A complete guide to toll roads in France

A complete guide to toll roads in France
The autoroutes of France are a series of motorways that consist of a number of toll roads – often signalled by blue and white sign of a two lane road and a bridge along with the phrase ‘Peage’.

Also known as toll ways or a turnpike, these roadblocks are an important part of driving through France – and other countries across Europe.

Simply, they are controlled-access roads, where you need to pay to gain passage to the rest of the road.

These motorways are defined by the ‘A’ and proceeding number – although some of them have their own name.

This guide gives you the information you will need ahead of your next journey to France.

Toll roads in France

Once you have made your decision on whether to take the ferry or Channel Tunnel crossing to get to France, you can start your French adventure.

There a very few ‘free’ motorways in the country, although there are a number of dual carriageways and other roads that can take you from the North to the South of the country without visiting a single toll – however, this would take a bit longer.

Below is a map of the main toll roads in France. Ahead of your next car journey to France, check to see if any of these are on your route. If you are unsure on how to get to your next destination, visit RAC Route Planner.

In total, there are over 90 tolls across the major roads of France – these are just a selection of the main ones.

How do tolls work?

When using a toll road in France, there are several ways you can pay for tolls.

Any driver can pay for tolls by credit, debit card or cash (for manned toll roads). Across the country, most tolls are now automated and unmanned – however, on the larger, busier autoroutes, some continue to provide manned booths.

You can spot a manned toll booth/road, where you can see a sign of a person in a cap above the lane.

Remember, all payments must be made in Euros.

Each Autoroute is operated by its own company with its own terms and conditions around payment, so it is worth planning your route and checking their websites ahead of your journey.

Drivers can also pay in advance via ‘Telepeage’ – a payment method preferred by most of the autoroute companies. However, this is not really practical for tourists, unless you visit the country multiple times a year.

A transponder is attached to the vehicle with the letter ‘t’ on it – and payment is made via a subscription once you pass through a toll.

An increasing number of subscription-based suppliers are appearing across the country – and it is worth doing some research as they become more commonplace in the years to come.

These are also known as ‘toll tags’ – and are available with a number of independent companies. They can also be used if you are travelling to multiple European countries.

However, if you do need to make a traditional payment – this is what you will need to do. Luckily, many of the machine-based tolls come with English language options.

For some toll you take a ticket at the start and pay at the end. Others, you pay as you pass through.

Either insert the ticket or select payment – make the payment – take your receipt. After this, the barrier should open, and you are free to carry on with your journey. There is often an emergency call system on the machine if it is needed.

Cost of toll roads in France

The amount you pay can vary due to what type and weight of your vehicle – in total, there are 5 categories.

Category 1 – Cars and trailers with a height of less than two metres and under the weight of 5.5 tonnes. They may also be referred to as passenger vehicles or light vehicles.

Category 2 – Same as above but with a height of between two and three metres.

Category 3 – Vehicles (can be with a trailer) with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes and a height of more than three metres.

Category 4 – HGVs, trucks, and larger vehicles with more than two axles, with a weight of more than 3.5 tonnes, and a height of more than four metres.

Category 5 – Motorbikes (can be with a sidecar).

If you are driving a normal family car, then you can expect to pay between €10-€50 per toll, depending on the Autoroute you are on. These are constantly updating, so it is worth preparing your route before you leave to know how much you will be paying.

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French toll road signs

These are the type of signs you should look out for on French Autoroutes for tolls.

french toll

French phrases you need to know

So, you are packed and ready to go on your next French adventure! You know your route; you know the tolls you will be passing through – but what if you need some assistance at the toll booth?

Here, we have some common phrases that you might need.

1. How much does this toll cost? – Combien coûte ce péage?

2. How far until the next toll? – Jusqu'où jusqu'au prochain péage?

3. Is there any traffic ahead? – Y a-t-il du trafic devant vous?

4. What is the best tourist attraction nearby? – Quelle est la meilleure attraction touristique à proximité?

5. Can I have a receipt please? – Puis-je avoir un reçu s'il vous plaît?

6. Thank you. Have a good day! – Merci. Passe une bonne journée!

What other phrases should visitors know for when they speak to a person in the toll booth? Leave your comments below.

Tolls across Europe

If France is your first destination on a European road trip, then beware that many other mainland nations on the continent have toll roads.

RAC Drive has a range of guides for driving laws and advice for any country in Europe. These guides will inform you if there will be any tolls on your next road trip.

Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

You should also look at our European Driving kit to make sure that you have everything you need to comply with the different driving requirements. It also includes items that can ensure your safety in case of an emergency so that you have peace of mind.

Can you travel through France without going through the tolls?

In short, yes, it is possible! However, it isn’t advisable.

Although there are many toll roads across France (and continental Europe), avoiding them would mean taking a lot longer going around them on smaller roads. This would mean that you would be spending more time and money to get to your destination.

Some roads may be more picturesque, and so it may be worth it. However, if you are on your way to a specific destination, the tolls are a necessary part of your journey.

Are you driving in France this summer? What route are you taking and what advice would you give to fellow road users? Please comment below.

European Breakdown Cover

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*Price for 7 days’ Comprehensive Cover for a vehicle between 1-4 years old in zone 1.

*Price for 7 days’ Comprehensive Cover for a vehicle between 1-4 years old in zone 1.