Parisians paying dearly for their bad ‘parking’

Fines from illegally parked cars in Paris are making a fortune for tow-truck companies and authorities - with a car getting towed every two minutes.

Parisians paying dearly for their bad 'parking'
Some of the parking efforts are atrocious... Photo: Tejvan Pettinger/Flickr
If you've ever walked the streets of Paris, you'll have seen the dodgy parking. Cars on pedestrian crossings, at intersections, even halfway down the steps of the Metro (in extreme cases).
In fact, there were a whopping 250,000 cars impounded in Paris last year alone, according to a report in Le Parisien newspaper on Wednesday. 
This is a staggering figure, not least considering that other big cities in France like Lyon and Marseille only impound around 15,000 to 20,000 a year. 
In Paris it's a hugely lucrative business apparently worth a cool €38 million annually.
Sources from some of the major private towing companies in the capital told the paper that they were under incredible pressure to deliver results each day.
One former tow truck driver said that his team was told to bring in at least ten to 12 cars each day, a quota that made those on the job desperate to cut corners.
“Some guys in Paris can even bring in as many as 25 cars a day, they're the champions of the world,” he added. 
Drivers tend to target areas near the pound (meaning they didn't have to travel so far) or in areas with wide streets (which makes the job easier). This is why a driver prefers the 15th arrondissement, for example, compared to the cramped streets of the first or second arrondissements, the driver said. 
Another worker said that the team would also aim to haul in light-weight cars to make their job quicker and easier, and would avoid expensive, heavy, and low-rider vehicles.
Photo: AFP
In other words, there's a reason you'll see a Porsche getting away with being parked on a pedestrian crossing – the tow truck drivers would prefer to take the mini across the road.
“I remember a time that a Ferrari had its rims ripped to shreds, that must have cost an arm and a leg,” a source told the paper. 
Photo: mokapest/Flickr
Residents of Paris get slapped with a fine of €150 for the towing, usually coupled with a parking fine of €135. And those who are unable to collect their car straight away can expect a daily “minding fee” of €26. 
While anyone who's ever visited Paris can attest that some of the parking efforts certainly deserve to be towed, it might be unfair to blame the driver, considering the number of parking spaces across Paris has decreased by a third since 2001. 
Photo: Fiona Campbell/Flickr
Some have suggested that the solution is to get the city of Paris to manage the impounding, rather than private companies. 
“The impounding of cars in Paris is a real scandal,” said right-wing Republican deputy Philippe Goujon, the deputy mayor of the 15th arrondissement of Paris.
“Impounding cars should not be in the hands of private companies. This is a service that the city and its people are not happy with.”
But this seems highly unlikely, with a spokesperson from the Paris police telling the paper that this would mean an investment of €15 million for equipment and another €60 million for operating costs. 
Photo: Connie Ma/Flickr
Indeed, several private towing companies are set to see a renewed four-year contract in the coming days, the paper reported. 

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Beach parking rates soar at tourist hotspots across France

The cost of a simple trip to the beach is rising fast in some of France's tourist hotspots, with holidaymakers having to dig deeper to cover the cost of parking.

Beach parking rates soar at tourist hotspots across France
Photo: AFP

Tourists in many coastal parts of France are having to cough up higher amounts than ever for parking penalties and leaving their cars parked on public roads for extended periods of time. 

The price hike has become much more obvious this summer, the first long-term holiday period since deregulation by France’s central government put the parking power in municipal hands on January 1st 2018.

Town halls now have the right to decide how much they charge drivers for parking on public space, so many of the 400 municipalities involved have increased their rates, extended the payment times and introduced stiffer penalties for unpaid parking tickets.

According to French daily Les Echos, the first hour of parking remains roughly the same at €1 across most of l’Héxagone, but the price soars quickly the longer they stay.

As the reform does prevent town halls from setting the price of fines (the post-parking or non-payment fee, FPS as it is called in France) in excess of the cost of a full day's parking rate, they have instead extended payment periods and bumped up rates for long-term parking.

In the seaside Côte d'Azur town of Cavalaire-sur-Mer, the parking price has almost quadrupled from €6 to €23 for the day.

Upmarket neighbour Saint-Tropez now charges drivers €30 to park on a street close to the beach and in Brittany in the northwest of France, authorities in the coastal town of Concarneau have set the daily amount at €35.


Saint Tropez. Photo: Krzysztof Belczyński/Flickr

But whereas some coastal municipalities are seeing deregulation and an increase in tourist numbers as a chance to fill public coffers, other smaller tourist spots are more apprehensive about dissuading visitors with sky-high rates.

The seaside town of Sainte-Maxime on the French Riviera for example has decided to make its beachside public car park completely free of charge to visitors.

Authorities in France's biggest cities have however taken to putting up parking rates, much the same as town halls in some of the country's most popular coastal spots.

In Paris the rate for not displaying a parking ticket is now €50 and in Lyon it's as high as €60.

FIND OUT MORE: Parking fines to skyrocket in Paris and other cities in France