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Information about autoroutes, tips on driving in France, garages, distances between towns and Insurance for French travel, in France – the web magazine for visitors to France.

Autoroutes in France

Strikes and fuel supplies in France

French autoroutes are perhaps the best in Europe. There are eight motorway networks run by separate companies under government concession. Each network is entitled to collect tolls for the upkeep and development of their section of motorway. In France there are routes (roads) and autoroutes (motorways). Most of the main roads between French cities are autoroutes, although there is always the choice of a Route National which are free. Many sections of the autoroute are free. More

The speed limit on routes (designated RN) is 90km per hour, on autoroutes it is 130km per hour, or 110km when it is raining.

The cost can be expensive, especially if you are using the autoroutes in the Alpine areas. A very effective way of speeding up your journey time, is to sign up to the Telepéage programme.

September 2011 – From 5th to 30th September between junctions 8 and 9 both sides of the autoroute are being repaired – allow for delays.

July 2011 – There is now an English web site for Liber-T.

Busy times this summer – weekends to avoid

Bison Futé (advice and alternative routes)

Roadworks on the autoroutes

Bison Futé.

(Northern France – with an interactive map)

CREDIT CARDS – we suggest you ring your credit card company before shopping in France – increased fraud means they are turning down shoppers cards if their spending deviates from the norm. Take your mobile – you can often sort the problem out over the phone.

More information about autoroutes

There are emergency telephones (the are bright orange) every 2km, parking or resting areas (aires) every 10 or 20km with amenities such as restrooms, telephones, shops, restaurants and information centres, as well as 24 hour petrol stations are approximately every 40km. There are WC's and card phones after the toll booths.

The "aires" or roadside rest areas, are specially designed for motorists to stop at and usually have a wide range of facilities, with WC's, picnic and exercise areas. They are usually every 10 – 15kms.

Air for your car tyres is free at the petrol stations.

At peak commuting times, during the summer months and during the holidays, traffic may be disrupted around more densely populated areas. Bison fute is a service provided by the French government in order to reduce traffic congestion.

You can get a reduction if your vehicle is fitted to accommodate the transport of disabled people – you must produce vehicle registration documents showing VP or disabled. Mini-buses adapted for the disabled pay the same toll as private cars.

Apparently any motorhome under 3 metres high and 3,500Kgs or less and is Vehicle Licence Exempt (road tax) and can claim Classe 2 tarif on French motorways.

The brown panels on the side of the motorway (Les panneaux marrons) give you information about the area you're driving through.

Costs in France – Calculate rates; /

– Liber-T (U.K.) (France)

Regular users of French autoroutes may like to consider the Liber-T badge system which allows you to pass through the péage quickly. Recently the télépéage system has been integrated, so that now one card can be used throughout France.

With this card your details are automatically recorded when you pass through the reserved lanes at any péage, without having to stop or collect a ticket. Charges are invoiced and taken from your credit card or bank account once a month. You can also check your account on the internet.

The charges are same if you are taken by trailer to a garage or place of your choice. There is an extra charge if you get taken to a place of your choice (effective from the motorway exit). These rates depend on the company you are using.

Increasingly, new péage machines mean you don't even have to stop, just slow down to 30 km / hour.

Liber-T is a very efficient and time saving way to get around the French autoroute system. Up until June 2011, you had to go through the French site to order your badge. Now you must go through an English website. Whilst many will be happy to deal with a website in English, the regular charges are slightly more than previously. The only way to pay the lower French charges is to pay through a French Bank account having registered via the French website. Additionally, you can only pay via a Bank account now, whereas previously you paid with a credit card. Confusingly however the way charges are levied for French users is different. For example; the annual fee is 10 euro (more), but you get 0.83 euro back per month if you use it more than four days a month. The charge is 20 euro if you want paper invoices, but you get 1.66 euro back each month you use the autoroutes for more than four days a month. Additionally the refundable security deposit is 30 euro in France (more).

For example, charges are now in sterling and there is a "Foreign exchange finance charge" of 2.392%. The exchange rate used (we compared it with a charge on the same day from a credit card) is good though. Overall, you pay an extra 0.4% (we assumed a charge of 150 euro). My suspicion is that this may change.

