• 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
Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders
Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks to the press during a visit in the city of Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders

National Front leader Marine Le Pen visited the northern port city of Calais on Friday where tensions are high as authorities under increasing pressure to control the influx of illegal migrants trying to get to Britain. READ  

Burglar in the buff snared by French police
A burglar in the buff was snared red handed and bare-bottomed by French police this week. Photo: Shutterstock

Burglar in the buff snared by French police

French police were called out to a bizarre incident this week when they received calls from scared residents in villages in central France alerting them to the presence of a burglar who was targeting homes in the buff. READ  

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes. READ  

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'
France and its allies "hurt" Isis forces in Iraq, French military chief has said. Photo: AFP

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'

The leader of France's armed forces said his country's military "hurt" Isis forces in a recent raid led by the international coalition battling the extremists in Iraq. READ  

What's on in France
What's on in France: 11 things to do in November
The annual cider festival in Le Sap Normandy, just one of the many things to do in France in November. Photo: JCMayzaud

What's on in France: 11 things to do in November

If you're short of ideas for what to do in France in November, we've gathered together a list of 11 events that are well worth checking out, especially if you're into art, wine, music or just can't wait to get in the Christmas spirit. READ  

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining
Relations between France and Saudi Arabia could soon be strained if Paris thieves are not stopped. Photo: Dominic Faget/AFP

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining

A man working for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Paris had a whopping €15,000 in cash stolen while dining out in the city on Tuesday afternoon. He’s just the latest Saudi national to be targeted by thieves in France. READ  

Budget row: EU asks France for more details
Hollande and his PM Manuel Valls will have to convince Brussels their 2015 budget is in order. Photo: AFP

Budget row: EU asks France for more details

French President Francois Hollande said his country had received an EU Commission letter asking for clarifications over its 2015 budget, which forecasts that France will miss the deficit targets laid by Brussels by a wide margin. READ  

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France
It's no joke. Clown panic is spreading across France. Photo: Shutterstock

Vigilantes held as clown panic spreads in France

Police arrested five armed youths in a town in eastern France this week who were hunting for “aggressive clowns” who were reportedly threatening locals. It’s just the latest incident in France where reports of armed clowns has spread panic. READ  

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion
A French mum had to have four limbs amputated due to complications following an abortion. Photo: Shutterstock

Mother has four limbs removed after abortion

A woman who had an abortion in Bordeaux is suing the medical team that performed the procedure after she ended up having to have partial amputations to both arms and legs. READ  

France and the EU
France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more
France is owed €1 billion by the EU, in contrast to the UK, which has been told to pay €2.1 billion more. Photo: Luc Legay/Flickr

France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more

Struggling France is owed a €1billion rebate from Brussels, it was revealed this week. It hasn’t gone down well on the other side of the English Channel where the UK has been told to hand over an extra €2.1billion. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
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