French motorways – “les autotoutes”

Generally speaking, when motorhomers and caravanners are travelling in Europe, France will play a part in the journey. For us though, France is an obstacle in the way of our journey to Italy. As we start to enjoy longer holidays without the need to rush, we discover interesting places and campsites, such as Camping La Tuilerie. Anyway, back to the job in hand, it is time to talk about French motorways, known as Autoroutes.

Every motorway junction will have a toll booth. Upon joining one of the French motorways, take a ticket from an automated toll ticket dispenser. When leaving the motorway, you hand this to either a cashier or use the automated payment lane. You can pay by cash or cards. However, we had the Caxton Card refused at a toll pay point before – so bear this in mind and read Caxton’s T’s and C’s. A few motorways have a set tariff on a point to point basis – such as the first few junctions of the A26. The first few junctions appear FREE if you are staying on the motorway. However, at each junction there is an automatic pay barrier.

French motorways

All French motorways have a prefix letter and number, so for example the A1 runs from Lille to Paris, the A16 runs from Calais to Paris and so on. Most of the French motorways have a toll system in place, although the motorways around most major cities are free. There are a few other motorways that offer a reasonable distance of toll free running. Here are details of a few of these toll free motorways.

A16, toll free between Boulogne, Calais and the Belgian border.

A35, from the German border at Karlsruhe through to the Swiss/French border at Mulhouse/Basel

A25 Dunkerque – Lille

A28 Abbeville to Rouen

A31 – Luxembourg/French border through to Nancy

A75 Clermont Ferrand towards Beziers – note the charges for the Millau Viaduct – available here

A20 – Vierzon – Brive

The tolls are calculated according to the class of vehicle and the distance that you travel.  Here is a link for the “classe” information.

We are dealt with as class 4 – over 3500kg and three axles. As an example, the cost of a journey from Calais to Paris,  is a whopping 63 euro for a “class 4”. A “class 2” outfit costs 32 euro.

A simple guide to toll costs on the French motorways can be viewed here

French motorways – avoid the toll charges

There are other options to the tolled French motorways – you will often find that decent dual carriageways offer an alternative. Our own tried and tested toll free routes can be found here.


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