Paris region bans cars and cuts Metro ticket prices over pollution spike

Tens of thousands of motorists in the Paris and Lyon regions were unable to take their cars to work on Tuesday after authorities took the step of banning vehicles due to a pollution spike linked to the arrival of the new heatwave.

Paris region bans cars and cuts Metro ticket prices over pollution spike
Photo: AFP

Around 60 percent of vehicles in the Paris region of Île-de-France were banned from the roads on Tuesday as part of an anti-pollution system brought in by authorities.

The scheme, known as “circulation differenciée” or “alternate circulation” bans the most polluting cars from taking to the roads when there is a likely spike in air pollution in and around the French capital.

It is based on pollution stickers that each car has, known as Crit'Air, which range from the number zero – the least polluting cars to 5, which are the most polluting.

From Tuesday all vehicles with Crit'Air stickers 3,4 or 5 are unable to be driven inside the Paris exterior ring road the A86 – which encompasses Paris and the suburbs.

Similar restrictions were put in place in the Lyon region where vehicles with Crit'Air stickers 4 and 5 were banned from a perimeter around the city. 


HEATWAVE LATEST: Alerts extended across France with Paris set for record temperature

That equates to some 4.7 million vehicles registered in the greater Paris region that will have to be left at home.

And that figure doesn't even include all the vehicles with Crit'Air stickers 3,4 or 5 that are registered outside Île-de-France, but will be banned from inside the A86.

The ban runs from 5.30am until midnight but will likely be extended given the heatwave is forecast to last all week.

In another measure that impacts drivers, speed limits in the Paris region have been reduced from 130km/h to 110km/h on the motorway.

On dual carriageways the speed limits are set at 90km/h and at 70km/h on secondary roads.

To make up for the impact on motorists, commuters can buy a one-day travel pass to use on public transport in the Paris region for just €3.80.


Member comments

  1. To make up for the impact on motorists, commuters can buy a one-day travel pass to use on public transport in the Paris region for just €3.80.

    How enticing. Just where I’d love to spend my commute when it reaches 35C.
    On the metro or a bus? 🙂

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Sweltering France posts traffic jam record

France saw a record level of traffic jams on Saturday, with cars stuck in gridlock on roasting roads spanning 820 kilometres during the country's heatwave.

Sweltering France posts traffic jam record
A picture taken on August 8, 2020 near the toll gate of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines shows cars stuck in traffic jam on the A10 highway: Martin BUREAU / AFP

France's traffic authorities said the peak was reached just after noon, easily beating both last Saturday's record of 760 kilometres (470 miles) and the previous record of 762 kilometres set on August 3 of last year.

The country has been sweltering through a heatwave since Thursday, with temperatures pushing towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in several areas.

In the southwest, Brive-la-Gaillarde broke its record with 40.8C on Friday, as did Cognac with 39.8C, while Nantes in the west posted a new record of 39.6C.

No relief is expected until Wednesday, with the soaring temperatures compounding the pressure as the country's coronavirus outbreak worsens, the number of daily infections hitting 2,288 on Friday.

Authorities reminded sweltering citizens that masks must continue to be worn where they have been mandated, despite the heat.

Roland and Helene, retirees in suburban Paris, said they go out in the morning “to get some fresh air,” but then spend the rest of the day hiding in their apartment. “We fear the heat a lot,” Helene said.

French weather forecaster Météo France on Friday upgraded the orange weather warning to red for northern parts of the country as temperatures reached 37C. The red warning means a potential danger to life or health.

Placed on a red warning were Paris and the départements of Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-d'Oise, Val-de-Marne and Yvelines.

The départements of Eure and Seine-Maritime in Normandy were also put on red alert.

Last year was France's hottest on record, and the Meteo France weather agency has warned that global warming could double the number of heatwaves by 2050.