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France Traffic

Traffic report France

Traveling to France and going on vacation with the car (and caravan), is a great outlook. Being well prepared for a long journey through Europe is half the job. Below you will find information on the busy roads, border crossings, traffic calendars, alternative routes, peak days and hours, traffic information services, etc., in France.

Traffic in winter

During the winter season the busy roads in France are:

  • A6 Paris – Lyon: at Châlon-sur-Saône.
  • A40 Mâcon – Chamonix: near Bourg-en-Bresse, Chamoise tunnel and Chamonix.
  • A43 Lyon – Chambéry: near Bourgoin-Jallieu and Chambéry.
  • N85 Grenoble – Gap: near Grenoble and near Gap.
  • N90 Albertville – Bourg St. Maurice: near Moûtiers.
  • D1091 Grenoble – Briançon: between Le Bourg d’Oisans and La Grave.

Busy days in autumn and winter

On the following days and peak hours (independently of the date (!)) the roads in France can be packed and the risk of traffic jams and delays increases:

In South direction

  • Busy or busier than normal: 20 and 27 October, 21, 22 and 29 December, 9, 16, 23 and 24 February, 3 March.
  • Very busy: 2 March.

In North direction

  • Busy or busier than normal: 27 October, 3 November, 29 December, 5 January, 16, 23 and 24 February, 3 and 10 March.
  • Very busy: 2 and 9 March.

Peak hours

  • Paris region: Fri from 15-22 hours.
  • French Alps: Sat from 10-14 hours.
  • Regions Lyon, Dijon and Paris: from 16-20 hours.

France traffic information

Radio

Traffic jams on the highways are reported every fifteen minutes on Radio Vinci, FM 107.7.

Internet

Bison Futé posts (Traffic information services posts)

The French government mans special Bison Futé posts along the highways during busy holiday weekends, where traffic information and route advice are given. There is also a free road map with alternative routes available.

The Bison Futé posts can be found along the A31 near Toul and just before Dijon, on the A6 just past Auxerre, near Beaune and just before Mâcon. On the A43 you can find the traffic information services post near Bourgoin-Jallieu. Follow the green signs with a yellow ‘i’ and the announcement ‘Information Bison Futé’.

Traffic in summer (Périphérique, Bordeaux and Orange)

In the summer period it is busy on all roads in France on the Saturdays. It is very busy on the black Saturdays 4 and 11 August. On those Saturdays there are usually hundreds of kilometers of traffic jams. It is therefore recommended not to travel through France on those days.

The best days to travel during the busy summer period are often on the Thursdays and Sundays.

Traffic at Périphérique, Bordeaux and Orange

On the ring road of Paris, the Boulevard Périphérique, it is always very busy. In addition, in the summer period the biggest problems are to be expected on the A10 Paris – Bordeaux – Spanish border and on the A7 /A9 Lyon – Orange – Spanish border.

Furthermore, during the rush hour and beyond, especially in the summer period, extra pressure is being exerted on the following roads:

Highways

  • A6 Paris – Lyon. Bottlenecks at Dijon, Beaune, Macôn, Villevranche sur Saône, and Lyon.
  • A7 Lyon – Orange. Bottlenecks at Vienne, Valence and Montélimar
  • A8 Aix-en-Provence – Italian border. Bottleneck at Aix-en-Provence.
  • A9 Orange – Spanish border. Bottlenecks at Montpellier, Béziers, Narbonne, and at the Spanish border.
  • A10 Paris – Bordeaux. Bottlenecks at Orléans, Poitiers, Niort and Bordeaux.
  • A31 Luxembourg – Nancy. Bottlenecks at the Luxembourg border, Thionville, Metz, and Nancy.
  • A46 /N346 Lyon ring road. Bottleneck between Mions and connection A7 Chasse-sur-Rhône.
  • A61 Bordeaux – Narbonne. Bottleneck at Narbonne.
  • A63 Castets – Spanish border. Bottlenecks at St.-Geours-de-Maremne and the Spanish border.
  • A71 Orléans – Clermont-Ferrand. Bottleneck at Clermont-Ferrand.
  • A75 Clermont-Ferrand – Montpellier. Bottlenecks at Millau and Lodève.

National routes

  • N11, at La Rochelle.
  • N20, at Foix.
  • N136, ring road Rennes.
  • N165, between Vannes and Nantes.

Busy border crossings with Italy and Switserland

With Italy

  • Frejus tunnel.
  • Mont Blanc tunnel.

With Switzerland

  • Bardonnex /Geneva.

Busy days in spring and summer and black Saturday 2019

On the following days and peak hours (independently of the date (!)) the roads in France can be packed and the risk of traffic jams and delays increases:

In South direction

  • Peak period (black Saturday): 4 and 11 August.
  • Very busy: 27 and 28 July, 3, 5, 10, 12 and 18 August.
  • Busy or busier than normal: 14, 21 and 28 April, 5, 9, 10, 19 and 21 May, 30 June, 7, 14, 21 and 29 July, 19, 25 and 26 August.

