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How to avoid driving in French low-emissions zones

More and more French towns require cars to have a Crit’Air emissions certificate, but there are ways to ensure you avoid passing through these zones

With the increase in low emission zones (ZFE), navigation apps are now being created to help you avoid them Pic: Leitenberger Photography / Shutterstock

Reader question: I recently read about a new low-emissions zone in Rouen. We drive past there on the way to our second home. Is there a way to be sure we are avoiding it? 

As more and more areas in France implement Zones à faibles émissions (ZFE – low-emissions zones where only vehicles with specific Crit’Air certificates are allowed), navigation apps have begun integrating this information into their software. 

They are now required to provide this information according to a provision in the 2021 Climate law which came into effect in August. 

Read more: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France

When you put your journey into Google Maps, for example, it will warn you ‘Rouen Low Emission Zone on route’. When you click on this, it will display the outer limits of the ZFE. 

The application Waze, meanwhile, will tell you which routes require a Crit’Air sticker when planning your journey, meaning you can select one where it is not needed. 

You can add your Crit’Air level to the app by clicking on ‘My Waze’, then the cog symbol, and selecting ‘Add Crit’Air pass’, so it will remember which cities you can pass through. 

Read more: Confusion over low-emission driving zones in France

Order certificate online

Note that you can order a Crit’Air certificate from certificat-air.gouv.fr, whether you live in France or elsewhere. 

It costs €3.11, plus €1.40 for international postage. 

To travel through Rouen, you will need to qualify for a Crit’Air 3 or lower. You can get an idea of which category your car falls into here: certificat-air.gouv.fr/simulation

Following your application (usually the same day), you will receive an email confirming your Crit’Air rating with an image of the sticker which can be used while waiting to receive the real sticker in the post.

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