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.