In North direction

  • Peak period (black Saturday): 4 and 11 August.
  • Very busy: 28 July, 5, 12 and 18 August.
  • Busy or busier than normal: 14, 21 and 28 April, 5, 13 and 21 May, 14, 21 and 29 July, 19, 25 and 26 August, 1 September.

Tour de France

The 106th edition of the Tour de France starts on Saturday 6 July and finishes on Sunday, 28 July in Paris. No highways are closed during the passage of the caravan and the peletonn. It is always very busy in the center of Paris during the finish.

Peak hours

  • Friday from 3 to 10 pm, especially around Paris.
  • Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm, especially on the roads in the Rhone Valley, West France, the Alps and the South of France.
  • Sunday from 4 to 8 pm, especially around large cities and in the Rhone Valley.

Roads and routes

  • For the destination Paris, the west coast, the Dordogne and the Auvergne the fastest route is via Gent / Lille or Mons / Valenciennes.
  • For directions East, South and Mediterranean the best route from the North is via Luxembourg / Nancy (in connection with the cheap fuel in Luxembourg and because toll is only charged after Nancy).

Alternative routes

Several alternative routes are available to avoid the busy traffic. Note that in busy and peack season also these alternative routes are likely to be packed.

  • For the route A1 – A6: the A26 (from Belgium via Lille: take the A1, at Arras follow the signs A26 Reims /Lyon).
  • For the Boulevard Périphérique: A86 east of Paris, or the A104 and the N104.
  • For the A6 Paris – Beaune: the A5 between Melun and Langres.
  • For the A6 Dijon – Lyon: the A39 Dijon – Bourg-en-Bresse.
  • For the A7 Lyon-Marseille direction Spain: via A71 /A75 Clermont-Ferrand or via A10 /A71 or A20 Limoges.

Bison Futé

Bison Futé is an initiative of the French government to relieve the main road network. These are alternative routes that run via secondary and local roads. The route will be longer but with less chance of traffic jams.

Bison Futé routes are signposted with (old) green direction signs with the word ‘Bis’ or Itinéraire Bis next to the place name in a yellow box. The newest signs are black with yellow letters ‘Bis’.

During the busy summer weekends, there are special posts along the highway where you can get route advice. Ask here for the free road map with alternative routes. You will find the Bison Futé posts along the A31 near Toul and just before Dijon, on the A6 just past Auxerre, near Beaune and just before Mâcon. On the A43 you can go to Bourgoin-Jallieu. Follow the green signs with a yellow ‘i’ and the announcement ‘Information Bison Futé’.

More information: bison-fute.gouv.fr.

New roads

  • A9 Orange – Narbonne – Le Perthus (border Spain): At Montpellier, a new A9 parallel to the old one (25 km) has been opened. This now is a toll road for fast traffic and it skips exits 29, 30 and 31. The old A9 has been renumbered A709 and is toll-free.
  • A10 Paris – Orléans – Tour – Bordeaux: Construction of the 4th lane at Orléans (16 km). Completion in 2025.
  • A16 Paris – Amiens – Calais – Bray-Dunes (border Belgium): Connection from the N184 at Presles to the N104 (Francilienne) at Attainville (8 km). Completion mid 2019.
  • A89 Bordeaux – Clermont-Ferrand – Lyon: Lentilly – Limonest (A6) (6 km). Completed in March 2018.
  • A304 Charleville-Mézières – Gue-d’Hossus (border Belgium): Charleville-Mézières (A34) – Rimogne (23 km). Completed July 2018.
  • A355 western ring road Strasbourg: conversion to toll road (24 km). Completion September 2020.
  • A507 east ring road Marseille (connection A7-A50): Construction of the last section (3.7 km). Completed October 2018.

Road works

  • A9 Orange – Le Perthus (border Spain): Le Boulou – Spanish border, in both directions. Completion February 2020.
  • Node with the A61 south of Narbonne. Completion in early 2019.
  • A11 St-Arnould – Le Mans – Angers – Nantes: Northern ring road Angers (6 km). Start in 2019. Completion in 2023.
  • A28 Abbeville – Rouen – Alençon – Le Mans – Tours: Le Mans – Alençon, in both directions. Completion in early 2019.
  • A43 Lyon – Chambéry – Fréjus tunnel: Access road Fréjus tunnel on French side. Completion in early 2019.

Tunnels

The Duplex tunnel (part of the ring road A86 near Paris) is only accessible for passenger cars /combinations up to a height of 2m. The tunnel is forbidden for motorbikes, vehicles on LPG and trucks weighing more than 3,500 kg. Tolls have to be paid for this tunnel. For more information see duplexa86.fr.