In our opinion, if you already have a French Liber-T account and pay with your English credit card, use your French bank account instead.

If you have a French Bank account – SANEF, the northern France company offers Liber-T (in French but use the translation tool if needed).

New charges

1. Subscription Fees

2. A refundable security deposit of 20 euro (no VAT payable) for each Tag issued by sanef ("Tag Deposit");

3 The annual management fee of 6 euro + VAT payable in advance; and

4 a non-refundable application fee of 10 euro + VAT.

Total up front fee of 39.14 euro (including VAT) of which 20 euro is refundable when you return the tag.

Monthly Active Service Fee

In addition to the Subscription Fees, Subscribers must pay a monthly service fee of 5 euro + VAT for each calendar month in which the Subscriber uses the Liber-T System up to a maximum fee of 10 euro + VAT per year per tag. i.e. you only pay for the months that you use the tag and the maximum total Monthly Active Service Fee in any year is 10 euro.

Other European countries

Most European countries have tolls on their motorways. Keep some change handy, as not all countries take credit cards on their motorways (Italy in particular). For Switzerland Austria you need to buy a sticker that allows you to use their motorways (do this at the border).

Free autoroutes

Breakdown charges (Dépannage).

Motorway Information. Tel: 0033 147 05 90 01.


The charges are same if you are taken by trailer to a garage or place of your choice. There is an extra charge if you get taken to a place of your choice (effective from the motorway exit). These rates depend on the company you are using.

In case of breakdown / accident

You should do your best to stop on the right hard shoulder of the highway (as close as possible to the security barrier). If in a tunnel with no hard shoulder there will be every kilometer or so an opening on the right of the road designed for that, try to get there.

Don't forget to put the hazard lights on, get everybody out of the car and beyond the security barrier, then phone 112 for help or walk either way to get to an emergency phone.

The calls are free and go straight through to the police who will send an approved mechanic who will try to fix the problem or arrange to tow you to a garage. You will be expected to give your identity, your position, the type, colour and size of your vehicle, as well as the registration number.

Motorists can only call the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area, and cannot request assistance from their own company if they break down on a motorway.

Costs involved; For a vehicle less than 1.8 tonnes, roadside repairs of up to 30 minutes cost 68.60 euro between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday (forfait de base), and 102.90 euro between 6.00pm and 8.00am, and on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays (forfait majore). The cost of parts and extra time are additional.

Summer Holidays

Bison Futé – a government service for summer travellers. We strongly advise you to visit this informative site before you go.


Regional Road Information Centres. Rhone-Alps / Auvergne Tel: 0033 472 81 57 33.

French autoroutes

Autoroute web site – click on logo

All French autoroute companies

Autoroute charges calculator

– ALIS. A28, Rouen – Alencon.

– AREA. Autoroutes Rhône – Alpes. A41, A42, A43, A48, A49. Tel: 0033 4 72 35 32 03.

– Vinci. Autoroutes du Sud de Ia France. A7, A9, A10, A20, A54, A61, A62, A63, A64, A72, A89, A837. Tel: 0033 4 90 32 32 80.

– ATMB. Tunnel Routier sous le Mont Blanc. A40. Tel: 0033 4 50 25 20 00. /

– Vinci Autoroutes. Compagnie Financière et Industrielle des Autoroutes. A10, A11, A81, A85. Tel: 0033 1 41 14 70 00. / webcams

– ESCOTA. Autoroute Esterel – Côte d'Azur. A8, A51, A57. Tel: 0033 4 92 97 40 40.

SANEF (local). Autoroutes du Nord et de l'Est de Isles France. A16. Tel: 0033 322 69 33 33. A26. Tel: 0033 344 63 60 21.

– Autoroute repairs.

– Mobile website.

– SAPN. Autoroute Paris – Normandie. A14. Tel: 0033 1 39 52 14 14. A13 – A29. Tel: 0033 2 35 18 39 39. / webcams

– SAPRR. Autoroutes Paris – Rhine – Rhône. A5, A6, A19, A31, A36, A39 – Tel: Fr 0801 01 42 42.

– Prado Tunnel.

