|How to Pay Highway Tolls in France|
|You can get yourself into a jam if you are not prepared for French toll booths. Here's how to prepare, and to travel France's autoroutes without problems.|
Autoroutes (expressways, motorways) connect the major cities and regions in France, making it easy to zoom from one to another.
Types of Payment
Rules for tolls, and paying them, are set by the operating companies. Here are examples for Vinci-operated autoroutes.
On most autoroutes, you take a ticket when you enter the highway, and pay the toll when you exit.
The toll payment method preferred by the autoroute operating companies is télépéage, payment by electronic transponder, signalled by a 't' logo over the toll gate. For this you need the transponder and a payment subscription account with the autoroute operating company—not practical unless you live in France or in a neighboring European country.
If this is the only sign you see over a toll gate, you must pay the toll via télépéage.
For foreign visitors, the simplest way to pay highway tolls is usually with euro cash. Look for a toll gate marked by a green downward-pointing arrow:
You should be able to pay the toll with euro coins and/or notes/bills at any such gate.
If you see only a 't' symbol, or a stylized logo of credit cards, and no green downward arrow, you may not be able to pay with euro cash at that toll gate. Don't go there!
Drive into the gate with the green downward-pointing arrow to the toll machine:
1. Insert your toll ticket in Slot 1. The toll amount will appear in the digital display above (for example, 2 euros 30 centimes, as seen above).
2. Insert your French credit card (see below) in Slot 2, or euro coins (10-, 20- and 50-cent, 1- and 2-euro coins) in the slot marked Pièces and/or euro notes/bills (5, 10, 20 and 50 euros) in the slot marked Billets. In case of overpayment, change may be returned in the Monnaie (excess change) hole.
When the full amount of the toll has been registered, the gate barrier will rise.
3. Push the Récu button to obtain a receipt (if desired). Proceed through the toll gate.
4. In case of a problem, press the Assistance intercom button (upper right-hand corner) and wait for assistance. Don't back up!
Tolls are charged by distance, so a longer drive will require more and larger coins and notes/bills. Be sure to have a sufficient and varied supply of notes and coins before entering a toll highway! Don't depend on chance—the euro cash you may have in your pocket at the time—to get you through. Prepare a special reserve of coins and notes/bills for highway tolls as the tolls can be high. The 8-hour, 775-km (482-mile) drive by autoroute from Paris to Marseille in a Classe 1 vehicle (passenger car) incurs tolls of 57.80€.
You can calculate the anticipated toll amount for any autoroute trip on the ASFA website (see below).
Credit & Debit Cards
Some toll gates are marked by stylized credit card logos meaning you may pay only by credit card at that gate. Cash is not accepted at toll gates marked by the credit card symbol.
The highway operator (Vinci) does not publicize which cards are accepted and which are not. If you have a credit or debit card from a French bank, and it has the CB (Carte Bleu) logo on it, it will probably work. Any other card may not, and may be seized by the toll machine and not returned.
Thus, it is wise never to insert your only credit or debit card into a highway toll machine. If you are carrying other cards with which you can continue to pay your travel expenses, you may decide to try it.
ASFA (Autoroutes & ouvrages concédés), the association of companies operating autoroutes in France, has a website, autoroutes.fr, that provides information in French and English on expressways/ motorways in France, including a distance & toll calculator.
Fill in the From: and To: fields of the YOUR ROUTE calculator to see a map of a recommended route, statistics on distance, toll amount, estimated motor fuel usage, and other information. More...
Tolls from Paris to: