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Revealed: France’s sneakiest speed radars

A new study was released on Monday which will be a useful tool to the thousands of tourists set to head to France this summer by car. A French motorists group has created a map of the sneakiest speed cameras in the country.

Revealed: France's sneakiest speed radars
Photo: Screengrab/40 millions d'automobilistes

Incoherent speed limits, hidden or sneaky positioning of cameras– these are just some of the biggest bug-bears among French drivers revealed in a report on Monday from drivers’ rights group ‘40 millions d’automobilistes’.

With the help of witness testimonies from thousands of drivers the motorists organisation has managed to put together a list of the most sneaky speed cameras across France that are regularly trapping drivers and leaving them infuriated.

“On the D338 between Tours and Le Mans, I was flashed at 80 in a 70 zone, even though traffic in the opposite direction is limited to 90! It’s scandalous,” one irate driver's testimony.

“By the banks of the Seine. 4am. Not a cat on the road. No intersection coming up, and there, planted behind a huge tree is a nice little radar flashing anyone over 50 km/h," said another.

Referring to the thousands of similar accounts Head of 40 Millions d'automobilistes, Pierre Chasseray, said “these are situations that give law abiding drivers the impression that the speed cameras that flash them serve more as a piggy bank than anything else”.

The organization has compiled testimonies from just some of its 320,000 members, and designed a map of France featuring the 72 sneakiest, most dangerous, most unfair speed cameras in the country.

The document – titled "Tell me about your radar: for speed to be respected, it must be respectable" – shows a wide variety of complaints about France’s system of speed radars.

Some motorists lament the fact that radars are often placed at the bottom of hills and other declines, where it’s difficult to decelerate.

Others are bothered by long stretches of road with a certain speed limit, interrupted by a short section with a much lower limit, where a speed camera is placed.

This is not the first time speed cameras have caused controversy in France.

Earlier this month, The Local reported how a rogue group of French traffic police were facing possible disciplinary action after disabling and “blinding” speed radars on motorways near the eastern city of Lyon.

The gendarmes were protesting against what one of them called “a road safety system based on financial gain”.

In March, French police rolled out 20 secret, "undetectable" speed cameras, built in to passing police cars, a move which caused concern for motorists' advocate Chasseray. 

"If these devices are used to trap the real speeding drivers, the criminals and the real dangerous drivers then that will be a good thing," he told The Local.

"If they are used to trap ordinary drivers who might be slightly over the limit, then that will be counter-productive in terms of road safety."

To find out more about where France's sneakiest speed cameras are positioned, click here.

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Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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