• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French motorway toll fees judged too steep

Ben McPartland · 25 Jul 2013, 12:57

Published: 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."

Story continues below…

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
First driverless minibus goes on trial in Paris
Gilbert Gagnaire, Director General of Easy Mile, poses in front of his driverless EZ10 minibus. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The French capital's transport authority will carry out its first test of a driverless minibus on Saturday.

Feature
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
Receptionist Ivan Lopez in his tiny "chambre de bonne". Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Thousands of Parisians round off a hard day's work with a trudge up six flights of stairs to a tiny, stuffy room they resignedly call home.

Former president Chirac still in hospital but wife home
Bernadette Chirac executes a deal at the French Stock Exchange on September 12. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Former French president Jacques Chirac remains in hospital in Paris but his wife Bernadette has now been discharged.

Pope holds multi-faith meeting with Nice victims
Pope Francis kisses a baby on arrival at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP

Pope Francis will on Saturday hold a multi-faith meeting of grieving relatives and survivors of an attack in France in July when a jihadist ploughed his truck into a crowd in Nice.

Cameron school pal appointed UK ambassador to France
Ed Llewellyn has spent time in the European Commission. Photo: Gov.uk

Ed Llewellyn attended the Eton College at the same time as former PM David Cameron, and then served as his chief of staff throughout his eleven years as Conservative leader.

UK announces new ambassador to France
Photo: gov.uk

Meet Edward Llewellyn, the UK's new ambassador to France.

How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Photo: Marie/Flickr

Which stage of the assimilation process are you at?

Opinion - Integration
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Photo: AFP

Demands and laws to force immigrants to live, look, and think like the French are futile and damaging.

France's famous 'rogue trader' must pay €1 million to bank
Photo: AFP

French "rogue trader" Jerome Kerviel was ordered on Friday to pay €1 million to his former employer.

Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
Photo: Pupkin/Flickr

Moving to Paris or just arrived? Read this first.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
National
Paris set to make river bank car-free for six-month trial
Society
Bordeaux hospital ranked as best in France
National
France rolls out 'world's first' driverless buses
Society
15 things a Frenchwoman can do to feel more British
Culture
Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
2,729
jobs available