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And the worst city in France for traffic jams is?

We’ll give you good news first. French residents spent less time sitting in traffic jams in 2015 compared to the previous year, a total of 28 hours, down from 29.

And the worst city in France for traffic jams is?
Photo: AFP

But not all cities are equal when it comes to traffic jams.

First the bad news.

Paris, as you might have expected, is the most congested city in the country, with its drivers spending an average of 45 hours bumper to bumper. And while congestion has decreased in France as a whole, in the capital it actually saw a 0.1 percent increase last year.

Now the good news. Paris is only 15th in the last of the worst cities in Europe for traffic jams, with its eternal rival London earning that unwanted crown, followed by Stuttgart, Anvers, then Cologne.

London was the undisputed traffic jam champion of Europe, with its drivers spending a whopping 101 hours in traffic, or over four days.

 

It won't surprise most of you that the worst road for congestion was the noose around the city's neck – the Péripherique (or the Periphereeeeeeeeeeeek! as those of us who have driven on it call it)

Lyon residents can feel smug; they might have spent an average of 36 hours in traffic last year, but thanks to works to improve the city's traffic flow, this was actually an overall drop of four and a half hours.

And the other cities to make up the top ten for the worse traffic jams were, in the following order: Toulon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Nantes, Rennes and Caen ( see table).

Rang France Métropolitaine Heures perdues en 2015 Différence vs 2014 (en heures)
1 Paris 45,35 0,1
2 Lyon 36,07 -4,4
3 Toulon 35,48 1,2
4 Bordeaux 34,83 -1,1
5 Toulouse 34,72 -1,4
6 Strasbourg 33,8 -0,6
7 Grenoble 31,28 0,2
8 Nantes 30,58 0,1
9 Rennes 27,95 =
10 Caen 25,15 0,1

It was a road in Normandy which was crowned France’s most congested: the D6015 which links Rouen with Notre-Dame-de-Blondeville. (For the top ten congested roads in France see table below)

The figures come from Inrix, a company providing data analysis on traffic and transport, which ranked 96 European cities in order of how much time their residents spent in jams.

France came seventh in the rankings, while the top three spots were occupied by Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

However, the drop in French traffic jams is not necessarily something to celebrate, as Inrix suggested that the country's worsening economy could be the cause.

The company’s general director Bryan Mistele explained: “For the fourth consecutive year, road congestion decreased in France. This phenomenon is partly explained by the economic slow-sown and by the increased rate of unemployment, which reduced the number of drivers and thus led to less traffic.”

Inrix has previously reported that France's traffic jams are on their way to becoming the world's costliest, currently setting the country back €17 billion per year because of direct and indirect costs including wasted fuel, lost work time, or increased wear and tear of vehicles.
 

And driving in France should be getting a bit more pleasant this week at least, as motorists are encouraged to think of others for International Courtesy at the Wheel Week.

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DRIVING

The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

From petrol discounts and motorway tolls to low-emission zones and help to buy a greener car, here’s what’s changing for motorists in France in the next 12 months.

The law changes drivers in France need to know about in 2023

Petrol prices 

The French government’s €0.10 per litre discount on petrol and diesel ends on January 1st, and TotalEnergies’ discount-match at its fuel stations also finishes.

Motorists may be able to look forward to some help from the supermarket chain E.Leclerc, which also owns several petrol stations across France, after the head of the chain E.Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, told BFM Politique on December 18th that the company would “make a gesture” to help motorists in France with rising fuel prices, but he did not provide any further details.

But the blanket discount will be replaced by targeted assistance for households on lower incomes who rely on their vehicles for work, with about 10 million workers expected to receive a one-off payment of €100.

To apply for the aid, you will need to register your details on the tax website. 

READ ALSO Who will get France’s €100 fuel hand-out and how?

Carpooling

The French government has unveiled a plan to encourage carpooling on Tuesday, offering drivers who register on carpooling platforms a benefit of €100.

Drivers will be able to register starting on January 1st, and the payment of €100 will be done in instalments – with a lump sum of “at least” €25 upon registration and then the remaining amount distributed over the course of 10 carpool journeys.

