon.

Prices from under 40 euros for 2 chains, just check the required size marked on your tyres so you order the right size.

Purchasing through the above link means Amazon pay a small fee to P-O Life if you buy via the link, helping to keep P-O Life Mag free and the P-O Life team in wine, beer, and Marmite)!



  1. Brilliant article
    Need some in the UK now !

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