Autoroutes and Motorway Toll Charges in France

Autoroutes and Motorway Toll Charges in France – While some autoroute sections are toll-free, most are toll roads (péage) operating in much the same way as the M6 (Toll) in the UK. Any toll sections are signed ‘Péage’ as a forewarning that payment will be required and generally, on entering a péage section, you will be required to take a ticket which determines your point of entry for the purposes of calculating the toll due on leaving the autoroute péage section.

Autoroutes and Motorway Toll Charges in France

Autoroutes in France are operated by different companies but the tolls are seamless so that whilst you might commence your journey on a motorway section operated by Cofiroute, one of the operators, and cross over into a section operated by Autoroutes du Sud de France, the toll charged on exit will be the accumulation of your total journey.

 

The level of tolls varies considerably from just a couple of euros for short stretches to 30€ or 40€ for longer sections.  You can use the ASFA website to give you an idea of the level of toll charges for your route, plus it also has live traffic information showing roadworks, accidents, and queues. Michelin’s site ViaMichelin is also useful for calculating your overall traveling costs of tolls and fuel. It also provides alternative ‘economic’ routes if the toll costs on top of petrol or diesel are prohibitive.

Autoroutes and Motorway Toll Charges in France

Tolls can be paid in a number of ways:

  • Cash: At larger toll plazas and busy exits, there will be attended booths where cash can be handed over to the attendant. At smaller exits, there will always be an automated payment machine which will detail the sum required after reading your ticket. The automated booths accept both coins and notes and change is given.
  • Credit Card: At toll plazas lanes showing “CB” symbol or signed ‘Cartes Bleues’ accept credit cards. If you are paying with a UK registered card a transaction charge will apply which may amount to a high percentage of the total cost. At the time of writing, a number of automated toll barriers would not accept UK Maestro cards.
  •  Télépéage: This is usually signed with an orange-colored “t” symbol or signed “liber-t”. You will see toll lanes reserved for this payment method at the larger toll plazas. Télépéage is an automated system with a transponder fitted to the car.
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Driving a right-hand drive car, without a passenger, can cause a little difficulty at toll booths. There may be the odd lane at toll plazas near ports (signed with the Union Jack) dedicated to right-hand drive vehicles but once you are into the interior of France, there’s no special treatment. Paying tolls when driving alone may involve the driver having to stop at the booth, get out of the car and walk round to the pay booth or machine or contorting him or herself across the passenger seat.  Obviously, if you are traveling with someone, then they can do all this.

These difficulties obviously don’t arise if you are traveling with a passenger and, as a tourist, just visiting for a week or so, there is only a little inconvenience. If you are a resident in France still driving a right-hand drive car and using the autoroutes a lot thentélépéage is especially useful.

At busy times and holiday periods, you may have noticed whilst queuing at toll barriers that some lanes are virtually empty.   And they usually have an orange “t” symbol?  These are the télépéage booths that require an electronic tag to operate.

Autoroutes and Motorway Toll Charges in France

How télépéage works

There are a number of payment options available, but they all operate identically at the booth. It is just the method of collecting the payment that varies. With télépéage, you simply drive into the designated lane and a sensor at the booth reads an electronic device installed within the vehicle. These sensors are dispatched once you have signed up (usually online) to a télépéage payment scheme. The sensor identifies you and your account, debits your account with the appropriate charge then opens the toll barrier.

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Types of télépéage account

Various autoroute companies operate a variety of schemes but the main ones are:

1.      Your bank account is debited each time you use a tolled autoroute

2.      You are charged at the end of the month for that month’s usage

driving in France toll charges

Within these basic schemes, there are various options.  If autoroutes are used regularly, then a lower monthly debt may be available, but it is charged every month regardless of whether the autoroutes are actually used.  Other schemes may charge a slightly higher monthly standing fee, but only charge when tolled autoroutes are actually used.

The websites of Cofiroute and Vinci, both autoroute operators, give details of how to sign up for the various schemes

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