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LIVING IN FRANCE

French motorway tolls set for further price hike

The cost of driving on motorways in France is set to rise with the announcement of another increase in toll prices on France's autoroutes.

French motorway tolls set for further price hike
Photo: AFP

France's motorway network operates a toll system where drivers pay at the péages d'autoroutes (toll booths) depending on how far they travel.

Now the government has confirmed a rise in prices of between one percent and 1.5 percent, which will come in to operation on February 1st 2020.

Despite the relatively modest increase, the news still drew anger from French motoring groups, who proclaimed it a stealth tax and motorists and a safety risk, as it could force drivers off the autoroutes and on to the smaller routes nationales or route départementales, which have a higher accident rate.

The cost of motorway tolls was one of the major complaints during the early days of the 'yellow vest' movement and the péage toll stations were the scene of regular protests, one of which ended in a fatality, and some were ransacked and torched.


Yellow vest protesters at a motorway toll booth in November 2018. Photo: AFP

Between 2011 and 2018, according to calculations done by the data unit at French newspaper Le Parisien, toll prices increased by 9.5 percent, while the rate of inflation stood at 8.49 percent, according to French statistics agency INSEE.

But the overall figure hides wide fluctuations between different areas of France, where some places have seen increases of more than 30 percent over the same period.

For example the motorway linking Rouen to Tours recorded a 34.6 percent increase between 2011 and 2018 while the Angers to Rouen route saw a 33.96 percent increase.

“With increases constantly rising above inflation combined with incessant taxes on car use, the impact on the mobility of the French could quickly become dramatic and give rise to strong protest movements in our country,” warned a spokesman for the French motoring group 40 millions d'automobilistes.

Depending on how far you travel and on which roads, the motorway tolls can cost you anything between €8 and €80 – you can find out the cost of your journey in advance at autoroutes.fr

The booths are generally unmanned, although there is help available if you need it, and work by first giving you a ticket as you join the autoroute.

As you leave that road or transfer onto another road you then put your ticket in the machine and it tells you what you owe. The machines take cash or bank cards, although some foreign cards – particularly Amex – are not always accepted.

And obviously the machines are on the left of the car, so if you are driving a right-hand drive vehicle you will either need long arms or a passenger.

If you are driving regularly on French autoroutes it may be worth getting a Sanef Toll Tag, which you pay for in advance and which is then automatically scanned at the booth, allowing you to drive straight through and not bother with paying at every booth.

READ ALSO What you need to know about driving on France's autoroutes

 

 

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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