Money saver: Ways to reduce motorway toll fees in France

From planning ahead to electronic badges, we give tips after fees increase

Savvy drivers can cut down on toll costs by following these tips
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Motorway tolls (péage) increased by an average of almost 3% this month – and higher on certain routes – increasing the cost of trips for millions of drivers.

The tolls were raised according to a government procedure linked to inflation, claim motorway operator companies, saying they have no freedom in setting the rates.

It is possible, however, to take measures to lower the amount you spend on tolls if you do some planning. Below, we share tips to help.

Plan your route in advance

You can use information online, such as this map – to check the toll costs of motorways across France.

Clicking on a section of road will take you to the appropriate website for the company that manages it, allowing you to check the journey costs directly.

If you can find a cheaper, or even free, alternative, you can weigh up whether the additional time spent in the car is worth the cost of avoiding the tolls.

Use journey aids

There are also options on some journey planning apps (including Google Maps) to find a ‘toll free’ route for you, without having to do the work yourself.

On most devices, you can put in your start and end points, click on the "route options" button (or something similar in other apps).

On Google Maps, you can then tick "Motorways" and "Toll sections" and the app will create a new route which avoids any tolls.

Note however, that the cost of fuel should be factored into your equation, as an extra long diversion could cost just as much in petrol or diesel as the toll itself.

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

‘Split’ your journey

Tolls can be calculated in a number of different ways, and it is possible to ‘split’ your journey to avoid paying fees for using the entire route.

For example, you may be able to take smaller routes running parallel for small stretches, without planning a whole new route.

Alternatively, sometimes it is even cheaper to leave the motorway via a junction, and return immediately on the same junction, to make your route a ‘split journey’.

For example, the cost of driving between Paris and Lille is €17.30 for a ‘full’ journey, but if you leave the motorway and then return to it – even at the same exit – it is classed as an ‘intermediary journey’ and costs only €14.20.

Get a toll badge for frequent journeys

For journeys that you often make, consider getting an electronic toll badge.

These are offered by major route operators, and can be used to make your way through the tolls by using your badge in place of a bank card.

Using one of these can give you a 30% reduction on toll costs, provided you make ten journeys per month on the route.

These badges also give other bonuses, such as access to special ‘fast lanes’ at tolls on some motorways, helping skip queues on particularly busy routes.

There is a subscription cost to having an electronic badge, and it only becomes profitable if you use the route regularly enough, otherwise you may be spending more money.

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