Autoroutes and French Tolls
Autoroutes are the French equivalent of a motorway and often incur tolls to travel along them. These Autoroutes are very common in France and can be the best way to travel long distances. We’d always recommend using Autoroutes because it will save you time in the long run.
As an example, driving from Calais to Paris takes over an hour longer if you avoid travelling on toll roads!
French Autoroutes account for over 9111km of the French road network. Autoroute signage is denoted by the letter “A” followed by a number.
Autoroutes are unlike other motorways as they are operated and administered by a variety of companies. Each company charge a toll or “Péage” for their use. If you plan to travel long distances you will usually pay on more than one occasion during your journey.
The majority of Autoroutes are toll based and require payment. There are however a selection throughout France which are government run and are free.
Autoroutes and Toll Procedures
Autoroute tolls are very easy to use and signage is self explanatory as long as you know some key words. The main word you need to know is the word “Péage” which means “Toll”. “Péage” signs are usually viable when you approach and toll road and also when you reach the pay booths.
Tolls are payable on three occasions. These include leaving the Autoroute at a particular place, when the Autoroute comes to a natural end and on toll bridges.
Tickets are collected from the ticket machine prior to joining the Autoroute. Payment is then due when one of the above occasions occur. The toll depends on the type of vehicle you are driving and the distance you have travelled along that particular Autoroute.
Sometimes you will have to collect a ticket at the beginning of your journey because there will be a fixed fee at the end.
Toll Payment Options
There are three ways to pay your toll, by cash, card or by TAG. Cash and Card are usually paid to an operative in the booth or via a machine at the end of the autoroute. The only issue with paying by cash or card comes if your vehicle is left hand drive. Unless you have a passenger with you, you’ll have to either get out to pay the fee or lean across the passenger seat and pay through the passenger window.
The third way of paying is with a TAG. If you regularly use a bridge, ferry or tunnel in the UK you may already be aware of similar devices. The TAG for France is provided by SANEF Tolling and is is fixed to the inside of your windscreen. As you approach the barrier automatically opens and the fee for your travel is added to your account and deducted from a bank account.
You can find out more about the TAG, including costs, pros and cons and how it works by visiting the SANEF website.