France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Parking a Car in France
Car parking is well organized in cities and towns. Learn the system and you'll be all set within minutes.




Car Parking Lots & Garages

In cities, large multi-level car parking lots are common, whether above- or underground. Signs point the way to them, sometimes giving the name of the operating company (two large companies are Indigo and Effia), name of the parking facility, and in some cases, the number of parking spaces available at the moment.

In the more sophisticated garages, lights over vacant spaces will lead you right to a vacant one.

Rates are clearly indicated at the parking facility entrance. Take a ticket, carry it with you, and pay the fee at a machine near a pedestrian entrance to the facility as you return to your car. Note that to use a credit card to pay the fee, it must be a credit card with a chip. More...

If you don't have a credit card with a chip, have a good supply of 2, 1, and smaller coins. After inserting sufficient coins, your parking ticket will be returned to you by the machine. Drive to the parking facility exit, insert the paid ticket in the gate machine, and the gate/barrier will lift so you can exit.

Smart cars parked in Paris, France
Parking in Paris. Note the word Payant painted on the street
by the dashed line. That means you must pay to park there...

Street Parking

  Horodateur (parking time machine), Bordeaux, France

A horodateur in Bordeaux...

Parking spaces are indicated on some streets and in some surface parking lots by white lines. Virtually all spaces on streets, except in the smallest towns and villages, are payant (metered for pay). Parking lots outside the town or city center may be free (gratuit) or pay.

Find the payment machine (horodateur) on the street, look at the pictorial instructions and rate list on the machine to calculate the money you'll need for the time you want to park. Most horodateurs now work with Web/smartphone payment apps. You must have the proper app on your phone to pay.

If the machine you see accepts coins, insert coins, push the green button, and a paper receipt will be printed and released into a space below.

Place the paper receipt inside your car, visible through the windshield/ windscreen, and move your car (or buy another receipt) before the time elapses.

Save Money!

In many cities and towns, you may not have to pay for parking during the normal lunchtime closing hours for shops (for example, 12:00 noon or 12:30 until 14:00 [2pm] or 14:30 [2:30pm], or at night (for example, from 20:00 [8:00pm] to 08:00am).

Thus, if you buy one hour's worth of parking time at 11:30 am, and lunchtime closing is from 12:00 noon to 14:00 (2pm), your departure time will be given as 14:30 (2:30pm), meaning that you can actually park there legally for three hours.

And if you arrive in a town at 19:00 (7:00pm) and pay for three hours of parking, the horodateur may compute that you will use one hour in the evening (19:00 to 20:00), then you'll have 12 hours of free night-time parking, and you will use two hours of pay parking in the morning (08:00 to 10:00am), so your "three hours' parking" will actually allow you to stay in that spot for 15 hours, until 10:00am the next morning.

Closely parked cars, Paris, France did that car get in there...and how's it gonna get out?

Car Hire/Rental

Driving in France

French Driving Habits

Fuel & Charging

Highway Tolls & Payment

Car Travel in France

Transport in Paris

Train Travel in France

Transport in France



US Army Jeep in Normandy, France

This US Army Jeep, a relic of the Normandy
D-Day landings
, is not parked legally...

 Horodateur in Blois, Loire, France

How to operate a horodateur:

1. Check the Rates
2. Insert Coins
3. Push the Button!
4. Take the Ticket & put it in your car, visible.

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