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Trains, cars, flights: What is new for travel in France in 2023

We look at a targeted fuel cost support package for people who need their cars to go to work, a new night train service and more

Look out for changes next year concerning electric vehicles, Eurostar and US budget airline Jetblue Pic: Pack-Shot / olrat / Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

Targeted support for drivers

Drivers will no longer benefit from government or fuel company aid to lower the cost of fuel at the pump but a ‘targeted’ one-off fuel aid is being paid in compensation.

A €100 payment is being made to some 10 million lower-paid workers who need to drive for work.

Claim this by signing in at impots.gouv.fr and entering your fiscal number and number plate and completing a declaration that you need to use your car to work. The money will be paid out directly to your bank account. 

Until December 31, the government is taking 10 cents off each litre of fuel at petrol stations, and TotalEnergies is offering an additional 10-cent-per-litre discount.

Read more: Six changes for drivers in France in 2023

Paris-Berlin night train

SNCF is to launch a Paris-Berlin night train, operated by Austrian railway ÖBB, in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn, from the end of 2023.

Motorway fees

Motorway péage fees are expected to rise on average 4.75% from  February 1.

The prices are revised annually, based on factors including inflation.

A reduction for drivers completing 10 return trips or more on the same route per month will be increased from 30-40% and there will be a general 5% reduction for electric car users on Sanef and APRR networks. 

Long-distance train tickets

Long-distance train ticket prices are also expected to rise in early 2023, though SNCF said rises will be capped at 6%, which it said does not fully incorporate its increased electricity costs.

The Paris-Montpellier low-cost long-distance Ouigo train route will be extended to Perpignan from March. 

Electric car hire

A new electric car hire scheme is due to launch in Paris this summer. 

It will use cars from a firm called Circle based at ‘Le Village by CA’, a Paris start-up ‘accelerator’. 

The firm hinted to The Connexion that it hopes to offer the cars in other cities later.

Car insurance

Green insurance vignettes (stickers) on car windscreens, showing valid insurance, are to be phased out in the course of this year.

They are no longer deemed necessary as validity can be checked using registration plate numbers on an online database. 

Parking permits

The city of Nantes in Loire-Atlan­tique is to begin varying parking charges, depending on a driver’s income, from April 1. Annual parking permits will become more affordable for lower-income households, while parking fees are expected to rise for non-residents.

Low pollution zones

Vehicles with Crit’Air 5 pollution ratings (diesel vehicles made before 2001) are banned from France’s zones à faibles émissions (ZFE) in some large cities from January. 

In Paris, the timetable is more advanced and vehicles from rating 3 upwards will be banned from its ZFE from July. 

This refers to cars and light utility vehicles registered before 2006 (petrol-driven) or 2011 (diesel), as well as two-wheelers registered before 2007 and HGVs before October 2009 (petrol) or 2014 (diesel).

Read more: How to avoid driving in French low-emissions zones

Bank loans for electric vehicle conversions

Electric vehicle conversions are now eligible for zero-interest loans from some high street banks.

Diesel or petrol cars and vans can be ‘retrofitted’ so they can enter ZFE zones. 

The scheme, which is subject to means-testing, is aimed at people who live or work in these zones. It is to be tested for at least two years. 

The government has pledged to keep prices at electric charging stations from rising by an ‘unreasonable’ amount this year. 

Read more: France to trial zero-interest loans for electric vehicle conversions

Help to buy or rent an electric car

The bonus écologique grant for buying an electric vehicle is to rise this year. It will jump from €6,000 to €7,000 for the lowest-income half of French households.

However, it will decrease from €6,000 to €5,000 for higher-income households.

A ‘social leasing’ scheme allowing low-income households to rent an electric car for €100 per month is to start in the second half of the year.

Buying spare car parts

The spare car parts market is now open to competition from firms other than the manufacturer, which should allow for cheaper repairs. 

This was opened for certain kinds of parts last year but is now generalised.

Coaches travelling through Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel has announced a steep hike in prices for coaches and the end of cheaper ‘short stay’ returns. 

All journeys will now be sold as singles priced in the UK at up to £1,100 for peak times. 

It is thought that more coaches will take ferries as a result. 

Eurostar reduces routes

Eurostar will not resume services from Calais-Fréthun in 2023. Ashford and Ebbsfleet stations in Kent also remain shut. 

The firm has said it will not run its London to Disneyland Paris trips during summer 2023, citing impacts of Covid and Brexit and preparations for the European Entry/Exit System. 

Controle technique for two-wheelers

Controle technique (CT) tests for two-wheelers will be required by June for vehicles over 125cc. 

The tests will be simpler than for cars and cost less than €50, it is planned; they will initially start in an especially simple ‘visual check’ version. 

Vehicles will need a CT for the first time in the six months leading up to the fourth anniversary of entering into circulation and then every two years after that.

Read more: How much will France’s new contrôle technique for motorbikes cost?

Flights reinstated and new routes

Ryanair is launching a Leeds Bradford-Perpignan route between June 1 and October 26 on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Air France will bring back its Paris-Charles de Gaulle-Hong Kong route from January 9. This service was suspended due to the Covid pandemic but will now return with three flights a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Low-cost US airline JetBlue has announced flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle, New York-JFK and Boston from summer. 

Free-flow motorway

Motorway management company Sanef is putting in place infrastructure for a free-flow motorway péage system along the 210km A13 from Paris and Normandy later in 2023. 

It will be operational from 2024 so drivers will no longer have to stop at péages

Read more: Car plate recognition replacing France’s ‘slow’ motorway toll barriers

Number plates will be scanned as they pass through overhead structures. They will pay by direct debit if they have télépéage badges, or online or at machines at motorway services within three days of their journey. 

A similar system is already in place on 88km of the A79 from Sazeret (Allier) to Digoin (Saône-et-Loire) in central France, a busy east-west route linking the German, Swiss and Italian borders to the Atlantic coast.

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