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Toll roads in France

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Mar 28th, 2010, 07:55 PM
  #1
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Toll roads in France

Just a quick question regarding paying tolls on french roads. Are they a combination of paying cash or credit card or have they taken on the E-Tag system ? Do you pay on entering the toll road or exiting ?
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Mar 28th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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You can pay via cash or credit card. Like most toll booths, you pay on the expressway but pay again at many exits so it depends. If you route your drive in google maps it will tell you where the booths are on your driving route and where you will have to pay on your route. Not knowing your route, I can't be of more help.
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Mar 28th, 2010, 09:58 PM
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Just a warning. If you are from the US - sometimes your credit card will work & sometimes it won't.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 29th, 2010, 12:42 AM
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>>>Do you pay on entering the toll road or exiting ? <<<

There are different systems.

One system works like this: When you enter the autoroute, you take a ticket ("Prenez un ticket") with a code of your entry point. At the toll gate, if you drive to a manned booth, you present the ticket and the toll flashes up on a display. You pay either cash or with credit card. If you choose an unmanned booth, make sure to drive to a "CB" marked lane (NOT "telepeage"). Then you put your ticket in a slot of a machine, the toll flashes up and you insert your credit card. If your credit card is not accepted, do NOT back up. Push the button for assistance and just stay in your car and wait until an attendant comes (usually quickly). Be patient even if the drivers in the queue behind you are not. By driving to a manned booth, you are on the safe side.

There is another system (especially on the Cote d'Azur) which works like this: There is a toll gate at the entrance (or somewhere on the route) and you pay a small amount in order to proceed. Then you have these options:
- manned booth: cash or credit
- CB (carte bancaire): credit (hopefully)
- automatique: coins which are thrown into a basket
The lanes have easily understandable symbols which indicate the payment method.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 01:09 AM
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Some autoroutes have a mixed system. The A4 has 3 toll stations between Paris and Reims with coin baskets, etc. After Reims, it uses the ticket system. The payment systems are color-coded on most of the toll routes -- green for attendants, blue for credit cards and yellow for the electronic passes.

Not all autoroutes in France are toll roads, but the reason why is not always evident to visitors. In Brittany, the roads are free due to a medieval decree. Along the northeastern borders of France, the roads are free due to the roads being free in Belgium and Germany. And through some of the more isolated areas of France (Lot, Dordogne, Cevennes, etc.), the autoroutes are free due to the government "disenclavement" policy.

On a Michelin map, you can see what is free and what is not by the kilometer count numbers on the autoroutes -- red for toll roads and blue for free sections.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 01:59 AM
  #6
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Thanks folks !! We will be travelling in the area from Montpellier to Toulouse to Figueres in Spain. From Australia, all our cards are chipped.

Thank you for your help
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Mar 29th, 2010, 02:30 AM
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Well, for the toll booths, the cards do not even need to have chips, because only the magnetic strip is read by the machines. (No need for PIN)
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Mar 29th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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Wow, Kerouac, I did not know that. We have been avoiding the CB lanes for years because

1) we once got stuck getting out of the parking garage in Paris where our rental car was (Gare de l'Est?)
becaue our 15 minutes of "free" time had passed and it wouldn't accept our US credit card--so we had to push the talk button and the guy two floors up just pushed the button to pass us through!

2) Our American cards didn't work in the gas (centre Le Clerc, Rallye, etc) self-checkouts

Marco: Stop off in Coullioure if you can, especiallly if it's nice weather. Good restaurants, great seaside atmosphere. Plain looking church has wonderful interiort (you have to put a euro in the box to make the light come on)
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Mar 29th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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I used my CC all over the toll roads in France and never had a problem.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 08:50 AM
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klondike: Any specific restaurant recommendations in Coullioure?
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Mar 29th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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I've had at least 2 occasions in the past 4 years when my US CC did not work in a toll booth. An attendent had to close her booth & come over to ours & process my payment. On another occasion, I got out of the car, lifted up the "arm", & my wife drove under it (this was June '08).

Stu Dudley
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Mar 29th, 2010, 11:08 AM
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I still think that some of you are putting your cards in the slot backwards. When I have been driving and anybody else has passed me their American card to pay for the toll -- my parents, my brother, my nephew, etc. -- the card has always worked. It goes in the slot the same way you look at it --> left side of the card goes in the slot face up.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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My husband had trouble with a US-issued card--a French woman kindly bailed him out. This was a year ago--I hope he had the sense to try the card "both ways' but maybe not, I wasn't with him. We now have chip and pin CB cards so no longer an issue.

The approach to a large bank of toll booths can be daunting so best to understand your options before you get there. If in doubt, head for the manned (or person'ed, if you must) booth.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 11:22 AM
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We tried our cards (plural) in all possible directions - still didn't work.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 29th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Our credit cards worked, but that was in 2008. Be sure and have more than one CC. On the same toll road, the same day, they took our American Express, but in one of the next booths, they would not take AX. But, they did take our Visa. We always go where there is an attendant. Also, keep in mind the many photo 'speed traps'. You may not know you were ticketed, until a few months later, if you were caught. Richard
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Mar 29th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Some of the autoroutes do not take Amex -- and since the systems are often connected together using the same entry ticket, you only find out when you reach the toll booth and see the display of accepted cards (most of which are oil company cards issued to international truckers). However, I am amused to sometimes use my Monoprix credit card which some of the roads accept.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Our cards didn't work so paid in euros. I was pleasantly
surprised the first time we rode the autoroute, after reading how ugly they are. One had amusing scultures along the way.
We only used them when we were in a hurry to meet someone for lunch.
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Mar 29th, 2010, 02:56 PM
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Somebody said they were ugly? They must have never taken the roads in Germany and Belgium then!
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Mar 29th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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In 1995 I paid a few autoroute tolls with my (Irish) credit card, but their system collated some of the payments into one charge, so while the tolls may have been €1.20, €0.80 & €2.50, the charge just came out once as €4.50, except that it was FF (French francs) in those pre-euro days. Took me a while to realise what had happened, I've never come across it anywhere else.

In 2008, a US family member offered his credit card once, but it didn't work. Never mind, he paid for the restaurant instead...
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Mar 29th, 2010, 06:41 PM
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U.S. cards are definitely chancy in any self-checkout situation last fall. Did not work for us on the Autoroute and at a fueling station. So we're always careful to have cash for tolls etc.

The cards did work on the Autostrada in Italy in 2008.

Wish we could get cards with chips. I'm going to ask my Canadian bank.
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