– A43, Tunnel de Fréjus, Autoroute de la Maurienne.

– Viaduct de Millau.

autoroute radio AUTOROUTE RADIO FM107.7

Information on roadwork's etc.

Autoroute tariffs

Autoroute Charges Calculator; /

French sites – if you are travelling by car in Europe – calculates route and tariffs; 1.

Map showing busy sections of the French autoroutes.

Busy times on the autoroutes


When travelling on the autoroutes, it is usually convenient to pay with your credit card. You have to do this at the booths (péage) at the end of the autoroute. Generally autoroutes around cities and where there is no RN (Route National) road are free

Keep a selection of change handy – the automatic pay points where you throw coins into a bucket are very quick and easy to use.

We strongly recommend the Liber-T automatic badge – from just 2 euro a month (plus the charges) it is a wonderfully efficient way to drive in France.

Conversion table

Distance Conversion Calculator

Convert miles to kilometres, kilometres to miles

Miles Kilometres

Free bits of the autoroute

This map (PDF file) shows which parts of the French autoroute sytem are free (non concédées).

Many sections of the French autoroutes are free. They are mainly around towns and cities, and where ever there is no Route National.

The motorway from Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier is toll free, runs through spectacular scenery and is a good alternative to the busy A6 / A7 Rhone Valley route south.

Heading North from Calais

A16 – From Boulogne to Belgium (part of the Autoroute des Estuaires).

A25 – Dunkerque to Lille

Heading south from Calais

A16 – Calais to Boulogne. Péage starts at Junction 29 at Boulogne.

A20 – L'Occitane. Vierzon (Junction 6 on the A71) to Brive la Gaillarde (Junction 53) via Chateauroux, Argenton and Limoges. This is the longest stretch of free autoroute in France.

A28 – Abbeville Nord to Rouen (Junction 14).

A30/A31 – Thionville (Junction 1) to Toul (Junction 12) via Metz and Nancy.

A38 – Dijon (Junction 33) to Pouilly sur Auxois (Junction 24).

A63 – Bordeaux to Bellin Bellet (Junction 20).

A64 – Saintt Martory (Junction 20) to Muret (Junction 25).

A68 – Monastruc (Junction 3 NE of Toulouse) to Albi (Junction 11) via Gaillac.

A75 – La Meridienne. Clermont Ferrand (Junction 15) to Pezenas (Junction 59) via Issoire (the Millau Bridge has a toll though).

A77 – Pouilly (Junction 26) to Nevers (Junction 37).

A84 – Caen (Junction 46) to Rennes (Junction 25) via Avranches.

Motorways in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands are free.

Other suggested routes in France

-The motorway from Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier is toll free, runs through spectacular scenery and is a good alternative to the busy A6 / A7 Rhone Valley route south.

– Avoid Paris if you're going to the Alps, Provence or Cote d'Azur from Calais by taking the A26 / A5 / A31 via Reims to Dijon

– The new A39 links Dijon to Bourg-en-Bresse

– If you're heading from Calais/Boulogne towards the south-west, Pyrenees or Languedoc take the A16 to junction 10 then the RN184 Cergy Pontoise, St Germain, RN13 / RN186 (Versailles) A13 (Rouen/Le Havre) A12 then either towards Chartres the RN10 or for other directions the RN826 / A86 direction Creteil leaving towards Orleans N186 / A10.

– The A84 motorway link between Caen and Rennes is now open.

– Autoroutes in Brittany are free.

Know any more? – use our forum to pass on your tips

The autoroute companies and their autoroutes.

Map French autoroutes

Useful Outside links

The AA – The AA. Travel and Breakdown insurance

– Royal Automobile Club.

French autoroutes.

Covoiturage, French car sharing site.

– Autoroute conditions and information (mostly Rhone, but with other information – in French).

Speed cameras


French Camping Car web site.

– Controle Radar. French radar control site – check before you go. Look at the menu marked "technology" – full of useful information.

– Prevention Routiere, website set up by the French Government to encourage road safety.

– Infotrafic.

– Bison Futé, France road information.


– Pique Nique. Some useful information on picnic spots including some aires.

More useful links

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