France is home to many tourist hotspots, ranging from the grand Eiffel Tower in Paris, to the deep blue waters of the French Riviera. The rich culture and history of the country attract visitors from all around the globe, many of whom prefer to rent a car or motorhome and cruise down the French roads for the ultimate experience. Like most countries, France has motorway tolls, which can make planning your road trip across France on a budget a little more difficult. But worry not, it’s a simple process! In this blog you’ll find easy step by step guidelines for working around French motorway tolls down.
Step 1: Classify your vehicle
Toll fees vary according to the classification of your vehicle, so it is important to know what category your vehicle falls under. This is especially important to remember when using a French toll calculator. If you’re renting a motorhome, then your vehicle is likely to fall below one of the following classes:
Category 2: (intermediate vehicle)
- Overall height between 2 to 3 metres
- The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) as written on French vehicle registration papers must be below 3.5 tonnes
Category 3: (Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) or bus with two axles)*
- Overall height of 3 metres or more
- The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is greater than 3.5 tonnes.
*However it is important to remember that category 3 vehicles are classified as category 4 vehicles on the A14 autoroute
If you believe your motorhome does not fall under either category, or want more information about car classification, then visit the Autoroutes Website.
Step 2: Know how to identify a French autoroute
As you pull into a highway, you’ll see a big blue sign. The top part of the sign is marked with the letter ‘A’ followed by a number (such as A 43). *The ‘A’ indicates that you are on an autoroute. Next to it, you’ll find the letter ‘E’ next to a number (such as E 70). This is because European route numbers are displayed where suitable. At the bottom of the sign, the word ‘Péage’ (pronounced pay-arje) is written, indicating the entrance to a toll road.
Normally, as you enter an autoroute, you pick up a ticket from a booth (simply by pressing a button). You then pay either when you leave the autoroute or when the toll section ends. The ticket is handed in at another booth upon your exit, and you are charged according to the distance travelled.
However, not all toll roads in France require you to have a ticket. Some autoroutes have a fixed tariff you pay as you exit the road.
Step 3: Know which toll road lane to pass through when you pay
French motorway toll booths are split along several lanes. Each lane has a sign above it, helping drivers know which method of payment each toll accepts. The signs are simple to understand:
Red cross: lane is closed
Green arrow: lane is open
Blue coins: cash is taken, but no change is returned
Blue man: lane is staffed, and change is given
Blue rectangle with CB written on it OR credit cards: credit card only
Orange T: drivers with a toll charging sensor
Step 4: Plan
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for what’s ahead. In this case, it would be knowing how much you’ll spend on toll roads in France. On average, it’s estimated that you spend €1 for every 10 miles (£0.90 for every 16km). This of course, may vary according to the category your car is placed in. You can always use a French toll calculator for a more accurate results. On the French motorway company website, simply enter the location of your departure and arrival and all the information you need is provided. The website provides visitors with a French toll road map, an estimated driving time, and the cost of both toll charges and gas. You can also edit your vehicle category for a more accurate toll calculation.
- Avoid travelling around the weeks of July 14th and August 15th (both of which are national holidays). Roads can become quite busy, making travelling a little more of a hassle.
- The French are renowned for driving holidays, and thus tend to hit the roads when they’re on holiday in the beginning and end of August, so be prepared to drive through busier roads!
- You can avoid French motorway tolls by taking national roads. While you do have the benefit of a more scenic drive and seeing more of the country, it does have its downsides. The drive to your destination would be longer, meaning whatever money you save on toll fees will be spent on gas. It is also easier to get lost on these roads, as they tend to pass through the countryside and suburban neighbourhoods.
- Be sure to view this French toll road map before starting your journey! It features both free routes and toll roads, making it easier for you to stay within budget and explore more of the country.
Now that you know how to pass through French motorway tolls, you are ready to start your road trip of a lifetime across France! So fill up on gas and get your vehicle ready to explore the country and try exquisite French cuisines! If you’re planning to camp to enjoy the nature France has to offer, you can always rent a motorhome on Goboony in just a few clicks.