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MAP: Where to find the cheapest fuel when you're driving in France

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MAP: Where to find the cheapest fuel when you're driving in France
Photo: AFP
11:08 CEST+02:00
The cost of filling up your car in France with petrol or diesel is rising and prices can vary enormously depending on where you are and on what kind of road you are driving on. This map and advice will help you find the cheapest pump prices.

The cost of a litre of petrol has risen by three centimes in France in recent days while the price of a litre of diesel has gone up by two centimes.

Even without the price rises life in France would be a lot simpler if petrol and diesel prices were consistent across the country.

But there can be sizeable differences in the price of a litre of fuel depending on where you are.

For example the cost of a litre of SP 95 petrol can be as much as 30 centimes cheaper outside Paris than within the city. 

A recent study of prices revealed that fuel prices around France are at their highest in the Paris region and the island of Corsica.

The study also revealed that fuel prices are higher in general in the south and east of the country than the north and the west.

This is partly explained by the fact there are more Autoroutes in the south, where prices are generally higher because of the high rent prices fuel companies like Total or BP pay to operate a motorway service station.

Prices are also higher in very rural departments like Cantal, Correze and Tarn simply because there are fewer fuel stations. 

Another explanation given for the cheaper fuel prices in the north of the country compared to the south is that there are many more big supermarkets in the north, where prices are often much cheaper than at normal petrol stations.

Here's what you need to know about filling the tank up for as cheap as possible.



Avoid city centres

If you live in one of France's big cities, like the capital Paris, then try to fill up when you are outside the centre where prices can be significantly cheaper. 

If you find a cheap fuel station then it's worth topping up the tank even if it's not empty to avoid getting caught and having to fill up in the centre of a city.

Avoid the Autoroutes

If you can, try to fill up before taking to the Autoroute in France because as soon as you join the motorway the prices of fuel shoot up.

The big companies who run the fuel stations along France's Autoroute network pay steep rent prices but they also know that motorists will likely have to fill up at some point. And there is little competition at least for the next 50km or so.

Be aware that leaving a motorway to find a cheaper petrol station might sound like a good idea, but only if there is one close by. If not you will be probably end up using all the that valuable fuel just to find it.

Head for supermarkets

The large French 'hypermarchés' such as Intermarché, Leclerc or Casino are where you'll find the cheapest pump prices, as they try to be as competitive as possible in order to draw customers into their shops.

So keep an eye out for signs for supermarkets, they will normally advertise whether there is a filling station.

Choose automated petrol stations

Whenever possible, select petrol stations which are automated and where you can pay directly with your card at the pump. Since these stations don't have to pay someone to manage the pump or man the till, they can afford to shave a little more off their pump prices. However not all non-French credit or debit cards will work at these machines.

Now for some forward planning.

MAP the best route 

If you know where you're going and can plan your route in advance, there are a number of websites which will help you find out where to find the cheapest places to fill up your tank along the way.

The government has a very detailed website which lists all the petrol pumps in France and the current fuel prices at each one.

Photo: Screengrab/Government website

The site allows you to select your place of departure and of arrival and the type of fuel you use, and it will produce a list of all the petrol stations you'll encounter on your drive. You can then select the cheapest, and you'll get an interactive map of all the pumps you've chosen on your itinerary. 

The website is updated twice a month or so, so it does not have the exact prices to the day, but it will help give you an idea of the kind of prices you can expect.

Other websites such as Carbu.com, mon-essence.fr and Zagaz.com are updated by users, and so prices might be slightly more up to date that the government website. Again, they are easy to use. You just need to type in where you're going, and you'll get a list of the petrol stations nearby and their prices. 

Use an app

A number of useful apps will also come in handy if you have a smartphone and haven't been able to plan ahead. The apps Gasoil Now and Essence & Co for example will tell you where to find the most competitive prices within a 50km distance. 

If you want to get a rough idea of how much your drive in France will cost you, here is how much on average you'll currently pay for the different types of fuel, according to Franceinfo.

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