“Carpooling is a very effective lever for reducing our country’s fuel consumption in a sustainable way. It is good for the climate and good for the purchasing power of the French,” French environment minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told Huffpost.

READ ALSO French government announces €100 payment for those joining carpooling platforms

Motorway tolls

From February, motorway toll fees will rise by an average of 4.75 percent, after rising 2 percent in 2022.

The Transport Ministry pointed out that the 4.75 percent toll increase – announced in October – is “markedly lower” than France’s inflation rate of 6.33 percent. 

On some networks, electric vehicles will benefit from a five percent discount, while regular users – who make a minimum of 10 return journeys a month on the same route – may be eligible for a discount of 40 percent, up from the current 30 percent. Check with the motorway operator for details.

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

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.

Breakdown fees

No one wants to break down on the motorway, but if you do, you probably want to know how much getting your vehicle fixed will cost. The annual government-set charges are clear.

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee was to rise €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

READ ALSO French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Extra help to buy electric vehicles

French president Emmanuel Macron announced in October an increase in the financial aid available for anyone who trades in a combustion engine car for an electric one from January 2023.

In a partial reversal on previous plans, under which the ecological bonus for trading in an older car for an electric model was set to fall, Macron said: “Because we want to make the electric car accessible to everyone, we are going to increase the ecological bonus from €6,000 to €7,000 for half of [France’s] households.” 

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: The financial aid available to buy an electric car in France

Electric car charge points

Since October 1st, electric vehicles parked in front of a public charging station must be connected and charging – drivers cannot simply use them as an extra parking space. Anyone who ignores the rule risks a fine of €58.

Crit’Air sticker extension and more fines for polluting vehicles

France’s environment minister announced in October a major extension of the city low-emission zones controlled by Crit’Air stickers, plus an increase in fines up to a maximum of €750. 

Between 2023 and 2025, 43 more French cities will create low-emission zones, on top of the 11 that already have them.

READ MORE: Crit’Air: Drivers face €750 fines in France’s new low-emission zones

The Crit’Air system requires all motorists – including the drivers of foreign-registered vehicles – going to any of the low-emission zones to get a sticker for their vehicle. The sticker assigns the vehicle a number from 0 (all electric vehicles) to 5 (the most polluting).

Some low emission zones will begin gradually banning more polluting cars. Paris, for instance, intends to ban Crit’Air 3 vehicles in July 2023, a move held back from July 2022.

READ ALSO Driving in France: How the Crit’Air vehicle sticker system works

Winter tyres

France introduced a law, the Loi Montage II (mountain law II), in 2020 making winter tyres, chains or socks compulsory in certain areas, which will finally come into effect in 2023.

The law makes either snow tyres, all-weather tyres or chains compulsory in 48 of France’s 96 mainland départements – generally those areas which are mountainous, with local authorities in those départements responsible for deciding where such rules will be applied.

READ ALSO Winter tyres and snow chains: What are the rules in France?

Insurance

Drivers in France may not have to worry about the little green stickers that they attach to their windscreen (windshield) soon, after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced plans to scrap them in favour of a digitalised system set to start in 2023.

The goal, according to the finance minister, is to simplify the process for drivers and reduce costs.

French car insurers, like France Assureurs, have been pushing for the piece of paper to be scrapped for some time.

READ ALSO France announces plan to scrap vehicle insurance windscreen stickers

Roadworthiness test for motorcycles

After some back and forth, the French council of the state decided in October that motorcycles (two-wheeled vehicles) would also need to comply with “roadworthiness” testing starting January 1st, 2023. This is part of a decree passed by the French government in August 2021, and it specifically concerns two-wheeled vehicles registered to dates prior to 2016. The council of the state specified that the vehicles concerned are “motor vehicles with two, three or four wheels with a cylinder capacity of more than 125 cm3.” As of December 2022, the details regarding how this plan will be implemented were not yet available, so it is possible enforcement measures will be staggered, according to reporting by Auto-Moto.

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