Driving restrictions trucks

In France, a driving ban applies to lorries from Saturday 10p pm to Sunday 10 pm. This driving ban also applies from 10 pm on the eve of a public holiday until 10 pm on the holiday itself. The driving ban applies to all French roads including the Fréjus and Mont Blanc tunnel. In July and August a driving ban for trucks is also in effect during the daytime on Saturdays (the black Saturdays), usually from 7-19 hours.

On the toll-free sections of car routes around Paris, there is also a driving ban on trucks on Fridays and Saturdays, and on public holidays and days prior to a public holiday, in addition to the regular Sunday driving ban.

In the winter period, a driving ban for trucks on Saturdays also applies in the Rhône-Alpes region.

The website bison-fute.gouv.fr lists the exact dates and times and the road sections where a driving ban is in force.

Road network

France has a fairly close network of good highways, many with toll. From the ring road around Paris (route Périphérique), highways run to all corners of the country. Most have, besides a number, also a name: Autoroute du Nord, l’Océane, la Languedocienne, la Provençale, Autoroute du Soleil, etc.

In addition, there are many two- and four-lane roads of national and regional importance: the routes nationales (N) and the routes départementales (D).

The narrow country roads are generally of good quality. Unpaved roads are very rare and then only in rural areas.

Plan Palomar

In order to better manage holiday traffic, the French traffic police have developed the Plan Palomar. In the event of heavy traffic on, for example, the Autoroute du Soleil, the traffic police can decide to temporarily close ramps along this road or to divert drivers from the overcrowded road towards less busy alternative routes. On a number of roads (including those around Paris), this process is fully automated and electronic signs above the road provide up-to-date information about the route to be followed

Environmental zones France

Read all about environmental zones in France here

Breakdown assistance

Safety first!

  • Stop in a safe place. If possible, stop to the right in the roadside or on the emergency lane as far as possible (make sure there is enough room to turn right). Turn your front wheels towards the verge or crash barrier.
  • Turn on your alarm lights; this is mandatory. Have the warning lights on your car flash and leave it on after you have placed a warning triangle.
  • Put on a safety vest. As a driver you are obliged to wear a safety vest during the day as well as at night if you leave your car in case of breakdown or accident. This also applies to drivers of motorcycles, and mopeds. Put on the safetty vest preferably before you leave the car, and also have your passengers put on a vest.
  • Carefully get out of the car, and also get all passengers off, on the side where there is no traffic, and find a safe place behind the crash barrier or on the roadside. Never cross a highway.
  • If necessary, place a warning triangle. Only if your car is on a driving lane you must place a warning triangle at least 30 m behind your car, unless this is dangerous for your own safety. If your car is on the emergency lane, you do not have to place a warning triangle. Note: On the highway you may not place a warning triangle because it is too dangerous. It is also forbidden to walk on a highway. It is also not mandatory on other roads to place a warning triangle if your life is at risk.

Breakdown service

France does not have a national breakdown service. In the event of a breakdown on highways, call the police via an emergency telephone or via 112. The gendarmerie will then ensure that a towing service (dépannage) comes to you. They will then drag you to a garage.

Note: Call the emergency number 112 in the event of an acute danger or if the car is in a dangerous location (with a breakdown).

Do it yourself repair

It is forbidden in France to repair your vehicle along a toll road (péage). For safety reasons it is also strongly advised to not repair a car yourself along the other (non-toll) highways.

Towing

Towing the car yourself is prohibited on the motorway (or on the emergency lane thereof). When your car can no longer leave the highway or national road on its own, you have to call in a salvage company to have your car towed away.

On other roads, towing over a short distance is allowed. The maximum speed when towing is 50 km /h.

Accident

  • Call the emergency number 112. In the event of an accident that has caused significant damage or personal injury, call the emergency number 112. You are obliged to call in the event of personal injury. In the event of a collision with only limited eye damage, it is sufficient to exchange information in France. However, in case of doubt or disagreement between parties, always call the police.
  • Do not leave the place of the accident. It is forbidden and punishable to leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information and helping any wounded.
  • Provide first aid. If you are involved in, or witness to, an accident, you are obliged to provide assistance to the wounded insofar as you are capable of doing so and can do so without endangering yourself or others. Note: In France, if you arrive at the scene of an accident where no help is being provided, you are obliged to stop and provide assistance to the wounded. In that case, park your car safely and at some distance from the accident to keep space free for emergency vehicles and turn on your emergency lights to warn other traffic.
  • Exchange data. All involved in an accident are obliged to exchange their personal details and insurance details.

How to submit your location?

  • Every 2 kilometers there is an emergency phone (with geolocation function) along the highways in France.
  • You can use the app SOS Autoroute for Apple or Android on many car routes to call in the help of the highway police. Your location can then be automatically transferred.

Remember: on highways only the highway police can provide assistance.