If you want to get anywhere fast, French motorways are generally the most efficient way of doing so. However, many of France’s autoroutes carry a toll. Besides the inconvenience of finding the right change to pay these tolls and queuing up at the barrier to hand it over, the cost of using motorways to travel across France can soon add up.
You might have noticed though, that some vehicles are able to pass through a dedicated barrier (usually on the left hand side) almost without stopping. They don’t have to fumble about in their porte-monnaies so any queues that develop either in front or behind them are shorter. These dedicated barriers are réservé and distinguished by a ‘t’ logo that stands for télépéage.
To join the club, you’ll need to sign up for a badge de télépéage – a small box with a sensor that you affix to the inside of your car windscreen or the dashboard. When you approach the barrier on a toll road, it should come up automatically, without the need to make a payment up front or come to a complete standstill. A monthly itemised bill is sent out and the charges debited from your card.
In order to receive the sensor required by télépéage customers you may have to pay a deposit, refundable if you return the ‘badge’ in good condition. On top of this is a basic charge of approximately €2 per month. If you don’t live in France or only plan to use toll roads a few times in the space of 12 months, then it is possible to select a ‘pay as you go’ option.
In this instance, the basic charge is applied only for the months when you are in France and making use of its toll roads. Should you go 12 consecutive months without using your badge de télépéage a penalty fee may be applied. As a result, the system may not be the most convenient solution for everyone.
An added advantage of the télépéage system is that drivers can benefit from discounts and offers such as ‘free trips’ depending on the region covered and the frequency of travel. Opting for an online invoice rather than a printed one will also save you money. Various subscription packages are available and designed to cater to the different needs of individuals, businesses and students.
You can subscribe online, by post or in person at specified motorway information points. Vehicles are subject to five classifications in relation to their weight, height, number of axles and depending on whether anything is being towed. Read answers to frequently asked questions (in French) or find more information on the website for the Association of French motorways (English and French).