Cars, licences, driving: what changes in France in 2024?

Changes include temporary closure of key roads, and new driving licence trials

All drivers will be impacted by at least one of the changes mentioned

Motorists of both two- and four-wheeled vehicles will see a number of changes in the next calendar year.

Areas such as financial aid, changes to laws for new and current drivers, and an overhaul of infrastructure are all included.

Below, we go over a list of changes.

Price of petrol

Energy giant TotalEnergies pledged to continue its fuel price cap at the pump of €1.99 on petrol and diesel until at least the end of 2024. It controls over 3,000 service stations across the country

Read more: TotalEnergies confirm car fuel price cap for whole of 2024 in France

Motorway péage costs

Péage (toll) costs will rise from February 1 on French motorways.

The government states the increase will be less than 3%, contrary to reports that they were liable to rise around 5% to compensate for a new tax on ‘long-distance transport’ in the 2024 Finance Law.

New ‘Freeflow motorway’

Automatic flux libre (‘free-flow’) tolls are to be introduced on the A13 and A14 motorways between Paris and Normandy by June, covering some 210 km between Paris and Caen via Rouen.

Drivers will be able to buy badges to use the motorway via a monthly direct debit payment, pay online after their journey, or at certain tabac shops affiliated with the ‘Nirio’ system, using their vehicle’s licence plate number.

Read more: France prepares for first no-barrier toll motorway. How will it work?

Vote on SUV parking in Paris

The Paris mairie plans to hold a vote on whether owners of SUVs - sport utility vehicles, large and heavy 4x4 vehicles that are becoming increasingly popular - should pay more to park in the city.

The vote will be on February 2, and open to residents who register by January 8. It would not apply to Paris residents’ own existing residential parking spaces and zones.

Read more: Paris to hold vote on whether SUVs should pay more for parking

Montmartre ban

Cars are being banned from most areas of the historic Montmartre district in Paris by mid-2024, and trees are being planted in most of the parking spaces, to create a more village-like atmosphere.

Mont Blanc tunnel closure

If you use the Mont Blanc tunnel, watch out this year for another planned closure – or closures – as exact dates yet to be announced.

The tunnel has been undergoing major repairs to the structure and safety systems.

Changes on Paris Périphérique linked to Olympics

In the second half of the year the Paris ring road is set to see changes with one lane being dedicated to ‘Olympic traffic’ only, notably for the athletes, trainers, and officials, during the games in July-August.

Sections of the A1 and A13 motorways may also be requisitioned for this use, as needed.

After this, if the mairie’s ideas receives state approval (which is expected), on weekdays the lane will be used only for car-sharing, public transport, disabled drivers, taxis and minicabs and emergency vehicles.

It is also planned that the roads’ speed limit will be reduced to 50 km/h.

Read more: Paris plans to reduce speed limit on outer ring road from 70 to 50km/h

Driving age to be lowered

The minimum age to obtain a driving licence in France is being reduced from 18 to 17. More details of when this will happen are awaited.

Read more: Simpler, cheaper, faster, younger: new French driving licence reforms

Digital driving licences

The government announced that early in 2024 it will be possible to add your French driving licence to the application ‘France Identité’.

You will be able to use the app and show your phone instead of your actual licence, if asked for it by police or for other official purposes.

Read more: France to trial digital driving licences as move online gathers pace

No more green ‘vignette’

As of spring 2024 insurers are to stop issuing the green ‘vignette’ labels that drivers traditionally place on their windscreen or that two-wheeler riders place on their vehicle.

Police and gendarmes can now consult online databases to see if cars are insured.

‘Malus’ payments increase on ‘polluting’ cars

The level of CO2 emissions for people to have to pay the malus surcharge on ‘polluting’ vehicles is from January 1 being further lowered to 118g/km of CO2 instead of 123.

It means it will apply to most petrol cars, whereas previously it only applied to the largest gas-guzzlers when introduced a few years ago.

The highest possible malus is raised to €60,000 (up from €50,000) and will be reached at 194 instead of 226.

Also, a cap at 50% of the purchase price is being removed, so in some cases the malus may be more than the price.

An additional ‘weight-based’ surcharge is also being modified and will start at €10 from 1,600kg as opposed to from 1,800 kg in 2023.

The government is also planning on restricting the ‘bonus’ that helps people buy an electric car to cars made in Europe and which have therefore not contributed to pollution by being transported a long way.

Read more: France set to lower weight tax threshold for new gas-guzzling vehicles

Roadworthiness test for two-wheelers

A contrôle technique roadworthiness test will become obligatory every three years for motorbikes and scooters as well as for three-wheeled vehicles and small ‘voitures sans permis’.

Older vehicles, on the road since before 2017, will be concerned first.

If they were first put on the road before April 15, 2017, they will need a test by August 14, 2024; if later in 2017, by the end of 2024.

Newer vehicles will become eligible progressively after this.

This will initially relate to safety aspects, but will later include noise and pollution, as well as the top speed of 50cc mopeds. It will cost about €50.

Read more: Launch date set for obligatory CT tests for motorbikes in France

Read more: Do non-licence cars need a contrôle technique in France?

New fuel cheque for ‘modest’ income drivers

A new ‘fuel cheque’ will be issued to give help to drivers on ‘modest’ incomes who need to use their cars or two-wheelers to get to work, similar to the aid given last January.

From mid-January it will be possible to apply via the site, for €100 if you use a personal vehicle to get to work and your last net taxable income figure fell into the qualifying level. The government says over a million extra people will qualify this time compared to in 2023.

Read more: More than a million extra people to get France’s next fuel cheque

No more lost licence points for small speeding offences

People who are flashed going slightly over the speed limit will no longer lose a licence point, from January 1. This only concerns speeds logged at less than 5km/h over the limit after the application of the usual technical error margins.

Fines will still be issued, however.

Changes to traffic restriction zones

In several of France’s largest cities where ZFE low-emissions zones are in place the rules will be toughened from January 1, so they ban vehicles with a Crit’Air sticker of level 4 or above (in 2023 it was level 5).

This concerns Lyon, Marseille, Rouen and Strasbourg (Paris’s ZFE already includes Crit’Air 4). Crit’Air 4 relates to cars registered before 2006 and two-wheelers registered before 2004.

Seven other cities which already have ZFEs do not have to apply this; meanwhile a further 31 are due to put such zones in place before the end of the year (for Crit’Air 5 or unclassified vehicles).

Paris has put off again, this time until after the Olympics, the introduction of a central area where vehicles may not enter if they are only passing through.

Read more: Which French towns are delaying obligatory air pollution stickers?

Affordable’ electric cars on the way from French makers

A Renault 5 electric car model costing around €25,000 will be launched in early 2024, before the launch in 2025 of a car costing less than €20,000 called ‘Legend’.

Citroën’s new ë-C3, meanwhile, will cost €23,300. These prices are not inclusive of the ‘eco bonus’ reduction of €5,000-7,000 depending on household income.

Read more: Renault to launch electric car costing less than €20,000

Electric car leasing plan

The government promises that lower-income households will this year have access to a ‘social leasing’ plan for an electric car, costing €100/month. Citroën, Renault and Fiat models will be among the options.

There have also been updates to the bonus écologique, which provides grants to those buying eco-friendly cars.

Read more: Lease an electric car in France for €100 a month - who can benefit?

Read more: Here is the list of electric cars eligible for aid in France in 2024

Insurance premiums hike rise for electric cars put off

An exemption for electric vehicle insurance from a special tax on insurance contracts was set to end on December 31, 2023 but it has been extended for another year.

It accounts for a discount of up to 25% on third-party insurance and up to 15% on fully comprehensive.