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Flem04 Sep 7th, 2011 07:01 AM

Gas on Sunday in France
Is there no where to buy gas on Sunday in France?

flanneruk Sep 7th, 2011 07:07 AM


When I ran French petrol stations, Sunday was our busiest day. All motorway service stations are open, most supermarkets that sell fuel, sell fuel (though usually on Sundays through automat machines, which many non-Europeans might struggle to get to accept their cards). And so are practically all suburban and city-centre stations in big cities.

What's not open are most small rural stations.

Unless it's all gone downhill since my day.

StCirq Sep 7th, 2011 07:22 AM

Yes, of course there's gas available on Sundays in France. But if you're concerned, fill the tank on Saturday.

Alec Sep 7th, 2011 07:33 AM

Cheapest fuel is sold at hypermarkets, which don't normally open on Sundays (except before Christmas and in some tourist areas in high season). Fuel is usually sold 24/7, but to dispense it when the station is unmanned, as flanneruk says, you need a chip & pin card, which US visitors don't usually have. You can hang around until a local turns up and offers them cash in exchange for using their card, but the best way is to top up on Saturdays (it's a busy shopping day so you may have to wait in line). Autoroute service stations are always open, and usually manned, but they sell at the highest price, by 10% or more.

Flem04 Sep 7th, 2011 07:54 AM

Thank you. I should have been more clear in my question. I am from the US so don't have a chip in my credit card. I was told that made it difficult on Sundays since I cannot use the automatic pump.

Sarastro Sep 7th, 2011 08:30 AM

You will not be able to use your US credit card at any time to purchase fuel from an automatic pump (and it is important for you to indicate you are from the US in your profile for answers such as these and others).

You will need to find a station with an attendant where the transaction may be completed face to face so to speak. Such places are typically closed on Sundays and holidays with the one exception of Autoroute stations which are typically manned 24/7.

Christina Sep 7th, 2011 08:46 AM

Gas up on Saturday, if you are just driving locally, even doing day trips, you shouldn't be using more than a tank in one day. Now if you are driving cross country, that's another story. Maybe you shouldn't plan to do that if it's a real concern.

Carlux Sep 7th, 2011 08:53 AM

'Cheapest fuel is sold at hypermarkets, which don't normally open on Sundays (except before Christmas and in some tourist areas in high season).'

In fact many supermarkets/hypermarkets are now open on Sunday morning. This never used to be the case where I live, in the Dordogne, but certainly is now. These may or may not be staffed (I have to say I have a real aversion to the word 'manned' as they are often staffed by women.) And of course without a chip in your card you won't be able to use an automatic machine.

But of course, if there is an issue, why not fill up on Saturday? It's hard to believe you will use a whole tank in one day!

phillyboy Sep 7th, 2011 09:04 AM

>You will not be able to use your US credit card at any time to purchase fuel from an automatic pump.>

Is this correct? I was in France 2 years ago, and unless my memory is slipping, I I used my US credit card for fuel purchases a number of times. If this is true, do similar conditions exist in Italy?

Sarastro Sep 7th, 2011 09:24 AM

phillyboy - yes it is correct if you attempt to purchase fuel from an automatic pump where the pump itself accepts your credit card. In fact, there are few non French bank credit cards, chip or otherwise, that will reliably and consistently work at French automated fuel pumps.

If you are sure you used a US, magnetic strip credit card to purchase gas at an automated pump, please tell us where.

StuDudley Sep 7th, 2011 11:12 AM

>>You will need to find a station with an attendant where the transaction may be completed face to face so to speak.<,

We've spent over 2 year's worth of time vacationing in France - so we've filled up hundreds of times at gas stations with face to face attendants using our US swipe card. On our June '11 trip to Normandy & Pas de Calais - we encountered two stations which did not accept our swipe card(s), and we had to pay in cash. We also encountered 2 grocery stores which did not accept our swipe card - first time for that too.

Make sure you carry cash. If you fill up with 90E worth of gas - but then you have cards(s) that don't work, but not enough cash - then what???

