Highways in France / Tolls, vignettes and prices

France is another country with a well-developed network of highways. Their total length is almost 12,000 kilometers. In this there are paid and free fragments. Tolls for motorways in France are traditionally paid at the gates, and their amount depends on the category of the vehicle and the length of the distance traveled.

On the other hand, driving on expressways is completely exempt in France.

It is also worth adding that in this country you have to pay extra for the use of certain bridges, tunnels and viaducts.

The definition of a motorway is clear in France.

It is a special-purpose road, without crossings, and available only for power-driven vehicles. A characteristic feature of French highways is also the fact that they are usually not built from scratch. Existing road fragments are most often used here, which are adapted to motorway standards.

Highways in France

Highways: France

The entire motorway network in France consists of both highways and expressways. The first episode was put into operation only after the Second World War. Then, until the 1970s, the development of motorways in France developed slowly until the arrival of private managers and investors. Currently, over 9,000 kilometers are paid, while less than 3,000 are owned by the state and no fees are charged for their use.

There are also small portions of highways in France, especially around large cities that are owned by private companies, but remain free.

Motorways in France are marked with a capital A and a corresponding number.

This system is similar to British numbering. Motorways in France were built in sections and are not too long, and more than a dozen entities are responsible for each of their sections. The French Republic is a country heavily centralized around the main center, which is Paris. As a result, the entire motorway numbering system in France is based on their geographical location.

The first numbers are therefore the ones radially departing from the capital and their further branches.

And so we have highways in France:

  •     A1 – leads towards Lille
  •     A2 – This branch of A1 leads to Cambrai and Valenciennes
  •     A3 – is part of the Paris ring road that connects to the A1
  •     A4 – This motorway goes to Reims and Strasbourg
  •     A5 – the motorway that leads to Troyes
  •     A6 – runs towards Lyon
  •     A7 – connects Lyon with Marseille
  •     A8 – It is a branch of the A7 and runs towards Nice and Aix-en-Provence
  •     The A9 is also a junction of the A7 motorway towards Montpellier and Perpignan
  •     A10 – the motorway that runs to Bordeaux and Orleans
  •     A11 – Head for Nantes and Le Mans
  •     A12 – runs towards the French capital in the suburbs of Trappes
  •     A13 – Leads to Caen, Rouen and Le Havre
  •     A14 – this is the section of the motorway connecting with the A13
  •     A15 – another section located in the Paris suburbs of Cergy and Pontoise
  •     A16 – runs towards Calais (Channel Tunnel) and Amiens
  •     A19 – connects the A5 motorway with the A10
A map of highways in France
A map of highways in France

The remaining numbering of motorways in France is as follows:

  • A2x are the numbers of northern highways in France
  • A3x, in turn, are routes in the north-east of the country
  • A4x are the motorway numbers for the Alps and Rhone Valley
  • The A5x is the French Riviera motorway
  • The A6x are routes in the south-west of France
  • A7x these numbers are for motorways in the central part of the country
  • The A8x are motorways in the eastern part of France

The remaining three-digit motorway markings in France concern short sections. For example, A1xx is a route in the Île-de-France region. It is also worth knowing that French motorways sometimes have their own names. And so we have, for example, the Provencal motorway (A8), the Catalonia motorway (A9) or the Channel motorway (A13).

Vignettes in France
Vignettes in France

Vignettes in France

There are no vignettes in France. The cost of traveling on toll sections of motorways is regulated at the gates (toll stations). The amount we have to pay depends on:

  • the type of our vehicle
  • distance traveled
  • managers of the selected motorway section
  • sometimes also from the time of day (it can be more expensive in rush hours)

However, when it comes to the division into vehicle categories, in France we have:

  • Category 1, which includes cars with two or more axles and a height not exceeding 2 meters
  • Category 2, which includes cars with two or more axles but with a height of more than two meters, but not more than 3 meters
  • Category 3, which includes cars with two axles and a total height of more than 3 meters
  • Category 5 which includes motorcycles with trailers, carriages, etc.

