Automatic Tolls on French Motorways
Thursday 15 July 2010
Using the French autoroute télépéage system is the fast way to drive to the South of France.
The télépéage in France is an automated toll payment system, which allows you to travel non-stop through the toll stations.
So while others scramble to find loose change and queue to pay, you speed on your way to your holiday destination!
Sleeping children in the back need no longer be disturbed by the car stopping and payment being made at the toll stations!
The system in France goes under the brand label of ‘Liber-t’.
It works by means of an electronic receiver fixed in a prominent position on the windscreen or dash of the vehicle that records your passage through the toll station.
You use dedicated automatic lanes at the toll stations, shown with an Orange ‘T’ over the lane.
All you need do is slow down as you approach the barrier in the lane, which automatically rises as it picks up the signal from your transponder.
No ticket is given, although you should normally see a green light appear and hear a bleep as the barrier rises.
One drawback is that the transponder does not show you the amount you have been charged. Your account is automatically debited with the toll charge, which is later shown on your monthly statement.
As no receipts are given, you need to check your account when it is received, but complaints about overcharging are rare.
The system is not expensive.
(Post-Script Sept 2019: - The costs have risen considerably in recent years, particularly for those who are not resident in France due to the set-up and management charges that apply).
The basic charge for Class 1 vehicles (including those using a trailer) is €30 for the transponder and a fee of €2 per month.
If you do not use the French motorway system in the month, then the monthly fee is not payable.
If you return the transponder then you are also refunded the €30 charge.
The transponder works with any car, so you can swop between vehicles, provided they are of the same Class.
Higher charges apply for Class 2 vans and vehicles towing a caravan.
It is also easy to sign up to it.
You can do so on the internet on various sites, with most accepting either a French or UK bank account.
You can sign up at either of the following sites:
Alternatively, go direct to the web site of one of the French motorway operators.
Although you can buy the card from any motorway operator, the box works on all motorways in France.
Once your transponder is received it should be immediately active.
When not using motorways, it is probably best to place it in the boot or glove compartment, as it might attract the attention of thieves.
There are height restriction barriers in the Class 1 vehicle lanes, normally 2 metres high, although cars with roof luggage can normally get under the barrier.
Class 2 vehicles also need to pass through a 'T' lane where there is no height restriction.
If you only travel within a specific motorway region, then it can pay to sign up direct with the operator in that region, as they do sometimes offer special tariffs, as it the case with Autoroute de Liaison Seine-Sarthe (ALIS).
If you do not travel outside of the Brittany, you can probably do without one, as there are no motorway tolls in this region!