One of the big differences in owning a car in France as compared to Australia, is that there is no annual registration fee to pay.
From our point of view (as Aussies in France) that’s a saving of a whopping $696.50 each year.
Instead, there’s a bi-annual roadworthy check of your vehicle (contrôle technique), and compulsory insurance. The tolls on the major highways are quite hefty, but you can hardly complain about those: after all, it’s a user-pays system, so what could be fairer than that?
Watch out for the “Péage” sign as you join the autoroute and take your ticket – and beware that there may be multiple tolls along the way.
We were taken aback at one 17 euro toll, the first time we ever drove the 3 hours down from Paris to Argenton-sur-Creuse, and we gasped at the 36 euros it cost to go through the Tunnel de Fréjus on the way back from Italy.
On our recent round trip to Spain we estimate that we spent a total of 200 euros on tolls.
Luckily, most tollgates accept credit cards – but remember to check the symbols above each lane to ensure you enter the right one, and always have some loose change on hand.
You have to bear in mind that a lot of time is saved taking the tollways, and so, as with many things in life, it’s a trade-off.
Fore-warned is forearmed, so if you would like to avoid any nasty surprises, I have found a couple of useful links:
This one helps you calculate your trip costs:
And this site lists the applicable tolls:
and also explains other important driving regulations, such as France’s new law regarding on-board breathalyzer kits and how you aren’t allowed any device that will show the location of speed cameras:
Knowledge is power, so they say.
So bon voyage!