• France edition
 
French motorway toll fees judged too steep
France has seen a steep rise on cost of motorway tolls. Photo: Jerome Bon/flickr

French motorway toll fees judged too steep

Published: 25 Jul 2013 12:57 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Jul 2013 12:57 GMT+02:00

The private companies running France’s motorway network, or autoroutes as they called in France, have been criticized for over-charging motorists at tolls in a new report from national auditors released this week.

The prices of tolls have soared so high that the head of a French motorist's organisation told The Local that driving on an autoroute had no become "a luxury" for drivers in France.

France’s national audit office the "Cour des Comptes" released a report this week highlighting  the multiple hikes in the costs of autoroute tolls over the last five years which have risen at a higher rate than inflation. The auditors also criticized the state for not doing enough to control the price rises.

The auditors, who were asked to report on toll prices, by the National Assembly’s finance committee said in 2011 the private companies that run French motorways, such as Cinci, APRR and Sanef pocketed a total of €7.6 billion.

The auditors doubted the profits were being reinvested back into the network in order to improve the motorway system to the benefit of drivers. France's motorway network was sold off to the private sector in 2006.

The auditors who are recommending that the price rises are capped also suggest the state needs to reassert its influence when it comes to negotiating the price of tolls with the private companies.

At the moment the relationship is “unbalanced” in favour of the companies, the Cour des Comptes states.

Pierre Chasseray from driver's group "40 million d’automobilistes" told The Local the situation had become so bad that driving on a motorway in France has become “a luxury”.

“We obviously welcome this report. The prices have gone up around 10 percent in the last five years. That’s too much and motorists are being punished.

“These companies have introduced automatic toll booths to save money on employing staff but the prices have still gone up. It’s not right.

Chasseray said the issue does not just revolve around money but there is also a knock-on effect when it comes to road safety in France.

“The rise in the toll fees have also forced many more drivers to take the national or departmental roads which results in an increased risk of accident.

“The number of people killed on France’s motorways is 25 times less than the number of fatalities on the national roads. But he price of these tolls is forcing people off the motorways and onto the national roads.

“The government has to take responsibility because they are the ones who handed over control of the motorways to private businesses."

And motorists who have to drive across France can concur.

Nicholas Inge, a British solicitor who travels to the town of St Brévin-les-pins in Loire-Atlantique from the ferry port of Le Havre every summer, said French motorway tolls are “bewildering”.

“I got fed up with the tolls a long time ago. I avoid the autoroutes like the plague," Inge told The Local. "With a bit of planning you will find excellent alternatives on the routes nationales with lovely vistas and plenty of pleasant stopping off places and cafes, with little if any difference to your journey time.

“They are expensive. But perhaps the most bewildering of all, the charges you pay vary from place to place."

What do you think about motorways in France? Are they worth the price of the tolls? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French rail company charged in crash deaths
Photo: AFP

French rail company charged in crash deaths

The state-owned company that manages France's railway infrastructure has been placed under official investigation for manslaughter for the rail disaster in the Paris suburbs that killed seven people in 2013 READ  

Air France strike: Most flights grounded
Air France's pilot strike is continuing for a second day. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Air France strike: Most flights grounded

Angry Air France pilots continued their strike on Tuesday, with some 60 percent of the company's flights expected to be cancelled. The pilots have threatened to stay off the job until Friday. READ  

France's troubled leaders face confidence vote
France's government faces a key vote of confidence on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

France's troubled leaders face confidence vote

Lawmakers are to carry out a crucial confidence vote on Tuesday as France's economic and political crises have left the government seemingly with ever reduced authority and legitimacy. READ  

French designer Gaultier to stop making clothes
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

French designer Gaultier to stop making clothes

After four decades of shocking and wowing the fashion world, French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier has announded he's going to stop creating ready-to-wear clothes and will focus on artsier huate couture creations. READ  

French Indian summer could mean great wine
France's white grape harvest is looking good so far. Photo: François Nacimbeni/AFP

French Indian summer could mean great wine

France's Indian summer weather could undo some of the damage done by its cold, wet summer and thus produce some great wines. Experts are particularly hopeful about the white grape varities. READ  

French paper Libération to fire third of its workers
Legendary leftist French daily Libération plans to shed a third of its workers. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

French paper Libération to fire third of its workers

The stalwart leftist daily in France, Libération, announced on Monday it will let go a third of its staff in an effort to keep the newspaper founded by Jean-Paul Satre from folding for good. READ  

Jilted Frenchman tells cops wife's a jihadist
A Frenchman thought jihad was great way to get back at his estranged wife (not pictured here). Photo: Mohamed Abed/AFP

Jilted Frenchman tells cops wife's a jihadist

An angry Frenchman tried to get back at his wife after she left him by telling police an apparently fabricated story of how she'd recently been radicalized and was planning to become a jihadist in Syria. READ  

Secret talks open in Paris on Ukraine crisis
Secret talks opened in Paris about the Ukraine crisis. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Secret talks open in Paris on Ukraine crisis

France, Germany and Russia held secret talks in Paris about the Ukraine crisis on Monday, but have declined to reveal any details about the discusions, which come over a week after a ceasefire began in the war-ravaged country. READ  

Overcrowded French university shuts down
University leaders shut down a school in southern France because there were too many students. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

Overcrowded French university shuts down

Youngsters turning up for their very first day at university got a rude shock when the overcrowded college in Toulouse told them to go home and come back in a week. READ  

Unions furious at plans to scrap bank holidays
France's bosses union has sparked outrage with a plan to fix the country's economy. Photo: AFP

Unions furious at plans to scrap bank holidays

France's top business owners have a plan to fix the country's moribund economy: cut bank holidays, pay under the minimum wage, skirt the sacred 35-hour work week and allow shops to open on Sundays. In response one outraged union leader questioned if child labour was also under consideration. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
National
'WW2 bomb' kills camper on French island
Does France have a racism problem?
National
National
'Enough gloom, France is an amazing country'
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Gallery
The top ten tourist traps to avoid in France
Politics
The juiciest bits from Trierweiler's tell-all book
Politics
Trierweiler tells all: 'Hollande wanted me back, at any price'
Education
'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?
Politics
Manuel Valls has plenty in common with Tony Blair, but not background
International
Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se