If you drive in France, you’re going to be a frequent user of France’s petrol stations (‘stations–service’ or ‘stations essence’). Here’s what you need to know about finding the cheapest fuel and filling up your car (‘faire le plein’) in France.
Finding a Petrol Station in France
Stations-service can be found in just about every town across the country, as well as at aires (service stations) along France’s autoroutes (motorways). Most large supermarkets and hypermarchés have fuel stations, and it is always worth shopping around for the cheapest prices. The government website ‘prix-carburants‘ can help you find your closest petrol station, as well as compare prices. Simply click on your department in the drop down list and a list of fuel stations will come up, giving their location and price.
Filling Up Your Car in France
Most petrol stations operate both self-pay lanes, where you can pay by credit or debit card (you will need to enter your card and PIN number before filling up and remove your card before the pump is activated), and attendant-operated lanes, where you will fill up your car first, then drive up to the payment booth to pay the attendant.
At some petrol stations (particularly those along motorways and routes nationales), you may be required to go inside and pay prior to filling up your car, or fill up first then pay inside afterwards (the instructions will be marked on the pump!).
The majority of petrol stations will offer between three and five different options, and the labelling system typically follows Euro standards (although some still follow the old French system so it can be confusing!). ‘Diesel’ fuel will be orange or yellow (and clearly marked ‘Diesel’) with B7 or B10 indicating the amount of biofuel it contains or XTL indicating synthetic diesel. Unleaded fuel is green and marked E5 or E10 indicating the amount of biofuel it contains, or E85 (Superethanol).
Finding Electric Car Charging Stations in France
There are more than 30,000 charging points for electric and hybrid vehicles around France, with more springing up all the time. Most EV charging points are located around cities or large towns – most large supermarkets and aires will have at least a few charging points, while in rural areas, it’s worth checking ahead to find out where the nearest charging stations are. Chargemap, Plug Share and Izivia are useful apps to find charging points and purchase the prepaid cards you will need to make payments.
Driving in France
Whether you own a car in France, travel to France in your UK or EU-registered car, or hire a rental car – FrenchEntrée has all the need-to-know info about driving in France. Our Essential Reading articles will take you through buying, registering, and insuring your car, as well as offering tips and advice on driving and car ownership in France.