Driving through Paris, Lyon, Lille and Grenoble? You’ll need a new Crit’Air sticker if you’re to avoid a hefty fine. This is all you need to know to make sure your journey through France’s busiest cities gets a clean bill of health.
With air pollution firmly on the agenda, the whole of Paris, Lyon and Grenoble have now effectively become restricted driving zones – and Lille is set to follow. If you’re planning to drive into these cities, you’ll need a new Crit’Air sticker on your windscreen, displaying how polluting your car is: ranging from green – Crit’Air 1, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, to dark grey/black. Each level having its own distinct coloured sticker, to make it easier for authorities to spot them. When pollution levels spike, so-called ‘dirtier’ cars will be banned from entering these cities completely.
You’ll need to apply for a sticker by registering your vehicle’s details at the government’s website (in English): https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en. Please allow enough time for the sticker to be delivered prior to your departure. If you don’t have one, you could face a fine.
Our advice? If you can, try to use public transport if you want to spend a day in the country’s busiest cities. It’s faster, cheaper (parking can be very expensive, and hard to find) and will get you around these cities with ease. But, if they’re just en route – go around, not straight through the middle! Those extra miles will be worth it – early indications are that this scheme isn’t the easiest to enrol on.
According to the RAC, at least 20 other French towns and cities are looking at introducing the scheme in the next few years, so – as the sticker is for life – it pays to plan ahead and get your car registered now.
Crit’Air: The ten things you need to know now.
1) Older cars are banned completely between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday. If your petrol car is registered before 1996, it’s banned from moving around the French capital and the other cities on weekday daytimes. For diesel cars the date is January 1, 2001.
2) The whole of Paris is included in the Crit’Air environmental zone. That’s everything within what’s known as the Boulevard périphérique, or the ring road. This goes by various official names, depending on where you are on its route. It’s the ‘E15’ in the east, the ‘Bois de Boulogne’ in the west, and ‘Bois de Vincennes’ in the South east part of the city. But most online maps clearly show it as the Boulevard périphérique.
3) If you’re driving around the Boulevard périphérique you won’t need a sticker. They only come into force when you exit from it into the city. A similar demarkation zone is in place in Lyon and Lille (but restrictions will only come into force on bad air days). If you’re unsure, look out for the signs (pic below) when you’re entering, and leaving the zone.
4) The sticker costs €4.18 (around £3.70) for foreign-registered vehicles – don’t be tempted to buy one from an unofficial site, many of which charge a hefty mark up.
5) The fines come into effect on March 31, so from that date on, your vehicle will need to display a sticker when travelling into Paris and the other cities mentioned.
6) Vehicles bearing a parking card for disabled persons are exempt, and do not need to display a sticker – but they do need to display a valid disability badge, and be used for transporting the person to whom the badge is issued. Not the car.
7) Fines for those without stickers are: €68 (£59) for cars, although French police have promised to be ‘lenient’ for the first few months.
8) If you’re hiring a car, it’s imperative that you tell your rental firm that you’ll be heading into one of the affected cities. It’s their responsibility to ensure the car has the appropriate sticker. As you don’t own the car, it’s impossible for you to obtain one, as the stickers are sent to the car’s registered address.
9) You’ll need to upload a scan of your registration document to apply. The file size is to 400KB, which is quite small. You’ll need to use photo editing software (try Photoshop or Paint – both good free options) or a resizing site like imageoptimizer.net to shrink your file size accordingly. It’s quite easy to do. Converting the image to a PDF format helps reduce it.
10) That site, again, to apply, is https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/demande-ext/cgu/. Users of this site will pay just €4.80 including postage for their Crit’Air stickers. But turn around times are really slow, so get motoring…