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How do you pay a free-flow motorway toll in a rental car?

There are plans to introduce more motorways in France without toll barriers. We look at how you can pay the toll while driving a rental vehicle

Work is underway to remove toll barriers from other stretches of road in France Pic: Xavier Chabert

Reader question: How will car rental companies bill for road tolls now that we do not have to stop and pay a toll on certain French motorways? Specifically, will they add a one-time admin fee, or a fee each time a toll charge is incurred? 

So far, there is only one free-flow toll motorway in France, where motorists are charged without having to stop at toll barriers.

It is the A79, inaugurated last year, which runs for 88 km between Sazeret (Allier) in western France and Digoin (Saône-et-Loire) in the east.

The road is often used for long-haul journeys from the French Atlantic coast to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, via central France.

Cameras along the road are able to read licence plates, but it is relatively simple to pay for a journey on the A79 even if you are using a rental car. 

Four ways of paying

  • A télépéage badge that will automatically bill you as it would for any other toll road
  • At one of 16 payment machines installed at rest stops and service stations along the A79
  • Online at aliae.com. This can be completed either before you travel or within 72 hours of completing your journey
  • By registering your licence plate number and payment details online so any journeys are automatically debited each week

Read more: Tips on how to save money on France’s toll motorways

We contacted Aliae, the firm that manages the A79, and it confirmed that it is possible to pay for a journey in a rental car online or at a machine.

When entering your details online, there is a box labelled 'I was using a rental car,' which, once selected, will allow you to input the dates for which you rented it.

The different fines

If you fail to pay within 72 hours, you will face a €90 fine, rising to €375 if you do not pay within 60 days.

If you use the A79 five times in 12 months without paying, then you risk a €7,500 fine. There are signs along the side of the road reminding drivers that they are on a péage en flux libre (free-flow toll) road and need to pay.

If you have any questions, you can contact Aliae’s customer service line at 0806 005 005.

Plan to upgrade the current system

The Paris-Normandy motorway (A13-A14) will be transformed into free flow from next year, while plans for the new A69 between Toulouse and Castres do not include toll booths.

Aliae claims the advantages of the system include less risk of traffic jams, reduced fuel consumption, fewer CO2 emissions (HGVs emit 3.1kg of extra CO2 emissions every time they stop at a barrier, it says), and a reduction in driver stress when approaching tolls, improving safety and comfort."

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