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Crit’Air: Paris limits access of certain cars as pollution spikes

Higher-polluting vehicles are temporarily banned from the city from today, with an air pollution episode expected to last for several more days

traffic in Paris

Paris' air pollution episode has been caused by several factors including traffic and unfavourable weather conditions Pic: Ioan Panaite / Shutterstock

Cars that have a Crit’Air rating of above two (meaning three, four or five) are temporarily restricted from entering areas within the A86 ring road around Paris from today (March 26) due to a peak in pollution levels around the city. 

New speed limits have also been established, Paris’ Préfecture de Police announced yesterday (March 25):

  • Maximum speed of 110 km/h on motorways normally limited to 130 km/h
  • Maximum speed of 90 km/h on parts of motorways and expressways normally limited to 110 km/h
  • Maximum speed of 70 km/h on parts of motorways or expressways normally limited to 90 km/h
  • Maximum speed of 70 km/h on national or departmental roads normally limited to 80 km/h or 90 km/h

The measures are to remain in place “until the end of the air pollution episode”, which could last several more days.

The Préfecture de Police recommends drivers limit, as much as they can, trips in cars and to work from home when possible or use car-sharing services when it is not. 

Additionally, Ile-de-France Mobilités will introduce a daily anti-pollution pass, costing €3.80, allowing unlimited use of all public transport in the region. 

What is Crit’Air?

It is a sticker that motorists - even tourists from other countries - need in order to be able to drive in some cities – including Paris. It should be displayed on a car's windscreen.

During periods of high pollution, local authorities can impose a range of driving restrictions, including lowering the speed limit.

The number on the sticker relates to the age and engine type (petrol or diesel) of the vehicle. Older, more polluting vehicles, will have a higher number. Electric or hybrid ones will have a lower number.

The stickers can be ordered online at the Crit'Air website - www.certificat-air.gouv.fr - which is available in English, German, Spanish and Italian as well as French. This is the official Crit'Air site. Other sites do exist, but will charge more for the same, simple, service.

The sticker costs €3.70 for cars with a French licence plate or €4.51 for cars with a non-French licence plate. 

You can also find out on this site what classification your car will get under the Crit’Air scheme. 

Why is Ile-de-France experiencing an air pollution episode?

Airparif, the association responsible for monitoring air quality in Île-de-France, has noted a concentration of PM10 pollution (larger particles) that exceeds the recommended threshold for three consecutive days. 

The World Health Organization has said that there is a link between exposure to these particles over a longer term and increased mortality. 

The Préfecture de Police said that this air pollution episode is a “persistent” and that it could last for several more days. 

It is being caused by several factors, including burning wood, road traffic and agriculture practices, which are combining with weather conditions that are “not favourable to dispersing the pollution”. 

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