Stu Dudley

kerouac Sep 7th, 2011 11:31 AM

The autoroute stations are all open 24/7. The price very much reflects that convenience.

Sarastro Sep 7th, 2011 11:40 AM

<i>we encountered two stations which did not accept our swipe card(s)</i>

This enters into a different area of difficulties for those from the US when trying to use credit cards, beyond that of pay-at-the-pump convenience.

While I have had my US credit card flatly rejected by a vendor (and I mean he told me he would not accept it under any circumstance), I have not as of yet had a service station refuse to accept it. It could happen anywhere and does more and more often. The only resolution we have is to carry several hundred euros at all times.

flanneruk Sep 7th, 2011 11:47 AM

"Such places are typically closed on Sundays and holidays "

Has something changed?

In my day, every decent-sized petrol station in or immediately adjacent to a biggish French city stayed open on Sundays because that's when we made most money: with supermarkets closed, that was precisely when people came to buy beer, a spot of produce or a plastic-wrapped sandwich (don't believe anyone telling you the French will only eat a sit down cooked lunch on Sunday).

Petrol stations around the suburbs of cities like Paris, Lille or Lyons made a fortune (or would have done if it hadn't all been frittered away on trivialities like staff overtime, payroll tax and all the rest) from Frenchpeople who wanted the same instant gratification their British or American peers took for granted.

These days of course, the British are too busy observing the mythical French Sabbath to do any serious off-motorway driving in France, so I no longer spend weekends driving round garages for fun. But I really can't believe BP, Shell and Total have stopped altruistically stepping in where Carrefour and Casino are barred from.

Can the "petrol stations all close" brigade be limiting their knowledge of France to what happens in Colombey Les Deux Pissoirs (Ville d'Europe: jumelée avec Chipping Moreton in the Wold (GB) et Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen (D)?

Carlux Sep 7th, 2011 11:53 AM

In fact there are very few petrol stations in most of France, as most of us buy our carburant at supermarkets, where it is much cheaper. And the few that I can think of in Sarlat would almost certainly be closed on Sunday afternoon at least.

StuDudley Sep 7th, 2011 12:23 PM

>> I have not as of yet had a service station refuse to accept it<<

Just to clerify something.

The attendant did not refuse to accept our credit card - her credit card machine refused. She tried several of our cards.

At the gorcery, the check-out clerk said that they no-longer accepted swipe cards. However, her machine was still configured to accept them. After she removed the machine from the holder so the swipe mechanism was accessable, she tried it. Didn't work. She telephoned the store manager & the manager said that they had recently implemented a new system, and it did not accept swipe cards. We paid cash.

In past years, we've NEVER encountered attendant-operated gas stations or grocery stores which did not accept swipe cards. This year was a first.

We've encountered several creditcard-only Peage toll booths that would not accept swipe cards. Once, I had to get out of the car, and lift up the restraining arm as my wife drove under the raised arm. Twice we've had to back up the car & get into the attendant toll booth line. Lots of drivers behind us honking their horns. I don't know what percentage of toll boths won't accept swipe cards - but once you've had problems with one - you'll likely only go through the attended booths & pay cash. The booth where I lifted up the arm was in the Franche Comte region on the A39 & around 11PM. There was only 1 booth at the exit near our gite, it was un-attended at that time of night, and it did not have anywhere to insert cash - only a credit card.

Stu Dudley

Underhill Sep 7th, 2011 01:35 PM

We tried to use our U.S. credit card at the pharmacy adjacent to a René LeClerc in Nice, and the card wouldn't work--the manager tried, but no good. Fortunately a friend has lent us her chip card; so we were okay. But at the supermarket next door (in the same building) our swipe card worked just fine.

kerouac Sep 7th, 2011 01:45 PM

American banks will finally understand.

Mimar Sep 7th, 2011 02:58 PM

But, Kerouac, when? When? When?

And then they'll probably charge us for the privilege.

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