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Is France really banning diesel vehicles from cities?

The Local France
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Is France really banning diesel vehicles from cities?

France's low-emission zones mean that several parts of the country already have restrictions when it comes to diesel vehicles - with more to come over the next few years.


Diesel vehicles already face some restrictions in French cities and are set to face more in the months and years to come, because of their relatively higher rate of emissions.

The EU is working towards a ban on all new internal combustion engine vehicles (petrol or diesel) from 2030. Vehicles made before this date will still be legal to drive, but in France diesels are likely to be banned from city centres.

Current restrictions

There are already restrictions on driving diesel cars in low-emissions zones, or ZFE-m (zones faibles émissions - mobilité) - these are generally in the bigger cities and in these places a Crit'Air sticker, which ranks how polluting your vehicle is, is mandatory. 

Crit'Air: How France's vehicle emissions zones work

Crit'Air stickers are currently obligatory in 11 French cities - Paris and its inner suburbs, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rouen, Reims and Saint-Etienne.


There are plans to expand the scheme into 43 towns and cities by 2025.

Outside of low-emission zones, there are no restrictions on diesel vehicles.

Diesel and Crit'Air

The Crit'Air classification is based on your car's registration number and takes into account both the type of vehicle (diesel, petrol/gas, hybrid or electric) and the age.

Diesel vehicles from before 2001 count as Crit'Air 5, those from 2001 to 2006 are Crit'Air 4, and models from 2006 to 2011 are Crit'Air 3. 

Some of the newest diesel vehicles - from after 2011 in accordance with Euro 5 and 6 norms - can qualify for the Crit'Air 2 sticker, but no diesel vehicles can benefit from the Crit'Air 1 or 0 stickers.

READ MORE: Crit'Air: How France's vehicle emissions stickers work

Where can I currently drive a diesel vehicle in France?

This is where it gets complicated, because local authorities have the power to decide their own rules within Crit'Air zones, so the restrictions can be different in different cities.

Most cities have banned Crit'Air 4 and 5 vehicles - which includes all diesel cars from before 2006 - from city centres.

When it comes to Crit'Air 3 (2006-2011 diesels) some cities, including Paris, ban them on days when pollution levels are high and have plans to restrict them totally, while other cities have no restrictions.

When you are entering a Crit'Air restriction zone, you will see signs informing you which vehicles are allowed.

Are more restrictions coming?

Yes - over the next few years French cities are expected to gradually introduce bans on Crit'Air 3 labels (2006-2011 diesels) and eventually those with a Crit'Air 2 label (which would cover all remaining diesels). 

Paris had originally planned to ban pre-2011 diesel cars entirely during the summer of 2023, but local authorities announced in July that the necessary infrastructure for enforcement is not ready, so they would delay the Crit'Air 3 ban until January 1st 2025.

According to the Paris city website, the goal is to eventually ban all Crit'Air 2 vehicles by 2030, which would mean a total ban on diesel vehicles.


As for Lyon, the city plans to ban pre-2011 diesel vehicles starting January 2025, and eventually all diesel vehicles starting January 2028.

Similarly, Marseille and Rouen are also expected to ban pre-2011 diesel vehicles starting early 2025.

It's likely that the smaller towns that become Crit'Air zones from 2025 will follow a similar path, although it is not known for certain at this stage what they will do. 

READ MORE: France to loosen low-emission zone driving requirements for some areas

What about diesel vehicles that take AdBlue?

The newest models of diesel vehicles, generally those built after 2015, may take AdBlue, which is a solution that helps to lower a diesel car's emissions.

AdBlue allows diesel cars to comply with the Euro 6 emission standards, and drivers who have certain models of newer diesel car will need to keep it topped up with AdBlue (which is available from filling stations).

However, even diesel vehicles that take AdBlue are still classified by France as Crit'Air 2, meaning that they will not get an exception if a ban on Crit'Air 2 vehicles were to go into place.


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