Generally speaking, for every 100 kilometers of motorways in France, we will pay around EUR 8-9. Accurate calculations can be made on one of their operators’ websites. By entering the departure city and destination, we will get the approximate cost of such a trip.

For example, the route from Paris to Lyon will cost us less than 36 euro. What’s cool, this page also immediately calculates the cost of the fuel needed for the journey.

See also highways in Belgium.

Highway tolls in France

In France, we pay tolls at the gates. Payment can be made in cash (in euro), as well as bank or fuel cards.

The Télépéage electronic toll collection system is a great help, especially for people who frequently travel on highways in France. It is based on radio transmitters that must be rented and placed on the car. Then, through automatic registration, an appropriate fee is charged for the tolled section of French motorways.

It is worth remembering that a number of licensees are responsible for the entire 9,000 kilometers of tolled highways. The largest of them is Vinci S.A, which manages nearly 4,500 kilometers of roads. In addition, the operators in France are: ALIS, APRR, AREA, ASF, ATMB, CEVM, Cofiroute, ESCOTA, Sanef, SAPN and SFTRF.

As already mentioned in France, some tunnels, bridges and viaducts are also subject to additional charges. It is exactly about:

  • Normandie Bridge
  • Tancarville Bridge
  • Eurotunnel
  • Puymorens Tunnel
  • Maurice-Lemaire Tunnel
  • Prado Carenage Tunnel
  • Prado-South Tunnel
  • Frejus Tunnel
  • Mont Blanc Tunnel
  • Duplex tunnel
  • Millau Viaduct

For example, for a single ride through the Mont Blanc Tunnel (https://tunnelmb.net/en-US), passenger cars have to pay EUR 46.30, and motorbikes EUR 30.70. If we buy a ticket for two journeys – one way and the other (valid for 7 days), we will pay EUR 57.80 for the car and EUR 38.50 for the motorcycle.

In turn, a ride through the Frejus Tunnel will cost us EUR 46.30 for a car or EUR 30.70 by a motorcycle

A two-ride ticket, valid for one week, costs EUR 57.80 for a car and EUR 37.90 for a two-wheeler.

On the other hand, a ride through the famous Eurotunnel connecting Calais in France with Folkestone in Great Britain costs at least EUR 43 per car in two directions (valid for two days).

See also motorways in Germany.

What else is worth knowing about roads and highways in France?

In France, the following speed limits apply to motorways and expressways:

  • up to 50 km / h if visibility is less than 50 meters
  • up to 100 km / h applies to drivers who have had a driving license for less than two or three years
  • up to 110 km / h if it rains
  • up to 110 km / h for passenger cars on expressways
  • up to 130 km / h on motorways for passenger cars, including those towing a trailer

We drive on roads and highways in France in fastened seat belts, with the dipped headlights on at night and during bad weather conditions. Each car must be equipped with: a warning triangle, reflective vests for the driver and passengers, spare bulbs and, interestingly, anti-theft protection.

However, in France, optional equipment is a first aid kit, fire extinguisher or breathalyzer.

The permissible amount of alcohol in the blood under the influence of which you can drive a car in France is 0.5 per mille. If we have a driving license for less than 3 years, then this tolerance is only 0.2 per mille. You can also be fined for using your phone while driving. Hands-free kits are also not allowed. On the other hand, children up to 10 years of age must be transported in special seats.

In built-up areas, pedestrians have absolute priority in France. Non-compliance with these rules, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol (over 0.5 per mille) and speeding by at least 25 km / h may result in high fines, including loss of the driving license.

See also highways in Italy.

Important telephone numbers in France

  • 112 European emergency number
  • 17 police
  • 15 ambulance services
  • 18 fire brigades
  • +33 438 498 349 roadside assistance

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